Doomfist is ushering in a new Overwatch meta
For a moment, he leaves the battlefield.
Doomfist is invulnerable in those moments. Wherever his fist has rocketed him to—perhaps lurking among the rafters or perched atop a shattered roof—Doomfist sits unable to be harmed, though for just moments. The real value isn't always leaving the battlefield, though it can be helpful. Instead, it's in his punch back to the ground.
Meteor Strike, Doomfist's ultimate ability, is flashy and perfectly primed for combining with other ultimates—which in turn produces major plays. It's these moments where his power and mobility are most obvious, the big moments with a lot of kills. But it's actually his "smaller" abilities that make him desirable.
Teams that are adapting to Doomfist are ushering in a new meta—one where the Talon bad guy can be used in multiple ways.
Released on July 27 and playable in Competitive Play a week later, Doomfist is starting to make sense to professional Overwatch teams. Teams have broken him down, picked apart his abilities, and placed him into a variety of team compositions. Over the past few weeks a pattern has started to emerge.
Zarya and Reinhardt have seen an increase in playtime, both of which nearly dropped off the game during the infamous dive composition meta. Teams are building around Doomfist's powerful abilities—and he's been punishing dive heavy teams. During Overwatch Contenders, GamersOrigin had a perfect demonstration of a Doomfist lineup: Doomfist, McCree, Zarya, Reinhardt, Ana, and Lucio.
GamersOrigin Doomfist player Lucas "Leaf" Loison plays an aggressive Doomfist who relies on the protection of his team to stay alive. It's not dive: It's too much of a slow push. But it's aggressive, as long as Doomfist is alive. Players are able to abuse his primary abilities, Seismic Slam, Rising Uppercut, and Rocket Punch to deal damage and engage with high mobility.
That's where Zarya becomes most important. Her Particle Barriers offer protection that doesn't limit Doomfist's movement, while her Graviton Surge ultimate makes for a devastating ultimate combination. A team isn't expecting to dive deep into enemy back lines with a composition of this kind, so explicitly dive heroes aren't necessarily. McCree becomes a viable pick, as does Reinhardt. Ana's rise—and subsequently, Zenyatta's slight fall—is due to the dive breakdown. Teams can play Ana again—and they are.
Leaf is doing a lot of punching straight into the enemy team. That's the aggressive. His high mobility and Zarya protection allows him the ability to get in and get out. Like Genji, he's got vertical and horizontal mobility, which lets him commit to aggression without the full support of a dive composition. But he can thrive as part of an aggressive dive, too: Just swap out a few heroes from the composition—say, Winston instead of Zarya, D.Va instead of Reinhardt, Zenyatta instead of Ana, and Tracer instead of McCree.
Without Zarya, however, his survivability begins to fall apart in aggressive situations. He's unable to go as deep or to push as far. That's why, without a Zarya, some teams are choosing to play a more defensive style of Doomfist.
In their match against Immortals during Overwatch Contenders over the first weekend, Team EnVyUs put DPS player Kim "EFFECT" Hyeon on Doomfist, following it up with a McCree, Reinhardt, Ana, and Lucio. The roster opted out of a Zarya in favor of Winston, which is peculiar. Without Zarya, Doomfist was limited in how far he could push, but that wasn't a problem for EnVyUs. They didn't want to push too far anyway. Instead, EnVyUs waited on the point in the Oasis map for Immortals to come to them: Doomfist rarely punched forward into Immortals, instead pushing back and forth across the point.
Like with an aggressive Doomfist composition, it's slower than a dive. But that slowness allows Doomfist to set up for ideal situations—situations where success is guaranteed. When played slowly, without major pushing, Winston's Barrier Projector operates in a similar way to Zarya's barriers. But because they aren't attached to the protected hero themselves, mobility is limited.
Likewise, Reinhardt's barrier, which fits conveniently into the choke point of Oasis' university section, support a slower, more defensive play style. That feeds into the choice of Ana instead of Zenyatta, too: There's no need for long range, out-of-sight line healing. If Ana can see everyone on the point, she's good.
Doomfist's newness could play a part in how he's ripping apart professional Overwatch teams. For a variety of reasons, plenty of teams just haven't had the practice with or against him. Nowhere was that more evident than in Lunatic-Hai's OGN Overwatch Apex season four debut against MVP Space.
MVP Space played Doomfist paired with Pharah, Mercy, D.Va, Lucio, and Zenyatta, and it broke Lunatic-Hai. And it's probably because they just haven't played against him. Practice had been limited because of three Lunatic-Hai members' inclusion in the Overwatch World Cup, where Doomfist was disabled.
MVP Space shouldn't have beat Lunatic-Hai, but Doomfist was the ringer. The hero is set to undergo a few balance changes on the Overwatch PTR, making the emerging meta anything but stable. Play styles and compositions will be refined. Counters will be determined. But one thing's for sure—dive's crown is being threatened by the man with the fist.