Last year felt like the era of GOATS, a gameplay style popularized by an Overwatch team by the same name. The three tank, three support style of Overwatch has dominated the Overwatch World Cup, Overwatch Contenders, and the ladder. Variations cropped up like weeds, with the community never really able to chop it all down.
Blizzard put a new Overwatch PTR patch up yesterday, though—and many are speculating that it’s a direct nerf to GOATS. Three heroes in particular have been targeted: D.Va, Brigitte, and Reaper. Blizzard lowered general damage reduction from armor from five to three, which will affect all heroes. Previously, it reduced all incoming damage by up to five with a maximum of half the heroes’ normal amount. It’s still capped at half, but should help more Overwatch heroes stand up to higher armored enemies, Blizzard said.
Blizzard reduced Brigitte’s Rally to a maximum duration of 30 seconds. The developer said that Rally was often used with a snowballing effect that made her allies too durable, all while developing a new Rally. “This change puts a cap on how long her Rally effect can last to make it a bit more manageable in those situations,” Blizzard wrote in the patch notes.
Paris Eternal coach Julien Ducros told Dot Esports that Brigitte’s nerf is the most important. “You can see that Blizzard wants to find the right nerf for GOATs since she enables it too much,” Ducros said. “They’re taking this path and it matters, a lot, to everyone.”
D.Va’s Defense Matrix got a nerf to its cooldown, increased from one second to two seconds. The change should allow enemies to better counter the ability, since it’ll actually have more significant downtime. As for Reaper, Blizzard’s increased Life Steal for The Reaping from 30 percent to 50 percent of damage dealt. It’s his passive ability that lets him play aggressively, Blizzard said. Increasing the health he’s able to get makes sure he can keep up pressure and stay safe.
“In the end, D.VA is nerfed in a ‘concrete’ way, and that will impact for sure (Grav, Barrage, Pulse Bomb, Blossom) as well as Brigitte just on a more ‘abstract’ one,” Ducros said. “And when I mean abstract, it’s just that you need to play her differently. The nerf is only a nerf to certains power play possibilities, but it’s still relevant if you change the way you use it.”
In general, the competitive Overwatch community is excited—yet hesitant—about the changes. It’s far too early to ring the death knell for GOATS, but many players, coaches, and analysts are feeling optimistic. Ducros told Dot Esports that it’s a “step forward” toward a true nerf for GOATS, but too hard to tell at this point. Players need time to sit with the changes before we see a major shift away from GOATS.
“Let’s say that you activate [Rally] only for team engages or disengages, you will still get strong value out of it,” Ducros said. “Now that armor is nerfed, as well as D.VA’s matrix, heroes like Zarya are still strongly enabled as well. And for now I don’t know if he has much impact, but if I see Reaper on GOATs compositions I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Ducros said there’s many ways to look at the scenario, but too early to have concrete information. “[We] need some time to figure it out,” he added. “But the fact is, we’re drawing near stage one, so I wonder if we’ll have time for much test and theory-craft.”
Justin “Jayne” Conroy, Dallas Fuel’s head coach, wants to test out the changes before making any predictions.
But some players are eager for a change that flips the meta. Washington Justice support Riley “Fahzix” Taylor declared GOATS as “dead (maybe,)” while predicting the return of a double sniper meta. Others, like Houston Outlaws’ Shane “Rawkus” Flaherty, just expressed excitement over something changing. “Scrims are interesting now, this is gonna be hype,” he tweeted.
As is usual with Overwatch PTR patches, the most recent update will stay in testing for a few weeks before moving over to the live server.