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Overwatch’s icy devil is gone from ranked matches for a week. The shooter kicked off its competitive season 21 today with the addition of Hero Pools, effectively forbidding players to choose some of the characters in the game—and Mei is one of them.
The initial Hero Pool won’t allow players to select Mei, Hanzo, Orisa, or Baptiste. The four characters take a prominent spot in the meta and the choice to disable them from competitive play is likely aimed at keeping the meta fluid.
Orisa is usually half of the double-shield compositions that skyrocketed in popularity since the introduction of Sigma. Disabling her will force teams to run Reinhardt and Sigma if they’re intent on maintaining two barriers, but it’ll also open up more room for other compositions with different off-tanks. Parts of the fan base complained about Orisa’s apparent overtune, especially with her Fortify.
Baptiste is also considered a fairly troublesome character by some players. One of his abilities allows him to negate friendly deaths in an area, which, coupled with his area-of-effect healing and surprising firepower, led players to believe he was overpowered.
Mei and Hanzo are two damage characters that have also become fairly prevalent in the meta. Their anti-tank capacities are one of their strengths and Hanzo, in particular, has great peek/spam potential.
The Hero Pools in ranked games differ greatly from the ones in the Overwatch League. Pros will have to deal with a different set of bans altogether and won’t be able to use McCree, Widowmaker, Reinhardt, or Moira in the OWL.
The discrepancy between two different pools can potentially be an obstacle for OWL players. Due to the different pools, some pros may not be able to practice with heroes that are allowed in the OWL but are banned out of ranked games. “How the hell am [I] supposed to practice my Orisa now?” Gael “Poko” Gouzerch, one of the Philadelphia Fusion’s tanks, asked on Twitter.
Season 21 introduced Hero Pools to Overwatch’s competitive mode, but Blizzard is openly willing to tweak the feature. The company plans to ban four heroes each week, but the frequency of the updates can change. Game director Jeff Kaplan has admitted that the feature can be scrapped if it doesn’t work. The official Blizzard post in the forums reinforces that Hero Pools may be tweaked.
“It is important to note that Hero Pools is a new feature that may not last past this initial season,” the post reads. “Throughout the season, we will be adjusting the types of Hero Pools available. In addition, it is possible we will also adjust the frequency with which they change.”