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It’s time to dive into Hero Pools. The Overwatch League announced the first round of Hero Pools on March 1, effectively “banning” four heroes for the next weekend of competition. Teams at the Washington, D.C. homestand on March 7 will be the first to develop strategies around the new feature.
With Hero Pools, four Overwatch heroes will be disabled from Overwatch League play per weekend. One tank hero, one support hero, and two damage heroes are randomly selected using a list of the most-played heroes from the previous two weekends of competition. Heroes must have at least a 10-percent play rate to be eligible for Hero Pools. This first round of Hero Pools was chosen by the Watchpoint team on the March 1 post-show using a complex system of putting slips of paper into a bingo tumbler.
The first four heroes disabled through Hero Pools are Reinhardt, Moira, McCree, and Widowmaker. These heroes won’t be available for selection during the March 7 games. The heroes return to the available pool after the games are over and new heroes are “banned” each week. No hero can be disabled for more than one week in a row.
How will teams cope?
With a play rate of 87.2 percent over the past two weeks, Reinhardt’s elimination will be the biggest blow to Overwatch League teams. Many successful teams, including the Philadelphia Fusion and New York Excelsior, have relied on Reinhardt to charge into teamfights and come out swinging.
Teams will either replace Reinhardt with Orisa, leading to a possible return of bunker compositions, or run a faster “dive” composition. D.Va has the highest play rate in the league at 94.4 percent over the past two weeks. Teams can select D.Va alongside heroes like Wrecking Ball or Winston to create a mobile, devastating composition.
Moira’s elimination from next week’s hero choices likely won’t make a huge difference to teams. With a 10.8 percent play rate, she barely made it into Hero Pools contention in the first place. Teams will likely continue to run Lúcio and Ana and may opt for Mercy if they need the high-caliber healing Moira provided.
Many teams may be reeling due to the loss of McCree and Widowmaker. Widowmaker is another hero that barely made it into Hero Pools selection with a 10.4 percent play rate, but she has her uses on certain maps. McCree, with a 59.5 percent play rate, is a much bigger loss to teams. Hitscan players, or those who specialize in heroes that fire “instant” shots, might be sitting on the bench for the March 7 games.
We should see a rise in projectile heroes, especially Pharah, who now has little chance of being shot down from her aerial perch. If Overwatch League teams opt for a more dive-based composition, quick heroes like Tracer and Genji could return as well. Damage hero choices will deeply depend on the individual strengths of players on any given team’s roster.
Hero Pools will begin in the Overwatch League on March 7, but the pros aren’t the only ones who get to enjoy the chaos. When Season 21 of competitive play begins in Overwatch on March 5, a selection of four heroes will also be disabled. These heroes are chosen by developers and will also be disabled on a weekly basis.