Gunba talks about the state of Overwatch and Hero Bans.

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Boston Uprising Assistant Coach Jordan “Gunba” Graham has released a long post about his thoughts on the current state of Overwatch. Presently, the Overwatch community is consumed by thoughts of a potential Hero ban system in Overwatch, With certain styles of play [ meta ] taking prominence in Overwatch, the game does become very stale. Until developers are able to introduce new patch updates to change the basic gameplay, the game continues in the same direction. This is quite in contrast to other MOBA games like Dota 2 which can go for up to a year without any major patch updates. And yet, they will not have the same stale meta throughout the year. There are multiple reasons for this.

One of the first reasons for the same is the large hero pool in Dota 2. While certain characters might seem out of balance, they are quick to be removed in the veto phase. However, the large hero pool in Dota 2 means that teams can still achieve their strategy via other heroes. The same cannot be said for Overwatch. With only 29 heroes in the pool, a hero ban has a drastic effect on the gameplay. It changes the game drastically and can result in huge one-sided matches cause there is simply no counter to a particular playstyle.

Gunba’s Thoughts on this matter.

DOTA and LOL both have four times as many heroes as Overwatch and heroes are unique to one player per game, unlike Overwatch where heroes are limited per team. The net result of bans in these games is that heroes that are extreme outliers in terms of power level are removed, forcing players to instead pick slightly weaker heroes that serve largely the same purpose. The gameplay is not fundamentally changed. There is no direct equivalent to this concept in Overwatch.

In Overwatch, banning just one hero has the potential to change the macro-game completely, simultaneously removing the only counter to a specific macro-strategy while also reducing the playability of another. Imagine a hypothetical where, on the current patch, Zenyatta is removed from the game. Ignoring the other ban for a second — this one ban would both remove the only viable counter to tank compositions, while also removing a core component in dive compositions (who rely on discord to outpace healing, as well as harmony to heal flankers without LOS).

There is a huge gap in competitive esport and the casual player base.

Gunba correctly states that there is a huge gap in the way the game is played at the top level versus at the casual level. Introducing hero bans in the competitive matchmaking would certainly seem exciting on paper. But it has the potential to break the game for a casual fanbase. Overwatch is a game where there are multiple instances of one-tricks in the game. Introducing hero bans would essentially force this one-trick possibly to leave the game affecting player numbers.

To summarise his blog, he listed out a few points.

  • Hero swapping is completely discouraged by ultimate economy (according to recent OWL scrims, the odds for any one player to win the next fight after swapping heroes is 35%).

  • Power creep is completely out of control and is only getting worse. Too much focus on making heroes powerful in a specific niche has lead to compositions that require extraordinary coordination to deal with or have little counterplay.

  • Almost every hero added to the game has top-tier mobility, disables and a high power level in a specific niche. Heroes from the original version of the game constantly need to be reworked to compete with new heroes.

  • Hero counters are effectively solitaire on an individual level. There is very little counterplay to being hero countered. Further increases the need for banking ults and make ranked play especially extremely frustrating.
  • The end result is that games almost always snowball unless you play heroes from the get-go that are extremely versatile and have no hard counters, making minimal swaps over the course of a round.

You can read his Medium Blog here.

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