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Leaked plans for Hero Bans Spell Trouble for the Overwatch League

Overwatch Zenyatta

Last year near the end of the Overwatch League season, Blizzard fundamentally changed the game of Overwatch by implementing a 2-2-2 role lock. It seems that the developer will make even more changes to the game this year in the form of hero bans, as per a report by leaked sources. All rumors and speculation should be taken with a grain of salt, but this leak seems all too convenient and likely.

Hero bans have been a topic of conversation since the implementation of 2-2-2 reshaped professional Overwatch in numerous ways. The argument for many is that Overwatch simply doesn’t have enough heroes to make bans work, but rumor has it Blizzard doesn’t think the same way.

Overwatch leaker Metro, the same Metro who leaked Overwatch 2 prior to Blizzcon, made a post on Twitter on January 20 regarding the “big update” that so many Overwatch personalities and players have been hinting at. He claims that the developers have been working on hero bans for quite some time and that the new system will be implemented in the coming weeks, possibly prior to the start of the Overwatch League season. It is worth noting that his source for this leak was reportedly not the same as the Blizzcon source, so the veracity is slightly questionable.

Voices from the Community

Just a day before Metro’s leaks were posted, Emongg teased his Twitch viewers with some choice words on how he feels Overwatch will improve going forward. Not much information was given in this video except that he gives the time frame of a few weeks which falls in line with Metro’s claims, and when we would be due for a new update.

Since then, a number of players and personalities have weighed in on the concept of hero bans and the opinion is in the middle of the road. Kephrii seemed excited at the chance to dominate opposition even when Widow gets banned, yet Houston Outlaws DPS Jiri ‘LiNkzr’ Masalin raised concerns that in the Overwatch League, specialists could be targeted if rosters are locked. Samito had his own thoughts on the matter and posted a video outlining how hero bans could be done to avoid targeting “one-trickers”.

Overwatch’s hero pool is still fairly limited and with role lock limiting hero selection even further, hero bans could be a step back towards making the game a more viable esport. Certain players are world-renowned for their skill on individual heroes. Taking them away could affect matches in a huge way. Imagine, for example, taking away Jjonak’s Zenyatta during Season One. That small change would have inevitably affected the story that surrounds his skill and time in the league.

Additionally the change could even affect revenue. It’s widely accepted that sales of the Overwatch League’s MVP skins are reliant on players having signature heroes. Given that Overwatch as a game and Overwatch as an esport are in a currently in a precarious place, a sentiment echoed across esports media, a hit to revenue and fan interaction with the game could be yet another serious blow to the league.

Jeff Kaplan confirmed that a developer update will be coming soon which means that we will see a patch coming within the next month or so. The Overwatch League kicks off in two weeks but fans can expect the first few weeks of OWL to be played on the current patch.

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