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The Meta That Changed Overwatch

Atlanta Wins

The esports industry is constantly evolving each and every year. Now, thankfully, Overwatch is no longer an exception to that rule. Season 2 of the Overwatch League was full of firsts, implementing features that fundamentally change how the game is played. As Stage 4 wraps up and playoffs begin, we’re going to break down how 2-2-2 role lock has impacted the OWL and overall health of the competitive game.

GOATS & the Meta

A ‘meta’, or ‘metagame’, forms around commonly picked heroes and play-styles. If the same heroes are piloted the same way by multiple teams for an extended period, the composition is usually referred to as meta. At the beginning of this year, a tank-based meta known as GOATS dominated for nearly three stages, with only slight variations over time. Now that 2-2-2 role-lock has been introduced to the game, Overwatch is beginning to resemble a perpetual chess match, with pieces changing as the game progresses. The idea of locking roles has brought flexibility and stability to Overwatch by allowing the developers to balance heroes with ease.

A typical GOATS composition with no ‘Damage’ role to be found

When heading into their matches, professionals know what to expect as far as team structure goes, but when it comes to compositions it’s a free-for-all. A large problem with not having a role lock is the idea of positions in Overwatch as careers, just like you would with traditional sports. Players get brought into teams as a damage, tank, or support player, but if a damage player is on tanks for 3 stages straight, the roles that Blizzard has designed lose their meaning. By implementing the 2-2-2 lock, each team will need at least 2 of each role, providing players with security that they’ll be able to focus their time on the position they know best.

Teams that turned the tables in Stage 4

The Washington Justice has easily been one of the worst performing teams of Overwatch League Season 2 – up until Stage 4. In the midst of 2-2-2, Corey and Stratus have skyrocketed Justice to arguably the best team in the league. The new meta has allowed damage players to flex on the heroes that got them where they are and show off their clean headshots. This new meta has turned everyone’s power rankings on their head, proving that anything can happen. The Atlanta Reign, a team who barely had a chance at playoffs during the GOATS meta, now sits happily among the top 12 teams who will compete in the post-season. The top teams in the league right now include Florida Mayhem and Guangzhou Charge, teams that mostly resided in the lower half of the leaderboard this season.

The Overwatch League Stage 4
The Stage 4 top 8 illustrates the new meta’s impact compared to previous stages

Onward & Upwards

2-2-2 has shaken up the end of the year rankings and there are 2 vital events on the horizon where the meta will be put to the test.

What would a season of Overwatch League be without the Grand Finals? The finals of Season 2 have had some sneaky contenders creep into the top 12 since the new meta arrived, and this will be a testament to the highest level of Overwatch play. Following closely on from the league finals, the Overwatch World Cup is where the best players from each country come together and play to each other’s strengths. The World Cup means that 2-2-2 will be tested by professional players, with the unusual rosters hopefully showing off some unusual compositions. Overwatch League Grand Finals and the Overwatch World Cup are two events that will demonstrate the sport at the highest level. With both events organized around ample in-play time, the very best Overwatch has to offer will be thrown together to compete for glory.

Once these grand events come and go, the Overwatch developers will be able to use these matches to further balance the current roster of heroes for next season. It is hard to accept change at times, and when Overwatch announced the idea of hero limits many assumed it would stifle the game. At the time it’s hard to see the long-term impact of major revisions – but so far, the changes that 2-2-2 has brought with it seem to be enriching the competitive Overwatch experience.

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Featured image credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment