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Breaking down the meta: Overwatch Open Edition

Posted by Wilson "scr1be" Xu at 30 September 2016 22:15

We can take a lot away from hero picks. Join us as we examine which heroes had the most impact on the road to the Overwatch Open Grand Finals.


After a period of mystery, the Overwatch Open commenced with an incredible mix of coordinated team execution and electrifying individual performances. Coming into the tournament, most of the community assumed there would be an over reliance on the triple-tank-triple-support meta. While some teams fully committed to running the composition, the bigger surprise was how much variation we were seeing in compositions over the different maps and between the two regions.

Let’s break down some of the overarching trends.

EU and the Dive Composition

It shouldn’t come as a surprise when I say Europe loves their aggression. Looking at a DPS standpoint alone, the names Shadowburn, Kyb, and Tviq are clear indicators of how the meta in Europe has developed. Before Ana, teams utilized coordinated dive compositions to maximize the utility from their star players. For a brief period of time, the triple-triple was able to neutralize aggressive by punishing mispositioning, but as teams learned the nuances of the composition, they were able to counter the composition by targeting the core: Ana.

As a preface, Ana’s role in the triple-triple is essential. Her nanoboost amplifies the damage of her tank line, while also providing a fast track for ultimate generation. Teams have recognized taking her out of the equation is almost a guaranteed delay on the push due to the lack of a more consistency healer and an easy way to engage the enemy team.

(All percentages in this article are an indication of the amount of time specific heroes have been played during matches in specific gamemodes.)
​​​​​​​

Hero Payload/Hybrid Defense Payload/Hybrid Offense KOTH 2CP Defense 2CP Offense
Genji EU 16.38% 22.97% 46.06% 21.27% 55.03%
Genji NA 6.52% 15.61% 9.37% 6.55% 36.59%


European teams have since abused the plethora of solid flanker players by building team comps catered towards diving into the backline and not allowing the triple-triple to set up. This specific adaption has led to an astounding 22.97% Genji pick rate on Payload and Hybrid attack and 46.06% and 55.03% on KotH and 2CP Offense. This trend seems to apply even when the opponents are not running a triple tank composition, leading me to conclude Europe might be shifting back into an aggressive, dive meta.

But, Scr1be, North America has some good Genji play too. How come you are saying this is only an European trend?

If Genji was the only component of the composition seeing play, I’d admit there might not be a huge disparity between the two sides of the pond. However, the crucial statistic is Europe’s tendency to run significantly more Zenyatta and Winston. If we look at King of the Hill, a map format which has previously been dominated by triple-triple, EU teams has started to sacrifice Reinhardt and Ana play in return for more aggressive dive support characters, like Zen and Winston. Zen's long-range consistent healing meshes well with keeping flankers alive, and the ability to transcend to create room for divers is essential for prolonging fights. Winston's role is a little more defined, using his Tesla Cannon to weaken the backline of the defense, creating reset opportunities for Genji.
 

Hero Payload/Hybrid Defense Payload/Hybrid Attack KOTH 2CP Defense 2CP Offense
Zen EU 6.04% 11.57% 75.32% 25.32% 33.77%
Zen NA 4.71% 5.20% 48.41% 37.35% 23.78%
Winston EU 22.33% 27.86% 92.00% 46.75% 49.19%
Winston NA 21.35% 32.37% 61.05% 49.85% 49.35%
Ana EU 91.61% 85.44% 24.55% 83.12% 66.23%
Ana NA 97.37% 89.20% 50.18% 62.65% 73.32%
Rein EU 84.65% 76.18% 8.00% 71.59% 53.73%
Rein NA 86.43% 81.00% 45.03% 66.62% 58.99%

 

Zen’s play on KotH hit 75.32% on the EU side, versus the 48.41% on the NA side; Winston saw similar changes reaching 92% on EU compared to 61.05% on NA. In return, Ana and Reinhardt play rates tanked to 24.55% and 8%, opposite the 50.18% and 45.03% emphasized by the NA side.

Especially with NiP’s exit in the semifinals of the European side, it looks like the era of triple-triple might be coming to an end.

The Niche Picks

Our first inter-Atlantic clash at the Overwatch Open will happen in the Grand Finals. While the two regions share quite a few high priority heroes, the biggest difference will be their pocket picks.
 

Hero Payload/Hybrid Defense Payload/Hybrid Offense KOTH 2CP Defense 2CP Offense
Widow NA 0% 0.82% 0.00% 0.00% 10.06%
Mei NA 59.98% 31.23% 2.31% 70.12% 12.04%
Mei EU 51.25% 19.70% 1.10% 61.53% 0.00%


A noticeable differential occurs on 2CP maps, where North America has a more diverse champion pool, including Widowmaker and Mei. The difference in selection highlights the win conditions each region has set in the scope of the map type. Emphasis on pick potential champions reflects North America’s tendency to wait for a numbers advantage to attack the normally heavily defended point. Widow is best known for being able to change the way teams react to an offensive strike. Instead of being stuck on a linear playing field, having a sniper forces the defense to challenge high ground and position themselves suboptimally. These situations create disarray in communications and make room for the offense to capitalize on mistakes.

In terms of pocket picks from the European side, Hanzo has been played more on Hybrid first points, as both a chokepoint penetrator and an interesting variation on the triple-triple. The Hanzo variation is used to counter the enemy stacking tank threats to counter the nanoboost engage. By spamming scattershot and building up to the Sated Dragons, Hanzo provides a way to take down shields, allowing for strong follow up from the team’s Reinhardt. The range also creates problems for traditional triple-triples, as they don’t have any clear ways to deal with the arrow spam.

 

Hanzo EU 0.00% 14.14% 2.84% 2.92% 1.95%


A small segment of this section has to be dedicated to Mei, who has seen her play rate soar, despite still being a niche pick. Teams have been valuation her AOE crowd control, which limits the mobility of flankers, while also being able to section off teamfights. Both regions have been using her more on the defensive side of maps, but NA has been more than comfortable to bring her to the offensive side of things. Mei’s offensive presence is underrated, as her walls and ultimate force opponents away from chokepoints, allowing for safe passage. Her utility has allowed for further variations on the triple-triple, subbing a support in return for the defensive dominance she provides. Questions about her offensive damage have been answered, as players have grown more accustomed to her right click damage and been able to provide consistent long range damage.

Stay On The Point!

Meanwhile, on the defensive end, NA has shown flashes of both D.va and Junkrat play.

On a macro level, these small changes actually indicate a shift in how the region values winning these maps. Instead of a full hold approach, where defensive teams look to engage and team wipe to sustain a point, North America is using a stall approach with Junkrat and D.va. Junkrat abuses his range and damage to chip away at approaching offensive pushes, building up charge and stopping pushes by picking off targets with RIP-tire. D.va functions in a similar way. Her defense matrix is able to keep the backlines protected, while also being able to pressure ranged offensive threats with her boost. An underrated ability is her self-destruct, which is typically used as an offensive team wipe tool, but can be adapted as an area of control tool instead. This adaptation can be seen in the pick rate statistics as a decrease in overall Zarya and Roadhog usage.
 

Hero Payload/Hybrid Defense Payload/Hybrid Offense KOTH 2CP Defense 2CP Offense
Junkrat NA 0.74% 0% 0% 19.82% 0%
Junkrat EU 0.28% 0.31% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
D.va NA 8.86% 5.81% 0.00% 16.31% 4.12%
D.va EU 2.27% 0.41% 0.00% 8.77% 0.00%

 

Takeaways

Character pick percentage has always been incredibly interesting. Besides providing insight on selection trends and which heroes are stronger in the meta, pick rates also enlighten the audience on how niche heroes are used in specific situations. The benefit of Overwatch allowing midgame alterations is promoting more innovative thinking by trying potential solutions to new compositions. From an analyst standpoint, we want to explore undervalued picks in order to take advantages of weak points in the current meta. From a spectator viewpoint, seeing players succeed with their off-meta picks brings the hype to an old meta going stale.

With dive compositions slowly returning in the EU scene and stall defensives gaining traction in NA, who knows what the next big hero combination will be. But one thing is certain, whatever happens, we will see a new Major winner today.

For a closer look at ou complete data, we will refer you to this EU Summary and this NA Summary.

For more competitive Overwatch news, follow us @GosuOverwatch

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