With a new patch, new maps and new players in the Overwatch League, teams looked to start Stage 2 strong. Teams incorporated new strategies and heroes into their playstyle during the first week of the Stage 2 regular season. We saw strategies formed around Moira and Sombra, but another hero that had a big impact was Zarya. Due to her high skill capacity and synergy with other heroes, Zarya saw much playtime on maps such as Volskaya Industries, King’s Row, Hanamura, Hollywood and Lijang Tower.
One reason that Zarya is a unique hero is the fact that she isn’t a typical tank, Zarya is known as a flex-tank. Simply, a flex-tank hero has the characteristic of a normal tank hero, but can also be played as a third DPS. This is the reason we see more tanks alongside Moira, specifically Zarya, Roadhog and D. Va. They act as another consistent source of damage, not just health. Flex-tanks allow for a more aggressive playstyle, even when your team needs high health pool heroes; you get the best of both worlds. Another common characteristic that flex-tank heroes possess is that their kit offers more offensive capabilities than your traditional defensive tanks.
Zarya can be extremely impactful, if used correctly, because of what her flex-tank kit offers. Zarya’s kit allows her to place a protective particle barrier on herself and one of her teammates; these barriers absorb enemy damage which in turn charges Zarya’s damage. Simply, the more damage Zarya blocks with her barriers, the more damage she can do. Additionally, when Zarya remains at a high charge, she can gain her ultimate very quickly.
Her ultimate – Graviton Surge – is one of the most important ultimates in the game. Enemies caught in Zarya’s Graviton Surge take damage, but more importantly are grouped up. This allows Zarya to combine her ultimate with her teammates to get an easy team wipe. These deadly combinations make for some chaotic team fights, memorable moments and huge plays. The clip below is from Week 1 Stage 2 between the Houston Outlaws and Boston Uprising. Both teams used their Graviton Surge ultimates in back to back team fights.
Besides the huge plays and fun that Zarya brings to the game, she is seen more often because the maps play to her strengths. Zarya offers what few other heroes offer: an easy way to ensure a team fight by grouping enemies, an easy way to combine ultimates with teammates and an easy way to potentially secure a team wipe. Combine this with the fact that Zarya is mainly played on maps with small choke points and corridors, it is not uncommon to see a Zarya on fire after a single team fight win.
Lastly, Zarya is only as good as the player, that’s why professionals love to play her. Zarya requires skill, precision and coordination; when mastered she can have a massive impact on games. The clip below is from Week 1 Stage 2 when the Los Angeles Valiant took on the Shanghai Dragons, it just reiterates how impactful Zarya can be when teams are forced to walk through a choke point against her- also a small snippet of the big plays that can happen.
With Stage 2 of the Overwatch League just beginning, we can hope to see more unique strategies and creative compositions from teams moving forward. Expect to see more Zarya play from teams on maps such as Volskaya Industries, King’s Row, Hanamura, Hollywood and Lijang Tower. Finally, when you’re watching these games, keep your eye on the top of the screen when Zarya is close to her ultimate, expect to see things get hectic.
Featured Image Credit: Blizzard Entertainment/Overwatch
Videos Clips: Overwatch League