In today’s pro Overwatch scene, what has become popular is not the triple tank or the standard Reinhardt composition, but rather the dive comp. It is really interesting to watch as these fights become more chaotic and the outcome less definitive until the very end. What has brought this comp into the meta?
Each hero has their strengths and weaknesses, and each patch changes which character becomes strong. And these strong heroes are the cornerstone of every team composition. For example, season three Ana, who brought along the triple tank meta because she could build nanoboost in what seemed like mere seconds. This patch’s strong heroes are specifically three different heroes: Winston, Tracer and Lucio, who all have a higher than 70% pick rate in the current pro scene. They are followed closely by D.Va, Soldier, Ana, Zenyatta and Genji, who all fit into the Dive comp nicely. What has made all these heroes popular?
Winston has been one of the least changed heroes in the game. His last change was on March 21, 2017, when they changed his barrier cooldown to start when it was placed,not when it was destroyed. While Winston has never been the weakest character, he has seen much more play recently, and it is not because Blizzard buffed him. To see what gives him such a high pick rate, we must first look into his counters.
Winston Counters: Reaper, Roadhog, Mcree, D.Va, Bastion and Zarya.
To start off, Reaper has been weak and has almost never been picked since the Beyblade meta back in Season 2. And it was for good reason too. The supposed tank buster can’t even kill the tanks he is supposed to kill! D.Va can just matrix his shots and shoot him in the face while Reaper reloads. As for Roadhog, there’s an old saying: “Roadhog can do everything Reaper can, but better”. What made Reaper so weak was that Roadhog could basically one shot him with a hook. Take into account that they both have shotguns, they both could blow up tanks. Except, Roadhog didn’t have to endanger his life to damage and kill these tanks because he has his hook ability. This left Reaper in the dust. Why would anyone want to pick Reaper over Roadhog? There are very few merits to Reaper that Roadhog doesn’t have.
Since Reaper counters Winston, then Roadhog, too, must counter Winston, and maybe to an even greater degree. But Winston has seen an increase in play while Roadhog a decrease. Why? The reason is simple: Roadhog was nerfed. First, they increased hook cooldown by two seconds, but more importantly, they changed the hooking distance, where heroes are now pulled 3.5 meters away rather than two meters. This means that he simply does less damage to all heroes that he hooks, especially Winston. What’s more is the defense matrix buff to D.Va, who can bail out anyone who gets hooked. Winston now doesn’t have to worry about being blown up the moment Roadhog grabs him. Furthermore, the very essence of the dive comp counters Roadhog, as he has no escape abilities. What is to happen to him when a Tracer, Winston, and D.va all target him? And, how can he save his healers who are getting dove by three different people? Roadhog is just unlucky to have all these changes happen at once, and has caused a reduced play rate for him, and therefore, an increased rate on Winston.
Zarya also has her own fair share of problems. With an increasing pick rate of Winston and D.Va, Zarya should have seen herself be picked more to counter them. However, while Zarya may counter D.Va and Winston, they are almost never in a position where they have to 1v1 Zarya. What Zarya does have to worry about, is D.Va eating Graviton with defense matrix. And even when she does finally pull off the five man Graviton, there is another obstacle: Zenyatta. Zenyatta can build Transcendence faster than Zarya can build Graviton, so Zarya’s team would need to bait out Zen’s ult. With no mobility allowing her to be easy pickings, along with her ultimate ability becoming less impactful, she can’t really do anything to a Dive comp.
Mcree, on the other hand, has his flashbang to counter Winston! He should be able to kill Winston immediately, right? No. The problem here with Mcree is the cooldown on flashbang. With the Dive comp, Mcree should shine; after all, he is the designated counter-flanker. While Mcree can flashbang Winston, how is he going to stop Tracer now? Couple that with one of the worst ultimates in the game and very low mobility, Mcree also cannot do anything against the dive comp.
Then there’s Bastion. Poor him. He had a 100% pick rate for a week with his 35% damage reduction ironclad. Then it all disappeared and he was gone again. Let’s be real here, Bastion can’t do anything against a dive comp, he’s literally the most immobile character in the game. Tracer can easily bomb him for an easy kill and make the fight an instant 6v5. He doesn’t get picked unless you want to cheese (surprise) the opposing team. But that only works once, and then he will get full countered. You can even add Sombra to the mix. There goes all of his protection and there goes his life and pick rate.
The one popular counter to Winston is D.Va. However, D.Va only “counters” him because D.Va out duels him in 1v1s. As I’ve stated before, there are very little opportunities or reasons for 1v1s. While D.Va can kill Winston, she can’t stop Winston from diving into the back line. D.Va can’t stop Winston’s feather duster of a gun, and Winston can distract the opposing healers and stop them from healing their teammates. He can then get out before he is killed (or just use Primal Rage).
So, now that we’ve established that most of Winston’s counters are weaker, we can easily see why he has gone up in popularity: no one can really deal with him effectively when running this exact comp. D.Va and Tracer will back him up and Lucio can speed everyone in or out to save him. Remember, Winston’s primary job is to distract the enemy team, especially the healers, so that the rest of Winston’s team can swoop in for the win.
Lucio has been one of the most popular supports in the game since launch. What has made him so popular is the one thing no one else can do: the speed boost. While Blizzard nerfed his speed and healing boosts, they reverted some of it back with one little caveat: his aura is now the size of decently sized boulder. But, that doesn’t matter at the pro level of play.
A coordinated team will always keep tabs on where everyone is and what they should be doing, and Lucio is the perfect hero to enhance this. Need speed boost to run out of D.Va bomb or Genji ult? No problem for Lucio. With the reverted numbers, the dive comp becomes even stronger. He can speed the entire team and focus down the enemy, or help his fellow support, whoever it is (mostly Zenyatta or Ana), to get out of trouble. There is also his sound barrier, that can save the lives of everyone on his team from virtually any ultimate, be it Dragonblade or D.Va bomb. With a coordinated team (or any professional Overwatch team in the world), Lucio is a must pick, as he can do everything. With speed boost he can save his teammates or focus down an enemy. There is his boop to knock enemies back to their death or for just simple protection. Obviously, there is heal amp for healing, and then there is sound barrier to negate enemy ultimates. Why need a Mercy if your teammates don’t die? That right there is 200 IQ thinking.
While Winston is a hero you can look back and say, “Why, he is quite balanced! He doesn’t seem to be buffed or nerfed too much,” Tracer is the epitome of untouched goodness. Blizzard has never changed anything about Tracer. Ever. Unless you count bug fixes, but those don’t count. What has made her popular of course, is not what Blizzard did to her, but what Blizzard has done to others. Again, we must look into what her counters are to see why she is so popular.
Tracer Counters: Mcree and Roadhog
Hmmm, interesting. Tracer has the same counters to Winston. Mcree was supposed to be the one who kept Tracer in check, but he isn’t getting picked anymore due to lack of mobility and long cooldowns. But there is also Roadhog.
Before the cooldown change of his hook, Tracer always had to be wary of getting hooked before finishing Roadhog off. But now, with an increased cooldown, Tracer only has to dodge one hook to ensure herself a clean kill onto Roadhog. Roadhog is also an extremely easy way to build ultimate, giving Tracer many ultimates throughout the course of a game.
So now Tracer does not have to worry about getting uber counter picked. But that is not all the pieces to the puzzle. Tracer is also an essential piece to the dive comp as she is the most mobile character in the game. She can dive in and focus who Winston is focusing, or jump onto a different hero as Winston distracts the teammate. The monkey-Tracer pair is truly terrifying.
The Dive Comp
With the three heroes becoming very popular in the current meta, there are still three other hero slots a team must fill: one tank, one healer, and one more DPS.
For a team’s second healer, they have a choice between Mercy, Ana, and Zenyatta. They all have their benefits and disadvantages.
Her recent buff has allowed her to see more time in both solo q and pro play. Her ult now builds every single fight, and more importantly, she doesn’t leave the team in a 5v6 after rezzing. Furthermore, when paired up with a pro Pharah, they become an extremely deadly force. However, if there is only one huge problem with her, and that is the dive comp. If she can’t hide, she dies in two seconds. The enemy team will definitely focus her down. And if she does hide, first off, she leaves her team in a 5v6, and there is only hope that she can resurrect everyone nicely. But that is a problem: the dive comp can become very chaotic. People die left and right, and sometimes too far apart. Mercy’s at the pro level sometimes just pull off one man rezzes just to save their skin or to prevent the ensuing disadvantaged chaos of the fight.
Ana has always seen play ever since the beyblade. Her high skill floor means that the best of the best can do wonders with her. Furthermore, she can protect herself with sleep dart and Lucio. Her anti-nade still remains one of the strongest abilities in the game, and nano is still very strong when used properly. However, she is not as strong as she once was, causing a small dip in pick rate.
Ever wanted to save yourself from a nanoboosted Genji who is charging right at you? Soundbarrier is sometimes too slow to cast, but luckily you have Zenyatta, who will save you from your demise! Zenyatta’s ultimate is strong in the sense that it has no cast time, and is effective immediately. What’s not so good about it, however, is that once you stop hugging Zen, you are dead from whatever there is out in the open. Unlike sound barrier, you always have to be near your support to save yourself. But Transcendence is strong nonetheless. What makes Zenyatta picked is not only because of his ultimate, but also his discord orb. The discord orb pairs up very nicely with the dive comp, and coordinates the entire team to focus down one player. His one weakness is his squishiness. If positioned incorrectly, the enemy team will easily demolish Zenyatta or bait out his ultimate. But good teams will know where to place their Zenyatta, out of harm’s way.
All three supports have a time and place in the current meta, and are very balanced. Different situations and compositions call for different supports, and each hero shines in different areas.
The second DPS
After Tracer comes two different DPS characters. The first is Genji and the second is Soldier: 76. Why would you want to pick one or the other? Soldier: 76 gives your team much more consistent DPS and extra healing pad if your team lacks heals. He also has some good burst with Helix Rocket, and Tactical Visor can really be devastating if it weren’t for one hero: D.Va. Without D.Va, Soldier: 76 would be in almost every single game; however, D.Va can block all of Soldier’s shots and can nullify everything about him. In order for Soldier to ult, a team must first keep track of defense matrix, D.Va, or find a way to get rid of D.Va’s mech.
Your other option, if you just don’t want to deal with D.Va, is Genji. Genji has his own merits, and one of that is that D.Va doesn’t hard counter him. He can dive supports and kill them in a flash with a very nice combo. His Dragonblade two shots every squishy, and Ana loves nanoboosting him. His only problem is that he is much more volatile and unreliable compared to Soldier. As Genji needs to really get close to do tons of damage, he can be killed easily if he makes one mistake.
Pro teams can pick and choose which hero they want: to go with Soldier for the consistent and safe DPS, but worry about D.Va, or pick Genji, and get more volatile and aggressive damage. These two heroes change up yours and your opponent’s game play.
The most common tank is D.Va. While she may be boring to watch, her defense matrix is a very strong ability. She shuts down most DPS characters and she can zone with her ultimate. She can protect hooked characters and does enough damage to tanks. But if you don’t want to go D.Va, you can go Reinhardt or Zarya.
Reinhardt’s shield protects everyone behind him and allows his team to poke the enemy team. However, a dive comp doesn’t care about that and would jump in over his shield, into the back line. Furthermore, with the introduction of Sombra, he can become a walking meatstick with no purpose to a team. However, while Reinhardt isn’t necessarily strong against the dive comp, his ultimate is. When a team runs a standard dive comp, almost nothing can stop a well-timed Earthshatter. Reinhardt only has to wait for Winston bubble to pop, and he is good to go, and will most of the time win the team fight.
And then there’s Zarya. Zarya will always have her Graviton, one of the most game changing ultimates in the game, and she can build up lots of charge and ultimeter against a Winston and/or D.Va. She can protect her healers or DPS’s with her bubble from the team comp, making her a viable pick. However, she is immobile, and a slight mistake in positioning with doom her. Also, her Graviton, as stated before, is countered by Transcendence.
While Zarya and Reinhardt still have some place in the meta, the tanks have seen the biggest change in hero selection over the course of the past year. With more Winston, D.Va, and the dive comp, Reinhardt and Zarya are not seen as much anymore.
Winston and Tracer are now extremely strong due to their counters being nerfed, or at least, weaker. Lucio now has his stats reversed back to what it was before, but a smaller area of effect. But that doesn’t matter to a pro team, who can coordinate him very well in certain situations. For the other three slots, it depends on what a team is going for, but they will always try and build around the other three heroes mentioned above.