Part Two: Hero Limit Debates, Hitscan Nerfs, and the God Comp
The game was released, to massive success. But it was just business as usual at the pro level, which meant a whole lot of McCree, and a whole lot of Lucio. Mercy also became a staple, due to teams recognizing how good team resurrection was. Reinhardt and Winston were still the tanks of choice, with Widowmaker also appearing at a fairly regular rate. Tracer and Zarya were also very common choices.
The prevalence of McCree was the main issue early on in the game’s lifespan. He just did everything well, so there was very little reason to run him over…well, anyone else, for the most part.
Fairly early on into the game’s lifespan, one hero limits became a staple in many tournaments, as did map bans. Teams much preferred Hybrid and Payload maps, as these were considered the most balanced. KOTH was generally considered to be too much of a mess for all parties involved, and 2CP stalling was so egregious due to respawn mechanics that the map format was largely banned from tournament play.
One hero limits meant that Lucio/Mercy were played almost everywhere, as Zen was no good and Sym was good in her niche but pretty bad everywhere else. Reinhardt was also a staple, as he was excellent at protecting his team and creating space, and McCree and Widowmaker were the unarguably the best DPS choices. McCree did an insane amount of damage with FTH and Widow did 150 damage bodyshots, allowing her to one-shot 150 hp heroes with a fully charged shot. Other good choices included Winston, Pharah, Junkrat and Zarya.
Blizzard reacted to McCree’s and Widow’s dominance in short order, nerfing FTH and Widow’s body shot damage with the first-ever balance patch. This really shook up the meta. With very little hitscan in play now, Pharah was now a dominant force. Soldier: 76 also took the place as the resident “good hitscan” due to his consistent damage. Reaper worked hit way in, as he was the best tank buster in the game, and McCree had hard countered him. McCree’s usage rate fell off a table. Widow was still used but nowhere near as often as she was before. The tank and support meta really didn’t change much here, although Roadhog gained some usage due to his one-shot potential.
The name of the game here was simple: kill the Mercy. Mercy’s ult charge rate was ridiculous. It wasn’t uncommon for both Mercy’s to have their ultimate before the first team fight was over. As a result, whichever team killed the Mercy first in order to deny rez usually won the fight. As such, this is where “Hide and Rez” came from, where POTGs were often Mercys rezzing their entire team while staring at a wall.
The meta was weird here, but it was stabilizing. Then, everything changed.
No More Hero Limits
Blizzard announced their intentions to have their own competitive mode. Up until this point, teams had been playing on quick play rules for KOTH, and using a literal stopwatch to time their rounds on payload and hybrid. Notably, Blizzard at this time had no intention of installing hero limits into this new mode, and obviously wasn’t going to bar 2CP maps from it. Tournament organizer ESL announced their Atlantic Showdown, with the largest ever prize pool in Overwatch. Sounds great right?
One problem. ESL also stated that they intended to use Blizzard’s competitive format, aka no hero limits, 2CP maps, and best of five KOTH. ESL was dead set on this despite grumblings within the pro community. Gosugamers, the organizers of one of the main tournaments at the time, bit the bullet and installed these rules a month or so before the Atlantic Showdown. So began one of the most hated metas of all time: The God Comp.
On Payload, Hybrid, and 2CP, the meta was actually…well, pretty much the same as it was before. The only difference here was stall tactics: teams would now switch to as many Tracers and D.Va as they could to keep overtime rolling. Sometimes this evolved into five D.Va, which would require five Zarya’s from the opposing team to counter it. This was as unbelievably stupid as it sounds.
KOTH was an entirely different story. This is where the “God Comp” took form.
The God Comp
The God Comp was simple: Two Lucios, Two Tracers, and Two Winstons. This hypermobile comp was often played by both sides on KOTH. It led to insane team fights that involved one team somehow trying to get onto the other teams Lucios, while the other team tried to do the same thing. This might sound like some kind of mutant variation of Dive, but it didn’t really play like that. In dive today certain heroes don’t follow the divers, or at least the divers keep the slower components somewhat close by in order to peel for a potential counter-dive. Good dives today often seem composed and surgical, with clever, unpredictable and coordinated attacks.
This played more like a GOATs comp. In God Comp, every character was moving as a tight-knit speedboosted group. It more resembled two high-speed mounds of meat crashing into each other and seeing who came out on top. It got even weirder when one team hit 99%; the other team would swap to five Tracers/one Lucio, and contest while praying that one of their Tracers could land a lucky pulse bomb. Even worse was that these were played in the best of five format. It wasn’t unusual to see a KOTH round take well over half an hour to complete.
Fortunately, Blizzard took note of how unbelievably dumb this was. They instituted a one hero limit in competitive, prompting ESL to do the same. But players weren’t out of the woods yet, because the biggest balance patch yet was about to hit the game. It was one that would have long-reaching effects, bringing forth some of the most iconic metas the game has ever known, and some of the most hated: Ana was coming.
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