In news that has surfaced recently, Stage 4 of the Overwatch League will be role-locked. Sascha “Yiska” Heinisch has confirmed a role-lock is coming to Overwatch for Upcomer. This article confirms the many rumors that have permeated the Overwatch scene for months. Players (Fissure) and Casters (AKaros) alike have all but confirmed this role-lock as well. A role-lock in Overwatch will restrict all levels of Overwatch to playing compositions consisting of two DPS heroes, two Tank heroes and two Support heroes.
The introduction of this role-lock has brought with it great criticism. Some say it doesn’t promote compositional creativity and most say it is being implemented at an unfair time during the season. This is because having the role-lock be established during the season unfairly affects the chances of currently dominant teams to challenge for the title. However, this role-lock solves a lot of problems for Blizzard. It pleases casual players, who may be fed up with having 5 DPS players in each of their Ranked games. It also phases out the generally disliked GOATS composition from existence. This is the trade-off for Blizzard and it seems that for them, the pros outweigh the cons. For Overwatch League viewers, what will be of particular interest is what Meta will develop after the role-lock is implemented.
Stage 4 Meta Prediction
A Meta is a league-wide compositional norm and a Meta is generally decided upon after weeks of scrimmages. Because of this, it is difficult to predict a Meta without the data that is created from scrims. However, there are tell-tale signs of what Meta could be produced as a result of this game altering role-lock.
The Main Tank
Compositions are generally defined by their Main Tank. Because this role-lock eliminates the possibility of playing the currently standing Meta of three supports and three tanks, the play time of Reinhardt will be reduced. Reinhardt has traditionally only been played on maps such as the very linear King’s Row in a 2/2/2 composition. The only other times that Reinhardt has been played has been during periods where three or four tanks have been Meta (such as the dominant Ninjas In Pyjamas quadruple tank composition in Europe).
Assuming there will be no additional Main Tanks added to the game before this Meta evolves, this leaves three strong Main Tanks to choose from.
Winston will be crucial on most points. Historically, where tank-centric compositions are not dominant, Dive generally assumes the position of the standard Meta composition. This is the case for the majority of last year.
The introduction of Wrecking Ball to the game will provide Winston with genuine competition, however. Wrecking Ball works well with DPS heroes because of his ability to knock up opponents leaving them defenseless, particularly against Sniper heroes. Because of this teams will most likely decide whether to play Wrecking Ball or Winston based upon their own strengths. Teams that opt into Widowmaker and Hanzo compositions will enjoy Wrecking Ball (i.e Shanghai Dragons and Houston Outlaws) and teams that prefer not to play double Sniper or similar compositions will want to play with Winston.
Orisa is possibly the most powerful Tank in the game at the moment. She is already used on the majority of defensively favored points and is the linchpin of the strong Bunker composition. The hero-lock in Stage Four will strengthen this composition, and it may, in fact, see playtime on attack. Especially on maps such as Paris, where teams such as the Florida Mayhem have already played Orisa on the attack with great success.
The Off Tank
Some people may have never used the term ‘Off-Tank’. In Overwatch history, it was generally used to describe the player who played D.va, Roadhog and Zarya for their teams. With the introduction of the three Tank and three Support Meta, the use of the term ‘Off Tank’ has fallen off. This is because the player who plays the D.va role does not generally have to play Zarya, that is currently a DPS player’s responsibility. This created the term ‘Flex player’.
A Flex player has to play everything for their team, over any three of the roles. With the introduction of a role-lock, two tanks have to be played. This means that each team will have dedicated Off-Tank players again. The flexibility of Off-Tank players will be reduced to just Tank heroes, they will no longer need to flex onto a third DPS, or be substituted out for a DPS player to play Zarya.
Despite recent nerfs, D.va will still be necessary as the diving partner of either Wrecking Ball or Winston. Her mobility, Defense Matrix and versatile Ultimate Ability will still ensure her high playability. Because Reinhardt will most likely see less playtime, heroes such as Zarya will also be featured less in the Stage Four Meta. She also does not fit well within an Orisa Bunker composition.
Roadhog has terrible mobility and any move toward Dive compositions will ensure Roadhog sees little time played, particularly on the attack. On defense, Roadhog may be a popular pick to pair with the very strong Orisa. Halt and Hook combo will become more dangerous with the introduction of more squishy characters in Stage Four. Roadhog and Orisa is probably the bulkiest Tank duo that can be made. Pair that with Baptiste and Mercy Heals and this gives a defensive team a great amount of sustain on a defensive point.
Sombra. Sombra will be an absolutely necessary pick unless she is nerfed before the start of Stage Four. Alongside Sombra, it will be crucial for teams to have a player that can play both Hitscan heroes and Projectile heroes. Players such as Kim “Fleta” Byung-sun or Jang “Decay” Gul-un will be crucial to their team’s success. On attack, they will have to play Widowmaker and Hanzo on some points. They will also have to play some tracer. Tracer will be re-introduced into the Meta as she synchronises with Winston Dive so well. Tracer’s biggest counter-pick in Brigitte will also be virtually unplayable as she currently stands as well. Pharah is mostly map dependent, and therefore will not see an increase in play but will still be strong on maps where she is currently played.
On defence, the flex DPS player will have to play more Widowmaker. They may also have to play heroes like Junkrat, Torbjorn or Hanzo within the Bunker composition. The Bunker composition is almost unavoidable on some maps. And as such these defensive DPS heroes will be crucial for teams to be able to utilize.
The greatest difference that will be seen with the introduction of a 2/2/2 hero-lock will be the absence of Brigitte in almost every composition. Brigitte enables a composition with heavy tanks and heavy healing because the sustain she provides to a composition is unmatched. However, with only two Tanks and two Supports, Brigitte simply does not output enough healing to be one half of the Support duo in a composition.
Lucio may also see a reduction in playtime due to the popularity of the Bunker composition. Lucio will still be a staple alongside Ana or Zenyatta in a Dive composition. However, a rise in Mercy play is likely as she synergizes well with both Widowmaker and Junkrat. Especially on defensive points like Temple of Anubis point A defence. Baptiste will also see a great deal of play alongside Mercy in the bunker composition. His Immortality Field and strong healing output make him an essential part of this composition. Despite being an original member of the GOATS composition, by the end of the GOATS Meta Moira has seen quite little play. With DPS heroes being forced to be played in Stage Four, Moira will have some utility in compositions. However, Baptiste, Zenyatta and Ana are all in very good positions of strength and will have higher priority for teams in most cases.
To sum it all up, the three compositions that will likely be see most often are:
– Bunker Compositions (Orisa, Roadhog/D.va, Junkrat/Bastion/Sniper/Sombra, Mercy, Baptiste) with some strong variations
– Standard Winston Dive (Winston, D.va, Tracer, Sombra. Lucio, Zenyatta/Ana) very few variations, maybe some Widowmaker
– The Chengdu (Wrecking Ball, D.va, Sombra/Pharah/Tracer, Lucio/Mercy, Zenyatta/Ana) this composition can essentially feature anything alongside a Wrecking Ball
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