As Stage 4 continues after its starting week, the phrase “2-2-2” has been thrown around quite a bit. In a game where the meta defines everything, 2-2-2 is something both fans and players will be seeing quite a lot of as the League moves forward.
But what does 2-2-2 mean, exactly? What kinds of things can people expect to see on stage with such a change in place? How does this affect the compositions that teams will be playing throughout the rest of the season and into the next one?
For starters, 2-2-2 refers to how many players of each role will be present on stage at any given time. The three roles in Overwatch are tank, support and damage. Therefore, with 2-2-2 in place, this means that two players from each team will be filling in these roles. Each team is now required to have two damage players, two tank players and two support players on stage for any given map.
These players are designated to their role and their role only, meaning there is no flexing to a different role in the middle of a match. For example, if a damage player was having trouble finding success on a Hero like Hanzo, they could not flex over to a third support, or a third tank, to help swing the fight. Instead, their choices must come from the damage category only.
There are plenty of reasons that 2-2-2 is now the standard in the Overwatch League. The main one, however, revolves around the previous meta. With GOATs, or 3-3, being so incredibly successful and hard to break, the League took actions to break it apart themselves. In a GOATs meta, players had three tanks and three supports on the field, with damage players flexing to other roles in order to complete the composition. With a locked 2-2-2 meta, these players can now focus on the roles they were signed to play in the first place: damage. There’s been a lack of damage Heroes in Stage 1 and Stage 2. Now, Stage 4 has welcomed them back with open arms.
Stage 3 gave fans glimpses of hope with a 3-2-1 meta. This means that teams, mostly the Shanghai Dragons, would run three damage players, two supports and one tank. It worked so well that the Dragons ended up winning the Stage 3 Playoffs. However, with a mismatch of equality with teams who still chose to run GOATs, the 2-2-2 lock seemed better for even match making. With both teams playing the same amount of heroes on each side, team fights can no longer rely on a multitude of ultimates and can, instead, focus on individual play.
The Returning Players
This new role lock also brings back some players who fans have been begging to see. With damage players seeing little to no stage time, Stage 4 has brought them back into the limelight. Players like Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin of the Houston Outlaws, Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park of the NYXL, Nam-joo “Striker” Kwon of the San Fransisco Shock and Charlie “nero” Zwarg of the Guangzhou Charge have gotten time to play on stage, proving why they’ve been signed to an Overwatch League team in the first place.
With hero pools that include characters like Tracer, these players were previously stuck on the bench, awaiting a new meta. 2-2-2 has given them a chance to shine by providing a meta where damage players will always get to play their intended role.
Additionally, certain off-tank players are also seeing more playtime. After some time off in a 3-2-1 meta, the LA Valiant’s star tank player Indy “SPACE” Halpern made his return to the stage this past week.
Fan favorite, and D.va superstar, Se-yeon “Geguri” Kim of the Shanghai Dragons did the very same. The long awaited return of Joona “Fragi” Laine and Hyung-seok “Bischu” “Aaron” Kim, previously of the Philadelphia Fusion and the LA Gladiators, also arrived this past weekend.
This 2-2-2 lock gives teams a chance to diversify their overall roster and allow players with more specific Hero pools to see some playtime, even if it’s only for one or two maps in a series.
With two tanks, two damage dealers and two supports, the combination of Heroes that fans have seen together has been endless. In Stage 1, the majority of teams ran the same six Heroes. In the first week of Stage 4, all 30 Heroes saw playtime on the stage. This gives teams a chance to really try new and interesting strategies, and find places for Niche heroes like Symmetra and Ashe to shine.
Many thought a 2-2-2 lock would imply that Dive would return, a very popular composition consisting of Winston, D.Va, Tracer, Genji, Mercy and Zenyatta. However, teams have chosen to play the opposite.
Tanks like Orisa and Roadhog are in the spotlight. Damage dealer Mei, and snipers like Widowmaker and Hanzo, are doing the same. Support picks turn slightly in favor of Mercy once more, and pairing her with the utility based Ana gives the best results.
Heroes like Moira are also seeing more playtime, which only happened a few times before in very tank-heavy compositions. The 2-2-2 lock is allowing players in their respective roles to practice with new Heroes that maybe they couldn’t have before. Baptiste could break through and see more playtime, and damage Heroes like Doomfist have already broken the mold. The choices are endless now that the whole roster is seemingly up for grabs.
Both the Overwatch League and the Path to Pro Contenders League are going forward with 2-2-2 for the rest of their seasons. This change affects the way that coaches will now scout for future players, as they’ll want to make sure all their bases are covered when it comes to all possible metas.
It also changes the way that “flex players” will work. Instead of having a player switch mid fight to another character, they’ll have to wait until the end of the map to switch seats and for players to rotate out. Though there are smaller complications to work through, the overall consensus from fans and players is that 2-2-2 is better for everyone’s overall experience.
Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.
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