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Overwatch: The Disconnect Between OWL and Ranked

Role lock

It’s well known that GOATs is still very much the meta in the Overwatch League. The teams and players have been practicing 3-3 play for almost a year now, so why would they switch to something new that they haven’t practiced? Not only that, but the last time major changes were made to Heroes was at the beginning of March to try and get rid of GOATs. Since then, there was a slight buff to Junkrat, quality of life fixes to Reaper, the release of Baptise and two new maps. This is where the disconnect between OWL play and Ranked play has happened.

OWL Meta vs Ranked Meta

Everyone that watches OWL knows what teams are going to play, maybe a tailored strategy or two against specific teams or on specific maps, but GOATs through and through. This composition doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere in Stage 3 either, because nobody has been buffed or nerfed and the previous changes, though plentiful, weren’t enough.

role lock

Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Ranked however, is a different story. After the changes to most DPS characters months ago, people on ladder stopped playing GOATs. Or at least not all the time. GOATs has become more of a map-dependent strategy and even then, people can be reluctant because they are tired from playing and watching it. Right now, there is quite a bit of diversity in the ranked meta. It’s not perfect, but it is better than before.

As a matter of fact, bunker compositions are taking over at the highest level of play. It is a lot of Orisa, Baptise, Bastion, Roadhog, D.Va, Mercy. This clip sums up Grandmaster in Season 15.

Video Courtesy of

Why Is This A Problem?

Now Blizzard is stuck in a strange position, make balance changes to stop GOATs in OWL, that could upset the rather diverse meta in ranked. Make balance changes to stop bunker compositions from taking over ranked, even more reason for OWL teams to stick with their almost meta-proof GOATs.

How Can It Be Fixed?

role lock
Pine of the NYXL

So far, the only solution that people have come up with is 2-2-2 role lock. This means two Tanks, two DPS and two Healers in every game, no more and no less. This would make GOATs not viable in OWL and would also provide job security to players. How long has it been since Timo “Taimou” Kettunen played on stage? Or Do-hyeon “Pine” Kim or Nam-Ju “Striker” Gwon? It’s been a while and this is the case because they play DPS characters, but the “DPS” in GOATs are Tanks and Supports.

If there is no end in sight for GOATs, then what is the point of organizations keeping these incredibly talented players on their teams? Role lock could be the only way to end 3-3, but it would do more than just that.

Role Lock In Ranked

As for ranked play, role lock would mean every game would have two Healers and two Tanks, not five DPS players running around with a Roadhog. However, that poses the problem of flexibility in players, five DPS and a Roadhog might be better than a locked 2-2-2 where four people are playing on off roles that they aren’t any good at.

People tend to think one step ahead where the next solution will fix all the problems and all will be fine. In reality seeing the next five steps or so will fix a problem and even then it still isn’t perfect. Blizzard has to look very far ahead when trying to balance the game and it takes time for them to find solutions, now with OWL and Ranked not being on the same page, Blizzard has even more work to do.


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Featured image courtesy of Esports Tales

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