Upcoming update in Overwatch refines hero pools and retires map pools

Image Source: Blizzard Entertainment


There is a constant need for change in Overwatch because of the living nature of the game. From hero balance to map designs, the development team has a wide array of options at their disposal that they can direct their creativity towards. To change things up in Overwatch, the development team implemented map pools late last year and hero pools in early March to keep the playerbase's never-ending need for new content satisfied.


When it came to the current roster of playable heroes, the community wanted a "pick and ban" system like League of Legends but was met with hero pools instead. The cause was due to imbalanced heroes even after the role lock implementation last year. There were constant mirror matches like double shields with Orisa and Sigma, Mei being the best DPS hero, and Moira becoming a great all-around hero. The dev team responded by starting hero pools in order to see a variety of heroes receive playtime in both competitive and Overwatch League matches. 


As for map pools, they were introduced due to Paris' and Horizon Lunar Colony's map designs. Players detested assault maps like Paris and Horizon Lunar Colony due to their chokepoints and short spawn points for defenders. Instead, players were introduced to map pools with no sign that these maps were getting a redesign. After various feedback throughout the community, the dev team is taking the next steps to address their community's concerns. 



The following update was sent to Inven Global:


Refining Hero Pools and Retiring Map Pools


Since the introduction of Map Pools late last year and Hero Pools in early March, we’ve heard a lot of great feedback from players on both of these systems, including what they like about them and what they find confusing or unclear. Based on that, we’ll be making some changes to both systems starting next week. Here’s what’s in store:


Unifying the Hero Pools


We’ve received a lot of helpful feedback since Hero Pools came to Competitive Play that the system was achieving our goal of shaking up the meta from week to week—but we’ve also heard that some aspects of the system are confusing or unclear, including why certain heroes or roles are rotated each week, or why the exact number of heroes available is inconsistent from week to week. In addition, having separate Hero Pools for Competitive Play and the Overwatch League in the same week led to a confusing or disjointed experience for players who follow the League.


Starting April 13, we intend to address this by having a single, unified Hero Pool, allowing both the Overwatch League and Competitive Play to mirror each other as closely as possible and making a more consistent viewing and play experience. Here’s how this will work:


  • To determine a week’s Hero Pool, we'll compile hero play rates from high-level Competitive Play matches from the preceding two weeks. Heroes with play rates above a certain threshold will be eligible to be removed; the higher their play rate, the more likely they are to be removed. Based on that, one Tank, two Damage, and one Support will be randomly removed from play. (Note that heroes will not be removed two weeks in a row.)
  • At the end of each Sunday’s Overwatch League matches, we’ll announce the Hero Pool that will be used that upcoming week for both live Competitive Play and the Overwatch League. That pool will go into effect in the game Monday morning.
  • This process will occur every week of the Overwatch League regular season; during weeks that there are no Overwatch League matches, the same data will still be used to determine the Hero Pool and you will find out Monday morning.
Image Source: Blizzard Entertainment


Retiring Map Pools


In the months and competitive seasons since we introduced Map Pools in Competitive Play, we’ve been reading and listening to a ton of feedback from the community about the system. We initially implemented Map Pools to accomplish two major goals:


  • In the short-term, greatly reduce the number of matches played on Paris and Horizon Lunar Colony. We’ve seen a lot of good feedback that these two maps could use some changes, and we want to improve them in future game updates. To that end, we’re taking a look at Paris first with an eye toward updating the map’s layout and making it more fun to play.
  • More broadly, give each competitive season a bit more flavor and differentiation, to give them more distinct identities.


However, we saw a lot of feedback asking for Map Pools to vary more often than every two months at the start of a competitive season. Some suggested one month, others two weeks, and some even one-week rotation periods. However, if the Map Pool were to rotate more frequently, it would stop providing the competitive season with the “identity” we were going for. In addition, if we change the Map Pool faster, you might not even notice that maps were missing or back from one cycle to the next.


To simplify the competitive experience, we are going to no longer have rotating Map Pools starting April 14. Instead, Competitive Play will include all of the maps, with the exception of Paris and Horizon Lunar Colony. When we make updates to those two maps to improve their play in the future, we’ll add them back into the pool at that time.


We’re always listening to the community on how we can improve your Overwatch experience; please continue to reach out and let us know how you feel. These changes are coming very soon to live play, and we’re excited to hear what you think.


We’ll see you on the battlefield!

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