As many may have heard, Overwatch League teams were told earlier this week that Stage 4 of the Overwatch League will be played on an Overwatch patch that was playable on live servers for a grand total of two days. This patch includes the introduction of Brigitte to the competitive hero pool, but excludes the recent overhaul to Hanzo’s kit, as well as changes to Lucio’s movement, the damage reduction of Tracer’s Pulse Bomb, the nerf to the impact area of Brigitte’s Shield Bash, and more.
Brigitte’s release has significantly altered the (albeit still developing) competitive meta and encouraged the use of heroes that have not yet seen widespread play within the Overwatch League. Her relative strength is meta-defining, and it is of the utmost importance that the League chooses the right patch to commit to ahead of Stage 4 and the beginning of playoff season.
Reportedly, Overwatch League players and coaching staff have been arguing internally for the adjustments to Brigitte’s Shield Bash to be included in Stage 4. Players were asked by Blizzard staff to give overall feedback on the hero, as well as weigh-in on her inclusion without nerfs, earlier this week in order to collectively appeal to the design team.
Some have argued for the use of the most recent balance patch (1.23.01), released on May 3rd, and all of its changes to be included in Stage 4, not just those to Brigitte. Some see the changes to Hanzo’s kit – i.e. the addition of the Storm Arrows ability and the increase of his projectile speed – to be too drastic to include immediately, while others argue that such a stark disconnect between live servers and the Overwatch League is damaging, and that his damage output serves as a necessary counter to the sheer amount of armor and barriers that will soon dominate the stage.
The patch that the Overwatch League is played on only updates between stages, meaning that if Stage 4 begins on a patch in which Brigitte is (as many a pro player has deemed her) overpowering, then the remainder of the stage will be played on that patch regardless of any adjustments Blizzard makes in the interim. Although the hesitation to include Hanzo’s significant rework is understandable, it is unclear why that same hesitation has not been applied to a brand-new hero who has not only already proven to be meta-changing, but in need of nerfs mere days after her release to competitive play.
Stage 4 kicks off next Wednesday, which leaves teams with only one week to figure out a completely new meta defined by a completely new hero before said meta begins determining many teams’ playoff fates. Regardless of the outcome, Blizzard needs to choose and settle on a patch immediately – teams need to know what game they will be playing sooner rather than later.