The new content and balance patch arrived last night which brought in much-needed changes for McCree, Hanzo, Zenyatta, D.Va, and also brought us the new Sniper Healer, Ana. Throughout the PTR some professional players discussed on-stream how the meta may change in the upcoming weeks with the introduction of Ana, and the changes made to Zenyatta. While most of this is just assumption, and my somewhat amateur insight, I do feel a meta shift is imminent as professional teams will now try to incorporate the new hero.
The Old Meta
Overwatch is still in its infancy, and competitively that means there perhaps has not been enough time for a true meta to evolve within the competitive scene. Arguably there were heroes which were preferred, and if we had to sum up the pre-patch meta it would probably be known as the “Mercy-Pharah meta.” Pharah became extremely strong after the changes were made to Widowmaker in the last balance patch. While Widow still remained a worthy adversary for Pharah, she somewhat fell off after her changes. This made the Pharah-Mercy combo tough to deal with, and with McCree out as well, it was up to Soldier:76 to take Pharah down, or Roadhog to hook her out of the sky. The pre-patch meta also gave us the Pharah vs. Pharah showdown, but still it was a two heal, two tank, and two dps meta with room for variation.
Heroes we didn’t see often in the pre-patch meta were McCree after his nerf, and dealing with flankers was left to Roadhog, and other tanks. The reason McCree fell off was not only due to his changes to his Fan The Hammer, but also largely due to his damage drop over distance. What this meant was that long-range shots did not do as much damage compared to close range, but this has changed in the new patch, and our favourite Cowboy is back!
The (rumoured) New Meta
First of all, let’s look at the balance changes which came with the new patch.
- Defense Matrix
- Cooldown decreased from 10 seconds to 1 second
- A new resource meter has been added. This meter will deplete while Defense Matrix is active and then recharge when it’s not in use.
- Defense Matrix takes 10 seconds to reach full charge from empty
- At a full charge, Defense Matrix will last for 4 seconds
- Defense Matrix will now remain active as long as its assigned hotkey is held
- Defense Matrix has been reclassified as an alternate fire and is now bound to RMB (by default)
- An option to “Toggle Defense Matrix” has been added under Options > Controls > D.Va
- Ultimate cost decreased by 15%
- Explosion delay reduced from 4 seconds to 3 seconds
- Explosion no longer damages D.Va (the player who activates it)
- Now maintains full damage at longer distances, but will deal less damage at extreme ranges
- Base shields increased by 50 (now 50 Health/150 Shield)
- Primary fire weapon damage decreased from 45 to 40
- Alternate fire weapon damage increased from 35 to 40
- Orb of Discord and Orb of Harmony
- Projectile speed has been increased from 30 to 120
- Movement speed is now doubled upon activation
- Healing amount increased from 200 to 300 health per second
What made D.Va nearly obsolete in previous metas was that her ultimate was incredibly easy to dodge. The new timer change can catch you off guard, and her ultimate charges faster as well. The Defense Matrix is more of Reinhardt Shield type of defense now, which is also extremely strong for fast pushing. McCree of course got his damage drop removed at long distances, which will be a headache for the Pharah-Mercy combo. Finally we have Zenyatta, who got the biggest change of all. Simply reading over the changes is evidence of how strong he will be in the upcoming meta, and he’s no longer as squishy as he once was.
In the new meta some professional players have been chatting about a possible three healer set up with Mercy, Zenyatta/Lucio, and Ana. Ana adds a lot to the competitive play as her ultimate can be combined with a number of offensive ultimates to absolutely tear through any defense or offense. Her dart is great for putting down enemies looking for a close engagement. Her heal grenade buffs the healing of other supports, meaning you’ll be healed up in no time making any engagement really powerful. While some teams may still run the Pharah, it’s clear that McCree will make a resurgence into the competitive meta as long-range headshots will be key for breaking down opponents. It’s still unclear whether teams will opt for the one tank, or two tank approach, leaving damage as a big question, but it’s clear that both Zenyatta and Ana deal a fair amount of damage, even as healers.
Needless to say the next few weeks of competitive Overwatch are going to be extremely interesting as professional teams shape the upcoming meta. It will be great to see which players pick up Ana as she is a worthy replacement for a sniper, albeit less powerful than Widowmaker in terms of burst DPS.
Last Updated: July 20, 2016