Sinisa Bucan, February 8, 2017

How the Latest Overwatch Update is Changing the Meta

A couple of weeks ago, Blizzard released a huge update that we predicted could have a major impact on the Overwatch metagame. It turns out we were right, because the three-tank meta isn’t as dominant as it has been. The Winter Premiere finals showed that a lot of teams are opting for a more aggressive approach by using the once-prevalent 2-2-2 team composition.

Let’s take a look at what exactly is causing this shift.

How Changes to Roadhog, D.Va, and Ana are Changing the Three-Tank Meta

Many people blamed D.Va for the sudden success of the three-tank meta, and they certainly had a point. Not only was D.Va’s survivability very high, but her Defense Matrix was crucial for stopping game-changing enemy ultimates. Even though her Defense Matrix hasn’t been nerfed (it’s actually getting a buff in the next patch), D.Va has become a lot squishier due to the change of her health/armor ratio.

She is still very effective, but nowadays you will see D.Vas out of their mechs a lot more than before. That means a more aggressive enemy line-up can go for their ultimates without fearing the dreaded Defense Matrix. This is exactly what happened in the match between Luminosity and Ghost. After Ghost’s D.Va was out of her mech, Luminosity’s Zarya and Pharah combined their ultimates and decimated the enemy team.

On the other side of the tank coin, Roadhog’s hook was changed in such a way that many consider it to be a buff. In reality, the hook is now simply more consistent and fair. The hook feels a lot better for Roadhog players as it now guarantees to deliver targets right in front of them. In the past, the positioning was often very awkward for Roadhog players.

In some situations, though, you’ll be able to escape after being hooked because it no longer drags you around walls. This is especially advantageous if you’re on the high ground. In a match between Ghost and Immortals, Ghost’s Roadhog manages to hook McCree, but he instantly loses line of sight because of a ledge and the hook breaks off. The situation goes south for Ghost quickly as McCree proceeds to take out Ana and a back-facing Reinhardt.

Ana healing D.Va
Ana healing D.Va

All in all, the Winter Premiere statistics show that Roadhog is the clear winner. He was used 22 times whereas D.Va was only used 10 times from start to finish. Even though D.Va is still viable, this shows us that the three-tank meta will no longer be prevalent as it was until recently.

Lastly, Ana was a huge reason why the three-tank meta was so successful. Her Biotic Grenade was insanely effective at keeping multiple tanks alive at the same time. That’s all changed now as her grenade’s healing boost has been decreased by a whopping 50%. But this nerf definitely won’t make Ana drop out of the meta.

Her healing output is still very good and Nano Boost always has the potential to turn the tide of a battle. However, the nerf will open the door for more aggressive team compositions who will now have an easier time dispatching high-health tanks.

Let’s Get Aggressive

Soldier: 76 has been the DPS hero of choice in the three-tank meta. He’s definitely one of the most straightforward heroes in Overwatch, but his mobility and healing make him a great pick in pretty much any situation. And that won’t change anytime soon. However, we are now seeing a lot more of Tracer, Genji, and McCree.

In comparison to Soldier: 76, all of these heroes have a very high skill ceiling, but they can be extremely effective if you know what you’re doing. Tracer and Genji are also incredibly mobile, which is a major advantage in the meta after the D.Va and Ana nerfs. Tracer was picked 39 times during the Winter Premiere, 18 times as a full-time selection, and 14 times on defense, which is just incredible.

The prime example is Ghost player Mykl, renowned for his D.Va skills, having to play Tracer in a lot of matches.

Overwatch - Tracer vs. Reinhardt
Overwatch - Tracer vs. Reinhardt

Final Thoughts

Let’s be quite clear here – the three-tank composition isn’t going anywhere. Many teams will still opt for the 3-2-1 composition (three tanks, two support, one DPS), and they will be successful. D.Va definitely won’t be around as much as before simply because Reinhardt, Roadhog, and Zarya are much better and consistent.

But there’s no denying that the once-dominant 2-2-2 team composition is back. Future tournament should be very interesting because the teams will have to figure out what are the best DPS choices to combat the three-tank meta. We might even see someone make Sombra viable.

Sinisa Bucan

Siniša is a writer and translator from Croatia, a small European country on the Adriatic coast. Apart from being a passionate Hearthstone player, he enjoys all kinds of video games, including strategy, role-playing, adventure, and action. Other interests include listening to indie rock and travelling. You can follow him @SinisaBucan.