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Stage 1 of Overwatch League to be played on current PTR patch

With Season 2 of the Overwatch League just around the corner, an official confirmation has been given as to what version of the game will be used in the elite tournament, and it will be the patch currently on PTR.

For those of the fans who are uninitiated in the intricacies of competitive play – this means that the latest balance changes would actually make it in time before the start of the second season. The repercussions of that decision are quite substantial and their importance can’t be overstated. Such a decision by Blizzard’s development team seems to be predicated upon a quite the significant backlash from the community and the Pro scene against the infamous Goats composition. To shed some light on the matter, the specific strategy employs three tanks and three supports with no DPS heroes whatsoever. This tactic has become commonplace at high ranks and is hailed as quite “skill-less” and unimaginative by many of the professional players and some part of the fan-base. In addition, many experts have claimed that the Goats composition simply doesn’t have an effective counter at the moment, making the state of the game quite stale and the viewing experience of any tournament – quite a predictable ordeal.

Blizzard’s move seems to be strongly focused around the idea of dismantling the dominance of such strategy and artificially changing the flavor and state of the game. The latest balance changes to many of the heroes have been carefully designed with exactly that in mind, with the League playing on an iteration and a build of Overwatch that includes those specific reworks.

The official announcement was given some hours ago:

This was also separately confirmed by the VP and Commissioner of the Overwatch League Nate Nanzer.

In an interview, Justin “Jayne” Conroy (current assistant coach for the Dallas Fuel) provided quite an in-depth analysis of what fans can potentially expect in the coming months. There’s a lot of information but some of the main points are quite interesting and crucial as to what one can anticipate in the not-so-distant future. There’s a decent number of points to deconstruct but here’s the gist of what the popular coach is saying:

The armor changes will be by far the most impactful for the tanks that do not use armor but shields due to their inherent nature and their property of recharging over time. Heroes like Zarya and Hammond will increase in effectiveness. In addition, some of the DPS would be better at bursting armor, like Tracer or Sombra, and their overall viability would improve.

Doomfist will receive a hidden buff in light of this change, and could be used as a supplemental tank. To that effect, Jayne goes on to explain a composition entitled “Chinese Cheese” (based upon the region where the strategy was first created). This strategy features Zarya and Hammond backed up by three DPS, generally speaking Doomfist, Sombra, and Pharah. The specific goal of this tactic is to neutralize Goats. The famous Canadian coach alludes to a potential resurgence of this concept in some shape or form in the coming months.

Another argument that Jayne makes is that fans can expect a gradual change over time. He doesn’t believe that a clear solution to Goats exists yet, and it definitely won’t disappear overnight. The expert thinks that other compositions will slowly but steadily outshine it in terms of effectiveness and synergy. This is in large part due to the fact that many of the Pro teams have perfected the execution of Goats down to exact science, and its overall simplicity and strength can’t be overstated. However, the forthright Canadian attests that change is in the air. It will just take a little bit of time for players to come up with new options that rival and diminish the effects of the notorious tactic.

Furthermore, while D.Va got a straight-up nerf, her utility has largely remained unchanged. The coach doesn’t really consider her usefulness to be over, far from it. In terms of the competitive play outside of the Pro scene, Jayne believes that the recent buffs to Roadhog and Orisa would lead to great variety in the solo queue, and not a clear and dominant tank anytime soon.

Lastly, the famous assistant coach to Dallas Fuel would like to put the Reaper myth to rest. A large part of the community has been reacting negatively lately to the changes and buffs made to the dark assassin. Jayne feels that this sentiment is in large part not empirically based on any facts but wishful thinking. He credits the inability of some players to deal with the hero to their own skill being in question rather than to some form of imbalance. The facts and data tend to support such a claim and generally speaking, the Pros are Pros for a reason. According to the coach, Reaper will still have issues closing the gap and dealing damage at close range despite the regeneration increase. He further elaborates that the hero has plenty of counters and can be easily outplayed or stunned despite the recent buffs.

A lot of interesting hypotheses from the Overwatch expert and it would be quite interesting to see whether his predictions turn out to be true. One thing is certain, the second season of the Overwatch League is bound to be exciting.

Thumbnail image credit: Blizzard Entertainment