Blizzard has announced it’s making a few big changes to competitive Overwatch–specifically to the hero pools and map pools systems that it introduced over the last several months. Hero pools will undergo some major changes, while map pools will be going away entirely.
First, the hero pools for competitive play and Overwatch League will be unified into a single pool starting on April 13. Any heroes with a play rate above a certain amount in competitive matches will be eligible for removal, and the higher the play rate the more likely they are to be removed. Based on that data, the pools will remove one Tank, one Support, and two Damage characters. Regardless of the data, heroes won’t be removed two weeks in a row. New rotations will be announced at the end of Overwatch League matches on Sunday, or on Monday morning when OWL is out of season.
“We’ve… heard that some aspects of the [hero pool] 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,” Blizzard said in the announcement. “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.”
In addition, starting on April 14, the game will no longer have rotating map pools. Competitive play will include all maps, with the exception of Paris and Horizon Lunar Colony, which are being temporarily counted out while Blizzard tweaks them. Blizzard said it originally introduced map pools to reduce the number of matches played on those two maps, and also to give the competitive seasons more unique flavor.
“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,” Blizzard explained. “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.”
The Overwatch team is currently at work on more Tank and Support heroes, just after introducing another Damage type, Echo. But we’ll also have to wait for more Tank and Support, because Echo is the last new hero until the launch of Overwatch 2.
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