Blizzard’s Hero Bans For Overwatch Invokes Ire From Professional Players In The Overwatch League

Blizzard’s Hero Bans For Overwatch Invokes Ire From Professional Players In The Overwatch League
Credit: PlayOverwatch via YouTube

Blizzard has recently implemented hero bans in an effort to maintain some form of balance in Overwatch.  There are two separate tiers, however, for hero bans.  The first is for Overwatch’s competitive play; the most played heroes of that week will be banned the following week.  Then there are Overwatch League specific bans, in which any hero with over 10% pick rate could be banned, and the bans are chosen randomly.  This is creating an unforeseen consequence of professional Overwatch players that rely on Overwatch ranked play to continue to hone their skills in between scrimmages with their team.

For Overwatch play, in competitive game modes, the bans are currently Orisa, Hanzo, Mei, and Baptiste.  For many competitive players, they are thrilled; Mei has been a cold thorn in the side of almost everyone except for Mei players for the past year, and Baptiste is one of the more unpopular support players with an immortality ability that seems to stop every headshot that I manage to register.

For the Overwatch League, however, four separate heroes are banned; McCree, Widowmaker, Reinhardt, and Moira.  Overwatch League takes a different approach for reason outlined before in terms of hero bans; some teams have fantastic single-hero players, known as one-trick ponies.  Not randomizing the bans (preferably publically) means that there could be a bit of a competitive integrity issue when it comes to hotly contested match-ups, and teams having their preferred heroes being banned.

Let’s say that you’re in the professional Overwatch League team Arkansas Apples, and you’re going against the Ohio Oranges.  You’re the underdog in the match-up, as the Oranges are known for impeccable Junkrat plays that consistently shatters an offensive push.

The week before the match, you make a massive push on Twitter and Twitch to have all of your loyal fans play Junkrat nonstop, in every competitive match.  If it’s enough, players can then alter Overwatch League matches by fanbases deciding who will ultimately get banned for the next week, allowing the Apples to play against the Oranges without their primary hero, Junkrat.

Of course, the Oranges would be trying to desperately get every one of their fans to play the Apples favorite hero, and it all becomes a bit messy, if not tremendously entertaining for everyone not trapped in competitive queue.

From that angle, the current system makes sense.  Yet now you have professional Overwatch players that can’t play ranked matches online to practice the heroes they’ll be playing in the coming weekend.  So now we have Overwatch League players that can’t practice, as there is no secret Overwatch League server for players to log into and practice under proper conditions.

Arguably, this can become just as detrimental as the previous possibility; fans can band together and block heroes from being playable, meaning Overwatch League teams can’t practice them outside of team scrimmages.  An interesting problem for the League, and one Blizzard is clearly having trouble deciphering.