Overwatch Makes Massive Changes To Hero Pools And Removes Restrictions From Most Ranks

Overwatch Makes Massive Changes To Hero Pools And Removes Restrictions From Most Ranks
Credit: Blizzard via Youtube

There has been a fair bit of controversy around Hero Pools in Overwatch since their release, from the banning of Echo shortly after her introduction to the game, to players concerned that the new algorithm is not working as intended. It seems now that Blizzard is addressing some of these concerns and big changes for the implementation of Hero Pools are on the way.

In a forum post by Scott Mercer, upcoming changes to the way that Hero Pools work were briefly outlined. The most notable of these changes for the majority of the player base is that the Hero Pools will not be in place for any ranks below Master.

Since the goal of these temporary bans were to increase the diversity of characters being played, it only makes sense that the Overwatch team would implement the system in the stalest metas. As the forum post addressed, there is already a wider variety of heroes being used in the lower ranks. This also means that lower rank bans will no longer be dictated only by data at the highest level of play.

Secondly, the team is working on refining the algorithm for the Hero Pools even further. The ban list had previously been random and then shifted to banning heroes based on playtime data from both the Overwatch League (OWL) and top-tier ranked competitive play. Now the algorithm will only be taking into account playtime in OWL matches.

This also is a logical move on the Overwatch team’s part, as the meta in OWL vs. the ranked ladder is decidedly different. The coordination of a full team of six in the OWL games makes heroes that require good communication and teamwork much more viable than in ranked. Once the current OWL season ends, the algorithm will temporarily switch over to working off of ranked playtime data, and then switch back once the new League season begins.

As this change is a large one, the team will not be including it on the upcoming 1.48 update to the game. Instead, they will continue to work on these changes for a larger client patch in the future. To account for this, Hero Pools will be temporarily switched off starting May 4th and will be reintroduced to only those in Master and Grandmaster ranks once the patch is complete.

Mercer then goes on to say that the Overwatch team still believes in the goal and vision of the Hero Pools. The team also believes that the system has seen positive results and that they want to continue to work on refining and improving this feature in the future.