Overwatch just had another patch that shakes up how players and the meta will interact and intersect in the professional arena of Overwatch League, and with it comes questions that simply need to be asked at this point.
The patches for Overwatch, when they do arrive, tend to focus on specific heroes, nerfing their abilities or buffing them, it doesn’t matter; it can drastically change how the game is played at the highest level.
With there being very little transparency into the decisions of Blizzard regarding how they balance heroes, and with the very impactful abilities that have the capability to fundamentally shift a match-up, it brings to question precisely how users can be sure that there aren’t backroom shenanigans afoot regarding specific teams.
Perhaps it’s best to look at this as a hypothetical: let’s say you’re on the balance team, and you simply adore Team Apple who has just signed one of the biggest names in Baptiste play. What would stop you from attempting to get Baptiste a massive buff, if not fundamental overhaul, to ensure that Team Apple will receive a much needed competitive advantage prior to a tournament?
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) August 10, 2020
Add onto this the possibility that Team Apple knows of your adoration, and they reach out to you in an attempt to receive some specific changes that bring their strategies a bit more of an edge.
These can be monumental changes, as well; we aren’t discussing the Krieg nerf of Counter-Strike where users can simply pick a different weapon and frag at a different firing rate. In Overwatch, players tend to specialize in a specific class of hero, and then further with unique heroes in that class.
As we saw during the Summer Showdown, Genji quickly became the meta with one patch; the teams with the best Genji won, and then the following patch brought Genji back to a less ‘over-tuned’ state.
For the playoffs that will culminate into the Grand Final, Blizzard has just launched a new patch; Sigma and Roadhog got slight nerfs while Pharah gets a massive movement buff.
So the upcoming tourney now depends on who has a better Pharah, and which teams can comfortably counter the 20% movement speed increase she has received.
Note that we aren’t specifically calling out Blizzard for changing meta’s to benefit certain teams; it’s merely a general lack of transparency is affording certain staff members a massive amount of power that could sour competitive integrity within the Overwatch League. It’s a fundamental design of Overwatch that differs from other team-based shooters, and it is arguably something that should be accounted for in the near future.