Jeff’s and SVB’s statements recognize that OW is dying. The development team is exploring 1-3-2 to save it. SVB posits that 1-3-2 is a poor solution because the core problem is that there are too few tank players in the game because tanking is boring. He argues that 1-3-2 will only move tanking from “boring” to “unpleasant.” I think SVB is right. He also correctly notes why tanking is boring at present: because Orisa is the dominant pick right now.
But SVB’s explanation of why that is could use enhancement. The Extra Credits video bolsters SVB’s point by arguing that games must be balanced for player skill, not just against power creep. This is the real problem: since Brig was added, Overwatch has never been correctly balanced for player skill.
Extra Credits argues that if mechanic A takes half as much skill to use as mechanic B, to be correctly balanced it must generate less then half as much power as mechanic B. This is because if A generates more than half the power of B, players will simply use A, because B isn’t rewarding enough.
The video uses Chun-Li’s lightning kick from Street Fighter and COD’s grenade launcher as examples. These abilities all are “first order optimal strategies:” mechanics with low skill in to high power out. Their purpose is to give new players a chance against experienced ones. The new players should still lose most of the time to experienced players using more difficult mechanics, but they should feel they have a fighting chance.
In Overwatch however, we at least theoretically segregate games by skill. So at the highest levels, the game should see more mechanically demanding picks be commonplace, while more mechanically easy picks be less frequently used.
As SVB’s post notes, that is not the case right now. SVB says that in high level games if one team selects Orisa - the least difficult tank in the game (she can shield AND shoot and CC all at the same time, and more or less can and should do all of the above off cooldown), the other team can’t win without doing the same. I’d take his point one step further: if the game is correctly balanced for skill, Orisa should almost never be played at the highest levels.
The last time Overwatch was correctly balanced for skill, or at least the closest to that, was during the dive meta. That’s why Season 1 of the Overwatch League was the most successful and that’s why the game was fun back then. That’s also why tanking was fun. You could climb to a certain point with Rein and Orisa, but you needed to master more than just Rein and Orisa to continue climbing. You needed to learn dive tanks too.
My proposal to the Devs is more complex than I can state in this one post, but here it is in a nutshell: rather than fiddling with 1-3-2, rebalance each role in the cast to where–within that role–the easiest heroes to play do not generate enough power to compete with the more mechanically difficult ones at the highest levels.
The best part is, in my view at least, we are already close to the correct skill balance in the Support and DPS roles. Generally, the more difficult heroes give appropriately more reward than their counterparts within those roles. If we rebalance the tank roster the correct way (to where Orisa is, at best, a situational pick at high levels but is the least played tank), I think we’ll find the game becoming more fun again for enough people that it may make a resurgence.