Updates to Hero Pools

We’ve been continuing to read, listen, and watch feedback on Hero Pools from members all across the Overwatch community, and we’re going to make additional changes to the feature to address many of these concerns. Let’s jump right into what we’re doing!

Hero Pools Will Now Use Overwatch League Data

Starting this weekend, Hero Pools eligibility will be determined using hero usage rates from Overwatch League games. While initially our data showed that there were many similarities in hero usage between online high-level Competitive Play and OWL matches, online hero usage over the last few weeks has seen a lot of changes due to the release of Patch 1.47’s balance updates, Experimental Card, and Echo. There were some significant differences between online hero picks versus the most played hero compositions in Overwatch League. Yes, I’m looking at you, Mei and Reaper. Determining Hero Pools with online data did achieve our goal to increase hero variance in matches, and the point of Hero Pools is NOT to just ban the heroes that some players might dislike or consider overpowered. However, Mei and Reaper not seeing enough online play to even be considered for rotation was an issue we wanted to address. After Overwatch League finishes their season this year, we’ll switch back to using data from high-level Competitive Play matches until the next season of Overwatch League begins.

Refining the Algorithm

As part of moving back to Overwatch League data, we’re also looking to make some minor changes in the algorithm to lessen the chance of what might be best described as “hero rotation ping-pong,” where a hero is rotated out every other week. While the current algorithm makes heroes with higher usage-rate percentages also see a higher chance of being rotated, that does exacerbate the chance of heroes repeatedly being removed. Also, highly played heroes the community really likes seeing played have the same chances of being rotated out as highly played heroes the community doesn’t like. The goal is to create variance in the available heroes week to week, and that means there will be a wide range of reactions from the community on each week’s Hero Pool from “the comps we see in OWL this week should be super interesting,” to “ARGH! This week’s pool is the WORST!” It all depends on which heroes you like to play and watch.

Hero Pools Now Only for Master and Grandmaster Players

Another big change we’re making is to only have Hero Pools affect online Competitive Play matches at an average rating of Master or Grandmaster skill level (>3500 SR). Competitive Play at lower skill tiers already sees a tremendous amount of hero composition diversity in their matches, and we don’t think they need a system like Hero Pools to encourage even more. Unfortunately, this is a change that will require a client patch, and we’re a bit too far along in the development process for the upcoming 1.48 patch to add a new feature like this one. This change will take a bit more time to implement. While we all wait for this feature to go live, we’ve decided to temporarily disable Hero Pools from being used in all Competitive Play games. We’ll switch them off next Monday morning, May 4, when the Hero Pool normally rotates. For the vast majority of our competitive players who are ranked Diamond and below, this brings their upcoming future without Hero Pools to them way more quickly.

As always, we appreciate all the feedback across the entire Overwatch community about this subject. We really believe in the Hero Pools feature, and while we have seen a lot of positive results so far, we also know there’s always room for more iteration and improvement. Thanks, everyone!

ADDITIONAL UPDATE: A few people have asked about “What constitutes a Masters or Grandmasters” match, so let me answer that for you all. When Hero Pools come back, they will be active in your match if the average SR amongst all the players is greater or equal to 3500 SR. So if you’re at 3495 SR, you could be in a match with hero pools if other players in the match have higher SRs and raise the average above 3500. If you have a SR of 3510, you could end up in a match with an average SR below 3500 and not have hero pools. One other thing to note is that you can still end up in an “Master and Grandmaster” match even if you or other players are in placements.


Hero pools never made massive amounts of sense in lower tiers, where people struggle to counter heroes in normal metas, so a change like this is super appreciated <3


Promoting smurfing nice nice, masters players I’d say is the biggest group of people to smurf. Just make it GM/Top500/OWL. That’s where the game gets extremely serious and technically sound. The players at the top are way less less likely to smurf.

EDIT: I should say biggest IMPACT of smurfs. You shouldn’t be complaining about diamond smurfs and below lol, their mechanical skill isn’t great still and obviously they make tons of mistakes. Masters + you start getting players that #1 understand the game way better than most, they don’t make a ton of positional mistakes or #2 have really crazy mechanical skill. It’s one or the other.


This is gonna cause a huge smurfing problem but we’ll see how it goes.


Unsurprising given the mass exodus of OWL players, the disintegration of contenders, leaving streamers, the general playerbase and the universal hatred of the effect of hero pools across the entire player base.

Also, way to give Smurf players even more incentive to smurf below their ranks. Once again, big changes with no thought as to their knock on effects.

How about we ditch the hero pools, put in a pick/ban phase to competitive matches and also look at the fact that the CC updates didn’t even touch the most problematic heroes (Doomfist and Hammond) and infact was a net buff to both of them!


Other than that, I like it a lot.

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To give better feedback, I think that this will greatly help OWL and ranked in general so thank you guys for listening.


Still sounds like you guys are not thinking outside High M-T500. What a bunch of crap for an update that promotes smurfing and hurting lower end of the ranks systems progression.


Please just remove hero pools in general. As a GM player they are just annoying and so unfun.


Hey Scott

Thank you for making some adjustments to hero pools. I’d like to direct your attention to a thread with over 300 comments on it (here in the competitive forum board).

Hero Pools and some other implementations have caused a great souring of the game play such that a lot of “advanced” players are continuing to ruin the competitive integrity of the game.

It would be appreciated if you and the team could find an opportunity to try and address these complications as it’s preventing a lot of people from enjoying the game. Thanks


Just perma ban brig, moira, orisa, mei and sombra and remove hero pools at this point. Nobody i saw genuinely likes the system. And the heroes I mentioned are universally hated and OW would be objectively better without them.


I second this, if you can’t address smurfing as a whole, at least try to not give players more incentive to do it.


The same reason anyone hates a character. They don’t want to counter pick to stop them…


But why are GM and Masters Now getting bans based on OWL?

You´ve said this yourself, they have different picks,

just have OWL bans based on OWL, and masters/GM ban based on masters/GM

if OWL players want to practice, they can make a custom game and scrim


i how about you just drop this idea?


This is nice… BUT its only going to add to a bigger problem that the development team seems to have their heads in the sand about. Smurfing. This will give people another reason to do it. “i can’t play the hero i want this week, guess i’m trolling the lower ranks again this week.”

Don’t get me wrong. Short of removing hero bans all together this is a good move. I’m just worried about what effect it will have on our other problems.


Literally there’s a feed in this very forum with over 300 replies at this point where not only do several people admit to smurfing but they even give reasons. Either address the issue by addressing the people or at least address the reasons they do it and for god’s sake don’t give them more reasons.


Lol, they reduced CC by a bit and also reduced Hero Bans by a bit :laughing:

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IDK for how short it’ll be, HERO POOLS ARE GONE :crab: :clap: HERO POOLS ARE GONE :crab: :clap: HERO POOLS ARE GONE :crab: :clap: HERO POOLS ARE GONE :crab: :clap:


I love this development team so much.

Not only have you listened to our feedback on the last experimental patch and acted on it, but you’ve also listened and acted on our feedback in regards to hero pools.

You guys rock!