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.