Hero Pools have been one of the most controversial changes Blizzard has ever made to Overwatch. As of today, Blizzard is removing them from competitive play and changing how they work in the Overwatch League.
How Hero Pools will work in the Overwatch League
Per Blizzard’s official statement, Hero Pools in the Overwatch League will now last two weeks before rotating. After each two-week period, the next two weeks will be played with no Hero Pools. Tournaments will also not have them.
This means that the next pool with Echo, Sombra, Brigitte, and D.Va out will be effective for Weeks 19 and 20 of the Summer Showdown. These will be qualifying matches. During the playoffs, there will not be any bans.
That all means the following, per the announcement:
- The same format will be used for the third regular season tournament and qualifier matches, with a new Hero Pool in effect for two weeks of qualifiers, then no Hero Pool for the third week and tournament matches.
- The final two weeks of the regular-season schedule will also operate under a single Hero Pool.
Why Blizzard is making these changes
Professional players, coaches, and much of the community have been vocal about Hero Pools. While Blizzard implemented them initially to try to force change and keep things fresh, players found them to be stressful and difficult to adapt to.
The feedback for pools hasn’t been all bad, however, and they certainly have prompted players to play different heroes. This is why Blizzard decided not to do away with them completely. The new system should give players more time to adapt to the bans and still discover new ways to play the game.
If negative feedback continues, it is possible that Blizzard will do away with this system for good. While it was a cool and worthwhile experiment, they definitely haven’t been the miracle cure Overwatch needed.
Fortunately, it looks like Blizzard is finally starting to realize that the best way to move forward is with more aggressive and frequent balance changes. While there will never be a perfectly balanced meta where every hero has equal value, making consistent and appropriate changes will certainly keep the game fresh in a more healthy way for players.