Last year, the Overwatch League introduced Hero Pools, a system where the most frequently played heroes would be banned from play week to week. This was supposed to keep the meta from stagnating, but the league phased them out halfway through the season as it proved too strenuous for players and teams. In 2021, Hero Pools have returned in a slightly different way. They’ll only be implemented in two of the tournaments — the June Joust and the Countdown Cup — and they’ll remain consistent the whole way through. June Joust Hero Pools were recently announced, with Tracer, Sombra, Reinhardt and Zenyatta out of the picture for the next four weeks. If you’re wondering how this will affect your favorite team, look no further. Using our highly advanced analytical matrix, we’ve deduced exactly how every Overwatch League team feels going into the June Joust.
How they feel: Not great
Reason: Blake “Gator” Scott is currently Atlanta’s only main tank player and he plays a lot of Reinhardt. Atlanta has looked their worst when playing high ground-focused maps like Watchpoint: Gibraltar, where playing Winston is basically unavoidable. It’s not clear how the Reinhardt-less meta will shake out just yet. But, suffice it to say, it will probably take some time for the Reign to adjust. Other than this, the team should be just fine for the June Joust, as long as they can adapt to a different playstyle.
How they feel: Neutral, leaning positive
Reason: The Uprising have a pretty solid roster that covers a wide range of heroes, but losing their intended Tracer player just before the season began put them on the back foot going into the May Melee. Kim “Valentine” Byeong-ju, who is a flex damage player, was forced to fill the Tracer role, to varying degrees of success. Tracer being out of rotation will likely allow the Uprising to take a breather for June Joust and focus on strengthening their core without having to scramble to catch up.
How they feel: Relieved
Reason: Sombra no longer being a playable hero is great news for the Hunters, a team that currently fields four damage players who all can’t play Sombra. Despite this, they keep trying, bless their hearts — even if they fail to have any meaningful impact over and over again. The Hunters should be feeling pretty good going into the June Joust. This is due to the rest of their bases being pretty much covered, and they can’t play Sombra poorly if they literally can’t play her.
How they feel: Perfectly fine
Reason: The Dallas Fuel are flying high after their May Melee win, which they achieved by relying on approximately none of the heroes banned in the June Joust. As such, the hero bans aren’t going to affect the Fuel very much; they never needed them that much anyway. Sure, Kim “Sp9rk1e” Yeong-han massively stepped up his game on Tracer, but he wasn’t originally to be their dedicated Tracer player. He probably did a little dance of celebration when he heard that he wouldn’t have to play her again for a few weeks.
How they feel: Neutral
Reason: One of the brightest points of the Mayhem this season has been Kim “Yaki” Jun-ki’s electrifying Tracer play. His Tracer can feel downright oppressive, always making the right decisions and terrorizing the enemy backline. Still, the ban will likely amount to little more than viewer disappointment that Yaki’s Tracer won’t be seen again for a while. He’s more than capable of excelling on other damage heroes as well, and the Mayhem won’t see a significant drop-off in performance.
How they feel: Disappointed
Reason: The Charge had a tough time in the May Melee, putting forward unremarkable performances and finishing in the low end of the East Division. The best part of the team was Choi “Choisehwan” Se-hwan’s legitimately excellent Tracer; a hero that he now won’t be able to play in the June Joust. It’s possible that he’ll still perform well, depending on how the meta shakes out, but he hasn’t yet proven that he can be the key playmaker that the Charge needs on any hero other than Tracer.
How they feel: ???
Reason: The Spark are a befuddling team this year, boasting a full twelve-man roster where only half the players get significant playtime. Furthermore, they’ve completely changed their coaching structure already, and we’re basically only one month into the season. There’s no doubt that this team of talented players can play whichever heroes are required of them in the June Joust. But, frankly, they probably have bigger issues to think about than hero bans.
How they feel: Sad, and we should be too
Reason: Let’s all have a moment of silence for Cho “JJANGGU” Myung-heum’s confident, aggressive Reinhardt; a key component of the Outlaws’ unprecedented success in the May Melee and an utter joy to watch every week. The good news is that Symmetra won’t be banned in the June Joust, which means JJANGGU can still teleport behind his enemies and hit them with a nasty surprise. The bad news is that that nasty surprise won’t be an Earthshatter anymore.
How they feel: Neutral
Reason: The Spitfire finished last in the West Division in the May Melee, not winning a single match and only a handful of maps. They’re a strange team to watch because there are several players with league experience on the roster. Also, their play indicates that they should be better than they are. The Reinhardt ban is a tough break for them, as they rely on Reinhardt-centric compositions quite a bit. However, the Spitfire have more fundamental problems to work out right now for the June Joust.
Los Angeles Gladiators
How they feel: Mad(iators)
Reason: The Gladiators were regarded very highly by analysts and fans in the preseason but they had an underwhelming performance in the May Melee. It’s unclear whether this was due to individual failings or issues in coaching. However, this is a roster that, on paper, should be among the best. The Gladiators’ biggest problem isn’t with hero picks or running meta compositions; it’s with their basic identity as a team. If they can work that out, Hero Pools won’t be too big of a problem for them.
Los Angeles Valiant
How they feel: Okay, I guess
Reason: Let’s face it: the Los Angeles Valiant have the uphill climb of all uphill climbs ahead of them. The roster was kind of up a creek without a paddle from the start, with several players switching roles and no notable names on the team. There are very few expectations for the Valiant, and the few bright spots they’ve had haven’t amounted to any real success. Still, maybe this means that Hero Pools don’t even matter for them. In the June Joust and beyond, there’s literally nowhere to go but up for this team.
New York Excelsior
How they feel: Fine
Reason: If this were 2018, there would be thinkpieces written about how Bang “JJonak” Seong-hyun not being allowed to play Zenyatta in the June Joust would be the NYXL’s downfall. In 2021, however, the new NYXL are still finding their footing and JJonak hasn’t been the league’s most oppressive Zenyatta player for years now. Hero Pools aren’t a big factor for the NYXL; the main thing the team needs to focus on right now is honing their rookie players’ considerable potential into something that will legitimately challenge the top teams in the East Division.
How they feel: Neutral, leaning negative
Reason: The Eternal didn’t quite have the May Melee they wanted, finishing with a 1-3 match record and failing to qualify for knockouts. Despite this, it was clear that all the individual pieces were there. And main tank Daniël “Daan” Scheltema was especially impressive on Reinhardt. Unfortunately, he will not be playing Reinhardt in the June Joust, which leaves the Eternal without that anchoring main tank to rely on.
How they feel: Ambivalent
Reason: There were significant doubts around the Fusion going into the May Melee, but they managed to exceed expectations and go 4-0 in the regular season anyway. There’s nothing wrong with the veteran-filled Fusion roster (other than the fact that they didn’t make the May Melee final four — whoops) and every player is perfectly capable of playing anything that’s required of them. Ultimately, the Fusion’s main problem seems to be something more abstract and hero bans aren’t likely to change that.
San Francisco Shock
How they feel: Angry
Reason: Our defending champions were utterly wiped out by the Dallas Fuel in knockouts. They didn’t win a single map against the eventual May Melee champions. This isn’t unusual for the Shock. They’ve made it a habit to suffer early season losses and come back stronger and angrier. Though Kwon “Striker” Nam-joo is a well-known Tracer aficionado and Reinhardt is now universally associated with Matthew “Super” DeLisi, the Shock definitely aren’t lacking in flexibility. And, if they have a blind spot in the June Joust for some reason, they can just make Park “Viol2t” Min-ki do a role swap. It’s happened before.
How they feel: A sense of loss
Reason: For four years now, Park “Profit” Jun-young’s Tracer has been regarded as one of the best in the world. This is especially true when paired with longtime teammate Hong “Gesture” Jae-hee’s Winston. However, with Tracer now out of the pool, Profit will have to do what every damage player dreads: learn a new hero. He’s done this successfully before but, with the Dynasty fielding just three damage players, it’s imperative that Profit excels without his signature hero for a whole tournament cycle.
How they feel: Fine
Reason: The Dragons came second in the May Melee, losing twice to the Dallas Fuel. They’re slowly building up to being the best team in the East Division, after an early loss to the Chengdu Hunters. The biggest question mark for the Dragons has been how their new main tank, Koo “Fate” Pan-seung, is adjusting to the rest of the team. Taking away Reinhardt might make things a little harder, but Fate is no slouch on the other main tank heroes. The Dragons are a force to be reckoned with and a couple of hero bans aren’t going to change that.
How they feel: Neutral, leaning positive
Reason: Nobody was sure how the Defiant would perform coming into the season. But, they exceeded expectations with their 3-1 regular season scoreline. There’s plenty of talent here and, judging on their May Melee compositions, the roster will be able to work around the four banned heroes in the June Joust pretty seamlessly. Jeong “Heesu” Hee-su won’t be able to play his famous Sombra but he routinely impresses on other damage heroes. Plus, Kim “Sado” Su-min has always seemed more comfortable playing the non-Reinhardt main tanks anyway.
How they feel: Just glad to be here
Reason: If you watch any Overwatch League Comms Check you’ll see that the Titans, despite their lackluster performance so far, are pretty much just vibing. The good thing about being on the lower end of the standings is that when there are big changes to the meta, you can’t really get worse; you either stay the same or move up. None of the heroes banned in the June Joust are too consequential for the Titans. With Kim “Teru” Jun-ki finally joining the rest of the team in Vancouver, their June Joust damage lineup will become a little stronger.
How they feel: Determined
Reason: The Justice had a great first outing, finishing first in the West Division with a perfect 4-0 scoreline. However, there were also noticeable gaps in their play. This was more due to their lack of experience as a team than any individual performances. This means that the Hero Pools won’t have much of an impact for this team in the June Joust. The Justice need to get better at playing as a team of six rather than a couple of disjointed parts. Once that happens, they’ll be even better than they were.