Last month, Overwatch developers announced in a livestream that Overwatch 2’s PVP gameplay would be shifting to 5v5. The game would retain the role lock feature but remove one tank from each team. In the process, tanks would all be buffed so that they could viably anchor a team on their own.
The move came partially as a response to long-standing complaints about tanking in Overwatch. Many tank players felt that the role was thankless — tanks are necessary but have little solo carry potential. Tank players are also typically in short supply, which affects queue times for damage and support players and discourages people from queueing at all.
“I think the 5v5 format was decided because it took a long time to get a match due to the lack of tank players,” Seoul Dynasty main tank Hong “Gesture” Jae-hui said. “I’m not sure how it will change the overall Overwatch gameplay experience. It is not good news as a tank player, but hopefully it will make the gameplay experience better.”
The tank role has always been nebulous. Unlike other roles where’s some leeway to mix and match, tanks are obviously split between main tanks and flex tanks. Zarya, for example, is a clear cut flex tank who relies on a strong main tank to play around. Reinhardt, on the other hand, is a main tank who requires a flex tank to enable him to deal damage and control different areas.
This mutual reliance has made for some incredible tank duo play in the past, but it can also make queueing as a solo tank especially frustrating. The discussion around the move to 5v5 has been contentious, and it reflects the schism between pro play and casual play that Overwatch has had to contend with throughout its existence.
Some Overwatch League tank players weren’t thrilled by the changes.
Ggs. Why even try anymore. What a boring concept. College to the moon 🚀
— Hawk (@Thee_Hawk) May 20, 2021
“I think the Overwatch gameplay experience will get boring,” Seoul Dynasty flex tank Lim “Toyou” Hyeon-woo said. “In Overwatch, the game is about fighting for a better position and slowing pushing or pressuring the opponent. Overwatch 2 sounds like a continuous unorganized fight. As a tank, I’m worried about 5v5.”
Most people’s reservations, when it comes to the 5v5 change, come from wanting to keep the structure that a tank duo provides. In the past, compositions based on tank duos like Reinhardt-Zarya and Winston-D.Va have made for some of the best Overwatch gameplay. The push-and-pull synergy built between two tanks can be incredible to watch, especially when it dictates the flow of a game.
Other tank players are more optimistic about the game’s new direction and what it might mean for the tank role.
“We won’t know anything until we actually get our hands on Overwatch 2, but I think the gameplay will be faster because there’s less peel for the team,” Elliot “ELLIVOTE” Vaneryd, who recently played flex tank for the Paris Eternal, said. “The tank philosophy will change. We can’t really say if 5v5 is better at the moment since we haven’t tried it out fully. But I think it’s a breath of fresh air. The tank role will be more important now and I’m excited to see how they change all the characters.”