What’s up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here to present an old favorite: the Meta Report. Stage 1 of the 2019 Overwatch League season has been dominated by a lineup that has been thoroughly discussed at this point: the triple-tank, triple-support powerhouse. The 3-3 generally features the following heroes: Lúcio, Zenyatta, Brigitte, Zarya, D.Va, and Reinhardt.
There is one overarching reason that teams run this composition in the current Overwatch League patch*: the incredible synergy that these heroes enjoy with each other. When viewed as separate heroes in a vacuum, none of them are necessarily overpowered—they all have noticeable weaknesses. However, when put together, they cover each other’s weaknesses and amplify their collective strength to a level much greater than the sum of their parts.
* Note: the introduction of Baptiste, along with many balance changes that may weaken 3-3, just went live on the public servers.
Take Brigitte, Reinhardt, and Zarya for example. These heroes are generally close-range brawlers who would have difficulty dealing with long-range heroes like Hanzo, Ashe, Widowmaker, Pharah, or Soldier: 76. However, D.Va’s Defense Matrix helps alleviate the pressure from spammy heroes, and Lucio’s Speed Aura quickly escorts these melee-range fighters to their preferred target. Lineups heavy in tanks and supports also generally lack damage, but between Zenyatta’s Discord Orb amplifying all incoming damage on a target by 30% and Zarya’s damage doubling as she reaches maximum charge, professional Overwatch players have more than enough damage to go around in this Voltron-esque lineup.
I’ve explained why the lineup is strong, however, so let’s look at how often these heroes were used in Stage 1:
Here, we see the dominance of 3-3 in the meta. There were five heroes who enjoyed more than 83% usage this stage; Reinhardt was occasionally subbed out for Winston on maps with high ground. Sombra, a hard-counter to 3-3 lineups due to her EMP, was generally substituted for D.Va. However, these D.Va-less Sombra lineups were susceptible to being run over by traditional Reinhardt-based comps, and missed Defense Matrix greatly.
Another popular counter to 3-3 explains much of the >3% usage tier, comprising heroes like Tracer, Widowmaker, Pharah, and Ana. These are heroes used by teams like the Guangzhou Charge and Chengdu Hunters to power their Wrecking Ball-based, DPS-heavy compositions that can attack static 3-3 lineups from multiple angles at once. Even though D.Va can help her 3-3 compatriots weather the storm of bullets and rockets from multiple directions for some time, her Defense Matrix can’t look in all directions at once, and eventually runs out. Wrecking Ball’s Piledriver also provides great combo ability with Widowmaker sniping or Pharah yeeting rockets into a mass of players suddenly knocked up into the air, like a bunch of skeet-shooting discs.
In the clip above, Chengdu shows us just how deadly Pharah’s abilities are when combined with EMP and Piledriver. The weakness of this composition, however, is its inability to contest a point if the opposing 3-3 team’s spawn is anywhere remotely nearby. Thus, this team composition was generally used on control maps like Ilios and Busan or on the first point of assault maps like Volskaya Industries, where it is nigh-impossible for a defending team to re-contest the point after losing a teamfight.
To better illustrate how often these various lineups were used, I’ve presented the usage rate of the top 10 hero compositions used below, which mirrors these observations:
Reinhardt 3-3 lives solidly on top of the mountain of Stage 1 comps, the Winston variant comes in second, the Sombra version lands at just under 10% usage, and a Wrecking Ball 3-3 exists in fourth place, largely due to Chengdu’s insistence on jamming him into every lineup in their arsenal. The triple-DPS lineup with Sombra, Widowmaker, Tracer, and Wrecking Ball slides in at five, but was far more popular on maps where it could shine. If we look at just roles, and filter to Volskaya Industries, Busan, and Ilios, lineups with damage heroes shine:
I’ve highlighted all lineups with at least two DPS heroes on these three favorable maps for DPS comps—the 3-3-busting lineup was used for 17.2% of all time played in these situations. This is all well and good, but it’s a far cry from last season, where lineups with at least two DPS heroes accounted for 88.1% of all time played on all maps.
Will the Stage 2 patch be enough to restore DPS heroes back to their former glory? Is Baptiste’s Immortality Field and Amplification Matrix enough to bring about a bunker-type meta? Or will the changes to armor’s damage reduction signal a new age of Winston dominance? The best way to answer these questions is simply to jump into the game and find out ourselves!
Ben "CaptainPlanet" Trautman is the statistics producer for the Overwatch League global broadcast. Follow him on Twitter!