Earlier this year, Blizzard gave Overwatch fans clamoring for a hero pick/ban system what they were asking for—sort of. The hero pool feature did indeed ban certain heroes, but Blizzard was doing the choosing. This led to regular consternation from pros and regular players alike. As a result, Blizzard has decided to retire the system from competitive mode, for now.
The developer made the announcement in a forum post today, saying that hero pools, which regularly banned a small rotation of heroes for one week at a time in competitive mode and professional play, are being removed from competitive mode “indefinitely.”
“We initially implemented Hero Pools to address issues with stagnating metas and to keep match-ups exciting and fresh,” wrote Blizzard. “However, we’ve found that the introduction of Experimental Card and increased hero balance updates has helped us work towards a healthy, changing meta in Competitive Play without needing to disable heroes.”
Hero Pools are not, however, departing from Overwatch League. Instead, each selection of heroes will now last two weeks instead of one, and the feature will be disabled during tournaments, as well as the week before each tournament.
Hero pools have proven especially difficult for pro teams, who were forced to adjust to a new meta each week. Even before Blizzard decided to toss everybody into hero pools’ deep end, players and coaches were already under immense pressure to practice and strategize. Weekly hero pools led to a more diverse selection of heroes on the battlefield, but also more burnout for players and matches where some teams just looked lost. Will an extra week and pool-less tournaments give teams adequate time to prepare? For players’ sake, I hope so.