Season three of Overwatch League is rapidly approaching and it seems like it's about to get much more interesting, according to the recent announcement from game director Jeff Kaplan, who unveiled 2020 OWL will introduce Hero Pools feature, starting with OWL week 5.
Jeff Kaplan announced the addition of Hero Pools to Overwatch beginning March 5, 2020. The said feature will also be implemented into the Overwatch League starting on March 7.
With the Hero Pool system, Overwatch will remove one tank hero, one support hero and two damage heroes from the list of playable characters each weekend. The excluded heroes will be randomly selected based on their play-rate from the last two weeks, meaning the heroes, which will be used by players more frequently will be more likely to get disabled.
The Hero Pool feature has been announced as a part of the Developer Update, which will force the Overwatch players to step out of their comfort zone and deepen their champion pools in order to climb the ranked ladder faster and more efficiently. While the addition will change the way Overwatch will be played drastically, perhaps the most exciting effect it will have is on the Overwatch League. As announced by Mr. Kaplan, Hero Pools will be implemented into Overwatch league beginning March 7, or week five of OWL 2020 season.
All the players will receive a week's notice before the changes will be implemented, meaning they won't have a lot of time to prepare themselves and get familiar with another hero, should one of their signature heroes happen to be removed from the list. On a more positive note, Hero Pools will not be used during midseason tournaments, the playoffs, play-in stage and the OWL grand finals. Furthermore, no hero can be disabled for more than one week at a time.
The announcement on the official OWL website read:
"Our expectation is that a rotating Hero Pool for Overwatch League matches will foster a wider range of team strategies and showcase more heroes in competition as players adapt and teams experiment with new compositions when some of the most-played heroes are no longer options."
Besides the added feature, Blizzard also provided an update on its balance patches and their effect on the competitive play. In previous seasons, updates and patches were released in between the stages. In season 3 of OWL, however, stages will no longer exist, due to the changed format of the league.
In order to avoid implementing any drastic changes to the game without further notice, Blizzard decided that Overwatch league will move to the latest patch two weekends after its release. With that, they will give the players enough time to get familiar with the changes, as to avoid incidents such as the most recent one of its kind that happened in the Call of Duty League, where players were practising on the newest update only to see the Launch Week of CDL be played on an older patch. The said incident did not go down well with some pro players, namely Ian "Crimsix" Porter, who took on Twitter to share his frustration.
Hero Pools notes:
- The heroes will be randomly selected from a group of eligible heroes based on play-rate data from the previous two weeks of Overwatch League matches.
- Only heroes that are being played regularly can be pulled from the next hero pool.
- No hero will be unavailable two weeks in a row.
- Hero Pools will not be used for midseason tournaments, the play-in tournament, playoffs, or Grand Finals. All heroes will be available for those matches.
- Teams will be informed of each week’s Hero Pool approximately one week in advance of matches.
Overwatch League and Game Updates notes:
- Moving balance updates as quickly as possible from the live game service to Overwatch League matches.
- Whenever the live game receives a new patch, the Overwatch League will begin playing on that patch two weekends later.
- Any mid-patch updates to the game that go into effect during a match weekend will be deployed for Overwatch League matches the following weekend.