Overwatch 2 balance is great now, and Blizzard has stats to prove it
Overwatch 2 balance is in a great place right now. That’s not just conjecture – Blizzard says Overwatch 2 season 3 “is in a much better state of balance than the start of season 2,” and it has hard stats to back that claim up. The free PC game has had its share of ups and downs since launch, but Overwatch 2 game director Aaron Keller says the team is very happy with the current state of the game as he discusses hero balance and some recent matchmaking changes.
“We hear from players that balance is the best it’s been since the launch of Overwatch 2, while the game feels fresh based on all the changes made,” Keller says in a blog post. “It’s been great watching that discussion and, to foster it, I’d like to give a bit more detail and a bit less commentary.” He takes a look at the current hero stats including pick rate and win rate to show how things are panning out, and why the meta isn’t everything.
“Most supports are viable in nearly every skill tier,” Keller notes, stating that Brigitte has the highest win rate at every skill tier except top 500, where she’s pipped to the post by Zen, with both close to 55% win rate this season. On the flip side, Kiriko and Moira have the lowest win rate right now at just 45% – yet Kiriko continues to be among the most-picked heroes alongside Ana and Mercy, with Moira pick rates also high, especially at lower tiers.
Keller adds, “We tend to think that highly skilled players are continuing to pick certain heroes for good reasons, and we’re getting additional metrics for maps, team comps, and team fights to try and understand this.” It’s certainly true that a high pick rate doesn’t necessarily convert to a high win percentage – after all, if a hero is so strong that they’re picked by both teams in every single match, their win rate is naturally going to stay at a flat 50%.
“Tanks are in a great spot right now,” Keller continues, “It’s almost hard to pick a bad tank.” He notes that Reinhardt buffs have put the colossal German powerhouse at the top of the charts, with a 58% win rate at tiers up to Platinum. Sigma pushes slightly ahead in Masters rank and above, with a 55% win rate in top 500. However, Wrecking Ball is the real top-tier pick at the moment: Keller notes that the hamster’s pick rate increases as player skill rises, and that “by top 500, he is far and away the most picked tank.”
With a win rate between 51-55% putting him among the top 3-4 tanks, Ball is definitely a decent shout – and, as someone who put in the hours to learn him during the old Overwatch days, I’m certainly glad to have the opportunity to swing, speed, and slam my way around the new Overwatch 2 maps again without feeling like I’m throwing. Keller says the team is “keeping an eye on him and wants to make sure that players don’t get fatigued by seeing too much of the little guy.”
Cassidy is the big winner in the damage role – the cocky cowboy “is the most picked hero by a huge margin at all ranks except for top 500, where he’s tied with Tracer, and he continues to move up. Around 30% of matches have a Cassidy on both sides!” Keller says most damage heroes are between a 47% and 53% win rate, with Pharah, Widow, Tracer, and Symmetra around the top – although “things shift around almost daily.”
Symmetra and Torbjörn are topping the win rate charts at low ranks, but unsurprisingly Keller notes that this is fairly common, as their turrets and relatively straightforward playstyle make them notably potent at lower tiers of play. He remarks that “in fact, Symmetra typically has the highest win rate in the game for all roles at all ranks except Masters and above.” Sombra, meanwhile, is still only sitting at around a 46% win rate at Diamond and above, though this is up from the previous season following her buffs.
“With the current state of the game, we’re not looking at doing balance changes until our midseason patch,” Keller says, though he goes on to talk about some of the matchmaking tweaks the team has been making in season 3. Key among these is an optimisation of “pairing players to minimise the MMR difference within a specific role” – so there should be less difference between the DPS players on each team, and fewer ‘tank diffs’ than before causing games to swing hard.
“This has worked, and matches have a much tighter skill delta between players of the same role,” Keller reports. He notes this has also led to lower queue times in ranked – significantly so at higher skill tiers. However, he says this has led to higher queue times in unranked, especially with groups spread more widely across skill levels, although the team has made some changes and “queue times for unranked are already moving lower.”
However, it’s not all good news. Keller says that players are reporting large win/loss streaks, and players in ranked are encountering vastly different skill levels in ranked. He explains, “Prior to season 3, the worst 5% of Grand Master level matches would have players 7 divisions apart,” but that this jumped to 12 divisions apart following recent patches.
He says the team is “making changes almost daily, and this has now been reduced to 9 divisions,” with hopes that it will improve even further in the coming weeks and with the midseason patch. Hopefully Blizzard manages to get that under control – even 9 divisions feels like a rather large margin for ranked play, which should ideally aim to group you up with people as close to your current skill level as possible.
Nevertheless, I can’t deny that my overall experience in season 3 has been fantastic – and I’m far from alone. As one example, Overwatch 2 content creator and former rank 1 player Sam ‘Samito’ Dawahare, often vocal in his criticism, calls the current update “Easily the best patch in Overwatch 2, and I dare say the game is as good now as it was in October 2020.” In response, Overwatch executive producer Jared Neuss jokes, “Was this account hacked?” Samito replies, “Y’all fixed the game so much you broke me. Congrats, you all should be really happy.”
Take a look at our Overwatch 2 tier list to see who we recommend in season 3, and make sure you’ve got the best Overwatch 2 settings to maximise your performance. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to play the Overwatch 2 dating sim while it’s still available, and check out more of the best multiplayer games on PC if you love a spot of competition.