As soon as Echo, Overwatch’s newest hero, was announced she started fueling intense speculation about her place in the meta. A hyper-mobile DPS pick with powerful-in-the-right-hands skill shots, Echo has tremendous potential when piloted well. Her Ultimate “Duplicate” could be one of the best in the game, the kind that can quickly flip a fight on its head.
Normally, OWL fans would have to wait quite a while to see their favorite players on a new hero – Sigma took just over a month to go from PTR to OWL. Last weekend, however, the league put on two show matches featuring Echo, providing a preview of what’s to come.
Echo is strong, seriously strong. Overwatch heroes tend to come out of the gates a bit overtuned, but that feels especially true with Echo. Between her unfettered mobility and the burst damage available in her kit, it seems like she would be a must-pick if she were released today.
Part of that certainly comes from how she jets around the map at will. The other part is Duplicate and the outsize impact it can have if executed properly. In our first look at Echo, the Ultimate wasn’t always used to perfection, but there were some moments of brilliance.
Sinatraa showed off the potential of her ultimate when he built up two Pulse Bombs in ten seconds by Duplicating Tracer. Architect helped secure both points on Horizon with great Duplicates – first with D.Va and a great Self-Destruct and then on Ana with a quick Nanoboost. But it’s Jaru and his divebombing Reinhardt that took the cake. In general, creative Ult usage like this is gonna make Echo one of the most dynamic heroes in Overwatch.
While we only saw four teams playing on Sunday, it was hard to stop imagining the rest of the league getting their hands on Echo. Players like Erster, Fleta, and Haksal all project to join the likes of Sinatraa, Profit, and KSF as stars who could dominate on this hero.
Overall, Echo is gonna be an insanely entertaining pick. The high skill ceiling will make her an attractive option for mechanically elite stars. The few downsides are definitely her fairly large hitbox and lack of immediate survival tools. She makes up for it with extreme mobility and lethality, but she is rather squishy if you can shoot her down.
What’s Her Role in the Meta?
At first glance, it seems like Echo will slot in nicely alongside dive compositions. Pairing her with a Genji, Tracer or Sombra makes life very tough for enemy supports. If a Winston and Genji can dive on a target and get them low, Echo’s beam weapon makes it pretty trivial to get in and finish them off.
Echo seems to work pretty well against Reinhardt especially. She can easily circumvent his shield, and her abilities make her quite adept as a tankbuster. Another hero hit pretty hard by Echo’s presence is definitely Pharah. Once Overwatch’s unquestioned aerial overlord, Pharah now has someone to answer her in the sky. With better mobility and easier projectiles to hit midair, Echo really seems to outpace Pharah in the 1v1.
As far as Echo counters go, it seems like raw hitscan talent is gonna be the go-to. Her hitbox is generous, enough so that OWL players should be able to regularly take her down, or at least force her to play safer. Having either a Widowmaker or McCree could feel necessary at times going up against a particularly scary Echo player.
Echo might struggle to crack open bunker comps. Her kit isn’t particularly great at breaking shields, though her beam is sneaky good in that department. Static setups that require her to close the gap and engage close range could give her a little trouble. Something like a Torbjorn is a potential issue, especially if his turret goes unchecked.
What Does the Future Hold?
This is the big looming question when it comes to Echo. What state is the hero going to be in when she finally makes her way into the OWL? The development team has already said they plan on leaving Echo on the PTR for longer than normal, in part because she’s so difficult to balance. We realistically might not see Echo in pro play until May.
Already, she’s received a couple of nerfs since she first went live. Almost immediately she got a bug fix that allowed players to abuse her movement to zip around the map absurdly fast. Just recently, she got her second adjustment; a reduction of damage on her Sticky Bombs and an ultimate cost increase. It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s still hard to picture her hitting live in her current state.
Probably the most difficult part of her balance is her ultimate. It’s the defining part of her kit, so you definitely want it to feel impactful. At the same time, some of the things you can do with it seem excessive. The ult charge rate for the Duplicated hero could definitely be taken down a peg. It wouldn’t even be shocking to see Echo limited to using one copied ultimate during the course of her ult. Even if those changes happen, its hard to see a world in which Echo isn’t immediately a strong pick on release.
Wherever she winds up in terms of balance, one thing is certain with Echo: she is otherworldly amounts of fun to watch. Her mobility promotes a fast and loose style that is extremely welcome to a lot of long-time Overwatch fans. Duplicate can be the most fun ultimate in the game because of its tactical potential and ability to respond to the needs of the moment.
Even if she’s overpowered right now, Echo’s design ticks all of the boxes from Overwatch’s best hero designs. Her kit is engaging, but not frustrating to play against. She requires serious mechanical skill to excel. And she offers so much room for creativity in position and ability usage. In short, she’s everything the Overwatch League needs in a hero.