OWL Releases Countdown Cup Hero Pool
The Hero Pool for the Overwatch League’s upcoming Countdown Cup was revealed live on Plat Chat on Wednesday. The podcast and Youtube channel conducted virtual marble races on stream which removed Sigma, Lucio, Ashe, and Echo from the heroes available in the league’s last tournament before playoffs. The Map Pool and patch for the final month of play were also announced.
This marks the second Hero Pool of the season after the June Joust was played without Reinhardt, Tracer, Sombra, or Zenyatta. This time around, those four were unable to be selected to ensure a different set of heroes would hit the bench. Heroes were given weighted odds of removal based on their play-time during the Summer Showdown.
Lucio’s selection is likely the most impactful, considering his role as a key enabler of the rush comps that have been popular all season, especially in the West. Without him, Reinhardt comps will have to get creative using Symmetra for mobility if they want any chance of competing with more mobile styles.
The loss of Sigma doesn’t seem like it will shake things up too much. He’s seen moderate pick rates (~20%) in every tournament, but he was already on his way out during the Summer Showdown. A team like Houston might suffer without Piggy’s signature hero, but most of the league won’t really care.
The DPS, on the other hand, could sneakily shift the meta quite a bit. Echo has been popular all season, peaking during the June Joust. Ashe hasn’t been a mainstay in 2021, but she has a place in comps that rely on her consistent poke. Together those two bans could do a lot to open up the skies for another aerial damage dealer.
During the Summer Showdown, we started seeing inklings of where the meta might be going. Chengdu made a big splash with their refinement of Wrecking Ball comps, and now they might be set up for more success.
Where other comps like rush and double-shield have been somewhat gutted by this Hero Pool, none of the essential pieces of the Wrecking Ball comps are gone. The West has avoided Wrecking Ball at all costs this season, but they might be forced in that direction if they want to compete with the East in international play.
Another wrinkle that might become a larger trend is the inclusion of Pharah both alongside Wrecking Ball and in other looks. We already saw players like Jinmu and Naga take flight in the Summer Showdown, but at least D.Va is still around to keep her in check. Pharah is unlikely to dominate the meta completely, but any expansion of her pick rate would be a big change.
Adapting to new metas quickly has been an essential skill this season, and this Hero Pool will present another challenge during the Countdown Cup. Four regular-season games and one last tournament are all that remain. Teams have precious few chances to earn crucial League Points and secure their playoff spots. Finding the right read on the meta could be the difference between going home early and making a deep run.
The Overwatch League returns to action for the Countdown Cup Qualifiers starting July 30 at 3 PM ET on the OWL Youtube channel.