Role-Locking Is Coming To Overwatch

Today, a pre-recorded Overwatch League video leaked sharing news that Blizzard is apparently implementing role-locking in Overwatch and the Overwatch League.

Starting soon, all team compositions in the Overwatch League will consist of two damage-dealers, two supports, and two tanks, explained league staffers in the leaked video. The decision was made because “the more that we can do to keep the pro experience in Overwatch League consistent with the live game experience of Overwatch players, the better from the Overwatch League perspective,” explained Overwatch senior product director Jonathan Spector. Not long after the Overwatch League video leaked, game director Jeff Kaplan confirmed that players will now queue for specific roles in Overwatch games, too.

The dramatic shift may not come as a surprise to lots of fans; hints have been dropped for months. Before quitting the league, former pro Chan-hyung “Fissure” Baek apparently confirmed it. The esports site Upcomer did, too, in a report where they spoke with several internal sources. And before announcing tonight’s Overwatch League broadcast, where the news was apparently slated to air, three Overwatch league casters each threw up a peace sign — 2-2-2.

What might rattle even the most tuned-in fans was Spector’s comment that “2-2-2 is coming to the game soon” in what he describes as the “biggest change that’s happened in Overwatch since they added the one-hero limit.” Without more details, it seems like the rule will be implemented in the game, meaning regular players will be asked to follow the pros’ lead and specialize in a certain class map-by-map. It’s unclear whether this will be across the board or simply in the game’s competitive mode. On the Overwatch subreddit, players are expressing cautious optimism.

Role-locking will come as a welcome change for Overwatch league fans who are sick of the dominant “GOATS” meta, an unflashy playstyle of three tanks and three supports. Without Widowmaker’s hype headshots or Tracer’s zippy time-turning, players became bored of tuning in to the same old compositions over and over for months. Those opposed to role-locking’s implementation would argue that GOATS was already on its way out. Damage-dealing heroes like Sombra and Pharah were insinuating themselves more and more into the meta; who’s to say that Tracer might not come back, too?

In the leaked video, Spector says that the Overwatch League team let pro players vote on implementing role-locking. “An overwhelming majority of the teams supported the approach that we’re taking here,” he says.

For fans tired of playing support when four players insta-lock DPS, or fans excited to play tank knowing they’ll have two supports behind them, role-locking will unlock a version of the game they believe best represents its core. Others who prefer a more molten and chaotic meta might find Blizzard’s unilateral decision stifling. For my part, I can’t wait to see Saebyeolbe back in action.


Comments

    I re-read the article but still unsure... this is League-only, right? Casual Overwatch will be unaffected?

      In game and League, comp and QP.

      They are adding a "Classic Quickplay" to arcade for non role lock QP games.

    This is one of the dumbest changes I've seen come to OW.

      "This is one of the best changes I've seen come to OW."

      Fixed it for you.

      Role select and 2-2-2 team composition will be the fixes that Overwatch Competitive so desperately needs.

      The 2-2-2 composition is the most optimal team comp for the game, and heroes are balanced around a 2-2-2 comp.

      No more 4+ DPS matches. No more pining for tanks and healers on your team.

      This is EXACTLY what Overwatch needs.

      Can't disagree more. Balance is an important factor to winning, especially in a game of Overwatch, and more often than not everyone goes DPS and ignores the support role. This isn't forcing anything, this is ensuring everyone has a role that makes sense.

        It goes against the core design of the game that was switching in and out of roles on the fly to suit the need.

        I've been quite outspoken about how poor OW gameplay loop and level design is, and changes like this IMO show just how bad it is.

          Does it though? Remember when we all played Reaper at the same time? I mean, it's fun and all, but if you're talking about 'core design', having an unbalanced team doesn't cut it.

            I agree with Camm. Role locking is a very drastic step to address the influence of GOATS on the League. Important to note this is a step to improve the League first and foremost, not us actual players. Why should regular players have their freedom of flexibility reduced in order to cater for the inability of the game design team to address inherently flawed game design.

          It was never about switching in and out of roles on the fly to suit the need, but switching in and out of heroes on the fly to suit the need.

          You ALWAYS need a main tank and you ALWAYS need a main healer.

            But you didn't ALWAYS need two tanks and two healers, which this enforces.

              If you didn't have 2 healers then your one and only healer would get focused and when they went down then your team was screwed in team fights.

              So yes, you really did need 2 of each role which is why they're bringing forced 2-2-2 comp to the game and it will be much, much better for it.

    Looking forward to this. 6-6-6 has worked out pretty well for the AFL, so I'm all on board with more sports leagues going n-n-n formations, I guess.

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