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Overwatch League to Implement Hero Pools, Patching Changes

January 30, 2020 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Overwatch League Genji Hangzhou Spark

The Overwatch League is going to undergo some significant changes a few weeks into the 2020 season, implement hero pools and changes to the patching system. The League announced on Thursday in conjunction with a Developer Update from Overwatch Creative Director Jeff Kaplan for the main game that Hero Pools will debut in the League starting with week four on March 7th.

Hero pools, which are also coming to the main game’s Competitive Play mode starting with Season 21 in March, will see a weekly rotation of heroes which will be unavailable for a week. In the OWL specifically, the hero pool will have one Tank, one Support, and two Damage heroes unavailable for selection during matches. The unavailable heroes will be randomly selected from a group of heroes based on playrate for the previous two weeks. Only heroes that are regularly played over that two week period will be eligible to be out of the pool, and no hero will be unavailable for two weeks in a row.

The Overwatch League noted that hero pools will not be used for non-regular season play like the midseason tournaments, the playoffs and the Grand Finals, and that teams will be informed of the hero pools one week in advance of matches. The announcement notes:

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.

In addition, the League will incorporate changes in how future patch updates will be integrated into professional play. The OWL will begin playing on patches two weekends after said patch hits the live game, and any mid-patch updates that go into efffect during a weekend will begin to be used in OWL the following weekend.

Recognizing that these are big changes, the League added:

Please note that the Hero Pool and patching/update formats could be revised at any point during the season. We will listen closely to the fans and players, learn from our collective experiences, consider adjustments, and test new strategies along the way. We can’t wait for the 2020 season to get started and we look forward to hearing the community’s feedback.

The Overwatch League kicks off its 2020 season with opening weekend homestands in New York and Dallas on February 8th and 9th.