Hero Pools in Overwatch have been under heavy scrutiny ever since Blizzard announced them earlier this year. Today, Chris “Dream” Myrick, assistant coach of the Houston Outlaws, had some harsh words on the subject.
In a series of tweets, he stated that “Hero Pools are the worst thing to ever happen to Overwatch” and that “Everyone I’ve talked to hates them, they make our lives hell.” He goes on to discuss how they make it difficult for coaches and players to practice and how Role Queue and Hero Pools are all a result of Blizzard’s inability to balance the game.
Ive never been more frustrated with the community and their separation from the competitive scene than when I read the reddit thread about how hero pools are great
Hero pools are the worst thing ever to happen to OW. Everyone I've talked to hates them, they make our lives hell
— Dream (@Dream_val) May 12, 2020
Hero Pools have always been controversial
Whether Dream likes them or not, Hero Pools have those for and against them. Hero Pools definitely make it more difficult for players to practice and perfect one specific strategy or team composition, but at the same time, they add a lot of diversity to the meta for the average viewer.
As we learned from the 2019 season, seeing professionals play the same team composition over and over (GOATS) isn’t what fans want either. Hero Pools force change, which can keep the viewing experience fresh. At the same time, if players really hate it as much as Dream suggests, Blizzard should try to find another option.
Is balance the real problem?
Every competitive hero-based game has its strong and weak heroes. This is true for League of Legends, Dota 2, Apex Legends, and even Valorant (which has been in beta for only a little over a month). None of these games have been able to find a “perfect” balance. Games like Dota 2 and League of Legends see a lot more diversity, but that’s also likely due to the sheer number of characters in them.
Dream refers to Role Queue and Hero Pools as “crutches” that Blizzard uses to change the meta since they can’t balance. He certainly has a case here because Blizzard was definitely unable to figure out how to get rid of GOATS.
Perhaps Blizzard needs to patch the game more frequently. Riot patches League of Legends every two weeks and releases heroes far more frequently than Blizzard, which keeps the game fresh. While this may not be the best solution for Overwatch, more frequent and aggressive changes are something to consider.