Stage four of Overwatch League started last week, and with it came the introduction of the newest hero Brigitte to professional play. Love her or hate her, one thing is for certain: Brigitte brought some immediate changes to the pro meta. The only other hero to have such a quick and profound impact on pro play was Ana back in 2016. Like Ana, Brigitte seems to synergize best with tanky deathballs—namely Reinhardt and Zarya—that get the most out of her unique kit. With an invaluable stun, high survivability, and a debatably overpowered ultimate, let's take a look at how Brigitte has changed the game, and which teams are thriving in this meta.
Brigitte is anti-dive
The infamous "dive meta" has dominated Overwatch for the last year or so at all levels of play. As several players have said in the past, a good dive will beat almost anything. An effective dive typically relied on timed aggression from Winston, Genji, and Tracer, while D.Va protected the backline. Damage output was overwhelming, often putting support players to the test. Aside from a few points on a few maps, there was rarely a situation where a dive composition wasn't the best idea.
But now there's Brigitte—a weird hybrid character with both tank and support qualities. Early on, pros such as NYXL tank Dong-gyu "Mano" Kim told PC Gamer that Brigitte would probably make it difficult for Winston and Tracer to be effective. If that held true on release, a massive meta shift was probably on deck. Now we're here, and the dive has, indeed, taken on more of a niche role depending on the map.
There are a couple of reasons for this change, but the biggest one is Brigitte's Shield Bash ability which stuns targets for one second—it's even effective through shields and barriers. In pro play, one second is more than enough time to kill a target, or at least severely disrupt their retreat. Take a look at this play from Jake "JAKE" Lyon of the Houston Outlaws:
He's relentless in his pursuit of the enemy Winston, chasing him down with stuns and ranged attacks. On point A of Hanamura, it's important for Winston to carve up the capture point with timely shields, but JAKE's stuns disrupt his positioning and lead to a failed attack. As you can see, the Shield Bash setup is an incredibly powerful tool in this meta, and Winston-centric compositions will have to get creative to cause any damage against Brigitte.
A well-timed stun can also get the best of Reinhardt since his shield can't protect him from Brigitte. You can combo Shield Bash with Earthshatter or any other ultimate that Rein would otherwise be able to block. Look at this nasty setup by Pongphop "Mickie" Rattanasangchod of the Dallas Fuel:
Things were already looking bad for the Los Angeles Gladiators on this play based on positioning alone. With Rein out near the bridge, Mickie goes in for the stun right as a D.Va bomb goes off, preventing him from shielding his teammates. Both tanks die as a result, allowing Dallas to easily clean up the remaining players.
Flexible teams will come out on top
It finally seems as though some of these extended Overwatch League rosters will see more of their players get time on the big stage. In the dive meta, having players flex to another DPS role or Roadhog wasn't that big a deal. Brigitte, however, has made it so that having the right players in at the right time is more important than ever before.
For now, that looks like making sure someone can flex to Zarya or Brigitte as needed. The Houston Outlaws have a great great lineup for this meta thanks to JAKE and Alexandre "Spree" Vanhomwegen. JAKE has become widely recognized as one of the best utility players in the entire league, being able to hold it down on both projectile and hitscan DPS heroes. Spree meanwhile finally has a spot again thanks to his top-tier Zarya. Here they are teaming up for a fantastic quadruple kill:
If the need for D.Va or Widowmaker came up on that map, it would have been as easy as having Spree switch to D.Va and JAKE taking over Brigitte duties for Jiri "Linkzr" Masalin.
Not all teams are as fortunate as the Outlaws, of course. The Seoul Dynasty and London Spitfire are having a very rough time in this slower-paced meta. For Seoul, it's a matter of getting their players used to having Je-hong "Ryujehong" Ryu off of his traditional support role and up front as main tank. They need to solve their aggression issue as well—something their lineup was known for struggling with in the pre-OWL days. London also plays a traditionally aggressive Korean style of Overwatch, and we saw them get taken out 4-0 by Houston this week.
One problem we've already seen from Seoul is questionable, or downright unlucky, ultimate usage—something that ties into their commitment to aggression. Ultimate management is going to be a test for some of the more aggressive teams who had their dive timings down. Gone are the days of quick Tracer bombs and Winston follow-ups. Here is Seoul getting outplayed by the Los Angeles Valiant:
As usual, the Pharah who Barrages first usually loses the team fight for their side. Brady "Agilities" Girardi is well aware of how that works, and he made sure to drive that point home.
Perhaps it's further evidence of Western teams becoming dominant on an international stage, but it might be as simple as Brigitte being a difficult tool for some teams to use. Not everyone has a great projectile specialist, and some certainly aren't that strong outside of the dive meta. We'll undoubtedly see some interesting compositions as this stage progresses.
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