Overwatch Hero Pools have been dropped from Competitive Play

(Image credit: Blizzard)

In January, Blizzard announced that a form of hero bans was being added to Overwatch—but instead of letting players select who to leave out on a per-match basis, they'd be sidelined through "Hero Pools" selected by Blizzard on a weekly basis. A few months later, Blizzard decided Hero Pools weren't working out quite as it had hoped, and dropped them from all matches with an average skill rating below Master.

Today it took an even bigger step by washing its hands of Hero Pools completely, outside of Overwatch League. Effective immediately, Hero Pools will be removed from Competitive Play, "with no tentative date for re-implementation."

"We initially implemented Hero Pools to address issues with stagnating metas and to keep match-ups exciting and fresh," community manager Molly Fender explained. "However, we’ve found that the introduction of Experimental Card and increased hero balance updates has helped us work towards a healthy, changing meta in Competitive Play without needing to disable heroes."

The change will also affect Overwatch League play, which will now use two-week Hero Pools during the first two weeks of each tournament cycle, and then drop them for the third week of qualifier matches and tournament play. The final two weeks of the OWL regular season will also operate with a single Hero Pool, but the 2020 playoffs will not have Hero Pools in effect. Details on that, and OWL schedule changes for the balance of the year, are up at overwatchleague.com.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.