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 (opens in new tab)" 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab). "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 (opens in new tab).