Meta changes are constant in a game like Overwatch, where the game is always changing and evolving with new balance patches and new heroes. The Overwatch League has had a few meta changes to deal with, with the most recent going live after Stage 4 and before the start of the season playoffs.
With the new patch, using the double sniper pair of Hanzo and Widowmaker came into the meta at the professional level, thanks to the former’s recent buffs. Also a frequent meta in the last few weeks of play? A single support hero, usually Mercy, filling the role of the lone healer while the rest of the team plays some combination of tanks and DPS around them.
This meta is quite new for the Overwatch League, as the Los Angeles Valiant took the Stage 4 title with a variation on a dive composition, which consisted of two support, two tanks, and two DPS. Even other wrinkles the Valiant ran in their run during Stage 4 always had at least two support players, and sometimes even three if they ran triple tank, triple support.
The season playoffs, however, showcased a new shift in the meta to a solo support player, which Scott “Custa” Kennedy took the role of as the team’s main healer. Custa, in Stage 4, was one of the better Mercy’s in the league, as he not only had one of the best healing stats, he also died very few times in relation to other players.
When the Valiant took on the London Spitfire in the season semifinals over the weekend, it’s clear London did their homework, as they focused down on the Valiant’s supports at every opportunity. Dorado in the first game between the two teams was an excellent example of just how much the Spitfire were focusing on taking out the Valiant’s supports.
Those numbers are drastically high, and they likely didn’t change much throughout the rest of the series as London dominated the Valiant at nearly every turn. Though Young-seo “KariV” Park was listed as playing Zenyatta on a handful of maps in the Valiant’s series loss, Los Angeles played a lot of the single support with Custa at the helm. While Custa was usually able to survive the Spitfire’s initial attack, the Valiant only had one source of healing to keep all of their players topped up, which then became a mad scramble once the Spitfire focused down on a target.
The Valiant did eventually play two supports on maps, but it often took too long to get to that point after the Spitfire started rolling. Even then, that put them behind in support ultimates for key fights in which they could have used that extra healing.
The solo support meta isn’t a bad one, as teams like London and Philadelphia have thrived on the additional damage and stagger potential with hero picks like Roadhog taking that other healer spot. However, the meta was not kind to the Valiant, whether it be from them having difficulty adjusting, not being comfortable in the meta, or just a lack of polish. It’s clear, though, that the lackluster Valiant of the semifinals did not look like the dominant Valiant of Stage 4, and the new meta was likely one of the reasons why.