If you’re one of the players in Overwatch sitting at your screen thinking, “who should I play?” this list may help you out. One of the most interesting (and complex) parts of Overwatch is how quickly heroes can become surprisingly useful in a meta or how quickly they can dive down the rankings. While the pure enjoyment of playing a hero should still be a motivator, sometimes it helps to know what’s working for the top players in the scene.
These hero ranking tiers reflect play time and general success with heroes by professionals. Normally, these tiers are influenced by the Overwatch League and Overwatch Contenders, but no professional play has happened since Patch 1.43 was released in early December. This listing is based on player hero choices in high-level competitive games and open tournaments, like the Breakable Barriers games.
The Overwatch meta is constantly in flux and these rankings will be updated to reflect changes as they’re made within the game.
Tier one (Best choices)
Many players hoped that Patch 1.43, the latest update to Overwatch, would change the “shield meta” that dominated the game throughout the latter part of 2019. While Patch 1.43 included sizable nerfs to shields and barriers, the patch added buffs to shield heroes themselves. This has lead to the rise of the “shield hero meta,” which puts focus on eliminating the powerful shield-wielding heroes instead of their barriers.
Despite nerfs to their barriers, Orisa and Sigma are still the top choices for tanks in most competitive tiers. Their mobility and substantial health pools are a boon to almost every team composition. Orisa’s Halt remains one of the most effective abilities in Overwatch and her damage-boosting ultimate turns the tide of many team fights.
The same remains true for Baptiste and Moira, who were critical support choices in the initial shield meta. Baptiste doubles as a “third DPS” thanks to his primary fire and Moira remains a powerful healer despite nerfs to her abilities. Zenyatta has made a surprising return due to his Discord ability, now able to be used effectively once shields are destroyed. He must be paired with a high-output healer like Baptiste to be most effective, however.
Hanzo and Mei have risen as the dominant DPS choices in this meta. Hanzo’s Storm Arrow ability allows him to break these weaker barriers while his primary fire lets him act as a sniper, taking out supports in the backline. Mei’s Ice Wall ability is crucial for isolating targets while her ultimate, Blizzard, can still effectively eliminate an entire team. Reaper remains in the meta due to his Lifesteal ability, which is only enhanced by shield heroes’ increased health and armor.
Tier two (Effective choices)
Not every team composition benefits from the Orisa and Sigma duel-barrier design. More mobile or airborne team compositions may require a “throwback” to other popular metas. Reinhardt and Zarya both received significant buffs in Patch 1.43, making them effective choices in certain games and maps. On classic maps like Eichenwalde and King’s Row, Reinhardt and Zarya are still top-tier choices for their ability to create space and protect teammates.
“Effective” DPS choices could be their own tier. Each choice depends on the team composition around them. Pharah, when paired with a Mercy, can demolish shields and take out entire enemy backlines. The same can be said for a talented Doomfist. McCree takes out airborne enemies and easily destroys shields with Fan the Hammer.
Genji, who now has more ammo after Patch 1.43, is immensely effective against low-health, low-mobility heroes like Zenyatta or Ana. If an enemy team doesn’t run shield tanks, Widowmaker can take advantage of the open space. If an enemy team does run shield tanks, Symmetra can boost her primary damage from their barriers, especially on defense.
Mercy is best when paired with a mobile team composition, especially with a Pharah or a sniper to damage boost. Ana is still an extremely valuable choice due to her anti-healing grenades, which negate the wide-spread healing of a Baptiste or Moira. She has to navigate around shields, though, so choose Ana only if you have faith in your team to take down barriers and enable your skills.
Tier three (Specialty choices)
The first two tiers of listed heroes make up the majority of what competitive players at most ranks are working with. Much like the shield meta, very few heroes are in a “bad” spot in the game; they just require specialty team compositions to work correctly. Wrecking Ball and Roadhog work best as backline disruptions in addition to a shield tank. D.Va can be useful in the face of projectile heroes like Hanzo or Pharah and Winston can be used to jump on pesky snipers.
Specialty DPS can be confusing and should be used as counter-picks. Bastion and Junkrat work extraordinarily well as shield-breakers, but fall easily to snipers or aerial heroes like Pharah. Sombra and Tracer can disrupt a backline along with Wrecking Ball but lack the damage output to deal with shield heroes. Torbjörn is great for defensive holds but suffers on attacks. Soldier: 76 and Ashe are in a rough place right now and are normally not effective choices, since other heroes fill their role in a more comprehensive way.
Lúcio is still an incredibly effective healer and is a good choice if he’s a preferred hero for you or your teammate. If a team is relying on a central damage-dealer, like a Bastion or set of tanks like Reinhardt and Zarya, he’s a great choice. Brigitte is a niche choice, but her healing can buff tanks and her shield bash can deal with annoying backline divers like Tracer and Genji.
These tiers are just a starting point for analysis of heroes and their usefulness in the current meta. As usual, this list could be drastically different within a month. Stay tuned to professional play to see how things are changing and how you can use that in your own Overwatch games.