In the official Overwatch forum on Monday (June 8th, 2020), the game revealed that they will be removing Hero pools from Competitive mode. Because of this, players are now free to use any character of their choice at any time. “We’ve been listening to your feedback and constantly iterating on the feature behind the scenes. We initially implemented Hero Pools to address issues with stagnating metas and to keep match-ups exciting and fresh.” Said community manager Molly Fender. As her forum post goes on, she then explains that “the introduction of Experimental Card and increased hero balance updates have helped us work towards a healthy changing meta in Competitive Play without needing to disable heroes.”
As Hero Pools were first started in January of this year, they were first used to encourage players to expand their roster of playable characters instead of relying on only a couple during each match. Hero Pools were implemented soon after the removal of Map Pools, which made players switch around to different maps inside of the game so they would not be focused on just one place. Fender also notes that there is no set date for them to come back, as they have been removed “indefinitely”.
Despite this change to the Pools, Hero Pools are still set to be used in the Overwatch League tournament cycles. Starting on June 13th (and running throughout the end of June), only one Hero Pool will be used for the first two weeks of each tournament round. However, after that, Hero Pools will soon not be used at all as the brackets continue and all twenty teams will have to play in a qualifier match before they can continue. Any more details regarding those features can be found on the official League website. At the same time, there seem to be some more updates and changes coming for Overwatch as The Overwatch 2 date gets closer and closer.