A pre-recorded video leaked earlier today that suggests Blizzard is looking to implement a role locking system into Overwatch and Overwatch League. The video didn’t specify exactly how the new mechanic will specifically appear in game, or when the supposed change will be put into effect. The video has already been taken down, but Kotaku has a screenshot showing an outline of how role locking will work.
Kotaku is reporting that “starting soon,” all teams will have a set composition of two DPS, or damage-dealing heroes, two supporting heroes, and two tanks, as detailed in the video by league staff members. A shorthand way to refer to this team structure is, logically, as a “2-2-2.”
Speaking in the video, senior product director Jonathan Spector explained that the decision to add role locking is meant to “keep the pro experience in Overwatch League consistent with the live game experience of Overwatch players, the better from the Overwatch League perspective.” He added that the Overwatch League team let pro players vote on implementing role locking.
An overwhelming majority of the teams supported the approach that we’re taking here.
Kotaku adds that the addition of role locking to Overwatch and the League isn’t out of left field, saying that “hints have been dropped for months” by former pro-player Chan-hyung “Fissure” Baek and in a report from eSports site Upcomer. Kotaku also adds that during the announcement for tonight’s Overwatch League Watchpoint broadcast, three casters gave the peace sign to the camera, signaling a “2-2-2.” A screen grab of the moment was shared on Reddit with captions by user u/SYNERGY_12846 on r/CompetetiveOverwatch.
In the video, Spector called the role lock “the biggest change that’s happened in Overwatch since they added the one-hero limit” in the video, and added that “the 2-2-2 change is coming to the game soon.”
Role locking also seems to be in direct response to the recent surge of “GOATS” teams, which follow the “meta” of making teams with three tank heroes and three support heroes to gain a competitive advantage and got its name from inventors the Overwatch Contenders. Teams without damage-dealing heroes might be strong, but it doesn’t always make for exciting gameplay since there are no crazy Widowmaker headshots or Genji plays.
This change could also potentially be a great boon for at-home solo players who are very sick of having to go support after the rest of the team goes DPS right away, or those who want to play tank heroes but have way more fun when there’s guaranteed support heroes to back them up.
Stage four of the Overwatch League kicks off on July 25th, and could potentially be the first time this role locking rule goes into effect. A Developer Update today also details the addition of Role Queue, where players will choose what role they’d like to play before the match begins. In-demand roles will grant a special bonus reward, and Blizzard believes that “Role Queue will improve match quality, give players more control over their gameplay experience, and provide more positive social experiences between teammates.” Role Queue applies to casual and competitive modes as well as the Overwatch League, and it sounds like 2-2-2 team composition applies to those modes as well.