The first edition of our tier-by-tier evaluation of the entire Overwatch Hero roster for January 2017.
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Our essential Overwatch hero tier list for Season 21 (April 2020) breaks down the entire roster of characters into their most competitive brackets, with massive guides for each one as well!
We’ve tried our best to represent the meta, but don’t take our tier list as definitive. Even if some heroes aren’t topping our list, they’re still capable of being extremely strong in the right situation.
We’ve all got our favourite characters in Overwatch, and although some of them can sometimes appear on paper to be a bit more powerful than others, we take a pretty clear position when it comes to appraising them. All in all we think Blizzard has done an impressive job of crafting a roster of characters which are not only wonderfully distinct from one another, but also pretty well balanced as a collection. The Overwatch team hasn’t been shy to introduce buffs and nerfs as and when they’ve been required, and we only expect the game’s tuning to get tighter over time
With all this said and done though, it’s fair to say that some heroes prove more consistently useful than others when it comes to contributing to a wide variety of team compositions. As a result, we like to provide a regularly updated snapshot of how the heroes stack up against one another, and do so in the form of the tier list you’re reading now.
How exactly have we gone about compiling our list though? For a start, we take our own experience with the current meta into consideration, before factoring in the generally accepted wisdom of the crowd via alternative hero ratings. We also lean somewhat in our rankings towards playing with other random players, rather than team builds favoured by tightly coordinated competitive teams.
All things being equal this list will guide you towards making a solid choice within each category. Having said that, we encourage you to play the characters you enjoy and excel at above all else, and at the same time try to work around the hero picks of your teammates – even if you disagree.
Editor’s Note: April Update
Tier List Update
As we move into April, there’s the new ban system to take into account. Every week a number of heroes won’t be available to play in Competitive matches which should make the meta a little more fluid. It also means you’ll have to take the info from this tier list a little differently, as not all heroes are available to play all the time, so it’s not all about the top tiers!
Video by Your Overwatch
Echo has arrived too and at the time of writing she’s very strong in the right hands. While we don’t think she’s totally broken, if you can master her, you can deal some serious damage thanks to the versatility of her ult coupled with her mobility.
We’ve not popped her in this tier list just yet as we reckon it’s a little too early to make a total judgement, especially if Blizzard suddenly decides to nerf her into the ground – which is entirely possible.
Elsewhere, McCree’s now back in business alongside Pharaha as they’ve both been buffed a little. Otherwise, this new ban system really does level the playing field somewhat. You can’t get away with just playing the top few heroes, but need to embrace plenty of others as well.
Overwatch hero ranking and ratings
Here’s our Season 21 tier list snapshot, updated for the month of April.
These listings are by no means definitive, and any hero can thrive in the right situation.
|Wrecking Ball guide
|Soldier: 76 guide
Ever since she launched, Orisa’s struggled to break out of a mid-table position – until now. She’s finally in the limelight and it’s all thanks to her solid set of abilities which keeps her teammates out of harm’s way.
All in all, Orisa’s a very strong pick as she’s able to rally an entire team around her and make them very, very difficult to down.
Sigma’s a formidable force on the battlefield and that’s thanks to his diverse kit. He’s able to convert enemy fire into shield juice and can fling shields into chokepoints without putting himself in danger. Oh, and his damage output isn’t too shabby either.
Baptiste has a pretty high skill ceiling, but if you can get the hang of him, he’s one of the strongest healers in the game right now. His invulnerability aura is also a brilliant way to cancel out strong AoE abilities, in particular, Sigma’s ultimate.
Moira’s orbs can pass through barriers, which makes her an ideal choice in the current meta. She’s also able to fade away from aggressive flankers and largely take care of herself if things get a bit sketchy.
Essentially, she’s definitely a support you can rely on right now.
Reaper’s a great pick in the barrier meta as he’s got strong sustain and the ability to dish out some serious damage. Sure, he’s a little one dimensional, but he gets the job done.
Doomfist’s mobility and power make him an exceptionally strong pick right now. It also helps his abilities aren’t affected by barriers, so he’s able to race into the backline and cause some serious damage.
Zarya’s another tank who’s been a staple for a while and that’s down to the fact that she compliments the likes of Reinhardt and Genji nicely. Her bubble shield can soak up damage from bursty heroes like Zenyatta, Hanzo and Junkrat too, which feeds her energy bar really quickly and builds her strong Ultimate ability.
Zarya’s Ultimate also combos well with Hanzo’s Dragonstrike, Reinhardt’s Earthshatter and many more besides. She’s a super flexible pick who’s able to wrench her allies out of danger while increasing her power at the same time.
D.Va’s still a formidable force on the battlefield and that’s down to her great all-rounder style. She’s got insane mobility, negates ultimates and can harass the backline with ease. There’s almost always a slot in the composition for D.Va to fit into and that says volumes about how much of an asset her kit can bring to a team.
Reinhardt’s seen a slight dip since the glory days of GOATs comp, but he’s still a great pick in certain situations. It’s all thanks to his huge barrier that can protect an entire backline, as well as the devastating potential of a correctly timed Earthshatter. He can hold a team together and simultaneously crush an opposing one in a matter of seconds.
Winston one occupied the very highest spot on our tier list during “The Age of the Dive Meta”. He’s definitely not what he once was, but he’s certainly still a strong pick that’ll head up a dive composition when you need one.
Also, his electrifying Tesla Cannon damages enemies through barriers, which is a major plus at the moment.
Sombra’s disruptive abilities are perfect for dismantling compositions who revolve around shields – one simple hack can bring down an entire defense.
While she’s not totally meta, in our eyes, she’s still a very strong pick. Her kit is flexible and she can shower allies with plentiful healing if things get rough. While the number of barriers flying around right now might hinder her ability to top up her team, she’s still worth locking in if you need a strong support.
In solid hands Lucio can shine as brightly in a random team as he does in truly collaborative pre-made efforts, and although he doesn’t have a huge amount of health to play with – and his weapon projectiles are rather wobbly to deliver – his exceptional versatility, flexibility and ability to sustain his teammates and rush them back into action makes him a strong pick for any team.
We recognise that he’s a solid pick, but we’ve placed him mid tier as there are some stronger options out there in terms of Support heroes right now.
Genji’s skillset revolves around harassing enemies with Shurikens and closing down vulnerable targets. Shields and armour make his job much harder, especially as many enemies in the meta are now able to stun or burst him down in seconds.
If you can skillfully blend his amazing mobility skills and precision aiming together though, consider placing him a tier higher than he currently is. More than most heroes, how Genji is ranked by anyone is determined largely by your own ability at playing him. Just be warned that it’s now a really tough gig…
Now her AoE damage has been buffed, Pharah’s a pretty strong force on the battlefield again. Of course, she’s still a prime target for a skilled sniper but if you’re able to evade their crosshairs you can cause some serious headaches for the opposing team.
We really enjoy McCree’s point and click style. Plus, his burst damage is through the roof if you land his stun, fan the hammer combo.
This hero comes with a caveat, however, in that you’ll need quick reactions to succeed in just about any of the many duels you’re likely to find yourself in. If you’re clumsy with your shots, consider McCree a much lower pick. Having said that, his Flashbang grenade ability is amazing for locking down a squishy kill, and anyone who manages to master this hero can expect to make a serious difference to a team’s performance on any given map or game mode. Put simply, if you expect lots of close-quarters combat, McCree is an exceptionally potent force on the battlefield.
Tracer’s similar to Genji in nearly every respect. She’s a phenomenal flanker who’s capable of terrorising the enemy backline or gradually whittling down tank health bars – but only in the right hands. She’s so mechanically intensive that this pick may not work in your favour.
Unless you’re extremely good, you’re likely to do no more than be a nuisance.
She’s a frightening force in the right hands and able to dink enemies and get picks across the map with ease. However, you need to know how to play her right, both positionally and mechanically.
Against all the barriers it can be difficult to find the right targets right now too. Unless you’re a hardened Widowmaker veteran, you’ll likely struggle to make a big impact in this meta.
Overwatch’s largest fluctuator finds himself back in the lower end of our tier list again.
Roadhog’s hooks still deliver pick potential, but with the sheer number of shields out there on the battlefield right now, it’s landing the hook successfully which is the real problem. What’s more, he doesn’t have any way of protecting himself, so he can often turn into a Ultimate generator for the other team if he isn’t careful.
All in all, there’s value to be had in the right team composition. However, you’re better off picking another tank at the moment.
Wrecking Ball [Tank]
We’re not completely sold on Wrecking Ball. He’s got some great utility, but he’s only a decent pick if you’re playing in a tightly coordinated team. Otherwise, we’ve found he’s difficult to play with and around, especially as he zips around the map doing his own thing.
All in all, D.Va’s just a better all-round pick who can still fulfill the same role as Wrecking Ball without potentially throwing the team into disarray.
Junkrat’s still holding pretty strong in the DPS role thanks to his immense burst damage that’s perfect for breaking shields and shutting down the frontline. Much like Hanzo, he’s remarkably agile and players can really struggle to deal with his constant barrage of bombs.
Torbjorn’s also another hero who’s seen a significant rise in ranking, and that really is saying something. He’s not moved up a tier since the game first launched!
Blizzard’s rework has given Torbjorn a new lease of life and he’s now not quite as linear as he used to be. He’s surprisingly strong in the right hands and is more than capable of peeling for his teammates and holding down positions – don’t underestimate everyone’s favourite dwarven engineer.
Zenyatta’s a key pick for most compositions and is often a perfect counter and compliment to whatever’s strong in the meta. His Transcendence is capable of negating damage, and his Discord and Healing Orbs are great for both removing vulnerable targets and ensuring allies are kept in the green.
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Ashe is incredibly strong in the right hands, and capable of delivering huge amounts of damage at all ranges. Her Coach Gun is brilliant at knocking away incoming threats like Winston and Genji, while her Dynamite can damage enemies through shields which is perfect for sieging chokepoints.
Unfortunately, we’re just not convinced she’s a top tier pick yet. She’s got all the tools to have a huge impact in a match, but it’s all down to the skill of the player.
Soldier: 76 [Damage]
It’s a little tempting at first glance to think that Soldier: 76 is just another boring run-and-gun hero – and it’s no accident that he’s the first character you encounter during the game’s tutorial – and yet there’s plenty of mastery to be had here despite this surface simplicity. His DPS is very strong, his Sprint ability allows him to get back into the thick of battle nice and quickly, and that group heal can often mean the difference between victory or a rather embarrassing group wipe. He’s a solid all-rounder really, and one that shines in skilled hands.
As always, it’s extremely difficult to play against a Hanzo who’s landing all their shots and scurrying across the map with ridiculous speed.
If you can land your shots, Hanzo’s arrows are fantastic at breaking all the barriers currently floating around. He’s also highly mobile, and can pick off unsuspecting enemies with his huge damage numbers, meaning he’s an ideal pick when you’re on the offense.
Not only does Mei have a whole truckload of annoying crowd-control abilities to frustrate the enemy team with, she can also summon down a massive wall of ice that provides a super-annoying barricade for your future victims to have to deal with. Her excellent, immobilising Ultimate ability does require you to have a team who are savvy enough to capitalise on the opportunity though, so if you’re queuing up for a match with randoms make sure you let them know when you pull the trigger.
In a well-organised team, she’s a menace for the opposition to deal with. Expect your teammates to roll your eyes a bit when you choose her, though.
Brigitte’s not really much of a healer, but she functions amazingly well as an off-tank who provides some additional frontline presence as well as the ability to armour up her allies.
On top of all this, she synergises well with many shield-based heroes, and can switch from being defensive to stunning an enemy down in the blink of an eye. The utility she provides is exceptional but there’s one big catch, and we’ve mentioned it already – she’s not much of a healer. For a brawl setup, perfect. If you’re not going for an aggressive setup, you’ll likely struggle.
Mercy provides strong, reliable single-target healing and an Ultimate ability that gives her serious survivability while giving her teammates an extra chance at life. Not as invaluable as she once was, but a solid pick in the right situation.
Bastion’s sat at the bottom of our tier list for a while now, but Season 13 is the first time we’ve had to seriously consider bumping him up a notch. In a weird “meta-twist” (a term we’ve just coined), he’s actually ridiculously strong and capable of turning enemies to pixellated dust.
While many are losing their minds over this at high tiers of play, it’s unlikely to effect your average competitive match. You need a coordinated team and a specific composition to pull off a Bastion play, something which doesn’t come naturally when queueing up in solo queue.
All in all, Bastion’s got some situational strengths, but he’s a linear hero who’s easily countered and only effective in niche scenarios.
Symmetra’s rework has been huge and when you look at her new kit on paper, it certainly gives off the impression that she’ll now have a big impact on the competitive scene. Unfortunately this isn’t the case.
She’s still a niche hero with damaging abilities that really don’t match up to the likes of Genji, Tracer or even Doomfist. She lacks their mobility and “punch” when it comes to harassing opponents or pulling off an explosive combination of moves that’ll eliminate enemies in a split second.
She’ll need a buff or two to see any sort play, but in the right hands she can at least have some impact.