Overwatch 2’s Shift to 5v5 is Divisive to Pro, Casual Community

by in Overwatch | Jun, 1st 2021

After what felt like years of waiting, we finally got a good look at Overwatch 2 during the ‘Overwatch 2 PVP Developer Livestream.’ During this stream, the announcement came that shook perhaps every Overwatch player, and especially off-tank player, to their core – Overwatch 2 is shifting away from the 6v6 model that the game originally debuted with, cutting a tank position.

How Do These Chanages Compare To Other FPS Games?

Now the game will be played with one tank, two dps, and two healers. This is quite the shift for a game that’s been unique among FPS and most online multiplayer games that had six players to a side, and helped set the game apart from other hero shooters like Team Fortress 2, Rainbow Six Siege, and even Valorant. On the other hand, this change should in theory allow Blizzard to focus in on more FPS fundamentals, rather than the hybrid game they’d let Overwatch become. 

Needless to say, the move has been divisive among the community. Some have taken a more “wait and see” approach, some were quick to point out that this could be seen as a costcutting measure for the Overwatch League (though, this seems unlikely), and some still have said they don’t like the move overall. This is especially true in the pro community, where offtank players are now going to have to compete not only for playing time with their former tank partner, but also could outright be cut from teams. 

The Overwatch Community is Split Over 5v5

One popular content creator, Stylosa, ran a poll on his Twitter for the occasion which grabbed around 12,000 votes, with a small majority saying it’s a good change (at 51.3%) while 48.7% said the change was terrible. The community, therefore, is pretty clearly split.

The detractors of this change are quick to point out that the game is fundamentally shifting away from the game they purchased and put thousands of hours into practicing.  

They have stated intentions to embrace the FPS side of their hybrid game, and all of their balance changes are directed to this: Fewer shields, faster DPS, fewer tanks, less CC, improve DPS queue times, reduce defensive play, increase availability of high ground and flank routes,” one player said on Reddit. “It’s a different game. But I loved the game the way it was, I just wanted more of it. More content. Maps, heroes, map modes, continued balance changes. The game they are describing isn’t the game I purchased or spent thousands of hours playing and enjoying.

Off-Tank Pros Worry About What Happens Next

Meanwhile, professional players seem melancholy about the decision, saying that not only will this change things, but it will also completely change the dynamics of their teams. 

As for whether or not 5v5 is good for the game, I won’t pretend to know the answer,” San Francisco Shock star Matthew “Super” DeLisi, who participated in the 5v5 reveal, said. “But coordinating with a tank, building synergy and dominating is probably one of the most fun things I’ve done in a game

Not just dynamics are changing, though – players are worried for their continued employment with their teams. Of course, meta shift, and entire rule sets change around competitive play all the time, but Overwatch has been especially prone to this – the big shift from GOATS to the 2-2-2 role lock comes to mind immediately, and that wasn’t all that long ago. Now there’s yet another seismic shift in the way Overwatch is going to meant to be played, and that’s going to mean that teams have to reevaluate their approach. Players, though, are going to feel the biggest sting of this, especially off-tanks. 

Imagine spending 5 years to perfect your role,” Atlanta Reign tank Blake “Gator” Scott said. “Just for it to be deleted while knowing your role does not translate to another you’re expected to give all you got till the end of season.

Some players are more optimistic than others – saying that tanks probably won’t be expected to be able to play every single tank hero, and that benches will be utilized for depth. However, the pessimistic take on that is that it’s hard to justify paying an entire salary, with benefits, just for this depth. Time will tell which teams end up wanting to take advantage of that. 

My take is that OT [Off-Tank] players will be fine in OW2,” Houston Outlaws support William “Crimzo” Hernandez said.  “There’ll still be a need to play those heroes and the tank role itself is going to completely change. With all of the new stuff for tanks coming into OW2, I think it’s crazy to say that there won’t be a need for the OT heroes. You can’t expect 1 tank player to be able to cover all the tanks in the game, you’re going to still need 2-3 tank players in my opinion.

Overwatch 2 still doesn’t have a confirmed release date, but with this PVP stream, it seems that they are making decent headway. Hopefully, we will hear more about the release date at whatever the replacement for Blizzcon is. 


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