By Emily Barnes
UPDATED – 6/2/2020
Meta is a massive part of basically every Overwatch match, whether it’s in the Platinum rank on Xbox, Masters on PC, or even in the Overwatch League. Characters are considered to be off-meta or meta based on their abilities, how they mesh with other character’s abilities and just overall strategy that has proven to be repeatedly effective in Overwatch games. Meta is not completely consistent throughout every competitive season, especially with the implementation of Hero pools. An example of a well known Meta would be double shield meta or bunker meta where players typically ran a composition centered around the following characters: Orisa, Sigma, Bastion, Baptiste, and maybe even Mercy.
Players more often than not base their team compositions around the current Overwatch meta. However, players often specialize in non-meta characters and see decent success not abiding by the meta. All characters in Overwatch are unique and can be great niche picks or in certain scenarios. It’s up to the player to make the best decision for what character to pick, and this list is meant to help you understand the off-meta heroes and why they are off-meta in Season 22!
Genji is one of the highest picked DPS in the game and it is not unusual to have a Genji in most games in a sitting. Genji is a very swift character who utilizes shurikens against his enemies. His abilities allow him to climb walls, double jump, slash through enemies with Swift Strike, and one of his most notable abilities is his Deflect. Deflect literally deflects your enemy’s abilities back into their face. Most of the people who pick Genji probably have his ultimate ability in mind, his Dragon Blade. Dragon Blade is pretty strong on its own, but it pairs extremely well with Zarya’s Graviton Surge and Ana’s Nano Boost. However, this powerful ult can be one of the only effective parts of Genji’s kit into shields and it can be controlled by your enemy support’s defensive ults. Playing a hero while completely depending on their ultimate to win every fight is not a good idea, but if you can consistently land kills with Genji’s shuriken and abilities, he is still a strong damage pick.
Pharah is a very fun character to play as she has a very unique set of abilities. Consequently, she is definitely a niche pick, and usually, players who play her have dedicated a large chunk of time into mastering her kit and using it effectively. Pharah’s weapon is a rocket launcher which can be very deadly if she manages to hit her enemies with it, and she also has an ability called Jump Jet which launches herself into the sky. On open maps, such as Route 66 and Eichenwalde, she can be very effective. Pharah’s ultimate ability Barrage shoots out many rockets at once but forces her to remain still for several seconds, making her extremely vulnerable. If you have a reliable Mercy pocket healing you and can consistently hit rockets on your enemies, then Pharah can be a solid pick for you. However due to the high amount of damage hit scan players, you might be shot out of the sky very quickly.
Brigitte somehow combines both Support elements and Off-Tank elements into one package with her Barrier Shield and various abilities. Brigitte automatically heals her teammates while hitting her enemies with her Rocket Flail melee weapon. This means that if your teammates aren’t playing grouped up or brawling, Brigitte will have to rely on her armor packs to heal her teammates. Her armor packs are very limited and healing with her can be extremely difficult. Her Shield Bash ability can stun enemies’ ultimate abilities and her Whip Shot can even knock enemies off of the map. Brigitte is a fun hero to play but is most likely only good in certain situations.
Hanzo falls under the damage category of heroes and is a long-range damage dealer as well. He has a bow and arrow for a weapon that can solar track his enemies, whilst firing arrows in fast succession. Very similar to his brother Genji, Hanzo has movement abilities that allow him to climb walls and double jump. Hanzo’s ultimate ability, Dragon Strike, is very powerful when paired with Zarya’s Graviton Surge. Unless your enemies have a strong defensive ultimate to counter, the combination of Graviton Dragon is almost guaranteed kills. However, Hanzo is much less reliable than his counterparts in the hit scan damage category. This means you may have to rely completely on his ultimate for any value at all.
Zenyatta can be unbelievably strong in Overwatch. Unfortunately, Zenyatta has an extreme lack of mobility, and enemies can dive him quite easily. Zenyatta’s Discord orb lands on one enemy at a time and increases any damage they take by 25%. Zenyatta’s primary fire is called Orbs of Destruction. The Orbs of Destruction do 48 damage per orb, while firing rapidly. This allows an uncontested Zenyatta to absolutely destroy his enemies especially if his teammates are following up on his Discord orbs. However, when Zenyatta gets dove by enemies he is practically defenseless, and against a competent Winston or DVA, he really doesn’t stand much of a chance for most Zenyatta players.
Widowmaker is most notable for her ability to “One shot, One kill,” her enemies. A skilled and competent Widowmaker allows her kit to make her an extremely deadly sniper who can wipe out entire enemy backlines in a couple of headshots. Widowmaker successfully puts significant pressure on enemy teams, and she can be intimidating to play against. However, Widowmakers have to continuously hit headshots to have any impact, and if she isn’t hitting these shots, she’s practically useless. Her ultimate ability, Infra-Sight, allows her and her teammates to see their enemies through walls. This ultimate is somewhat helpful, but it really never completely shifts team fights nor does it guarantee kills. Widowmaker is extremely dependent on the individual player’s skill, making her an off-meta hero.
Junkrat is a projectile damage dealer who has the potential to unload high amounts of damage with both his weaponry and abilities. Junkrat has an ability called Total Mayhem that drops several live grenades upon his death. He also has a Steel Trap that traps his enemies for multiple seconds, almost guaranteeing a kill if your teammates act on your traps. However, Junkrat is easily countered by the very popular tank Zarya. His high damage output is great at charging Zarya to a full charge, making Zarya a monster for the rest of your teammates to deal with. Junkrat’s most notable part of his kit is his ultimate Rip Tire that he can unleash and denote on enemies even a considerable distance away. However, the Rip Tire can be destroyed making it completely useless.
3. Wrecking Ball
Wrecking Ball is one of the most unique characters amongst the Overwatch roster in both design and gameplay. Wrecking Ball’s weapons are Quad Cannons and his ability Roll allows him to transform into a ball and literally roll around the map. His Grappling Claw allows him to latch onto surfaces and roll in circles making him almost impossible to kill on certain points. Wrecking Ball is very good at stalling points on certain maps and his ultimate ability Minefield deploys a Minefield that can kill his enemies when they touch them. Wrecking Ball can be very powerful but his playstyle is difficult to grasp for some and he can leave the other tank on his team more vulnerable.
Bastion definitely deserves to be so high on this list as he is known for being a defensive pick that can shred his enemies quickly. Combined with Mercy’s damage boost, Bastion’s primary fire does insane amounts of damage. Bastion is often played with double shields that will protect him from most enemy damage. Bastion can be intimidating especially in lower ranks, but he is actually very easy to counter which makes him off-meta. Once you kill a Bastion, you will see that often his entire team was based around protecting him and without him, they will fall apart quickly.
Symmetra is one of the most controversial heroes in Overwatch across every rank. Starting off classified as a Support character, Blizzard moved Symmetra over to the much more fitting Damage category. Symmetra’s primary fire is a laser that can charge on enemy barriers and she also can put down three sentry turrets at once that laser her enemies. Her ultimate ability, the Photon Barrier, can cut through the entire map and blocks enemy damage and healing. Symmetra also has a teleporter that allows for certain flanks on maps, but most players are used to these flanks, and Symmetra can be countered relatively easily. Symmetra is ineffective against teams that know how to counter her, and that is why she is considered off-meta across mostly every season.
In conclusion, playing an off-meta hero is not a guaranteed loss. You can very easily still carry and win games with these heroes on this list, especially if you have lots of experience with that certain hero. This list is just suggestions and explanations of why certain heroes are off-meta, and it is not to be considered to be defined limitations that every player should follow. All in all, if you communicate with your teammates and play as a team (which is one of the best tips to get out of platinum rank), you will be successful in your Overwatch career no matter who you play.