Overwatch Open is set to kick off on Sept. 25, with 16 teams competing for a piece of the $300,000 prize pool. And while there are 22 heroes currently available, not all will see the light of day in Atlanta.
Here are theScore esports' picks for the five heroes to watch at the Overwatch Open.
Josh Bury: You're going to see plenty of Ana at Overwatch Open, because she's the backbone of many multi-tank compositions in the current meta.
The sniping support is most notably used for her Nano Boost ultimate, which charges rapidly and gives a 30 percent increase in movement speed as well as a 50 percent boost to both damage reduction and damage dealt.
This lets one of the team's tanks — typically Reinhardt — play the part of gatecrasher as they charge quickly into enemy lines, posing an immediate threat that is difficult to dislodge because of the damage reduction.
While it is the biggest reason she is picked, Nano Boost is not the only effective tool in Ana's kit. The Sleep Dart can isolate and secure kills, almost like an inverted Roadhog hook, and the Biotic Grenade helps keep that hulked-out Reinhardt looking healthy during rushdowns.
While Ana's ascendance may seem unprecedented to some, support players in the scene have been optimistic about her eventual usage for some time. In an interview with theScore esports before Gamescom, Cloud9 support Adam "Adam" Eckel said that he was confident Ana would eventually be played.
"Ana just needs more time. She has an extremely high skill-ceiling and can be a huge factor in team fights with her kit. People are not 100 percent confident and comfortable on her just yet. She will be a solid pick in certain situations in the time to come," he said.
Boy, was Adam right.
Preston Dozsa: Ana's ultimate punishes teams for dealing damage to her allies, as it's incredible charge rate allows her to use Nano Boost frequently and with great effect. With her constant presence, teams must carefully weigh the cost of pushing back against her lest they walk to their own deaths.
Fortunately, Ana's lack of mobility allows her to be easily flanked, so expect her to be close to the frontlines where she can turn to her beefier allies for help.
Dozsa: With the rise of Ana, so too comes the rise of Roadhog.
Formerly a tank that offered little in defense and was a huge target for enemy teams to farm their ultimates on, Roadhog has become an integral part of the tank heavy meta that will be played at Overwatch Open.
Chain Hook is Roadhog’s most useful tool in his kit, and it is the barrier which separates an average player from a good one. The ability to consistently throw accurate hooks is crucial to the current meta, as a well timed hook on a support can blow the doors open for an offensive or defensive assault. Hook a Lucio, follow up with a blast from the scrap gun, and you’ve just created the perfect conditions for your team to push.
On the other hand, Take a Breather is a tool that is used sparingly, only in instances where Roadhog is isolated from a support or where a support is preoccupied. Due to his large base health pool, Roadhog is often used as a walking ultimate farm for Ana, as she can continually heal him to quickly fill her ultimate meter.
His ultimate, while slow to charge, is particularly devastating on Payload maps. The constant knockback on Whole Hog can clear the payload quickly no matter what side he is on, and can be just the thing that is needed to end the game.
Bury: The extent to which Roadhog's constant presence has forced teams to play differently is hard to accurately describe. As you mentioned, a hook can change everything — so teams must constantly be aware of the piggy's positioning in order to stay safe.
Another fun interaction with Ana is her Biotic Grenade combined with Take a Breather, which creates so much healing that Roadhog can sustain through focused fire from an enemy team.
Dozsa: Reinhardt is the wall that every team simultaneously build and overcome.
His ubiquity primarily comes from his large and varied toolkit. Barrier Field remains a necessity, while Charge and Fire Strike are useful in picking off isolated opponents. Earth Shatter is still one of the best ultimates, creating space that allows Reinhardt and his teammates to quickly mop up their opponents.
Yet with the rise of the tank meta, Reinhardt has often become the team's primary damage dealer, particularly if they forgo a DPS and run four tanks. When Nanoboosted by Ana, Reinhardt can charge into the enemy with reckless abandon and easily destroy enemy compositions, particularly if used in conjunction with a Graviton Surge or Earth Shatter.
A great Reinhardt can be the difference between a damaging poke and a devastating push. Ninjas in Pyjamas' Joona "Fragi" Laine is a prime example, as he can often be seen flanking their opponents and breaking them down in push after glorious push.
Bury: Hilariously, the tank meta has given the Reinhardt players their shot at glory. Relegated for too long to merely protecting a team's hitscan DPS player and supports, the prevalence of Nano Boost means that Reinhardt can finally get a healthy diet of left-clicks.
The only thing I miss are the intense, one-on-one Reinhardt duels of older metas, replaced as they are by the frantic front-line brawls of the current one.
Bury: You can turn down the bass, but the music goes on.
Lúcio received a nerf to the effectiveness of his speed boost in a recent patch, but that hasn't stopped him from seeing competitive play in all game modes. He's been a King of the Hill mainstay for some time, but he remains a common choice for a team's second support.
There are a couple reasons. Though the speed boost's potency was reduced, it remains a very valuable tool. Lúcio's ultimate Sound Barrier is also a strong tool whether the team is trying to withstand a push, or making a move of their own.
More than that, though, Lúcio is the most durable support. He is harder to kill for flankers than other supports because of his healing and his often-underrated wallrunning ability.
For me, one of the saddest parts of the tank meta is the fact that Lúcio players known for their aggression are forced to play a bit more cautiously to avoid an errant Roadhog hook. Flashy supports like Harrison "Kruise" Pond are forced to moderate their instincts to engage in duels, because a tank in the face can be fatal.
Dozsa: While Ana is arguably an offensive support, Lúcio's strength lies on defense. Soundwave's knockback is a prime example, as it enables him to toss aside a Primal Raged Winston or a Reinhardt as if they were paper to halt a push.
With his great passive abilities, it will be a long, long time before our favorite DJ will be absent from the meta.
Bury: When you're facing a big wall, you've got a choice: go through it, or go around it.
The prevalence of a single flanking offensive hero in many three-tank compositions is a testament to how much value a team can get from a kill against an enemy support.
And though Tracer still sees some use in this role, Genji is often the go-to selection for many teams. His incredible mobility, including on the z-axis, gives him the option to simply bypass the enemy's myriad tank heroes and go for the squishier supports in the backline. If the opponent can't Nano Boost but you can, it's already a lopsided situation.
Genji's Dragonblade ultimate also tends to require immediate and decisive teamwork to counter, due to its ability to turn a fight around in an instant in a flurry of blows. It combines well with Zarya's Graviton Surge ultimate, as Genji can slice a group of clumped enemies to ribbons or else just use the distraction to dash past the pinned frontline and kill the supports.
Sometimes fitting Genji into the composition is the hardest part, as many teams have turned to their projectile DPS player to play the third tank. Take REUNITED, who have one of the region's scariest Genji players in Finley "Kyb" Adisi but who normally have him play Roadhog in three-tank compositions while Hendrik-William "Vallutaja" Kinks plays Tracer as the team's flanker.
Dozsa: Compared to Tracer, Genji excels at mid range, where he can throw his shurikens with accuracy while diving into and out of the enemy with his excellent mobility. Zarya can effectively counter him, but her short range particle cannon means that Genji can just as easily duck out when the situation gets too hot.
Preston Dozsa is a D`Va main who wants his own brand of chips. You can follow him on Twitter.