Echo Ban in Hero Pools Baffles Fans and Players
Week by week, Overwatch’s hero pools continue to push boundaries and find innovative new ways to completely confuse players and fans. The system seems to lurch from weird decision to weird decision, but it might have hit a new height this week. An Echo ban came this week. Which completely removes her from the competitive side of the game, and just a week after introduction and a special tournament. This latest decision has brought little but confusion from fans, but it has succeeded in keeping eyes on Overwatch for another week.
Echo is the newest addition to the game. While the character has been active on test servers for a while, she was only just brought into the game in full. Early fears about the hero being overpowered haven’t entirely panned out since release. While one of the more useful heroes, she does have some counters in the game and it’ll take a while to see how the character interacts with the rest of the competitive metagame. The character hasn’t really been in the game long enough to make an impact yet, yet Echo ban is coming into force on the second week of availability.
Echo Ban and Other Hero Pools This Week
This week’s hero pools are the second time a new system is being used. These characters are eligible for removal based on their pick rates from high-ELO games. This limits those who are ban eligible to just the heroes that may be overused. This week, these heroes are being removed:
The other choices here are pretty standard, they’re heavily used heroes. The Echo ban is a bit more confusing. The character has only been in ranked for a week. How this makes a removal warranted isn’t known to anyone outside of Blizzard. Fans and players’ reactions have been a bit controversial:
When you finally get pulled out of 2 years of being introduced as a character / lots of PTR testing / are the final hero to be added to the first game and you get banned from the Overwatch Hero Pool anyway pic.twitter.com/qxU0x3melX
— uberchain [Commissions OPEN] (@uberchain) April 20, 2020
Why is Echo Banned?
All of this really makes players wonder just why Echo has been banned. A week in competitive is hardly long enough to build up the kind of over-use you’d need for Hero pools. The pools exist to shake up the metagame. However, there is little to be gained from removing a character who is still so new to the game that their presence is going to shake things up.
Some have argued it is to stall before nerfing and balancing Echo. Although this would be a very weird way of going about it. If Echo had been introduced to the game in an overpowered and unbalanced state, Blizzard would just roll out a patch and put it up with it for now or would have caught it prior to wide release. It is still too early to actually say if Echo is overpowered, these things take time to analyze. It would be counter-productive to jump on any new hero and nerf them into oblivion within a single week.
On top of this, Echo had a special tournament just last weekend; the Flash Ops Echo Tournament. If balance was a problem, then this tournament wouldn’t have taken place. The decision gets more confusing the longer you think about it.
Keep the Hype Train Going
That really only leaves the possibility that Echo’s ban was kind of random. There is no other decent explanation to ban a new hero right out of the gate. However, they could be stretching out that new hero hype for an extra week. A new character brings lapsed players back to the game. While the build-up before her OWL debut could help to build even more hype. Players come back to try out the new hero and to see it in Overwatch league. Separating those two debuts give you two separate events with hype going towards them. This might be a way to keep some hype for the game going as Echo is the final update before Overwatch 2.
That might be a cynical explanation for Echo’s ban, but there are few plausible explanations for the removal available at the moment.