This article is part of our Overwatch series.
When Blizzard announced that Stage 4 of the Overwatch League would be played on patch 1.22, the patch directly before the release of the Hanzo rework, there was initially much criticism and complaints from the community at large. Some complaints were directed at the fact that Overwatch’s newest hero, Brigitte, would not receive the substantial nerfs the community deemed necessary, but there were just as many fans who wanted to see the new Hanzo in action. While seeing a recently reworked hero is usually fun, it’s actually a good thing that Hanzo in his current state didn’t make it into Stage 4. The fact of the matter is that the hero is ridiculously strong at the moment, which could have created a problem in the DPS role.
It’s unfair to judge something’s viability in professional competition based on online ranked ladder stats, as the two games are vastly different in key aspects like coordination, but Hanzo’s prevalence in grandmaster games cannot be ignored. At the moment, pulled from the last month of play on Overbuff, Hanzo has a pick rate of 6.33 percent, the highest of any DPS hero in the game, with a 55.77 percent winrate and an on fire percentage of 21.58, the second highest in the game after Brigitte. In grandmaster, the average Hanzo Eliminations to Deaths ratio (E:D) is 3:1, averaging 28.34 elims per game. These stats are simply insane, trailing only Zarya, an off-tank with a kit inclined to picking up elimination credits, and ranking the highest of the DPS classes. What’s more, 64.3 percent of Hanzo’s eliminations are final blows, meaning Hanzo is putting people in the coffin as much as helping his team do the same.
Now, once you are done wiping up those stats I vomited at you, I’d like to discuss what that means in terms of theoretical game application. These numbers show that Hanzo is, realistically, the best DPS in the game. On the NA ranked ladder, almost every DPS main in the top 10 is a Hanzo main, and there are many more Hanzo's throughout the upper ranks. He dominates long range thanks to the buffs to his arrow projectile speed, and can only be contested by a Widowmaker (good luck hitting that shot, by the way, if Hanzo’s playing behind his Reinhardt/Brigitte/Zarya frontline). At medium range, he’s even more lethal than before, and he even has game at short range despite not having Scatter Arrow in his tool chest. Storm Arrow, the ability that replaced Scatter Arrow, is straight up broken, to the point where it’s already receiving nerfs on the PTR. Really, this new ability is one of the main culprits in making Hanzo the meta dominator of soloq today.
Storm Arrow allows Hanzo to fire 6 arrows at full power in rapid succession, to the point where he becomes the best DPS at basically everything. Want to bust tanks and shields? Hanzo’s your man, able to pump 480 damage into a target, assuming none of them are headshots. This is enough to single-handedly kill a full-health Zarya, the most popular off-tank of the new meta, and take a significant chunk (1/4th) out of Reinhardt’s shield. Not only that, but Hanzo can still use Storm Arrows to go on a headshot spree and eliminate an enemy backline by himself. Just look at this.
Not only does he have the best damage potential, and not only is his ultimate Dragonstrike the perfect compliment for a Zarya dominated meta, but you can’t even effectively punish Hanzo thanks to his new Lunge ability which gives him a degree of maneuverability that’s extremely difficult for divers to keep up with, if they can even approach Hanzo without dying.
Sure, new Hanzo seems like it would be a fun addition to the OWL roster, but is that really what fans want? Through the first two days of Stage 4, it is clear that Patch 1.22 is the most balanced patch we’ve seen to date, with several different team compositions and playstyles being shown through just the opening few days (Editor’s note: No more dive every single game! Praise!). Imagine what the league will look like when more teams have time to adjust to the new patch, especially since some teams haven’t taken the hint that Brigitte hard-counters dive and requires adjustments to deal with cough Shanghai, Seoul, etc. cough cough. This stage might be the best one yet in terms of playstyle diversity, and we should be thankful we don’t have to deal with mirror Hanzo ultimates every teamfight, the plague which has befallen soloq. So, I’m excited to see Hanzo after some nerfs, but right now is just too soon.