Quentyn K. July 25, 2019
When it came time to weigh in on a rule change that would disrupt Overwatch League’s long-standing GOATS meta, the result among the league’s teams was overwhelmingly in favor of the proposition.
Overwatch League commentator Christoper “MonteCristo” Mykles, who hasn’t been shy to cry for change, said in the latest OverSight podcast that nearly all OWL teams pushed for Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues to enforce a 2-2-2 role lock in the game. The change would limit teams to two each of support, tank, and DPS heroes.
The rule, which goes live beginning with Overwatch League Stage 4, neatly eviscerates the 3-3 composition of tank and support characters so heavily favored in the current meta.
The “GOATS” composition was brought to reign by the team with its namesake. This ensemble presents a deadly, nigh unkillable threat. Teams fight as a complete unit, keeping each other alive and well while working to suffocate the opposition into submission.
Teams have entire strategies dedicated to executing and countering GOATS, and the concept has evolved a great deal since it first rose to prominence. The original cast included Overwatch heroes Brigitte, Lúcio, and Moira on the support side. D.Va, Reinhardt, and Zarya made up the tanks.
A solid GOATS composition almost always needs D.Va, Brigitte, and Lúcio, but other slots are often flexed for niche needs or unique flavor. Many try to stick to the spirit of the original, but it’s not impossible to see a monster DPS sitting behind their indestructible wall of teammates.
Overwatch fans weren’t always so keen to shun GOATS. Scores of casual and professional players embraced it as a tool to help them do what’s most important — win. Even Overwatch League celebrated its meta-defining impact with a festive broadcast featuring actual goats.
But the community was quick to turn sour when GOATS became almost mandatory to run. Players reluctantly follow the game plan because chances are the other team is doing the same.
The viability of Overwatch’s most fun and iconic heroes has since plummeted. Developers at Blizzard have tried to bring about change through tweaking numbers, nerfing GOATS staple heroes and buffing those left unplayed, but the base structure of Overwatch has proven too conducive to compositions made up entirely of healers and beefy tanks.
The heavy use of GOATS in Season 2 of Overwatch League hasn’t been fun for viewers, and some players have even complained publicly. It’s an issue that could be the root cause of a steadily declining viewership, and one that many fans wish Blizzard had been quicker to act on.