Symmetra Finally Sees Overwatch League Play
Here we are again, at the start of another Overwatch League season. On February 14th, Overwatch League started season 2, and we finally got to see some of the challengers for this year’s league championship. While there are many exciting things to talk about, from roster changes to community drama, one interesting change for this second season has to do with the meta. Symmetra is finally being used by professional teams. It is possible that increased exposure to Symmetra in Overwatch league will increase support and interest in playing with her at the quickplay and competitive levels of Overwatch.
Symmetra finally sees Overwatch League play!
On the first day of the second season, the Los Angeles Gladiators used Symmetra to moderate success in order to push the first Kings Row point. This was a historical moment for Overwatch League, because it is the first time Symmetra has dealt any hero damage in the league. Yes, you read that correctly, Symmetra has not dealt damage in the Overwatch League before. Symmetra mains everywhere rejoiced as Surefour, the Gladiator flex DPS, finally validated their character selection on the top field of Overwatch competition.
It is rather surprising that a founding hero, who has been available to play from day one of the game, has seen so little use at the highest levels of play. Even currently, with Symmetra being a viable hero at upper levels of the game, many Symmetra mains are criticized for choosing the traditionally off meta hero. Her pick rate has consistently remained below 1%, even after significant changes have been made to her character.
Symmetra’s Reputation Problem
Symmetra suffers from a reputation problem, which stems from her instability as a character, and players confusion about her role as a result. It is possible that the explanation for Symmetra’s low pick rate is that modern Symmetra is not competitively viable. However, the Gladiator’s choice to use her indicates that the professionals disagree, and that Symmetra has a legitimate place in the DPS meta. Further, there are plenty of examples of top 500 and grandmaster players using Symmetra to win games, such as popular Twitch streamer Daniel Fenner. Another explanation for her low pick rate is that she has a bad reputation formed from two and a half years of significant change, her awkward place within the meta of early Overwatch, and past versions of her lacking competitive viability outside of very specific scenarios. Many Overwatch players would classify Symmetra as a meme hero.
As a founding Overwatch hero, Symmetra has been a presence in the game of Overwatch since the beta. Symmetra’s character is an architect from India who works with the Vishkar corporation. Symmetra is equipped with several innovative weapons which are unique to the game of Overwatch. Symmetra’s primary weapon is a photo projector, the primary fire of which is a beam that charges the more you hit with it, and the secondary fire is an orb which can be charged to do more damage. Equipped with deployable turrets, a teleporter, and a skyshield for an ultimate ability, modern Symmetra is capable of doing amazing things for your team. However, Symmetra has been through multiple reworks since the release of Overwatch in 2016.
Symmetra 1.0: Support Symmetra
When the game first released, Symmetra was classified in the support role, and her primary fire locked onto enemies within a very limited range. Her secondary fire did little damage, but it went through barriers. She could give her teammates extra shields and her ultimate was a teleporter which teleported characters from the spawn room, to wherever she set it up. The first rendition of Symmetra offered players 3 turrets which autolocked onto enemies and did damage, and had a significant cool down. This initial version of Symmetra was difficult to play in many scenarios. Her cooldown on her turrets was long, her shield ability was only useful upon spawning with your team, or if they died, and she had very few options for escaping damage. During this time in Symmetra’s character development, she was used primarily for her teleporter and saw very little serious play.
Symmetra 2.0: Deathgate Symmetra
Seeing the issues with Symmetra, and her low pick rate, the Overwatch development team set to work on Symmetra 2.0 in late 2016. The second rendition of Symmetra offered the player six turrets, a barrier which once deployed would float forward in a straight line, and the choice between a teleporter and a shield generator for their ultimate. The six turrets and shield generator increased the value Symmetra offered to the team, but it didn’t clarify what role she was meant to play on the team. Although Symmetra was still classified as support, at this point her role existed between defense and support. She didn’t do enough support actions to justify her as a support, and she generally didn’t do enough damage to justify her as a DPS role. Put simply, although Symmetra 2.0 was better than the first version of the character, it didn’t solve the problems with Symmetra.
Symmetra 3.0: DPS Symmetra
In June of 2018, there was a serious rework of Symmetra. According to an interview with the Lead developer of Overwatch Jeff Kaplan, in November of 2018, the rework of Symmetra was a necessity because balancing her abilities did not make her a more viable pick the first time they reworked her. Symmetra 3.0 drastically changed the abilities, value, and most importantly the role of Symmetra. This modern Symmetra is more competitively viable because she does more damage, offers her team incredible mobility with the teleporter, and her skyshield ultimate can change the course of a match. This version of Symmetra is not classified as support.
This final rework has made Symmetra more fun to play, and much more active on the battlefield. However, even after Symmetra 3.0, players who main her continue to experience negative responses to their hero selection. The Gladiators deploying Surefour on Symmetra is a note of hope for those who want to see or play more Symmetra. Only time will tell whether we see more Symmetra picks in Overwatch League, but for now Symmetra mains can hope that their favorite hero’s reputation is about to make a turn for the better.
- Aaron J. Alford