Our essential Overwatch hero tier list for Season 12 (September 2018) breaks down the entire roster of characters into their most competitive brackets, with massive guides for each one as well!
As Season 12 is just kicking off, expect this tier list to change somewhat as the weeks go by! We've tried our best to represent the meta, but don't take our tier list as definitive. The meta's in a pretty balanced place right now, meaning many heroes are still viable, even if they aren't topping our list.
We've all got our favourite characters in Overwatch, and although some of them can sometimes appear on paper to be a bit more powerful than others, we take a pretty clear position when it comes to appraising them. All in all we think Blizzard has done an impressive job of crafting a roster of characters which are not only wonderfully distinct from one another, but also pretty well balanced as a collection. The Overwatch team hasn't been shy to introduce buffs and nerfs as and when they've been required, and we only expect the game's tuning to get tighter over time
With all this said and done though, it's fair to say that some heroes prove more consistently useful than others when it comes to contributing to a wide variety of team compositions. As a result, we like to provide a regularly updated snapshot of how the heroes stack up against one another, and do so in the form of the tier list you're reading now.
How exactly have we gone about compiling our list though? For a start, we take our own experience with the current meta into consideration, before factoring in the generally accepted wisdom of the crowd via alternative hero ratings. We also lean somewhat in our rankings towards playing with other random players, rather than team builds favoured by tightly coordinated competitive teams.
All things being equal this list will guide you towards making a solid choice within each category. Having said that, we encourage you to play the characters you enjoy and excel at above all else, and at the same time try to work around the hero picks of your teammates - even if you disagree.
Editor's Note: September Update
Why Blizzard? Why? Roadhog has been nerfed yet again, despite being in a "relatively" good place. While he's never quite ascended to the dizzying heights of his pre-rework form, players would pick the hog thanks to his shield breaking capabilities. His hefty shotgun was one of the easiest ways to bring down the likes of Reinhardt, Orisa or Brigitte barrier on the frontlines. Bizarrely though, Blizzard has decided to nerf this aspect of his game.
Roadhog's main selling point has been kicked to the wayside and he's simply no longer worth picking unless Blizzard decides to revert the change which is still entirely plausible considering the backlash its tweak is likely to bring.
Season 12 Overview
It's difficult to make any definitive statements, but here's a snapshot of the heroes who are already beginning to have an impact in the competitive mix:
Special thanks goes to our community member iris12229 who offered a brilliant insight into the current meta and Overwatch Central's video which also proved to be a valuable resource when it came to getting a handy overview of who could rise up the ranks in Season 12.
- Ana - Ana's clearly the strongest support right now thanks to all the buffs she received towards the end of August. We've always been a fan of hers and that's down to her kit being useful is practically every situation. She's more than capable of topping up a team on her own and we're certain she'll be a must-pick for Season 12.
- Lucio - Again, we've been fans of Lucio since the game's inception and with all the buffs he's also received, we'll be seeing more of him as Season 12 gets into gear.
- Moira - A staple of Season 10 and a hero that dropped in popularity a little throughout Season 11. As dive heroes are slowly coming out of hibernation, she's beginning to gain more traction as she's capable of decent healing, damage dealing and most importantly, she's able to duck out of a sticky situation when pounced on.
- D.Va - D.Va's still a decent pick as she's a brilliant all-rounder, able to hoover up any damage sources with her Defense Matrix and zoom around the map harassing the enemy.
- Winston - With Hammond rolling into the mix, dive compositions seems to be making a comeback into the meta. They aren't what they once were, but heroes like Winston can command the frontline push with Hammond, D.Va and co.
- Doomfist - Not as bad as his lowly pickrate belies. He's actually pretty strong all things considered, and that's down to his crazy mobility, tankiess and ability to be used for anti-dive/backline protection alongside brawly team compositions.
- Wrecking Ball It's hard to say where Wrecking Ball stands, even after being present in the meta for a good few weeks now. He's a strong dive presence in the right hands, but he's easily countered by heroes that have CC abilities. Heroes like Winston and D.Va are far more capable of hopping in and out and being disruptive with their shields and damage negation abilities. Wrecking Ball relies too heavily on Piledriver, which if missed, can leave you and your team in an vulnerable spot.
- Mercy - Still a solid healer pick, but we reckon Ana and Moira will take precedence.
- Reinhardt - He's been an absolute staple of the meta for a long while now and still is, but we can't help but feel that the unstoppable Brigitte, Zarya, Hanzo, Zenyatta and Brigitte squad is on the way out. All in all, Reinhardt's still a good pick, but not a must-pick.
Overwatch hero ranking and ratings
Here's our Season 12 tier list snapshot, updated for the month of August.
These listings are by no means definitive, especially as the meta's pretty balanced at the moment with a vast number of heroes being viable in the right situations!
|Tier 1||Reinhardt||Reinhardt guide||Tank|
|Tier 2||Zarya||Zarya guide||Tank|
|Tier 3||Lucio||Lucio guide||Support|
|Wrecking Ball||Wrecking Ball guide||Tank|
|Tier 4||Mei||Mei guide||Defense|
|Soldier: 76||Soldier: 76 guide||Offense|
|Tier 5||Bastion||Bastion guide||Defense|
Reinhardt’s back in a big way and his pick rate is currently through the roof at all levels of play. It’s all thanks to his huge barrier that can protect an entire backline, as well as the devastating potential of a correctly timed Earthshatter. He can hold a team together and simultaneously crush an opposing one in a matter of seconds.
Let’s not forget that he’s got great synergy with the likes of Brigitte and Zarya who’ve also seen a rise in popularity too. Their ability to chuck armour and shields his way makes him an even stronger defensive force on the battlefield.
Hanzo’s been climbing the ranks alongside Reinhardt, and he’s been really strong since Blizzard’s rework. He’s got fantastic mobility, coupled with the ability to one-shot a multitude of heroes and it’s extremely difficult to play against a Hanzo who’s landing all their shots and scurrying all over the map.
After a round of buffs, Ana's back in business. Her kit's absolutely spot on for almost every situation and she's more than capable of holding her own when it comes to topping up some of the beefiest health bars in the game. Welcome back old friend.
Mercy's hardly fallen from grace since her nerf a little while back. Although she's not the invulnerable healing menace that she once was, many players in all tiers are still playing her, and for good reason too. Strong, reliable single-target healing and an Ultimate ability that gives her serious survivability while keeping teammates topped up? She's going to be sticking around for a while.
Zarya’s another tank who’s seen a rise in popularity once again and that’s down to the fact that she compliments Reinhardt and Brigitte so nicely. Her bubble shield can soak up damage from meta heroes like Hanzo and Junkrat, which feeds her energy bar really quickly and builds her strong Ultimate ability.
Zarya’s Ultimate also combos well with Hanzo’s Dragonstrike, Reinhardt’s Earthshatter and many more besides. She’s a super flexible pick who’s able to wrench her allies out of danger while increasing her power at the same time.
D.Va's still a formidable force on the battlefield and that's down to her great all-rounder style. She's got insane mobility, negates ultimates and can harass the backline with ease. There's almost always a slot in the composition for D.Va to fit into and that says volumes about how much of an asset her kit can bring to a team.
Winston one occupied the very highest spot on our tier list during "The Age of the Dive Meta". He's definitely not what he once was, but he's certainly still a strong pick that'll head up a dive composition just fine.
Doomfist’s very strong in the right hands, able to blitz around the battlefield and one-shot opponents with a huge punch. Get over-zealous though, and you’ll be left completely stranded. He’s pretty unforgiving in this regard and unless you’ve poured quite a few hours into him, prepare to put yourself out of position over and over again. He’s got game-changing power, so pour some hours into mastering him and you could be the key difference-maker in many a match.
Despite some nerfs, Junkrat’s still holding strong in the DPS role thanks to his immense burst damage that’s perfect for breaking shields and shutting down the frontline. Much like Hanzo, he’s remarkably agile and players can really struggle to deal with his constant barrage of bombs.
Brigitte’s burst onto the competitive scene and she’s a common sight in 90% of our matches. She’s not really much of a healer, but she functions amazingly well as an off-tank who provides some additional frontline presence as well as the ability to armour up her allies.
On top of all this, she synergises well with many shield-based heroes, and can switch from being defensive to stunning an enemy down in the blink of an eye. The utility she provides is exceptional and it’s no wonder she occupies the upper echelons of our Overwatch tier list right now.
Moira did have a little dip in pick rate, but she's now making somewhat of a comeback too. She's great in all departments, but it's her ability to do it all that makes her so strong. Healing? Check. Damage dealing? Check. Able to get herself out of a sticky situation at the press of a button? Check.
Zenyatta's a key pick for dive compositions and is often a perfect counter and compliment to whatever's strong in the meta. His Transcendence is capable of negating damage, and his Discord and Healing Orbs are great for both removing vulnerable targets and ensuring allies are kept in the green.
In solid hands Lucio can shine as brightly in a random team as he does in truly collaborative pre-made efforts, and although he doesn't have a huge amount of health to play with - and his weapon projectiles are rather wobbly to deliver - his exceptional versatility, flexibility and ability to sustain his teammates and rush them back into action makes him a strong pick for any team.
We've placed him mid-tier for now, but we could see him on the rise as Season 12 gets into gear.
Genji’s skillset revolves around harassing enemies with Shurikens and closing down vulnerable targets. Shields and armour make his job much harder, especially as many enemies in the meta are now able to stun or burst him down in seconds.
If you can skillfully blend his amazing mobility skills and precision aiming together though, consider placing him a tier higher than he currently is. More than most heroes, how Genji is ranked by anyone is determined largely by your own ability at playing him. Just be warned that it's now a really tough gig...
Pharah’s another hero who’s seen a steady increase in pick rate throughout Season 11 and for much the same reasons as the ascendency of both Hanzo and Junkrat. She’s mobile, deals high burst damage and pairs up nicely with all the other meta heroes. Tag team her with Mercy and you’ve got a classic combination that forces the enemy into re-thinking their team composition just to deal with you.
Pharah gets weaker as you climb tiers and Widowmakers with sharp aim crawl out of the woodwork though, so that's why we've placed her mid-tier.
We really enjoy McCree's point and click style. This hero comes with a caveat, however, in that you'll need quick reactions to succeed in just about any of the many duels you're likely to find yourself in. If you're clumsy with your shots, consider McCree a much lower pick. Having said that, his Flashbang grenade ability is amazing for locking down a squishy kill, and anyone who manages to master this hero can expect to make a serious difference to a team's performance on any given map or game mode. Put simply, if you expect lots of close-quarters combat, McCree is an exceptionally potent force on the battlefield.
Tracer’s seen a dip in pick rate, and that’s down to the fact that Brigitte and Zarya are back in fashion. When dive compositions were in vogue, she could dive in and dish out some real damage without really being punished for it - countering her was tough.
Now with all the shields and armour, Tracer has a very tough time denting the enemy team’s health bars. Unless you’re extremely good, you’re likely to do no more than be a nuisance.
We're not completely sold on Wrecking Ball's capabilities just yet, so that's why we've placed him a little lower than you may have expected. We feel that he lacks the utility of tanks like D.Va and Winston who simply accomplish more when they dive into the opposing team with all their damage mitigation tools.
Give it some time and perhaps Wrecking Ball will gain some traction, but for now he's more of a character who'll round out a dive composition than a main tank who'll hold the frontline.
An extremely accomplished Widowmaker player can cause the enemy team a huge number of headaches, but played strictly solo she can be a somewhat fiddly and fragile character to dominate with. When she's fully zoomed in on the action at hand, she's extremely vulnerable to being eliminated by a flanking aggressor and with no guaranteed protection from a teammate she can be taken out of combat pretty quickly.
Those who don't excel at this particular niche will find her a tricky hero to make any real impact with though.
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Not only does Mei have a whole truckload of annoying crowd-control abilities to frustrate the enemy team with, she can also summon down a massive wall of ice that provides a super-annoying barricade for your future victims to have to deal with. Her excellent, immobilising Ultimate ability does require you to have a team who are savvy enough to capitalise on the opportunity though, so she's by no means a first pick if you're queuing up for a match with randoms. In a well-organised team, however, she can be a bit of a menace for the opposition to deal with. Expect your teammates to roll your eyes a bit when you choose her though.
A few seasons ago we'd bumped Reaper up towards the top echelons of our tier list. His new life-stealing passive took him to new heights, but right now, he's fallen by the wayside a little. There's an inherent clunkiness to his playstyle that means he can't keep up with all the mobility currently in the game. We sense a rework on the cards if he's ever to make an impact again.
Soldier: 76 [Offense]
It's a little tempting at first glance to think that Soldier: 76 is just another boring run-and-gun hero - and it's no accident that he's the first character you encounter during the game's tutorial - and yet there's plenty of mastery to be had here despite this surface simplicity. His DPS is very strong, his Sprint ability allows him to get back into the thick of battle nice and quickly, and that group heal can often mean the difference between victory or a rather embarrassing group wipe. He's a solid all-rounder really, and one that shines in skilled hands.
Having said all this, there's a better DPS for almost every situation currently (Hanzo for burst, Genji for flanking) and that's why he's in the lower rungs of this tier list.
Ever since she launched, Orisa's struggled to break out of a mid-table position. That came to an end in Season 8 as her ability to constantly throw down shields and hold the frontline began to see the light of day. Now with Season 12 under way she’s slipped down the rankings, and that’s down to the fact she’s not worth picking over Brigitte who’s currently better in almost every way when it comes to aiding her team.
Roadhog’s not in the best of places right now and it’s all down to - you guessed it - the rise of the barriers, shields and whatnot. His hook doesn’t have the same devastating potential it once had, and he ends up being more of a bullet sponge that feeds enemy Ultimates if anything.
Bastion has languished at the bottom of the heap for far too long since his glory days in the beta, when everything he touched turned to pixellated dust. He was nerfed a little too hard for our liking back then, and a round of post-launch buffs haven't had nearly as much of an impact as he needed. He has his situational strengths when defending, but he still doesn't feel like the finished article to us.
Bastion’s always languished at the bottom of the pile, only seeing glimpses of glory when played as a “troll” pick or something that might throw the enemy off if you’ve tried absolutely every tactic and still nothing’s worked.
Bastion’s got some situational strengths, but he’s a linear hero who’s easily countered and only effective in niche scenarios.
There's a lot of love for Torbjorn out there and with very good reason. Turrets always provide a real problem for the opposing team to deal with, and if they lack the wits to switch heroes and neutralise the threat, they'll find themselves on the backfoot for the entire match. The only problem though is that people have long since wised up to the urgency of eliminating this particular threat, and so this hero is struggling to punch hard in the current metagame. You'll still curse turrets and Bastions and swear they're overpowered from time to time, but the reality is that the answers are there to be made use of if you're prepared to make the necessary change.
For a time it was hard to tell whether Sombra was hideously under or overpowered in the metagame - and it depended very much on the skill level of any given player. She's another highly situational character who can make a big difference in certain circumstances, but she's a tough pick to make an argument for from the get-go.
Symmetra's rework has been huge and when you look at her new kit on paper, it certainly gives off the impression that she'll now have a big impact on the competitive scene. Unfortunately this isn't the case.
She's still a niche hero with damaging abilities that really don't match up to the likes of Genji, Tracer or even Doomfist. She lacks their mobility and "punch" when it comes to harassing opponents or pulling off an explosive combination of moves that'll eliminate enemies in a split second.
She'll need a buff or two to see any sort play, but in the right hands she can at least have some impact.