Our essential Overwatch hero tier list for Season 13 (December 2018) breaks down the entire roster of characters into their most competitive brackets, with massive guides for each one as well!
As Season 13 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: December Update
Season 13 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 Overwatch Central's video which also proved to be a valuable resource when it came to getting a handy overview of the meta highlights right now.
- GOATS Comp - Still a go-to classic for most teams. It’s composed of three tanks and three supports. Think: Moira, Lucio, Brigitte, Reinhardt, Zarya and D.Va.
- Sombra + Doomfist Dive Comp - Largely counters GOATS as these two heroes prove to be incredibly disruptive to the backline. It’s quite popular, but requires some serious teamwork to pull off. Think: Sombra, Doomfist, Winston, D.Va, Lucio, Ana/Zen.
- Anti-Dive Comp - Counters the Dive comp above. It’s got the likes of McCree and Brigitte involved for the CC, as well as Zarya and Reinhardt for protection. Think: McCree, Brigitte, Rein, Zarya, Lucio, Ana/Zen.
- Ana/Rein/Zarya/D.Va/Moira - Not much has changed as we head into December. They’re all still as strong as before!
- Ashe - It’s not been long since her debut in Competitive, but we think she’s going to go down a storm in the future. While she’s not going to completely replace McCree, we’ve found her mobility a real treat on the battlefield. Her Coach Gun gives her brilliant verticality and, unlike McCree, she can blast away diving enemies like Winston or Doomfist. Of course, she can deal some pretty massive damage in the right hands. We'll place her in the tier list over the next few weeks!
- Torbjorn - So now the dust has settled on his rework, we know he’s in a much better place than before. However, we still don’t reckon he’s that viable in most tiers of play. Unless you’re some sort of Torbjorn god, there are much better hero choices out there, especially when it comes to versatility.
- Doomfist - In the most recent PTR patch, he’s received some big nerfs to his ultimate and some slight tweaks to his Rising Uppercut. However, we still reckon he’s enough of a CC force to stay at the top of the competitive rung for a while yet. Again, we’ll update this tier list if there’s any major impact to his pick rate.
- Brigitte - Brigitte’s receiving a steady trickle of nerfs to her non-healing capabilities, and in the latest PTR patch, she’s been hit with a nerf to her Shield Bash. While it deals less damage, we still believe her CC abilities (much like Doomfist) are more than enough to keep her in the game for now.
- Mercy - She’s definitely not as strong as she once was, but by no means does this mean she’s a bad pick. Partner her with Ashe and you’ve got yourself a strong duo. All in all though, Ana’s still the best overall support in the game.
Another great meta resource that’s well worth watching is Your Overwatch’s video on the potential impact of Doomfist and Brigitte’s PTR changes:
Overwatch hero ranking and ratings
Here's our Season 13 tier list snapshot, updated for the month of December.
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||D.Va||D.Va 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.
Zarya’s another tank who’s seen a rise in popularity once again and that’s down to the fact that she compliments Reinhardt, Winston, Doomfist and Brigitte nicely. Her bubble shield can soak up damage from bursty heroes like Hanzo and Junkrat too, 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.
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.
Moira did have a little dip in pick rate back in Season 12, but she's definitely made a big comeback. 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.
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.
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 when you need one.
Hanzo’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.
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.
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.
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 recognise that he's a solid pick, but we've placed him mid tier as there are some stronger options out there in terms of Support heroes right now.
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 similar to Genji in nearly every respect. She's a phenomenal flanker who's capable of terrorising the enemy backline or gradually whittling down tank health bars - but only in the right hands. She's so mechanically intensive that this pick may not work in your favour.
Unless you’re extremely good, you’re likely to do no more than be a nuisance.
We're not completely sold on Wrecking Ball. He's got some great utility, but he's only a decent pick if you're playing in a tightly coordinated team. Otherwise, we've found he's difficult to play with and around, especially as he zips around the map doing his own thing.
All in all, D.Va's just a better all-round pick who can still fulfill the same role as Wrecking Ball without potentially throwing the team into disarray.
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.
More great Overwatch guides:
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 13 under way she’s slipped down the rankings, and that’s down to the fact she’s only worth picking in very specific situations and scenarios.
The ever-changing Roadhog still isn't really seeing the light of day, despite being buffed in the last patch. In certain scenarios his hook can be lethal, but otherwise he's too much of a bullet sponge right now to be viable at high level play.
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.
Torbjorn's much stronger than he was, but he's still languishing at the bottom of this list because his kit is too linear. He's still easy to counter and play around. All in all, there are much stronger, more versatile picks unfortunately (we still love playing him, though).
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.