Our essential Overwatch hero tier list for Season 16 (May 2019) breaks down the entire roster of characters into their most competitive brackets, with massive guides for each one as well!
We've tried our best to represent the meta, but don't take our tier list as definitive. The meta's all about GOATS comp right now, meaning only a handful of heroes are truly viable in the higher echelons of play. However, this doesn't rule out others. Even if they're not topping our list (Widowmaker, for example), they're still capable of being extremely strong in the right situation.
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: May Update
Season 16 Overview
As has been the case for quite a while now (at least 2 seasons...) GOATs comp is still very much a viable option. Baptiste hasn't had a huge impact and is actually more of a niche pick than anything, while recent buffs to Reaper still don't really make him viable enough.
Video by Overwatch Central
Just take a look at most matches in the Overwatch League and most teams will be running the usual suspects: Reinhardt, Zarya, D.Va, Brigitte, Lucio and Zenyatta. Occasionally, teams like Chengdu Hunters mix things up a bit by throwing Pharah, Wrecking Ball and Orisa into the mix. We've even seen the likes of Genji make an appearance here and there, but overall - the meta remains largely the same as it has been for a long time.
Bunker compositions are also in a pretty good spot right now, although they take a great deal of coordination so it's unlikely you'll spot too many in solo queue. As the name suggests, it's a team designed around holding down a position. Imagine the likes of Orisa, Junkrat, Soldier:76, Mercy, Baptiste and Bastion all pinning down a point, and just how hard it would be to break through their healing, shields and bombardments. That's the bunker comp for you.
We mentioned Wrecking Balls growing popularity and it's his ability to disrupt bunker compositions which has brought this on. His ground pounds and rolling boops can wreak havoc on a team which only works in a static defensive position. Granted, he's hard to play, but manage to master him and you can wreak havoc - even in solo queue.
Symmetra's seeing some more play too, as teams are making creative use of her teleporter to whizz their teams around the map. Meanwhile Genji, Tracer and McCree are also largely viable too if you know how to get the best out of them.
Overwatch hero ranking and ratings
Here's our Season 16 tier list snapshot, updated for the month of May.
These listings are by no means definitive, and any hero can thrive in the right situation.
|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 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 been a staple for a while and that’s down to the fact that she compliments the likes of Reinhardt and Genji nicely. Her bubble shield can soak up damage from bursty heroes like Zenyatta, 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.
Ana's kit is 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.
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 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.
Ashe is incredibly strong in the right hands, and capable of delivering huge amounts of damage at all ranges. Her Coach Gun is brilliant at knocking away incoming threats like Winston and Genji, while her Dynamite can damage enemies through shields which is perfect for sieging chokepoints.
Unfortunately, we're just not convinced she's a top tier pick yet. She's got all the tools to have a huge impact in a match, but it's all down to the skill of the player.
Baptiste has a pretty high skill ceiling so he's not had a huge impact on the meta. Those who know how to use him can bring an enormous amount of healing to a team, but those who struggle with him can bring down a team without even realising it.
In many ways, he's a solid healer and support, but you'll need to have a strong handle on his abilities and positioning to get the most out of him.
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.
Reaper's been buffed quite significantly meaning he's capable of dealing some significant damage in the low to mid tiers. He's now able to shred a team if he's placed in the right composition, but he's inherently a one dimensional hero. As you climb higher up the ranks he's still easily countered. Still, it's nice to see him back in some fashion.
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.
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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.
Doomfist was one of the best DPS picks you could ask for at the beginning of Season 13, but Blizzard has since nerfed his CC, essentially rendering him a shadow of his former self. To play him right, you'll need to commit hard to the backline, land every ability perfectly and get out unscathed.
The likes of Genji and Tracer have seen a resurgence thanks to this, as they're able to harass the backline and cause havoc with relative ease.
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. She's great at laying down shields and buffing her allies, but only in very specific team compositions. Unless you're queueing with a bunch of mates, picking Orisa could backfire if you're not careful.
All in all, very strong against certain compositions but with the right team behind her.
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's sat at the bottom of our tier list for a while now, but Season 13 is the first time we've had to seriously consider bumping him up a notch. In a weird "meta-twist" (a term we've just coined), he's actually ridiculously strong and capable of turning enemies to pixellated dust.
While many are losing their minds over this at high tiers of play, it's unlikely to effect your average competitive match. You need a coordinated team and a specific composition to pull off a Bastion play, something which doesn't come naturally when queueing up in solo queue.
All in all, 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.