Our essential Overwatch hero tier list for Season 9 (March 2018) breaks down the entire roster of characters into their most competitive brackets, with massive guides for each one as well!
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: March Update
Moving into Season 9 is certainly one of the most exciting yet. We've got a bucketload of hero changes on the horizon, along with a brand new Support hero to boot! With all this in mind, we've taken the time to tweak our tier list to reflect what heroes are being played consistently, or those that we feel may begin gaining prominence.
Do bear in mind that this isn't a definitive list, and we're aware that a number of very strong heroes aren't sitting pretty at the top tiers. This isn't becuase we believe they aren't any good, we simply need to factor in player skill and solo-queueing with randomers when making our decisions (which certainly isn't easy!). So when you see the likes of Genji or Tracer sitting mid-table, take into account the skill required to play them.
Tier List Changes
Moira's a hero we've been keeping a real close eye on since Season 8 and we felt the time was right to bump her up a tier. She's easily one of the finest Supports in the game right now when it comes to healing and damage dealing. Fade allows her to dip in and out of fights uncontested, while her orbs bounce around arenas actively healing or hurting multiple targets without her even needing to be there. It'll be a while until she drops out of Tier 1 that's for sure.
You're more than likely aware that Sombra has received a huge buff on the PTR. Blizzard's given her hacking skills a big boost and now she's capable of real disruption. Hitting enemies with her EMP or Hack will finally have an enormous impact on every hero, not just a few. For now we'll have to wait and see if her pick rate soars, or if she's still too niche to make it into the top tiers.
Mei's another hero who's received a buff on the PTR. Her Endothermic Blaster's Freeze duration will now last longer and her alternate fire costs less ammo. These might seem like minor changes, but they could be more than enough to bring her into the meta. Now that Tanks are strong again, we wonder if Mei will step up and make their lives a misery. We'll monitor her progress as Season 9 gets fully underway in the next couple of months.
Doomfist has been tweaked a little on the PTR which means his Hand Cannon's ammo recovery rate has increased a touch. While the Developer's hope this will mean he'll be able to use his weapon as part of his combos, we're not sure this will be enough to see him climb up one or two tiers. Again, we'll have to wait and see!
Finally, a brand new Support hero called Brigitte has been released on the PTR! You can check out all her abilities in our Brigitte guide, but we're not going to stick her in our tier list just yet as we're certain she's going to go through a number of tweaks before being officially released on the live servers. We reckon she'll be ranking high though, stay tuned for an update soon!
Overwatch hero ranking and ratings
Here's the first version of our Season 8 tier list snapshot, updated for the month of November.
|Tier 1||Lucio||Lucio guide||Support|
|Tier 2||Soldier: 76||Soldier: 76 guide||Offense|
|Tier 3||Hanzo||Hanzo guide||Defense|
|Tier 4||Mei||Mei guide||Defense|
|Tier 5||Bastion||Bastion guide||Defense|
When it comes to character design and abilities, Lucio has been one of our favourite heroes in Overwatch right from beta through to the present day. In solid hands he 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 top tier pick for any team. His speed boost was nerfed fairly hard in a recent patch, but we think it's going to take a lot more than this to knock Lucio out of the highest bracket.
Since Moira's hit the competitive scene she's certainly had quite the impact. In almost all the games we've played, there's been a Moira doing a good portion of the healing work. What's staggering is the sheer amount of damage she's able to output from a safe distance with those purple orbs of hers. We can't see her falling to the wayside anytime soon.
With all the changes to D.Va’s kit in recent times, it’s been pretty difficult to slot her definitively into a tier for quite a while. She's more of a pseudo-tank with her Micro-Missiles and situational Defense Matrix, and now that Moira and Zenyatta are gaining some traction in Season 7, her Defense Matrix is proving invaluable in soaking up damage for her team. Not to mention that she's capable of whittling down any vulnerable targets easily on her own too.
Winston's occupied the dizzying heights of Tier 1 for quite a while now - and for good reason too. His enormous health pool coupled with unrivalled mobility makes him an unstoppable force that’s able to jump on the backline and zap vulnerable targets with minimal effort. There’s almost an obnoxious level of survivability to his kit at the moment, and with a deployable bubble shield he can share it with his teammates too. No other hero can match his aggression, map traversal and ability to take out low health targets. He's simply, one of the most versatile heroes in Overwatch.
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.
Don't think that Junkrat's recent nerf has effected his standings in our tier list, oh no, he's still as menacing as before. There’s flexibility and versatility to his kit that makes him a real threat on the battlefield. He’s able to challenge enemies to duels, defend choke points with ease and get around maps in next to no time. Don't get us started on his Riptire, it's still as dangerous as ever.
It's been a very long time coming, Mercy has finally been hit with the nerf-hammer and it's freed us all from her clutches. Now she's not able to Ressurect fallen allies instantly or gain additional Ressurection charges when using her Ultimate. Many other Support heroes are viable again! This isn't to say she's not viable, but playing her isn't the breeze it once was.
Zenyatta’s seen a surge in competitive play and in our tier list too. As more and more games are beginning to feature aggressive team compositions, Zenyatta compliments them perfectly by sitting in the background, healing and slinging orbs with giddy abandon. No other Support hero matches his damage output, and with the rise of Genji, Tracer and Winston, his Discord orb couldn’t be more important in shutting them down quickly. We understand that he’s a trickier hero to master than some of the other Supports, but there’s enough strength in his kit to warrant a bump up the rankings.
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. We reckon her immense defensive capabilities will continue throughout the start of Season 9, especially as she compliments other frontline Tanks such as Reinhardt, and now Brigitte!
Reinhardt’s been in a funny place in the past couple of seasons, but now that season 8 has matured a little he's begun to see a real resurgence. It's all thanks to his ability to provide a frontline for the team when heroes like Zenyatta, Moira and Soldier:76 are reliant on his enormous barrier to survive. Looks like the big guy's back!
As a Tank, Zarya is stunningly tough to take down and she represents an extremely frustrating obstacle for any enemy team to deal with. Everything about her screams survivability, from her own personal shield that provides a huge buff, to her health pool and the deployable shield that can be used to keep a teammate alive a little longer. Her damage output, which is increased in strength by the damage those very same shields absorb, isn't exactly dreadful either - especially when you consider her defensive nature. A team that does not coordinate itself well is going to have a lot of trouble dealing with Zarya, and will struggle to keep her locked out of the match.
Hanzo's in an interesting place right now, as he's received a number of buffs. His bow charges much more quickly now, and he can even pre-charge a shot before running up a wall and then immediately letting fly with the arrow he's prepared. It goes without saying that his Ultimate can be a game-changer if the enemy team is daft enough to stay bunched together - not uncommon in the random queue by any means! We're keeping him in a mid-table position for now, as we've yet to discover what impact these changes will have on the broader metagame.
Ana was the first post-launch hero to be added to Overwatch, and although she certainly adds a little extra flavour to the typical team pick, she initially failed to have the kind of significant impact on the metagame that you might like to have seen from a completely new character. That's changed quite a lot in the wake of a few rounds of re-balancing efforts from the Overwatch developers though, and she's now a pretty strong choice of healer.
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, it’s just very difficult to use it correctly, and that’s why he slots in mid-table for us.
We wobbled a bit about placing Genji this far down, but we feel as though he's in the right spot for now at least, and during the current stage of the ever-evolving metagame. Part of his placement in this overall ranking will depend largely on your own ability at the game, as he's very tricky to play to a high degree of efficiency. 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 a tough gig...
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.
Pharah's ability to eliminate opponents from above, and do so by dishing out a decent dollop of damage, makes her a really solid pick if you're on the right map. Her amazing vertical mobility allows her to scout the situation from above before making her deadly moves, and then focus on the most problematic threats for your teammates to deal with. A handful of re-balancing updates after the game's launch have made her a bit more vulnerable than she was originally, and as a result she doesn't rank quite as high as she once did in the game's earliest months.
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. Although he's not quite a member of the true elite right now, he could well start climbing the ranks as a product of all the changes. We'll continue paying close attention to Reaper as you can't ever count him out.
Triggering the same response as Genji, we had a tough time placing Tracer mid-table. In both Competitive matches and the ongoing Overwatch League, she's practically a staple when it comes to choosing a flanker for your team composition. While she's exceptionally strong at harassing healers or even taking chunks out of Tanks, she's very tricky to master. In the wrong hands her playstyle can go to pieces. Skilled players can shine with her, but she's not for everyone.
Roadhog has received a hefty rework, meaning he plays very differently to the one-shot killer we've enjoyed in the past. One thing that hasn't changed is his ability to frustrate the enemy team, due in no small part to his intimidating presence which also comes with an equally massive health pool. This physical size, combined with a health regenerating ability, helps him to hang around for a very long time indeed as he pokes at his team's opponents - or just pulls them into range for a massive smack about the head. He's a solid tank that can really change the course of battle when he's played to a high standard. Played poorly though, he can provide the enemy team with a great big sponge with which they can charge up their Ultimates.
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.
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. Her popularity has dwindled quite a bit as well since the first rounds of post-launch balancing by Blizzard, but you could move her up at least one rung if you were truly born to snipe. Those who don't excel at this particular niche will find her a tricky hero to make any real impact with though.
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 recent round of buffs haven't had nearly as much of an impact as we needed. He has his situationalso strengths when defending, but he still doesn't feel like the finished article to us.
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.
There's a lot to like about Symmetra when you take everything into consideration. She's got a fantastic buffing ability in the form of Photon Shield, her Teleporter skill can be used to get fallen comrades back into battle incredibly quickly, and those turrets can do a mean job of nibbling away at the enemy team's health. Unfortunately she doesn't have much in the way of mobility, and while her potential damage is solid, it takes skilled hands to get her to that point and survive long enough to present a significant threat to the enemy. A recent reworking has shaken things up a bit, but she still remains an incredibly situational character.