Why Overwatch League's Regular Season Will End on a Wacky, Short-Lived Patch

By Nathan Grayson on at

Last week, the Overwatch League found itself encircled by controversy after pros and analysts hinted that stage 4 would run on an old version of the game that didn’t include Hanzo’s flashy new overhaul or a much-needed nerf to Brigitte. Today, the league finally confirmed that and explained its decision.

For the past week, Overwatch League players haven’t been entirely certain which version of the game they should be preparing for. “I wish the players knew, but we don’t,” said LA Gladiators’ Ted “Silkthread” Wang during a stream late last night. That’s a pretty big problem given that stage 4 kicks off tomorrow.

In a statement posted to Twitter, OWL commissioner Nate Nanzer finally cleared up confusion surrounding how teams should be preparing and why. He explained that the league’s goal is usually to have stages take place on the most recent patch possible unless 1) that’d require introducing a new patch mid-stage, or 2) “a new hero, or a significantly reworked hero, hasn’t been available for our teams to practice long enough in advance of the start of the stage.” Whether or not fans and players agree, that second thing sounds like it applies to nu-Hanzo, who only wall-climbed his way into the game earlier this month. Nanzer did, however, get more specific with the next part of his explanation.

“A potential bug exists in patch 1.23 which inhibits the ability to accurately resume play on an escort map should a pause or disconnect occur,” he said. “The developers have been working hard to find a fix, in time for Overwatch League players to prepare, but thus far they have been unable to do so, to the degree of certainty that we require for the league.”

As a result, stage 4 will be running on a version of Overwatch that only existed in the game’s competitive mode for three days before being overridden by another patch, meaning it’ll immediately be out of sync with what regular players are experiencing. Version 1.23, the newest patch and the one not being used in stage 4, turned Hanzo from a graceless klutz who was only useful on a few points to an arrow-spamming terror who’s actually more handsome than any of us realised. It also took Brigitte down a peg by reducing the width of her shield bash attack. Tracer and Junkrat, two cornerstone OWL characters, got nerfed as well.

Taken in tandem, these things are a big deal because Brigitte, the game’s newest hero, is expected to dominate stage 4. Her stun and knockback abilities allow her to make life hell for tanks and flankers alike, and fans fear that the defence-heavy team compositions she inspires will lead to snoozefest matches. The latest version of Hanzo, a butterfly hatched from a cocoon of his own former mediocrity, could give Brigitte trouble with his range and burst damage potential, but his older incarnation will likely remain irrelevant during stage 4. Let Brigitte’s reign of Swedish terror begin.