The Role-Locking Debate in "Overwatch": Can It Be the Flex Main's Saving Grace?

Updated on June 3, 2019
Nolan Johnson profile image

A 27-year-old nerd who loves writing, history and just learning as much as possible about the world around him.

Flex Main forced into running Support be like...
Flex Main forced into running Support be like... | Source

In Overwatch, the ability to choose your hero based on a situation was something I liked because it made the concept of teamwork all the more important. That said, I'm going to highlight that while that's true, you're only going to find that in a perfect world.

Now, I'm not a god in Overwatch by any means. With only 107 hours total put into the game and with Season 16 being my first real step into Comp, I'm very casual. But, in my 107 hours, I've been trying to train myself into being a Flex Main. Flex Mains are basically those who can fill in each of the roles if the situation calls for it. And the reason why I chose this path is something that we can all relate to:

No one likes to play Support.


QP: "Casual" Mode

DPS: Offensive Heroes

LFG: Looking for Group

OWL: The Overwatch League

Support: Creates various opportunities for their team.

Tank: Absorbs damage and prevent others from being attacked.

Healer: Maintains the health and status of their teammates.

Ever get into a QP match and before you can go to pick your character you watch as everyone picks: Soldier, McCree, Genji, Junkrat and Hanzo. And then you're sitting there, the little hint thing highlighted red in big caps: NO TANK and NO HEALER and no one budging. And then you have to decide what to do. More often than not one of those five will crack and back off a DPS hero but when it doesn't, you're the sole healer trying your hardest to keep every one of them alive, while the enemy team steamrolls you because their players are competent.

And then you have one of those DPS picks cycle through characters like a carousel, and when we lose, all of those DPS teammates you have are gone before the results are posted. At least in Comp its much more bearable because everyone is watching everyone else to see what they pick so they can find a compliment to them.

But I digress.

The Role-Lock Debate

Talks about Role-Locking, enforcing the overall balance in the comp scene, has been circulating in the community and sparking a huge debate. The current Metagame is what's called GOATS, a strategy involving three tanks and three supports backing them. The heroes of this meta, is a combination of Reinhardt, Zarya, D.Va as Tanks, and Lucio, Zenyatta and Brigitte as Supports.

The site highlights how Reinhardt highlights the synergy he shares with the latter two supports. Reinhardt has a massive shield that takes about 2k of damage and is wide enough to protect anyone behind it. Zen and Brigitte are behind healing and armoring him with their respected abilities to keep him as an impregnable wall.

Zarya uses her bubble shields to soak up inflicted damage, which makes her stronger, protecting the supports. Plus her ultimate, a black hole, synergizes with other strong DPS heroes or even D.Va's massive self destruct ultimate as the black hole traps anyone caught in its pull and binds them together in a group. Lucio while has healing abilities as well, is a speed booster which gives the slower tanks more pep in their step.

This is one of several combinations that dominated the meta for 2 seasons straight in Comp and is very popular in OWL. Role-Locking would totally do away with this concept, and enforce a 2 DPS 2 Tank and 2 Support lineup regardless. So this gave me the impression that Pro Players are most likely against the Role-Locking idea. As it turns out, that's not entirely the case.

What The OWL Pros Think


The Youtube Channel Akshon ESports managed to get the opinions from professional OWL players to get their thoughts on the idea of Role-Locking. While players from the Huston Outlaws, Dallas Fuel, and Washington Justice seem to overall be in favor of it, in regards to game balance and fixing the aforementioned issue of an oversaturation of one specified role *cough* DPS *cough*, Players from Atlanta Reign, London Spitfire, and Guangzhou Charge, are on the opposite spectrum as it limits the creative freedom and restricts players more severely than is initially implied by this change. The link to the full interview is below.

What the Community Thinks

Checking out the forums of Blizzard's website, the debate and overall division is pretty much similar if anything. One user, TylerG, makes a good point: that this is a complicated matter—which it is, really. Forcing players to play roles they don't know how can be detrimental to the team. On one end, players in favor of it, are those who don't want to be stuck on teams because everyone wants to play DPS. On the other hand, players who are against it, don't want to be locked into roles they have no experience in, and this includes support and tank mains who don't play DPS whatsoever.

And while LFG is an option as some like to point out, LFG is arguably a universally despised option because those actually looking for players are toxic individuals, or it's vice versa, you end up getting toxic individuals that feel like you wasted their "time." It's like this no matter what game you play.

What I Think


Since the talk about it surfaced, I've thought about it myself and compared the arguments to my experience. Mystery Heroes is one of those modes that I have a huge love/hate relationship with within the Arcade. It's because of this game mode I get to use heroes I never used before, allowing me to experiment. This is how me, being one who cycles through Lucio, Sombra, Reinhardt, and Pharah, got to learn Zarya, Widowmaker, Ana, Moira (current main in Comp) and other heroes that I despise going up against greatly. Now I feel much more comfortable with some of these heroes and am willing to break off from my Elite Four picks and address the situations in QP. On top of that, being forced to use new characters (and finding a hidden talent with them) revitalizes my love of the game and gives me a new perspective, making me a better player. The new Hero Gauntlet mode does wonders as well in this regard, as well as training modes and custom games against the computer.

TL/DR: Play Mystery Heroes, you Role-Locking DPS people. And widen out your playstyle.

Overall, Role-Locking is probably not going to happen anytime soon, at least not in a restrictive manner we're looking at it as. Maybe Blizzard will find a compromise between their development team and the community, but we'll just have to see how they do as we enter Year 4 of the franchise. In the meantime, I'll keep supporting my teammates to the best of my abilities, be it shielding them with Reinhardt, or coming at them with Lucio and Moira.

Because someone has to, right?

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)