Blizzard yesterday announced that Overwatch will see its PvP mode reduced from 6v6 to 5v5 when Overwatch 2 is released – and its a move that’s left many professional players of the game worried about their future in the esport, and dismayed about the way it was announced.In a 2-hour livestream, the Overwatch team announced the change, which will see one Tank class role removed from PvP games. At the same time, the Tank role as a whole is being adapted for Overwatch 2, with many characters seemingly due to receive major changes to their playstyle.Following the announcement, multiple Tank players in the official Overwatch League signalled their dismay not just at having to relearn their chosen characters for the highest levels of play, but also at the potential for being dropped from their rosters. Many also pointed out that they weren’t consulted by Blizzard ahead of the changes being made or announced.Philadelphia Fusion player Poko summed up the feeling: “Any fellow tank player scared for their job ?”Have you played Overwatch?YESNOAny fellow tank player scared for their job ?— Poko (@poko) May 20, 2021Poko was by no means alone in his worry. Vancouver Titans Tank player Frdwnr took to Twitter to say, “unbelievably disrespectful to make this decision and completely remove a role that people gave up years of their lives to achieve – not all your favorite tank players will disappear but lots will. and not once were pro players made aware of this or asked on their philosophies.”In a follow-up, Frdwnr acknowledged that the move could end up making casual play more fun in the long run, “but the fact that many of my friends or people i admire will be out of jobs is just disrespectful.”Atlanta Reign’s Gator bemoaned the fact not just that the change was being made, but that it’s been announced during an Overwatch League season: “Imagine spending 5 years to perfect your role…..Just for it to be deleted while knowing your role does not translate to another your expected to give all you got till the end of season”London Spitfire’s Hadi added that it’s “really frustrating that this stuff can just get decided with like [Platinum-ranked players] testing it, not asking high ranked players or pros”.San Francisco Shock’s Matthew DeLisi showed less outrage, but was wistful about what was being lost in the change: “As for whether or not 5v5 is good for the game, I won’t pretend to know the answer. But coordinating with a tank, building synergy and dominating is probably one of the most fun things I’ve done in a game”.It’s a pretty unprecedented situation in the relatively young world of professional esports. While live games regularly make changes that affect their esport participants, there have been few as fundamental to both how a game plays, and how its professional sport equivalent is structured. Pro players won’t be able to stick with the original Overwatch either, as both the original and the sequel will include a single, linked PvP experience.With Overwatch 2 unlikely to launch until 2022 at the earliest, the PvP changes won’t be made for some time, and no announcement has been made by the Overwatch League (or its teams) as to how the changes will affect rosters and the competition as a whole. We’ve contacted the League for comment.
Joe Skrebels is IGN’s Executive Editor of News. Follow him on Twitter. Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.