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Overwatch 2 News Has Pros Scrambling

The highly anticipated "Overwatch 2" doesn't even have a release date yet, but it is already creating waves in the professional "Overwatch" scene — and not for positive reasons. It was recently announced in a livestream that "Overwatch 2" multiplayer would be moving from 6v6 to 5v5, reducing the number of Tank players on each squad from two to one. While this may mean that causal friend groups are going to have to pick one person to drop from their regular squad, it also means that the same difficult decision might have to happen on the professional level.

The Overwatch League hasn't made any official announcements on how it will be handling the change, but several pro Tank players have taken to Twitter to express their fears. Poko, a Tank player for Philadelphia Fusion, tweeted, "Any fellow tank player scared for their job?" 

This is a understandable concern, especially for something that is mostly unprecedented in both sports and esports. While games change and have rule updates, very rarely are the number of players on each team changed. One of the few recent example of this type of change was when the "Call of Duty" League reduced team sizes from five members to four for "Black Ops – Cold War," which resulted in players getting dropped from team rosters (via Upcomer). However, that was a decision made by the league itself, and not a limitation based on game design.

More concerned Tank players

Frdwnr of the Vancouver Titans tweeted his anger regarding the decision. "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," he wrote. Frdwnr also said that professional players were not consulted on the decision before it was made. He went on to write that he doesn't really care if this change improves casual play, because ultimately tank players will be out of a job.

Gator of the Atlanta Reign pointed out that professional players have spent years practicing the tank role in order to play at the highest level, just for it to essentially get deleted. Similar to professional sports like baseball, "Overwatch" players typically focus on a specific role in the game that they practice and play in order to become skilled enough to play at a professional level. With team sizes reducing, the odds of many of these players being able to switch roles and beat out other players who have been in their roles for years is incredibly slim. 

During the original announcement for "Overwatch 2," director Jeff Kaplan (who has since left Blizzard) said that the game would feature crossplay with "Overwatch." This raises an interesting question of balance. It's possible that either "Overwatch" will also see the number of tanks reduced whenever "Overwatch 2" releases, or Blizzard will have to walk back that promise of crossplay.