Overwatch screenshot of Echo using her right click

In an effort to prevent a single meta from dominating the entire game, Blizzard introduced Hero Pools into Overwatch. While the list of banned heroes was originally curated by Blizzard, eventually the system was automated and just randomly removed two popular DPS heroes, as well as one popular tank and support hero per week.

A good idea on paper, but unfortunately it had quite a few issues in practice. As you might imagine, the most picked heroes are the ones the community finds the most fun to play, rather than objectively the strongest. Because of this, the system kept banning all of the fun heroes week after week, while simultaneously leaving the annoying and actually overpowered ones entirely alone - not exactly ideal!

With all of that in mind, it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to hear that Blizzard has now announced that Hero Pools will be "removed indefinitely from Competitive Play, with no tentative date for re-implementation." As for the Overwatch League, they will continue to utilize Hero Pools as they have been found to be quite successful in that format, though they will be going through some minor changes which you can read up on over at the OWL website.

Personally, I'm actually a bit disappointed about this. The last iteration of Hero Pools with randomized bans was a complete failure, that much I agree with, but the initial and curated one was a lot of fun. Having Blizzard essentially orchestrate the meta and create perfect conditions for certain heroes and playstyles was a breath of fresh air, especially when those heroes are at the very bottom in terms of pickrate during normal weeks.

So while I do realize I'm in the minority, I do hope Blizzard will improve upon the Hero Pools and maybe bring them back in a brand new form for Overwatch 2. Whether that will actually happen, however, only time will tell. Until then, you can read a little bit more about Blizzard's decision over at the Overwatch forums.