Now that Red Crow is out let's take a look at how the new content and tweaks will affect the meta of the Pro side of Siege. To help I got some thoughts from actual Pro League players including the season 3 #1 PC team.
The new attacking operator comes with a gadget that has 3 shots of 6 discs (in a 2x3 formation) that land on walls and like Thermite, blow a hole in reinforced walls.
Here's what makes the disc charges different from Thermite charges:
- Can be used from range like Ash's remote breach, reducing risk
- As it fires 6 individual targets, it would take all 3 Jager ADS devices to stop a single disc shot!
- A single shot of 6 discs only opens a small horizontal hole on walls that can't be vaulted through from a single shot
- You can however prone crawl through one placed low on a wall
- A second shot can make it big enough to walk/vault through
- A single shot of 6 discs can open a reinforced hatch, even if 5 of the 6 discs are destroyed
- Each individual disc can be shot out individually, making 6 targets instead of 1
- Cannot be bandit/mute tricked after it's been triggered
So let's look at why this is a big deal when Thermite already exists
- 3 charges vs 2 on Thermite means 3 hatches, 1 hatch + a wall, or 1.5 walls
- Combined with Thermite, now you're talking potentially 3 hatches + 2 walls, or 1 hatch + 3 walls!
- Can be used at range from the safety of outside, think Oregon lobby hatch for example
- Very difficult to counter as Jager's ADS's are essentially useless and Mute/Bandit pretty much need to be pre-placed
- Bring a Thatcher and there's no real counter!
- The only operator who can create kill holes in reinforced walls, you can even shape them by manually shooting discs for Blackbeard
- Hibana is a 3 speed/1 armor with a good gun and smg secondary, goodbye Ash!
What you're looking at is a Hibana, Capitao, Thatcher, Thermite, Blackbeard super attack composition that can open up every angle into site along with grenades, stuns, fire, smoke, and clay mores. This will force much less site play and way more roaming to survive defense. Watching the Pro League finals we already saw how good teams have gotten at attacking in a game that used to be more defense favored. Defending on highly played maps like Oregon and Clubhouse will have to be completely rethought to even stand a slight chance! You could even see Hibana run a Shotgun/SMG combo like Smoke, but as a 3 speed, able to get close enough to use both quickly!
Thoughts from Pro Players
I think Hibana will force a hyper aggressive defense meta. - Canadian, Team Continuum, #1 PC Team
Hibana will break the meta harder than anything we've ever seen before. Myself and a lot of the other teams in pro league are scared as to just how over powered she'll be. The entire game will change because of her. Teams will play 10x more aggressive now because defending basement bombsites is impossible. You'll see a surge in Kanal and other maps which don't have "default pick" basement defense sites. The pick rate for Clubhouse and Chalet will plummet. You'll no longer see successful holds on basement bombsites so long as both Hibana and Thermite survive long enough to make it to the building. It's now Rainbow 6: Spawnpeek. - Meepy, Team Playing Ducks, #2 PC Team
The new defending operator comes equipped with a single "roomba" drone that includes a camera and an ultrasonic burst that disorients anyone in there area.
Let's look at what makes his drone special:
- Unlike Valk's cameras or Twitch's Shock Drones, he only gets 1
- Unlike Valk's cameras, but like Twitch's Shock Drones, only he can view it
- It can only switch between floor and ceiling with its "jump"
- If there's no ceiling in range it will jump then fall back down, for example jumping up through a hatch
- Cannot move horizontally when jumping
- It can only move while on the floor, you must switch back to floor from ceiling to move to another location
- While on the ceiling, the drone is nearly invisible
- Gets 3 charges at a time that can be rapid fired and recharge over time to give it unlimited use
- Can only be fired while on the ceiling
- Can only be outside for 3 seconds before being destroyed
- The duration of the disorientation depends on how much the victim moves!
- The disorientation charge stops an attacker from planting the defuser mid-plant
One of the important aspects of Echo to recognize is that provides a very different take on cameras for the defenders from Valk. For one thing, it's mobile, but risky to move. For another it's cloaked when on the ceiling unlike the somewhat easy to spot Black Eyes. The downside of course is that only Echo can look through it, with the only exception being if a dead player is spectating Echo looking through it. Many pro attackers have a player drone for them as they move around the map, effectively seeing around corners for pre-firing and ambushes. This drone makes that suddenly available for defenders with some obvious mobility variations. The use of the drone is most useful with teamwork as it will usually require Echo to be on the drone, but it's entirely viable for him to use it to drone ahead for himself as a roamer, or just to setup a camera around a choke-point corner to setup an ambush.
The other VERY important aspect is how it can stop/delay a defuser plant. This can lead to situations where a frantic attacker plant turns into a quick defender clutch by keeping the drone near the site, without Echo even being nearby. This can take the place of or augment situations like Oregon laundry and Clubhouse pool table plants where Smoke is critical to holding off a plant.
Being a 3 armor/1 speed, you can expect to see him playing site often and using his drone to help team mates. With Hibana in the mix however, playing site is less safe than ever so you will see him played for roaming as well.
Thoughts from Pro Players
I think Echo will be an awesome new niche pick which will also cause a decrease in valk's pick rate which will be nice. - Canadian, Team Continuum, #1 PC Team
I think smoke is still going to be inplay, his utility is still relevant and yeah echo's weapons might be better but its hard to beat smoke with area denial. - Necrox (smoke player), Team Continuum, #1 PC Team
With this map the developers went for a more "vanilla" design after the extremes that were Yacht, Border, and Favela. It was designed to be competitive with a nice balance of risk vs reward spawn points, rappelling, bomb sites, hatches, and destructible inside/outside walls/floors. They also designed the map to have lots of recognizable and different areas instead of the sameness of maps like Hereford and Border where call-outs can be difficult. There are 4 bomb sites, 2 on each floor, with 2 in one corner stacked on top of each other, and 2 in another corner also stacked on each other. They even added the first rappel focused spawn point! It's too early to tell which bomb sites will be preferred and what the real meta will be on the site, but you can bet the new operators will be involved. The important part is that this is a map we will likely see actively played.
Thoughts from Pro Players
Skyscraper is probably one of the best competitive maps, I think it will get played a lot. - Snake, Team Most Wanted, #3 PC Team
The variations on holes in materials based on the gun used won't have a major impact on the meta at first. Over time things like kill holes, wall bangs, and crawl holes will see tweaks. The most obvious thing you'll notice is the difference in hole sizes between pistols, rifles, shotguns and DMRs.
ARM AND NECK SHOTS DAMAGE UPDATE
The changes to arm and neck damage will overall lead to a more lethal game, along with hopefully a lot less complaints about head shot hit reg. The arm damage boost will definitely affect situations where the arm is more exposed than the body such as when peeking and using shields. The neck damage changes will likely result in an even higher percentage of instantly lethal engagements between pro players. This will especially affect characters with strange head to neck hit boxes like Rook and Doc. This will also likely lead to lower cross hair placement as you can let recoil ride up from upper chest/neck height instead of accidentally jumping the head. Guns with extremely high fire rate and straight up recoil like the SMG-11 will greatly benefit from this and lead to more kills with less whiffing.
The modifications to shotgun damage probably won't affect a lot of shotgun players, but some of the weaker pumps like Smoke's shotgun will be even less effective, making them a really sub-par choice.
Thoughts from Pro Players
The damage change to make it so arm shots deal 1.0x damage is a bit silly but somewhat understandable - it however nerfs shield operators pretty significantly. The removal of the neck hitbox is going to make the game a lot less frustrating and more frustrating at the same time. You'll headshot more but you yourself will be headshot more. - Meepy, Team Playing Ducks, #2 PC Team
Removing the ACOG from the SMG-11 is something that has been requested a lot and has finally been done. Between this, the shotgun nerfs, and the addition of Echo, we will likely see a lot less Smoke play in the future. Smoke played a pretty critical role in a lot of the pro league and finals play, but that will change pretty heavily.
The boost to Caveira's pistol is a nice change as I've seen a lot of potential kills spoiled by the range dropoff. This alone is unlikely to make her any more viable as a pro operator however, due to the better choices available, including Echo now.
The damage nerf to Blackbeards gun was definitely a much needed change to a still overpowered operator. If you do the math, 2 shots at 55 damage is enough to kill a 100 hp defender, but 2 shots at 44 is not. That simple change may be enough to allow non-headshots to result in more escapes from Blackbeard, but now with the neck also counting as a headshot, it's hard to say. I can't see this change or any of the others making Blackbeard any less of a must pick. With Hibana now able to open kill holes in reinforced walls, we can expect him to be even more of a must pick.
The nerf to Capitao's Para wasn't hugely necessary, but as a utility driven operator that was a bit overpowered at 3 speed with grenades, its a good change. This won't affect his pick rate, as he will still be fairly lethal and his speed plus utility can't be beat.
To sum things up as far as operator picks go, Smoke less, Caveira still no, and Blackbeard/Capitao the same.
Thoughts from Pro Players
I think the removal of ACOG on the SMG-11 was somewhat unnecessary, but is also kind of inconsequential because I think smoke will probably be falling out of the meta somewhat either way. Lastly I think the damage nerfs on Capitao and Blackbeard's guns were necessary!- Canadian, Team Continuum, #1 PC Team
3 MINUTE ACTION PHASE IN THE RANKED PLAYLIST
This is a change that on the surface doesn't seem to directly affect pro league play, but most definitely will. One of the most common complaints I get from pro players in interviews is that outside of scrims there isn't a good way to practice. This is due to how having 4 minutes changes so much of Ranked play from Pro League that it's unsuitable as practice most of the time. This change will benefit both the current pro league players, as well as those hopefuls who only get a taste of it before being crushed in Go4 matches.
The new meta is going to be a bit more chaotic, with a great new map and a lot less site play. The new operators will be mostly must picks, especially if Thermite is allowed at the same time as Hibana. Some operators like Thatcher, IQ, and Blackbeard will be more useful, and some like Smoke will be less useful. Head shots will be plentiful and even arm shots will be more lethal. I expect a much harder time for defenders trying to run out attackers time, along with a much higher need for careful and timely droning. Roaming will be much more prevalent for defenders, but with a bit more intel and ambush power available thanks to Echo. A good majority of the strategies for all the popular sites will see significant changes.
Good or bad, the Invitational will play out very different from Season 3 finals.