At 3am, when I was tired as nuts and listening to Lo-Fi, I started to think about the VG meta, like I always do when I want to think of a failure larger than myself. With the tank meta going on, I immediately think “Why don’t they just counter the tanks with their damage characters.”
The answer I give myself is always “Because the characters that counter tanks in VG are shit at countering tanks.”
When I’m talking about tanks, I mean both Pulseweave rush tanks and ‘Sitting there and existing’ tanks like Churn and Phinn. Characters who want to counter tanks need to be able to deal good damage while kiting them out (and dodging the damage from their backline) or need to be able to just kill the tanks with anti-tank damage (AKA Scaling off max HP, piercing shield). Plus other stuff.
Here are the characters that I would categorise as ‘designed to counter tanks’.
Kensei, for his immense tank dueling power.
Skaarf, for his max health burn AAs and his 60% penetration ult.
Varya, for her high damage that can bounce to the backline for some free harass.
Celeste, because Celeste.
Skye, for the best kite.
You could potentially put in Samuel and Vox, but that comes down to what they’re playing against.
Now, out of those 5, we can rule out picking Skye. She isn’t really played that often, since her CP Path (better for kiting) has a hard time fitting into the roles in 5v5.
Kensei has been nerfed into the ground, and doesn’t thrive in a meta that by all rights, he should.
Skaarf doesn’t really make much use of his passive or his ult. He’s more about his A and B, which hurts immobile enemies more than tanks.
Varya is good into the tank meta, but only because her ability to kill everyone at the same times essentially allowed her to have constant pressure on the backline, allowing her frontline to secure the kills. It doesn’t help that she pairs well with tanks.
Celeste is fine. Her kit will work in pretty much any meta, but it helps that the main method of engage for the tanks aren’t through blinks or dashes, but running towards you really fast.
(Vox is vulnerable to getting CC chained and Samuel doesn’t have enough damage in teamfights against 3 tanks. These guys are better against bruisers.)
So that leaves us with two characters out of the potential 5 (or 7) characters that actually counter tanks. Just two. They’re both midlanders too, so it’s not like you can take both.
So, how did we get to this point. Why are the anti-tank characters with specific anti-tank scaling not used for it?
That would probably be because these numbers have been consistently nerfed since they came out. The reasoning for this is since every character in this game builds defence, having anti defence is too generally strong. It counters everyone since everyone builds Husk or Weave. What a time to be alive.
Historically, this has been accurate too. In 3v3, you would always buy an Aegis for the block or a jacket because nobody builds armour pen in this game. Nowadays you build a Husk because of its passive and stats. There’s basically no downside to shoving a defence item or two in your build because ‘why the hell not’.
That should change.