Of all the characters in Apex Legends, Wattson may just be the most underrated. Currently picked by just 1.9 percent of players according to Apex Legends Status, only Mad Maggie, Gibraltar, Rampart, Newcastle, and Mirage are picked less often than Ms. Paquette. Why? Because she’s so unique. Too unique, in fact.
Defensive Legends aren’t particularly popular in regular Apex Legends play. While Catalyst is enjoying that new-release boost, the only other defensive Legend picked more than Wattson is Caustic, who beats her by a whole 0.1 percent. Defensive Legends make up four of the seven least played characters in the game. But they can be so good.
When you look at the competitive scene, Wattson is enjoying a resurgence at present. She dominated the meta in the esport’s early months, alongside poor, forgotten Pathfinder, and the APAC regions have tended to stick by her over the years. So why is she suddenly making a comeback? Well, before we start throwing around terms like Wattstanbul, she’s not as dominant as she once was. But, tune into any ALGS stream in any region, and you’ll see her telltale electric fences pitted across the map.
At the highest level, there’s always a defensive Legend in play. We started with Wattson, then there was the dreaded Caustic meta, and Gibraltar has been a mainstay for years, only falling off towards the end of ALGS Year 2. Now, Wattson is back. Why?
Her kit is useful and unique. Setting up electric fences is crucial for defending a position if you’re a zone team, and if you’re playing edge you can make your team look big by surrounding yourself with dangerous fences that damage and slow anyone who walks through them. Her Ultimate is a pylon that recharges your shields and blocks incoming grenades – including barrage-based abilities. That’s a great combination, and can turn the tide of battle if you’re defending a position.
Multiple teams proved the utility of Wattson in the first week of ALGS Year 3 action, including reigning champions DarkZero. But I’d like to highlight Atlanta Premier, who placed second this weekend, behind Apex giants TSM. Their team composition was a highly unusual combination of Valkyrie, Crypto, and Wattson. Valkyrie has long been the queen of competitive Apex, but the other two are situational picks, and very rarely used together. They played aggressively with the team, covering off buildings with Wattson but instead of hunkering down, they extended out of them and cleaned up plenty of kills along with their placement points.
Atlanta Premier won its first game with 11 kills, and only placed outside of the top ten once in six matches. Wattson works. So why don’t more players pick her in regular games?
It’s the same reason that, Catalyst aside, Octane is the most picked Legend, followed by Pathfinder and Wraith. These Legends can quickly close down distance with opponents, and, in Wraith’s case, often escape without harm. Players want to have fun when the only prize on the line is Ranked Points, and hunkering down in a building after rotating early just isn’t that. When there are thousands of dollars on the line, teams will play to win even if it seems boring. Wattson isn’t always boring, but compared to Octane sprinting at three teams fighting in Skyhook, she hardly ticks the same boxes.
While Complexity took things even further by using Wattson and Newcastle to great effect, no amount of success in the ALGS will make defensive Legends popular in regular ranked matches. The new map Broken Moon only doubles down on third-partying and w-keying into fights, not to mention the current points system rewarding kills much more highly than placement. As long as those things are in place, no amount of balance changes will make Wattson great again.
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