Change for the Better: July 26, 2016

"Change for the Better" is a reoccurring series of articles that will discuss patch changes to Overwatch that will affect the professional scene.

Change often, Change for theBetter

Just a week after the previousround of changes in Overwatch, Blizzard has released a minor patchto adjust one of the highest played heroes and one of the lowestplayed heroes. These characters are McCree and Ana, who bothreceived attention from Blizzard to address some issues in theirkits.

Grandma Have you BeenLifting?

Ana has seen almost noprofessional play while also suffering horrid win rates in rankedplay. She does not heal as much as Lucio, does not do as muchdamage as Zenyatta, and does not have an ult that can save multipleplayers like every other support. However, Ana has two majoradvantages over Lucio and Zenyatta, which conveniently both gotbuffed.

Her first major advantage issomething that puts Ana in an elite group shared only with McCree,Roadhog, and Mei. That advantage is crowd control on a basicability. Ana’s Sleep Dart provides her the potential to dealwith a wide variety of threats. Most notably, shecan neutralize enemy ultimates like McCree’s andReaper’s by quickly stopping the channeled ability from anyrange.

Another use for her Sleep Dartthat was specifically buffed is her ability to deal with flankers.Technically the ability was bug fixed, but regardless, it added ahalf second delay between the target taking damage and the crowdcontrol ending. This extra half second means that Ana now hasenough time to left click, Biotic Grenade, and then melee attackbefore the target can react. This combination added onto the SleepDart damage deals 175 damage.

The result is that Ana iscapable of completely comboing out a Tracer or, with the assistanceof a single teammate, can easily send Genji or Reaper to the grave.This change makes Ana a bit more safe as her lack of mobility isnow harder for a flanker to punish.

The second major advantage Anahas over Lucio and Zenyatta is her weapon’s extreme range, which isonly rivaled by Widowmaker. Ana previously had such a low firerate, which heavily punished missing any shots as the downtimebetween doing any damage or healing was so large. However, Blizzardaddressed this issue, granting Ana a 20% fire rate increase and acoinciding two round larger magazine.

Missing a shot on Ana is nowless punishing as the downtime between shots is only one second.With the tick time on both her healing and damage also being onesecond, this change means there is no potential shot overlap,granting a theoretical 20% damage or healing increase. Obviously,20% more damage or healing is incredibly powerful, but the unseenside of this buff is how quickly Ana can charge her ultimate: NanoBoost.

Nano Boost turns any dive herointo a monster, granting a 30% speed increase, 50% more damage, andreducing damage taken by half. Considering how prevalent divingheroes such as Winston and Genji are in the meta, combined withAna’s newfound DPS and safety, it may allow everyone’sfavorite grandma to find herself a place in the game.

From a Railgun back to aRevolver

A running joke this past weekhas been how McCree found himself a railgun and hid it from thedevelopers. Many fans on reddit have questioned the usefulness ofthe PTR testing after the last balance changes came through.Fortunately, Blizzard has realized their mistake and taken somevery appropriate measures.

McCree now finds his damagefalloff ten meters earlier. What this means is that after McCree is20 meters away from his opponent, his damage drops hugely. At 20meters and closer, McCree can hit one headshot and one body shotand kill a 200 health character. At 30 meters, McCree takes threeheadshots to kill a 200 health target, and a further five headshotspast 40 meters.

Formerly, McCree could two-shotmost heros at 30 meters, but now has it cut to 20. This is a keypoint to note for a couple reasons. One is that most maps havecorridors that are roughly 30-40 meters long that McCree can nolonger dominate, and the second major reason is that Pharah’sJump Jet propels her 20 meters into the air, conveniently out oftwo-shot range.

To be completely honest, I amnot sure what this means for Pharah. In isolation, this change letsPharah win duels against McCree as she can easily exit his lethalrange and forces him to hit three headshots to kill her beforePharah lands just two rockets near McCree. However, Pharah playersare not used to dealing with Zenyatta.

Zen adds not only anotherhitscan threat to her but the threat of Orb of Discord. The extradamage Pharah would take makes her still incredibly vulnerable tobeing shot down. The tradeoff is that if Zenyatta marksPharah, then the enemy Winston becomes significantly harderfor his backline to deal with.

I am really not sure if thetradeoff is worth it for the team running Pharah. On paper, itseems Discord Orb would still remove her too quickly. But the factthat Zenyatta is almost forced to Discord the enemy Winston makesme wonder if the McCree range nerf will allow Pharah to come back.My gut reaction is that this is not enough, but I still think it isan interesting point to consider.

Close Combat Cowboy

One key aspect of McCree’skit that made him so powerful in the past was his prowess in closequarters fighting. The only AOE crowd control skill on a basicability and the power to quickly dump twelve bullets into the enemyto shred any tank were invaluable. So, when Blizzard came aroundwith the nerf hammer, they hit him hard, reducing the damage hisFan the Hammer dealt with each round. But now, Blizzard hasseemingly given McCree this power back.

McCree has been gifted his tankshredding power once again as Fan the Hammer was changed to takeless time in addition to the Flashbang animation, which nowlocks him for a shorter period of time. In conjunction, these twochanges mean that now in the same time it previously took McCree toflash-fan-roll-fan, he can now add in one or two bullets to thecombo.

This puts the full combo damageup to 610-680 without hitting any headshots. Another key breakpointin this patch is that McCree can combo out any character in thegame, including the bulky 600 health Roadhog. This is a verypowerful change, as it will help counter the meta ofWinston’s diving the backline like madmen.

My gut reaction tells me thatoverall, McCree has been buffed this patch. The damage falloff isnot as massive as it may seem, especially considering how McCree isplayed currently. Often finding himself on the forefront of thefight, McCree is used as a chase hero, responsible for cleaning upstragglers after a battle to extend how long the enemy team is at aman disadvantage. These cleanup situations often allow McCree toget up close and personal, using his Lucio’s speed boostwhere his newfound Fan the Hammer and Flashbang buffs willshine.

Big Changes Bring LittleChange

This patch brought interestingimplications for two heroes that are the topic of a lot ofdiscussion. But in the end, it will most likely bring littlechange. McCree is still going to excel at cleaning up fights andwill actively perform better in close range situations. Even if Anafinds her way into the meta, it is going to be a similar playstyleto Zenyatta, responsible for providing healing and extra hitscandamage. However, the ability to chain Transcendence into SoundBarrier can give a squad free teamfight wins via effectiveinvincibility, and that power is too much to pass up.



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