The meta (Most Efficient TacticAvailable) of a game is always in motion, especially at thecompetitive level. Whether it is a new strategy being discovered orthe latest patch bringing nerfs, pros are always going to find themost reliable ways to win. Today we are going to cover the July 12,2016 PTR patch notes and discuss the potential implications for theprofessional Overwatch scene. I will not be covering Ana in thisarticle and instead allow for some time to pass to properlyevaluate her.
Two Tracers, or not Two Tracers
Blizzard has officially taken astance on the hero limit conundrum. In competitive play, teams willno longer be allowed to have duplicates of any hero. This change isnot massive since both the GosuGamers Weeklies and the ESL AtlanticInvitational are both already using this rule. However, having anofficial response from Blizzard solidifies this rule aspermanent.
The most notable effect will beon king of the hill maps where it was common to see two Lucios orTracers. Teams may be more inclined to play Genji asto preserve theplaystyle of double flankers harassing the backlines. However, morelikely, Roadhog will see a bump in play.
Not only is Roadhog lessdependant on Lucio healing than most, but his hook is a momentumchanger that does not require ult charge. With less Tracers running around, the targetsfor his hook suddenly become easier to hit and Roadhog is in aunique group of characters that possess a game changing ability asa basic skill. If used properly, a Roadhog can shift the momentumof a match in his team’s favor with hooks. Not only can hooks awarda man advantage, but the eliminations also give jumps in ultimatecharge to further push a lead with.
The other significant instancethat this rule will prevent is when several players on a teamswitch to Tracer to extend overtime. This, in combination withovertime now ticking down quicker after 20 seconds, hopefully willlead to more exciting all out brawls for the point as opposed togaggles of Tracers dashing about. In overtime scenarios, look outfor more Genji, Winston and Dva, all of whom can quickly reach thepoint and then survive on it.
Speaking of Dva,everyone’s new favorite SC2 pro received several verypromising changes. Her ultimate was comprehensively buffed and nowcharges 15% faster, detonates quicker, and can no longer damage thecasting player. I am of the opinion that Dva’s ult is one of theabilities in the game that we know the least about. Once sometricky angles are found to throw her detonating mech into the frayfrom behind a wall, I am confident it will allow her newfoundshorter detonation time to shine.
A more creative change to herkit, however, takes the form of her Defense Matrix. Being broughtdown to a one second cooldown makes it effectively always ready.However, as opposed to an on/off toggle as before, it now uses asimilar system to Pharah’s passive. So now while holding RMB,you drain Defense Matrix’s charge to block for up to fourseconds at peak charge. By allowing Dva to more selectively block,she finally seems to be able to properly damage soak like the othertanks. This, combined with the fact that she is the most mobiletank with the ability to fly to high ground, makes me confident wewill see her emerge as more than just a niche pick.
We are all McCree Now
Soldier 76’s popularitysurged in the post McCree nerf world as he now betterfilled the slots McCreeoccupied. Soldier has become the king of long range hitscan, inaddition to close range tank shredding. But with a combination ofchanges, Blizzard has made McCree unique again while still keepingSoldier viable. McCree now has reduced damage falloff at long rangewhile Soldier now recovers his spread accuracy a bitslower.
Both heroes can hold their ownat all ranges, but now McCree is once again the undisputed king oflong range hitscan. However, at the same time, at closeranges, Soldier will still be able to hit his targets andbring enemies down quicker than McCree. In my opinion, separatingtheir roles is a healthy change and is going to allow bothcharacters to see play time, albeit in differingscenarios.
Any time you grant the power toresurrect players, especially multiple players, in a pvp game, youwill run into balance problems because that ability will always bepowerful. The convenience to undo a well executed attack with thepush of a button is immensely useful, so you have to gate useage ofthat ability somehow, whether it be by mana costs like in MOBAgames, or in Overwatch by ultimate charge. Mercy was a hero that isinfamous for constantly having ultimate ready to use becauseof how quickly healingcharged Resurrect. Blizzard realized that heroes always lived andshe now requires 30% more to fully charge up.
I see this as a good idea thatwas poorly implemented. I wholeheartedly agree that Resurrect is uptoo frequently for how powerful it is. However, the way they nerfedit is silly, as healing is still rewarded equally. A moreelegant way to go about it would have been to lower the amount ofult charge Mercy receives for healing. It creates more dynamic gameplay by requiring the player to switch to her blaster more often tocharge Resurrect quickly while still lowering how often Mercy canmake heroes never die.
In the end, Mercy is not goinganywhere in the professional meta. As I stated, resurrectingplayers is still useful and because healing still gains ult chargeat the same rate, Mercy will still be able to resurrect often.Mercy is perfectly viable not even considering the buff to herdamage boost, now at a 50% increase. This results in the dreadedPharMercy dealing 180 damage per rocket.
Walk the Path to Buffs
Zenyatta received probably themost important buff he could: an extra 50 health. It does not seemlike much, but bringing the omnic a step up on the hp ladder meansthat he is now immune to being instantly killed by several commonoccurrences, such as PharMercy rockets, and now requires an extrahammer swing from Reinhardt.
Meanwhile, Orb of Discordremains on my top five list of abilities that are extra broken atthe professional level. At a professional level, a Zenyatta cancall out who he is targeting for his team to crush with the addeddamage. Especially effective against tanks, it reduces that damageone has to apply to kill Roadhog by a full 200.
But the change I am eyeing themost is the rate at which Transcendence heals.The jump from 200health per second to 300 is no joke. It means that Zenyatta canheal his team through a Hanzo Dragonstrike and still bereplenishing every teammates health at a rate of 100 per second,twice that of Mercy’s staff.
Zenyatta properly joins theother three supports with an ultimate that can counter an enemyteam’s attack. However, I think the potentially best use of hisultimate is as a tool to force his team through a chokepoint. Forinstance, on Hanamura when attacking either point, it is difficultfor a team to approach together without taking significant damageor even losing a player. If a team simply combines Zenyatta’sultimate and Lucio’s speed boost, they can collectively zergto an advantageous position while taking no lastingdamage.
I am interested to see ifZenyatta will begin finding his place in professional play. Itwould be difficult to drop Lucio or Mercy from a composition.Zenyatta, being a viable damage source, combined with Ana’sintroduction to the game make me wonder if we are in for a tripleor quadra support meta. Either way, I am simply looking forward tomore Overwatch.
Patch notes here: https://playoverwatch.com/en-us/blog/20178523#patchnotes