Overwatch PTR Analysis: July 12, 2016
The meta (Most Efficient Tactic Available) of a game is always in motion, especially at the competitive level. Whether it is a new strategy being discovered or the latest patch bringing nerfs, pros are always going to find the most reliable ways to win. Today we are going to cover the July 12, 2016 PTR patch notes and discuss the potential implications for the professional Overwatch scene. I will not be covering Ana in this article and instead allow for some time to pass to properly evaluate her.
Two Tracers, or not Two Tracers
Blizzard has officially taken a stance on the hero limit conundrum. In competitive play, teams will no longer be allowed to have duplicates of any hero. This change is not massive since both the GosuGamers Weeklies and the ESL Atlantic Invitational are both already using this rule. However, having an official response from Blizzard solidifies this rule as permanent.
The most notable effect will be on king of the hill maps where it was common to see two Lucios or Tracers. Teams may be more inclined to play Genji as to preserve the playstyle of double flankers harassing the backlines. However, more likely, Roadhog will see a bump in play.
Not only is Roadhog less dependant on Lucio healing than most, but his hook is a momentum changer that does not require ult charge. With less Tracers running around, the targets for his hook suddenly become easier to hit and Roadhog is in a unique group of characters that possess a game changing ability as a basic skill. If used properly, a Roadhog can shift the momentum of a match in his team's favor with hooks. Not only can hooks award a man advantage, but the eliminations also give jumps in ultimate charge to further push a lead with.
The other significant instance that this rule will prevent is when several players on a team switch to Tracer to extend overtime. This, in combination with overtime now ticking down quicker after 20 seconds, hopefully will lead to more exciting all out brawls for the point as opposed to gaggles of Tracers dashing about. In overtime scenarios, look out for more Genji, Winston and Dva, all of whom can quickly reach the point and then survive on it.
Speaking of Dva, everyone’s new favorite SC2 pro received several very promising changes. Her ultimate was comprehensively buffed and now charges 15% faster, detonates quicker, and can no longer damage the casting player. I am of the opinion that Dva's ult is one of the abilities in the game that we know the least about. Once some tricky angles are found to throw her detonating mech into the fray from behind a wall, I am confident it will allow her newfound shorter detonation time to shine.
A more creative change to her kit, however, takes the form of her Defense Matrix. Being brought down to a one second cooldown makes it effectively always ready. However, as opposed to an on/off toggle as before, it now uses a similar system to Pharah’s passive. So now while holding RMB, you drain Defense Matrix’s charge to block for up to four seconds at peak charge. By allowing Dva to more selectively block, she finally seems to be able to properly damage soak like the other tanks. This, combined with the fact that she is the most mobile tank with the ability to fly to high ground, makes me confident we will see her emerge as more than just a niche pick.
We are all McCree Now
Soldier 76’s popularity surged in the post McCree nerf world as he now better filled the slots McCree occupied. Soldier has become the king of long range hitscan, in addition to close range tank shredding. But with a combination of changes, Blizzard has made McCree unique again while still keeping Soldier viable. McCree now has reduced damage falloff at long range while Soldier now recovers his spread accuracy a bit slower.
Both heroes can hold their own at all ranges, but now McCree is once again the undisputed king of long range hitscan. However, at the same time, at close ranges, Soldier will still be able to hit his targets and bring enemies down quicker than McCree. In my opinion, separating their roles is a healthy change and is going to allow both characters to see play time, albeit in differing scenarios.
Any time you grant the power to resurrect players, especially multiple players, in a pvp game, you will run into balance problems because that ability will always be powerful. The convenience to undo a well executed attack with the push of a button is immensely useful, so you have to gate useage of that ability somehow, whether it be by mana costs like in MOBA games, or in Overwatch by ultimate charge. Mercy was a hero that is infamous for constantly having ultimate ready to use because of how quickly healing charged Resurrect. Blizzard realized that heroes always lived and she now requires 30% more to fully charge up.
I see this as a good idea that was poorly implemented. I wholeheartedly agree that Resurrect is up too frequently for how powerful it is. However, the way they nerfed it is silly, as healing is still rewarded equally. A more elegant way to go about it would have been to lower the amount of ult charge Mercy receives for healing. It creates more dynamic game play by requiring the player to switch to her blaster more often to charge Resurrect quickly while still lowering how often Mercy can make heroes never die.
In the end, Mercy is not going anywhere in the professional meta. As I stated, resurrecting players is still useful and because healing still gains ult charge at the same rate, Mercy will still be able to resurrect often. Mercy is perfectly viable not even considering the buff to her damage boost, now at a 50% increase. This results in the dreaded PharMercy dealing 180 damage per rocket.
Walk the Path to Buffs
Zenyatta received probably the most important buff he could: an extra 50 health. It does not seem like much, but bringing the omnic a step up on the hp ladder means that he is now immune to being instantly killed by several common occurrences, such as PharMercy rockets, and now requires an extra hammer swing from Reinhardt.
Meanwhile, Orb of Discord remains on my top five list of abilities that are extra broken at the professional level. At a professional level, a Zenyatta can call out who he is targeting for his team to crush with the added damage. Especially effective against tanks, it reduces that damage one has to apply to kill Roadhog by a full 200.
But the change I am eyeing the most is the rate at which Transcendence heals. The jump from 200 health per second to 300 is no joke. It means that Zenyatta can heal his team through a Hanzo Dragonstrike and still be replenishing every teammates health at a rate of 100 per second, twice that of Mercy’s staff.
Zenyatta properly joins the other three supports with an ultimate that can counter an enemy team's attack. However, I think the potentially best use of his ultimate is as a tool to force his team through a chokepoint. For instance, on Hanamura when attacking either point, it is difficult for a team to approach together without taking significant damage or even losing a player. If a team simply combines Zenyatta’s ultimate and Lucio’s speed boost, they can collectively zerg to an advantageous position while taking no lasting damage.
I am interested to see if Zenyatta will begin finding his place in professional play. It would be difficult to drop Lucio or Mercy from a composition. Zenyatta, being a viable damage source, combined with Ana’s introduction to the game make me wonder if we are in for a triple or quadra support meta. Either way, I am simply looking forward to more Overwatch.
Patch notes here: https://playoverwatch.com/en-us/blog/20178523#patchnotes
Image Credit: playoverwatch.com