12 May 2017 - 13:56

Widowmaker is making a resurgence in competitive Overwatch

The game's most accurate assassin is making a terrifying return to professional play
Overwatch Analyst
preview
Photo via Blizzard Entertainment

Mighty AOD were down 2-1 in their first series of the season against Rogue. They had just taken a confident victory on Temple of Anubis but now had to face the French powerhouse on their best map, Watchpoint: Gibraltar. Rogue’s defense on the first phase of Gibraltar is their single best point in Overwatch. Mighty AOD’s collective backs were against the wall.

But Kariv was not ready to roll over and die.

It took Park “Kariv” Young Seo just nine seconds and six shots to connect with four different heads. This sort of dazzling play has become a treat Overwatch fans are allowed to indulge in during nearly every match of APEX.

Widowmaker has made a confident return to professional play despite not being tweaked since June 14, 2016. Instead her rise in popularity comes from refreshed tactics and her ability to dominate the current meta.

Allez, montre-toi.

Much like Tracer, Widowmaker players are taking advantage of the current metagame to find openings that previously did not exist.

In days past more often than not a professional team would use three to four of Reinhardt, Zarya, Roadhog, and D.Va. These triple or quad-tank compositions left few targets that Widowmaker could easily take down. They had too much health for her to kill in one shot. And healing from themselves or their supports combined with the tank’s defensive abilities prevented a successful follow-up shot.

This meant that at most there were two or three available low-health targets for Widowmaker to execute. Even then, the enemy Reinhardt created a mobile safe spot for the low-health characters to return fire from.

But now, according to Winston’s Lab, over 78 percent of the time compositions feature just one or two tanks. And with Reinhardt at just a 12.6 percent play-rate, the defensive utility of those compositions is severely lacking. Simply put, Widowmaker now has more viable target options that have less protection than before.




And when Widowmaker is played at the extreme ranges we see Ha “Sayaplayer” Jeong Woo engage from, the battlefield becomes her playground. Once Sayaplayer removes the enemy Widowmaker, he has completely uncontested control of the map’s sightlines. From there, he capitalizes on the distraction his teammates create to pick off the members of BK Stars one at a time.

Often times the Widowmaker is replacing, or supplementing, a Soldier: 76 as a backline threat. While the diving members consume the enemy’s attention, Widowmaker has the time needed to line up her shots. She provides much less sustained damage and teamfighting power than Soldier, but her raw lethality is overwhelming.

Although Widowmaker’s ultimate lacks the obvious strength of Tactical Visor, in the flank-heavy world we live in, the information it grants is invaluable to both her and her supports. And as Widowmaker helps her support players avoid flanks, we’re beginning to see supports aid Widowmakers in new ways.

You must really like me

Traditionally when we think about Mercy pocket supporting a DPS hero, our minds jump to Pharah. The PharMercy combo is known for it’s mobility and ability to provide devastating artillery from the sky.

But now a growing trend is having Mercy follow her Widowmaker around to provide damage boosts and healing. The 30 percent bonus damage from Mercy allows Widowmaker to hit some interesting breaking points.

With a fully charged shot to an enemy’s body Widowmaker normally does 120 damage. With the damage boost, however, she now hits for 156. That means Tracer can be killed with just a single shot to her body, opening up a significantly larger target for Widowmaker to try and hit.

But if the Widowmaker does hit an opponent's head, the effects are devastating. Without a damage boost her headshots could already connect for 300 damage. But now that figure is pushed up to 390, which is just 10 damage shy of Tracer’s Pulse Bomb.

That means Widowmaker can potentially be slinging out effectively the same damage as an ultimate every 1.25 seconds. Even if she just lands a body shot, it’s equivalent to being hit by eight rounds from Soldier 76. But unlike Pulse Bomb or Soldier, Widowmaker has no range restrictions to her damage.

At the same time, this can allow Mercy to build her ultimate very quickly. For every headshot Widowmaker lands while damage-boosted, Mercy gains 130 ultimate charge, or 52 for a body shot. Meanwhile Mercy only gains 52 ultimate charge while boosting a Pharah who hits a direct rocket, or as little as nine for a splash hit.

Pocketing Widowmaker can be empowering for the Mercy as well due to how quickly she can charge Resurrection compared to aiding a Pharah. But the new, higher damage Widowmaker is also empowering for the team as a whole.

Fundamentally strong

With damage boost empowering her, Widowmaker’s ability to hit like a truck is increasingly valuable in this meta. Even if she is not finding kills herself, the significant chunks of health Widowmaker can rip away from her foes makes it easier than ever for her allies to capitalize on.

When LW Blue and Conbox Spirit took to Watchpoint: Gibraltar to do battle, we were treated to another awe-inspiring Widowmaker performance—this time from APEX rookie Kim “Pine” Do-hyun.

As the highlight reel shows, he was perfectly capable of hitting heads. But his ability to, at a minimum, reliably connect with the enemy’s body was all that LW Blue needed.

Pine would hit an enemy squishy, leaving them at under 50 health, or connect with Winston’s head, leaving him at just over 100 health. That’s when Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-ryeol on his Tracer would execute the damaged player.

Widowmaker and her dive players form a symbiotic relationship. The dive players create a distraction for Widowmaker, and in return Widowmaker can provide them with low health targets to finish off. Meanwhile, both parties are perfectly capable of finding kills of their own, making this combo incredibly potent.

The one-two punch Widowmaker and dive gives allows teams to quickly find five-on-six teamfights in a reliable fashion. That kind of fight is obviously favorable and can allow for quick snowballing. And that is where Widowmaker is beginning to find her place in the meta.

Occasionally, Widowmaker players will simply win a fight with a stunning sequence of headshots. But now with the prevalence of dive creating lower health compositions, and the ability for her teammates to finish off any targets she tags, Widowmaker will remain a potent pocket-pick.

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