Have Mercy on Any Team Without a Support Plan
Today the top nations in competitive Overwatch descended on BlizzCon for the Overwatch World Cup playoffs—and, as such, we got a great opportunity to take stock of where the new meta has settled.
It’s been at least three months since we have seen any of these countries’ rosters, and the game has had many changes since then. Supports in particular have done an about-face—many pros now see Mercy as a necessary pick in competitive comps, while alternatives like Ana and Lúcio have fallen out of favor.
So as we celebrate the world coming together in Anaheim, let’s take a look at how some of these top-tier pros are playing their Supports, and adjusting to the new meta as a whole.
And surely, if any team can show us how to use and deal with Mercy, it’s a superstar team from South Korea, right? Right?
Let’s start with the obvious. The current hypothesis is that you either run Mercy, or you lose – not necessarily easily or decisively, but you lose. This was most evident in the first match of the day between Sweden and the United Kingdom. Although both teams ran Mercy/Zenyatta as their supports for the first stage of Oasis—where Sweden was victorious—the UK’s Marcus ‘Realzx’ Vining switched out Mercy for Lucio, and stuck with his choice to the end. Team UK were clearly trying to make up for not having a Mercy by focusing the Mercy of Sweden, but it wasn’t enough. Shoutcaster Robert ‘hexagrams’ Kirkbride said it best when Sweden went up 2-0: “Playing Mercy right now is not really a choice.”
Let’s Break It Down
We all know how it works: Once Lúcio skates his way into your heart, it’s hard to let him go. So while he may be at the lowest competitive pick rate in his history, Team France’s Michaël ‘Winz’ Bignet insisted on sticking with him a for a not-insignificant amount of time on the first two maps, Nepal and Numbani, against Team China. Bignet’s Lúcio played a huge part in helping France the take the first point on Hanamura quickly, but was promptly switched out for Zenyatta for taking point B.
The lesson here? Every hero is dangerous and valuable in the right situations and correct hands.
Then there’s Ana. Our favorite momma on a mission, Ana has declined in favor in the current meta along with Lúcio. Team China, though, brought her out on Numbani, determined to prove the critics wrong. She was excellent at preventing healing with her Biotic Grenade when they were on attack, throwing it into the defensive high ground above the first point. But again, the same question as before remained—sure, she’s fine, but is she as effective as a Zenyatta/Mercy combination overall? Probably not. She certainly wasn’t for the Chinese national team, who bowed out 1-3 against their French foes.
The Final Boss
South Korea's Yang ‘Tobi’ Jin-Mo and Ryu ‘Ryujehong’ Je-Hong are known as possibly the best Lúcio and Ana players in the world, respectively, and when they entered their quarterfinal matchup against Team USA, they refused to switch their comp up, no matter what. Team USA took the first control point on Nepal briskly, and still, they couldn't be convinced. It wasn’t until Nepal was at 1-1 that Tobi switched to Mercy. But it was too late—Team USA had the momentum, the crowd carrying them to a victory in map one. The USA had drawn first blood against the defending champions, who hadn't dropped a single map in the 2017 Overwatch World Cup until now.
South Korea finally started to settle into the reigning tournament meta of Mercy/Zenyatta when they captured the first point on Eichenwalde. Yet they seemed reluctant, even as they slowly pushed their payload to the finish line.
On defense, Ryujehong went back on the Ana. We get it: it’s hard to leave the one you love. South Korea seemed almost bull-headed in wanting to stick to their signature Support heroes, but it just wasn’t working out. When Team USA captured the point and the payload, Team South Korea again went back to Mercy/Zenyatta, again only reluctantly.
It seemed like the South Korean players were intentionally hamstringing themselves when they went with any Support combo other than Mercy and Zenyatta—dragging out matches and allowing Team USA to take points when they didn't need to.
How did it all work out? Head to worldcup.playoverwatch.com to check out the VODs, and be sure to tune in tomorrow at 10am PDT for the Bronze Medal match, followed by the championship match.
Bonus Round: The Pirate Ship
A free strategy for Junkertown, straight from BlizzCon, courtesy of Canada, China and France: a Bastion on the payload, protected in the front by an Orisa, and from behind by a Reinhardt. Try at home if you dare. Your teammates may not thank you, but they will certainly notice.