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Overwatch's Mercy: Communication, Coordination, and Callouts

k0nduit

k0nduit

Mon 15th May 2017 - 10:28am

Greetings y'all, Konduit here. Today we're going over some of the most frequent callouts and comm lines I use while playing Mercy. Additionally, we'll be covering some strategy and basic shotcalling principles for Overwatch in general (regardless of what hero you're playing) which have really helped my success in game. Before we get into the thick of things, if you're interested in learning more about Mercy and Mercy Strategy, check out the previous articles in my "Overwatch's Mercy" series below:

1. A Conceptual Primer
2. Positioning/Evasion Notes and Tips
3. A Resurrect Primer
4. Settings, Mechanics, and Techniques
5. The Hero Roster Breakdown:

 In-Game Voice Chat: Is It A Must?

In my experience/observation, comms are likely not an absolute necessity unless you're at the highest levels of play. However, they're an exceptionally powerful resource for your team, one which you'll be remiss not to take advantage of as your skill level rises and the game gets more and more intricate. It's certainly more than possible to do well (and even be extremely successful) without getting on team chat - however, keep in mind that in many situations you'll be hamstringing yourself in terms of how effectively and efficiently you can work with your team without voice comms. There's a great deal of in-game/in-teamfight information that is important to be communicated clearly and, more importantly, quickly. This type of communication can only be done with the voice chat tool - it's a potent weapon in your arsenal to achieve victory. Several of the main points and concepts below in the article will cover the benefits that being on voice comms provides you, but before that, here are a couple overarching points on the matter of voice comms:

Talking on voice comms is a skill - and like any other skill, it often requires practice and work to get good at. In a game of Overwatch, you're essentially being thrown into a room with 5 strangers and asked to work together towards a common goal. Everyone has their own perceptions of the game, their own strengths, weaknesses, favored strategies, etc. Being an effective communicator is not only about voicing your own insights in a positive manner, but also listening to and understanding others'. It can be daunting to try and talk with people you've never met, to share your perspective and to understand theirs - it's not easy! But - and I can tell you this from experience - it's often very rewarding to step outside your comfort zone and talk to new people. Give it a try! You'll likely see improvements in your performance... and maybe even have some fun making new friends while playing Overwatch!

Alrighty, without further ado, let's get into the callouts. First up are my general Overwatch Callouts, and second are the Mercy-specific ones:

General Overwatch Callouts

Pick Callouts: "That's a pick - 6v5, we have numbers, go ham"

- Of all the level-ups that improved my game, recognizing that your team has scored a pick and calling out to push forward has probably resulted in the greatest improvement in my results. It's tough to pin this down exactly of course; but, I'm willing to bet that after I started regularly making this callout I started winning games more consistently.

- First, it's important to really understand and realize how big of an influence a numbers advantage is in fights. That's an additional body providing DPS, utility, and an ultimate. Knowing this, with a few exceptions (mainly with regards to the presence of enemy ultimates that punish grouping up or do AoE damage), you really want to press forward and force a teamfight if you or an ally scores an initial pick. This is an excellent strategy on offense, and is often applicable on defense as well. If you wait too long, the enemy you picked off will respawn and make it in time for the tail end of the teamfight, which can make all the difference. Be decisive, and engage with your numbers. It can seem intimidating when looking at 5 members of the enemy team on the point, but you've got to recognize that you possess a numbers advantage. Trust your brain telling you that you have the advantage in the fight! (And not your gut saying "Oh, there's a lot of enemies on the point! Have to play safe until we take down more of them.")

- In order to put this into practice, you have to be paying close attention to the kill feed. One of the most common points of hesitation is when there are some kill trades - 2 members of the enemy team and 1 member of your team all die in quick succession. It can get a bit confusing, especially when your ally calls out that he/she's been taken down. But, remember that what you're looking for is being up in numbers - not having preserved your entire team over the course of the push. Trades happen, it's unavoidable, but if you secured a 2-for-1 or 3-for-2, you've still got the edge in the fight. Press forward!

- Finally, when you see that your team has secured a numbers advantage, make the callout to commit to a teamfight confidently and decisively!

Teamfight Prioritization/Target Focus: "On Zarya, on Zarya - she's separated"

- The overarching principle here is what's called "focus fire". There's a ton of stuff going on in the chaos of a teamfight: the healers are healing, the tanks are disrupting, the DPS are looking for openings, and the flankers are trying to take down their targets.  However, it's often best to have everyone (from a macro standpoint) working towards a common goal - taking down a particular target (flankers sometimes have their own unique target, but still are operating on the same page in the context of the teamfight goal). This particular target - that everyone on your team (who's in range) is trying to take down - can change from moment to moment. There are variety of factors that influence who the "focus target" is - his/her positioning, mobility skills on/off cooldown, expired defensive skills, health pool, threat level, etc. At any given point in a teamfight, there's going to be a member of the enemy team who is the focus priority. And, if you have everyone on your team can hit the target aiming for that target, you're much more likely to score the kill. Repeat this process (selecting/reevaluating who the focus target is) for the duration of the teamfight!

- To better illustrate the importance of target focus, here's an example of when things go awry: your team engages in (more or less) six 1v1s with the enemy team...in other words, a super scattered teamfight. In each of these duels though, your opponents have an edge (whether through hero matchups or positioning advantages, etc.), and your team just gets wiped in the individual duels. By working together and focusing a single target, you can minimize the importance of individual hero characteristics (that may be favorable or unfavorable in smaller skirmishes/a duel). But perhaps most importantly, you take down enemies faster with focus fire. Quickly creating a numbers advantage is a powerful method to win teamfights.

- The situation that you want to avoid is having only one person shooting at a target when multiple team members are in range/have the capabilities to do so. Of all the targets in the area that you and your nearby damage-dealing allies are able to reach, make one of them the focus priority and concentrate all of your damage on that target. In practice, this can be quite difficult to execute, but it's an ideal to strive for. Call out who to focus fire on!

Teamfight Status Callouts: "It's 4v4 - Winnable, winnable, keep going"

- Along the same lines as pick callouts, teamfight status callouts are basically declarations of the numbers each side has remaining. As I mentioned before, teamfights can get pretty chaotic - keeping your team knowledgeable about how the fight is going is important: getting everyone on the same page as to whether to fight or retreat can make all the difference.

- If the fight's even in numbers, I like to use the phrase "Winnable, winnable". It might sound a little silly, but this phrase is perhaps the most effective bit of knowledge you give your team in a messy teamfight. Oftentimes when you're in the heat of battle, people don't keep track of the kill feed all that closely; without a clear understanding of how the teamfight's going, some hesitation can set in as to whether to keep fighting and pressing forward or whether to take a more defensive stance and look to fight with the intent of retreating. By letting your teammates know the fight is still winnable, you can eliminate all hestiation and your team knows to fight with the intention to win.

- Again, a lot of the power in these callouts is getting your entire team on the same page about what to do. If everyone is fighting with the same goal in mind, winning engagements becomes much easier (compared to having people on different lines of play as to whether to fall back or push forward).

- Finally, I'd like to give credit for the "Winnable, Winnable" line to an individual I met in a game of Competitive Solo Queue a few months back. He was playing Lucio, and made some great calls that helped us win a great game on Nepal. Unfortunately for the life of me I can't remember his name; but many thanks to you good sir. All the best to you in your matches, may you find them winnable and go on to secure the win.

Retreat/Fallback Callouts, Resetting and Attacking/Defending as Group: "We're down 2, it's 4v6, let's get outta there and regroup for the next push"

- Overwatch is an objective-based game, and in your journey to understand how to best approach attacking/defending an objective, you've got to understand the 'flow' of kills, respawns, and seizing opportunities to take advantageous teamfights (again, capitalizing on a numbers advantage is paramount here).

- One of the quickest ways to lose a game of Overwatch, whether you're attacking or defending, is to "trickle" in and engage in fights in small groups. When you win or lose a teamfight, it's actually somewhat rare that it's a clean, immediate teamwipe. Instead, it's more frequent that 3-4 members go down and there are a few stragglers left (sometimes on both sides), who subsequently get chased and taken down over time. If those stragglers spend too much time continually fighting it out or evading without successfully escaping, their team gets "staggered," i.e. their respawn times are not synchronized. The initial 3-4 members who died earlier in the teamfight then move up, fight another teamfight (while down in numbers), get routed once more, and then the initial stragglers arrive, who then get routed, and so on and so forth. It's a bit of an oversimplified example, but when people "trickle in" in small groups you're never able to actually get a solid 6v6 teamfight after the first engagement and are unable to get a strong push onto the obective (or mount a good defense, for that matter). For this reason, it's important to 'resync' your respawns and regroup to push together.

- The most common scenario to be aware of is when a teamfight starts off rough (particularly when you're on attack), and you lose a couple members early on (by getting picked, for example). In this case, unless you've got a fantastic positioning advantage or some other edge through which you can quickly equalize the kill deficit, it's often best to make the call to pull back and regroup. This denies the enemy team ultimate charge (and they're sure to win the fight with their strong numbers advantage), and synchronizes your own team's respawns. When everyone's back, you have all 6 members to ready to push up immediately.

- It's also important to keep in mind (while defending) that you can use the distance you have until the enemy reaches the next checkpoint (or even the final checkpoint) as a resource. You don't have to immediately try to defend the payload - provided you've got some time, wait it out until your team is back, ready to fight, and in a good position, then make your move to engage. Think of it this way: by giving the enemy team a bit more distance to push (or ticks on the capture point, etc.), you're increasing the odds that your team will achieve the actual most important objective - winning the upcoming teamfight. Naturally, if things are down to the wire you may not have the luxury to wait for your whole team to get into position - sometimes you'll just have to make a move. But, more often than not, I find myself saying, "Pull back, we've got room to give, let's group as six and defend."

Enemy Cleanup/Setting up a Respawn Stagger: "Chase 'em down, get the stagger on the Hanzo"

- This is a quick tip, but an important one: when you're winning a teamfight, really hammer it in. The mark of an excellent defense (though this occurs on offense as well, in fact) is disrupting the enemy's push as much as you can. By not allowing stragglers to escape (or at the very least putting considerable pressure on them while they attempt to), you can really mess up the opponents' respawn timers and make it more difficult for them to resync for their next push as a full group. When your team has kills/picks, be aggressive and move up to disrupt the enemy team. By harassing them when they're trying to recuperate, you can stagger their respawns, disorganize them, and maybe get them to start trickling inn!

Mercy-Specific Callouts

Rez Callouts: "Play on point, I'm holding Rez"

- The bread and butter. The Mercy's most game-changing contribution is her Resurrect, and the more you and your team work together the more you're be able to utilize Resurrect to its maximum potential.

- Once you get in a few games as Mercy, you'll realize that when your teammates go down in scattered locations throughout the map, it feels really bad - your Rez, should you even decide to use it (and sometimes it's best not to if it looks like it'll be too low impact), can be very weak. It's important that you communicate that your team should fight in a particular area, so that when they go down they'll all be in the same place for a clean Rez. More often than not, that area is the objective.

- A quick clarification - tempo rezzes are different beast altogether (where your teammates goes down is not nearly as important). For more information on Rezzing, check out my article on the subject here.

- Of all the supports, playing with Mercy (i.e. alongside her, as a teammate) requires the most foresight and active thinking, as many of her mechanics and gameplay patterns become more effective and powerful when working with her team (e.g. your team can give you mobility options by peeking out for your Guardian Angel). Not everyone will be keeping in mind that they should go down in a particular area (as this play pattern - dying in a specific place - is only relevant when you've got an allied Mercy), so I make this callout all the time. To be honest, when I play other characters and someone else is playing Mercy, even I often forget that I should play with Mercy's Rez in mind! Make this callout, and I can all but guarantee you that you'll see an improvement in the effectiveness and influence of your Resurrects, and an increase in your win %.

Setting up Rez: "Drop your shield Rein, go down I'm holding Rez"

- One of the reasons Resurrect is so powerful is that in addition to bringing your teammates back into the fight, it revives them at full health. Because of this functionality, it's sometimes more effective to tell an ally (particularly beefy tanks with large health pools) to simply go down in order to quickly and efficiently heal them with Resurrect (and in the process bring back your other fallen teammates).

- When you're looking for a Rez, a big factor to keep in mind is the death timer of the allies you want to Resurrect. You're only going to get the one Rez, so from an efficiency standpoint it's better to get everyone you can in your ultimate. One situation that comes up all the time is when an allied Rein is at low health and holding down the objective, frantically strafing around while holding his shield up. In this case, the correct play is often to tell your Rein to drop his shield and go down, allowing you to bring him back at full health along with your other allies. If your teammates are at low health, and you're looking to set up a Rez, keep in mind that you don't necessarily have to heal them individually - just speak up and let them know to go out guns blazing and you'll bring them back up at full health.

Backup/Helping Duels: "You can take 'em, I'm with you, go go"

- Mercy's healing stream can't be underestimated. It's 60 HPS, consistent, and can't be disrupted by the enemy team (contrast this with Ana's healing, which requires landing the shots, having a clear line to her target, and requires reloading). For these reasons, when you dash to and start healing an ally as Mercy, you have a pretty good idea of who is capable of winning the fight - there are no variables to worry about (Mercy's healing is essentially 100% reliable) other than the opponent's damage and your own healing. This means that your allies can sometimes play wildly aggressive in a 1v1, 1v2, or even more conventionally dicey situations with your backup. If you believe your ally can press forward with your support, encourage him/her to do so and make a play.

- The two most frequent situations when I make this callout are when my ally is dueling Reinhardt or Winston. Check out my Hero Roster Breakdown for more info, but, in a nutshell, Reinhardt has an extremely difficult time taking down an ally through Mercy's Healing stream and Winston's kill potential plummets to near 0. However, the default reaction to when a Winston or Reinhardt is on top of you is to try to create space and/or escape - your ally may not be aware that, with your presence, he/she can simply tank the Reinhardt swings or Winston's DPS and turn the tables on the enemy. Make the callout and let them know that they have the capability to turn things around.

Calling for Help Against Flankers: "Genji/Tracer in the backline, on me on me"

- This callout may seem like a pretty obvious one to make, but I wanted to make sure to mention it because in many cases the callout isn't made (I'm guilty of this as well!).

- The reality is, when a flanker jumps on you, sometimes you'll be so focused on evading or fighting back that you won't make the callout and let the team know that you're battling someone. This is basically the worst thing you can do! Be sure to let your teammates know that there are flankers around and whether you need help warding them off. As I mentioned, this is a bit harder to do consistently than it would seem at first glance. Practice and police yourself to speak up about incoming divers/flankers (whether they're going for you or not) and keep your team aware of what's happening.

Calling for an Escape Route: "Give me a jump, dash up," etc.

- I don't make this callout a ton, but it's one that you should keep in mind. When you have teammates with mobility options (particularly vertical mobility options), call for an escape if you're getting pressured. Tell your friendly Winstons, Genjis, D.Va's, etc. to go straight up - this provides a nice beacon for you to fly to and get out of trouble.

- Remember that Mercy has some powerful mechanics that are gated by getting quick responses and aid from her team - and that as a result, playing alongside Mercy can be unintuitive in this regard (as she asks for unique play patterns from her teammates). Be sure to communicate what you need - your team will work with you to help you out if they can.

Prepping for Incoming Ults/Setting up for Rez: "I'm playing further back, Zen/Ana/Lucio take over healing "

- As you continue playing Mercy, you'll find that your opponents put a greater priority on focusing you. The enemy team will often send flankers/disruptors to mess up your Resurrect, particularly just before the start of a big teamfight; dealing with this can be pretty difficult when you're out in the open. Even just getting caught in the ultimates you want to Resurrect your team from is a strong possibility!

- In order to circumvent this, it's often the right play to take a defensive position and hide just before the teamfight breaks out and the ults come down. Let your team know that you're taking cover; and, if you've got another healer on your team, tell them to take over healing for the time being.

That's it for my commonly-used Overwatch callouts. I think I hit the most frequent callouts that I use in my average games (there are some very specific ones of course - I may get into these things in future articles). It's a lot to take in, but making these callouts comes naturally with time and practice. Hopefully this is a good starting point for thinking about general communication of Overwatch strategy - and if you're a Mercy player, Mercy-specific callouts.

That's all for today, I hope you enjoyed the article. If you'd like to discuss anything Mercy, have comments/feedback on this article, or just want to say hi, feel free to tweet me @k0nduit and I'll get back to you.

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