The Importance of Healers and Their Potential in Team Fights
Sat 11th Nov 2017 - 1:36pm
image courtesy of alexnegrea.devianart.com
When talking about how healers can impact a match of Overwatch we first need to look at a a few healer combinations. Most teams in Overwatch will run a composition of 1 major healer (Mercy/Ana) and 1 off-healer (Lucio/Zen). Although this is the "preferred" composition there are other ones that suit the players skill or the current outlook of the battle. If a team is running the 2-Damage, 2-Tank and 2-Healer team one major healer focuses on critically damaged allies while the off-healer takes care of poke damage and assists in combat. In spite of what the current "meta" claims might the best composition Overwatch is a game where good teamwork and flexibility flourish.
As a support player, do not let the "meta" dictate what you should pick or enjoy playing. Allow yourself to be flexible and most importantly enjoy playing your hero. As I previously stated there are several combinations of healers that can help a team win. Examples:
Is your team running 2+ tanks? If so, you may need the combined healing of Mercy and Ana over having one of the off-healers. The same principal applies if your team is taking too much damage and Lucio/Zen simply cannot keep up.
What kind of map are you on? If it is king of the hill, your team may need the healing/speed aura of Lucio over the healing/discord Zen brings to the table.
Is the other team heavily relying on the Zarya Graviton? Then Transcendence is a stronger counter than Sound Barrier since it can out-heal a Genji, Reaper and several other ultimate abilities.
Each of the healers is unique and plays differently than the last so it is important to understand what they can counter and what they are weak against.
First let's talk about Lucio. Even though Lucio is considered to be an off-healer, using his ability Amp it Up while in the heal stance provides a decently sized burst of healing for your team. If used properly Lucio can build his ultimate ability fairly quickly utilizing Amp it Up. However it falls short with its long cool down and the requirement that his allies need to be close to him. Moving on to his ultimate ability "Sound Barrier" (which adds 500 hp to all allies within 20 meters) it provides the team with a few crucial seconds to judge the overall battle and try and find openings in the enemy defense. Furthermore, it is a counter to Zarya's Graviton as it can block a lot of the damage coming through on the follow up.
Next let us look at Zen. He is the second off-healer; however, he provides a very safe play style since you only need to be in line of sight for his orbs to be in effect. But his distance comes with a weakness, as he is very slow and is easily picked off by a Winston or Widow if his team does not defend him. Unlike Lucio who can auto-heal and speed boost, Zen has an important role in team fights. He has the responsibility of calling out who he has thrown his Discord Orb on. In the midst of the battle, it is hard to spot which players have that little dark orb over their heads but with some communication from Zen you can melt even tanks. Now let's talk about his ultimate Transcendence. This is Zen's bread and butter when it comes to direct counters. As the current "meta" stands, Genji is one of the more powerful and influential DPS characters in the game. While Zen's ultimate does not completely nullify the damage from Dragon Blade, it will be able to save several characters who have 200-250 health points. Now the biggest ultimate Zen can counter is Zarya's Graviton. The black hole brings all near it together which allows her team to throw all their damage at a focused point, but this is where Zen steps in. If there is no Ana to counter Zen's healing, he theoretically can keep everyone who was caught in Graviton alive.
Next on the list is Ana. Ana is considered a major healer due to the burst healing she can output from accurate rifle shots and her Biotic Grenade. Ana is kind of a wild card healer which is why she can have consistent healing or random bursts. The main variables are the aim of the player and the amount of freedom Ana is granted by the enemy team. If Ana is allowed to sit back and pick her targets, then she can output a consistent steam of health to her teammates.
On the other hand, if she is getting focused by a Winston or Genji her output will be affected, hence her need to move and survive. Her abilities are very situational, Sleep Dart and Biotic Grenade can swing a game in your team's favor if the player can consistently hit them. Also it is mainly up to the Ana player to make proper use of these abilities. One of the best uses for her Dart is to cancel an enemy ultimate like Death Blossom and High Noon. For Nano Boost, it’s good to use it on characters like Reinhardt or Soldier: 76 who can combo with their own ult. It can also work with players who are doing really well on their aim that round, by providing them extra resistance and damage.
Finally let’s talk about the big medic herself, Mercy. The Swiss medic has some of the most consistent healing in Overwatch as she only needs to stick closely to a teammate to keep the beam on them. However that does not mean she is the easiest healer to play in the game. That is far from the truth. Mercy has a huge role in deciding which player to Resurrect. It is not always as simple as picking the tank or other healer, sometimes bringing back a damage hero could win her team the battle. Using her ultimate Valkyrie is very situational to each team fight. The player needs to ask themself, "Will bringing back two teammates win us the battle or is it better to save it for later?"
The main principle with playing Mercy is the players own awareness of the game and his priority tier. The main thing to remember as Mercy is that you cannot save everyone, some teammates will die in positions where you cannot reach them for resurrect or it’s simply not worth throwing your life for it.
In conclusion all of Overwatch's healers play a unique but important role in the game. Being able to switch between them is a good trait that most support players should strive for; however, picking just one is not wrong. Good luck to all of you out there, and remember heroes never die!