Overwatch Support Tier List: Season 17
Mon 29th Jul 2019 - 6:15pm
Season 17 of competitive play is well underway in Overwatch and the meta has finally shifted away from the 3-3 compositions that have dominated the past few seasons. Although the meta as a whole feels much more flexible, there are still two compositions that seem to be coming to define the meta: Bunker and Triple DPS. You can see an in-depth explanation of the Bunker composition here, but the TL;DR is that Bunker has a slow and immobile play style with high damage output. Even if teams aren’t running a full Bunker, the tank duo of Orisa and Roadhog is still the most played this season.
Triple DPS, on the other hand, exists as an antithesis to Bunker in many ways. With a Wrecking Ball solo tank, Triple DPS relies on high mobility and attacking from multiple angles to succeed.
With a basic understanding of the current meta, this now leads into discussing the state of Supports in Overwatch. Below is a tier list of the Supports for Season 17 of competitive play.
The Queen has returned from vacation.
At perhaps her strongest point since the Dive meta, Ana has once again become the premier Support in Overwatch. Interestingly enough, little balancing has been done to Ana since that time. Ana is still the precise, burst healer that she has always been. However, she has come to her place of power due to the shifting of the landscape around her.
Among the main reasons why she is ranked so highly is due to the steep decrease in the amount of D.Va being played. The nerf to her Defense Matrix (range reduction from 15m to 10m), has turned D.Va from a must-pick hero to a more niche selection, as all heroes should be. D.Va still is a strong pick in Dive compositions, but with her overall play rate down, it opens the door for Ana to shine. No longer does she need to constantly worry about Defense Matrix canceling out her Biotic Grenades and Sleep Darts.
Ana both synergizes well with and counters Bunker. She benefits from being able to sit safely behind a shield while a long-range poke battle happens. Her burst healing can easily keep her tanks healthy and she also has clear sightlines to heal her team’s flankers as they harass the enemy.
However, she also can counter Bunker well by giving her ultimate to the EMP-Nanoblade combo. Nanoblade is already a difficult ultimate to survive, but the addition of the EMP can make it nigh-impossible. Without any abilities to stun the Genji, he has free reign to eliminate targets.
Ana’s long-range healing also works well with Triple DPS compositions. Due to the large area that her team will cover, few other supports can provide healing as quickly as Ana can, assuming that she positions herself well. The one issue with an Ana in Triple DPS compositions is the risk of leaving her relatively unprotected from enemy flankers. Because the majority of the team will be playing far away from you, Ana finds herself without many quick sources of peeling, meaning she can be picked off. This is especially a concern at lower levels of the competitive ladder where Anas are less likely to effectively use Biotic Grenade and Sleep Dart to peel for themselves.
Mercy + snipers = death for the enemy.
It should come as no surprise that a meta featuring a high mobility composition with snipers favors Mercy. Unlike the vast majority of supports, Mercy has the ability to keep up with her team as they dash around the map, making her a hard target to be focused down. By contrast, supports such as Ana and Zenyatta are left to their own devices while their Triple DPS setup operates far from them. Mercy’s passive healing also helps as it allows her to self-sustain and not require as much peel.
Snipers have also had more of an opportunity to be played in this meta than the previous, giving Mercy’s damage boost greater value. With Mercy damage boost, Ashe can one-shot-headshot 200 HP targets when scoped and Hanzo can two-tap 200 HP targets with Storm Arrow. In addition to damage boosting the snipers, Mercy can also use them as a convenient escape tool. Because of the typically long-distances from combat that snipers play at, Mercy can reliably fly to them if she finds herself in trouble.
Even in the Bunker composition, Mercy can find a decent amount of value. If running a Bastion, Mercy’s damage boost can be tethered to him and output devastating damage. Resurrect also is an important ability in Bunker when defending on control point maps. Due to the long walks back from spawn as a defender on first points, you can sometimes find yourself being forced to fight a man down if your teammate got killed late in the previous fight. Resurrect prevents this scenario from happening, thus allowing you to fight on an even footing.
New kid on the block shakes up the meta.
Although Baptiste has horrible synergy with Triple DPS compositions, he works extremely well with Bunker setups. The primary reason for this is his Immortality Field. With clever placement that prevents the enemy from destroying it, your team can be unkillable for 8.5 seconds, which allows you to maximize the damage output of Bunker. This can also be a powerful counter to enemy ultimates such as Dragon Strike or Graviton Surge. It can even be considered a soft-counter to the Halt-Hook combo, assuming you can deploy the Immortality Field onto your hooked teammate before they die. This ability also received a slight buff a couple of patches ago that allowed Immortality Field to move with the cart when placed on it.
Baptiste’s area of effect healing abilities also makes him a strong pick with the tightly grouped Bunker composition. The buff he received in the last patch increased his healing ammo from 10 to 12, meaning that you spend less time reloading, leading to a higher healing output. At lower competitive ranks, Baptiste could be run as a solo healer due to this high volume of potential healing.
Amplification Matrix feels strong in Bunker as well, especially in mirror matchups. When two Bunkers meet, the winner of the fight will typically be the one that can break the Orisa shield faster. Without that essential piece of cover, Bunker compositions are forced to play much more passively, hindering their ability to deal damage. Amplification Matrix can allow your team to break an Orisa shield in under a second and shred the people behind it before they can even get to cover. The recent buff to the ability (extending the uptime from 8 to 10 seconds) might seem minor, but those extra couple seconds allow your team more time to get in a position where they can use the matrix.
Shield break extraordinaire.
Don’t let this ranking fool you, Zenyatta is still the most deadly support in the game, but he certainly does not deal as much damage in this meta as he did in 3-3. Generally speaking, Orisa’s shield should have a longer uptime than Reinhardt’s, making it more challenging for Zenyatta to find gaps of time to deal damage. Much more often now, Zenyatta will find himself on shield break duty, which, of all the supports, he can do the best.
More shielding from the enemy also means that Discord Orb has a harder time finding targets. However, against Triple DPS, Discord can be used effectively against a pile driving Hammond. If Zenyatta can land the Discord Orb onto Wrecking Ball as he is in the air, there is a good chance your team can burst him down before he can roll away. This might be harder to accomplish at higher ranks of the ladder where Hammonds play smarter, but at lower ranks can be used to great effect to punish reckless Wrecking Balls.
There are two main reasons why Zenyatta has been pushed this far down in the rankings. The first is the slightly weaker state Transcendence finds itself in due to more Ana being played. A well-thrown Biotic Grenade can completely cancel out the healing that your team needed, rendering the ultimate much less effective. The second reason is the higher playrate of flankers like Sombra and Tracer. Especially at Diamond and above, these heroes can easily 100-0 a Zenyatta without being punished. For this reason, your team would need to commit more resources to protect Zenyatta, which can weaken other areas of the team.
Yet another staple hero in GOATS finds itself now in the lower half of supports with the introduction of a new meta. His synergy with a Rein-Zarya tank duo still makes him a near must-pick in those situations, but Lucio does not find as much value when playing with Orisa-Hog. The former tank duo thrives when using speed boost to engage onto the enemy, whereas the latter would rather sit back and poke, making speed boost less useful. However, there are certain situations where having a Lucio with Orisa-Hog can be beneficial. Many Hybrid map second points (Eichenwald in particular) have a large amount of space to work with where your team will want to reposition more often. Lucio’s speed boost can be used to help make these rotations quicker and more efficient.
Lucio can also be a support option in triple DPS compositions, turning an already mobile composition into a super mobile composition. Speed boosting your flankers and Wrecking Ball can allow them to make lighting fast engages and disengages. However, this is all contingent on being able to wall-ride proficiently. Wall riding allows Lucio to access high ground quickly and also move faster, both of which are necessary to keep up with a triple DPS composition.
In addition to less Rein-Zarya being played, the other reason why Lucio ranks out here is due to the rising popularity of Sombra. Her EMP completely wipes out the shielding provided by Lucio’s Sound Barrier, making it much trickier to use his ultimate. However, Sound Barrier is also a strong counter to EMP when used after it. Therefore, as many pro players do, Lucio should hide from the EMP and then pop out to use his ultimate.
Mini-Reinhardt to protect the backline.
Just like Lucio, Brigitte still finds good value in GOATS and other 3-3 compositions, but outside of those has evolved into a niche pick. With players favoring long-range poke battles over close-quarters brawls, Brigitte has a difficult time finding consistent value compared to many other supports. Perhaps if the armor from Rally lasted indefinitely, rather than the 30 seconds it was nerfed to, she could climb a spot higher in the rankings. She could then use her ultimate preemptively before fights, granting her team a major advantage in HP. However, in her current state, Rally acts as a relatively weak early-mid fight ultimate.
Brigitte can act as a strong counter to Wrecking Ball and other characters who like to harass the backline. She can act as a guardian to an Ana or Zenyatta, dissuading flankers from killing them. The threat of Shield Bash alone has enough power to stop a Tracer or Sombra from hard-engaging onto a target if Brigitte is near.
Dying to flankers? Go Moira.
Moira ranks as a much better support at lower ranks of the competitive ladder, but in low Diamond and above, her lack of utility begins to make her look weak compared to other supports. She has no crowd control or buff/debuff abilities like many of the supports higher on this list, making her a much more one-dimensional pick. In addition, the introduction of Baptiste encroached on the multi-target healing niche Moira had carved out for herself. With only an ammo count limiting his healing, Baptiste does not have to worry about running out of his healing resource as Moira does in the middle of a fight.
However, Moira can be a good support to choose if you find yourself being killed often due to a lack of peel. Few healers can peel for themselves better than Moira due to her self-healing and evasive abilities. If a flanker like Tracer or Sombra is targeting you as another support, swapping to Moira can help you better defend yourself. When playing against triple DPS compositions, this can be a particularly smart play.
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