Make support heroes great again!
Overwatch’s latest addition to the huge character roster, Ana Amari, is a support sniper. Fantastic news for players who love staying in the sidelines, supporting the team, healing them up when needed, and protecting them from harm. As it stands now, the four support characters currently available in Overwatch are probably the least popular ones in competitive play, though that’s hardly surprising.
At the moment, no one really knows how the skill rating in Overwatch’s competitive works. It seems to count your wins and losses very heavily, but pays almost no attention to your own individual performance. When you win a match, your skill rating bar goes up a little. But when you lose a match, it’s almost as good as losing one entire rank. If you think that’s bad, I’m here to inform you that support characters have it worse. Blizzard has acknowledged that the confusion surrounding the skill rating system stems primarily from their lack of clarity, so we can expect them to clear up any misunderstandings about it pretty soon. But right now, lots of players are suspecting that the amount of skill rating progression you gain is heavily tied to your number of eliminations in a match
In short, this means that support characters aren’t going to get much out of a win. It’s true that there are ways to play support heroes and deal damage, but frankly, it isn’t exactly their strong suits. Zenyatta’s a beast with the Orb of Discord, but lacks the survivability to really be offensive as other heroes like, say, Reaper or Soldier 76. Symmetra can be pretty offensive too, but you hardly ever see her outside of defense matches because defense is exactly what she does best: securing a zone with her turrets and teleporter. On matches with ledges, a good Lucio can knock people off pretty effectively. However, if you’re looking to deal damage anyway, you wouldn’t be looking at the support heroes, you’ll be paying more attention to the offensive guys.
As a support character, your job is to heal and protect your team, debuff the enemy in some cases, and when you have the time, maybe deal some damage if your team is in good shape. Support characters hardly ever get the chance to rack up crazy kill streaks, and as a result, they have a lot less to gain even when they win a match.
However, the inception of Ana Amari into Overwatch’s roster might just change things for support players if Blizzard doesn’t get around to it first. Her biotic rifle allows her to heal allies, and damage enemies if they get in the way. She can immobilize her foes if they get too close, and she can give one of her teammates a nano boost to increase their speed, damage output, and defense. And to top it all off, her biotic grenade heals allies in a small area of effect, and even damages any enemies who might be hanging around. Simply put, she’s a jack of all trades, and she comes packed with a little bit of everything that we’ve seen in the existing support heroes.
Complete with a 200HP health pool, she’s beefier than Zenyatta (though he’s about to get a buff soon, thank GOD), and perfectly capable of picking off enemies from a distance while supporting her allies. For support mains who want to get a little more offensive, Ana Amari is basically a godsend. You can snipe enemies from a distance, just like Widowmaker, and this will certainly give support mains a better chance of gaining more experience in their skill rating progression in its current state. She might not be as powerful as Widowmaker or Hanzo in terms of damage output, but it’s definitely possible to play her as an offensive character when your team needs it.
While Zenyatta’s Orb of Discord is absolutely devastating when used against tank characters, he’s simply too slow and too weak (for now) to survive long in a firefight. He’s also not entirely great as a support character because of how weak his Orb of Harmony is, which is why you hardly ever see him in competitive matches. On the other hand, Lucio has great survivability and mobility, but his damage output is way too low for him to really stand out as an offensive character for most players. Symmetra should really only be used on defense maps where she can slow down her foes, and – let’s be real – anyone who prioritizes Mercy’s Caduceus pistol as a means of dealing damage is just playing Mercy wrong.
Ana Amari’s inclusion in the Overwatch roster means that we’ll finally be getting a support character who can deal serious damage to the enemy team, while still lending support to her team when they need it. As for the players who are perfectly content with just healing and supporting their allies, Ana is great for that too. All you have to do is keep your teammates in sight, shoot at them, and throw in biotic grenades whenever you need a quick healing burst.
From what I’ve played so far, Ana is a really versatile support character, and her inclusion gives me hope that more people will be inclined to play support characters when she finally gets added. Stay strong, my fellow support mains, and remember that there’s nothing more heroic or noble than lending a helping hand to an ally when they need it most.