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Archive • Jan 31, 2018

Overwatch League Players and Analysts React to the Mercy Nerf

Overwatch has changed significantly with the latest patch, as Mercy finally received a long-awaited nerf. For several months, the healer has dominated Overwatch at all levels, from competitive matchmaking to the Overwatch League itself. The power of her Ressurect ability and her Valkyrie ultimate have been so invaluable as to make her an almost permanent feature of any composition.

Now, at last, her ultimate has received a major nerf, reducing its power across the board and removing the buffs it provided to Resurrect that could previously turn fights, leading to a state in which fights might not be truly determined until after Valkyrie had been used. Many found the Mercy meta incredibly frustrating. As a primary support player, it meant being all but locked into a single choice for the majority of games. For the rest of the team, it meant dancing around enemy Resurrects, any kill only counting so long as it couldn't be reversed, every play a trade-off between eliminating the opponents, and ensuring that your own team's losses weren't out of reach of the friendly Mercy.

Viewers, meanwhile, were forced to constantly keep track of the Resurrect charges in order to get a sense of where the balance of power in a fight truly lay - deaths could be deceptive, and only by keeping track of each team's Mercy could you tell which team had really sustained the heavier losses. With the changes to Mercy will inevitably come a new meta, one no longer built around the resurrection mechanic. For many of Overwatch's best players and minds, it's a cause for celebration.

San Francisco Shock's André 'iddqd' Dahlström struggled to express his feelings: x His team-mate 'Danteh' had a more specific thought in the wake of the update: x Iddqd wasn't the only player to express his approval: x x Both Houston Outlaws' Jacob 'Jake' Lyon and LA Gladiators' Bejamin 'BigGoose' Isohanni await the return of the Brazilian DJ. x x Many rejoiced at the arrival of the Mercy nerf, but the sentiment wasn't unanimous. Overwatch League analyst Josh 'Sideshow' Wilkinson highlighted that Mercy opened up a lot of possible variations to strategy that didn't exist previously. Without the Resurrect, a single key kill could finish a fight almost immediately, and the prevalence of dive compositions without Mercy often meant quick fights decided within seconds based on how well each team executed their dives. The Mercy, Sideshow suggested, extended fights such that players were forced to adapt mid-engagement. x Overwatch League commentator Christopher 'MonteCristo' Mykles responded with his own thoughts on why the change was necessary. x The change won't hit the Overwatch League immediately, which plays on a tournament realm to prevent major game changes from shaking up the competition mid-stage. The balance changes will instead go live for Stage Two, which kicks off on February 21st. The change also adds another layer of consideration for teams considering picking up free agents during the signing period, which kicked off on January 22nd. Stage Two will also be the first time any new signings are eligible to play in the league, and so while teams won't be directly competing on the new patch until then, they may do well to figure out which way the meta seems to be heading as early as possible, and whether that might impact their personnel needs.

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