Support is a critical role to any team composition. If you are sitting in that character selection menu and team tips is still saying ‘No Healer,’ someone is really gonna want to pick up one of those supports. There are quite a few choices, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and any one support might not be the best pick for the situation. This guide should help players choose support characters and play them to the best of their ability.
Picking and Playing Supports
Far from a thankless job, playing support can be one of the most rewarding experiences in Overwatch. Support can make or break a team, though they aren’t the only important part. A team will pretty much always need one of the healers: Mercy, Lucio, Ana, or Zenyatta. Sometimes it will even be good to have two, especially in the current meta where Zenyatta and Lucio are dominating. Picking which support to play should involve a few factors: your comfort level with the hero, how well they perform the necessary role, and how well they work with your team. If you need a little extra DPS, maybe Zenyatta or Ana would be a good choice. But if stronger healing is needed, Mercy or Lucio may be better picks. You can always try them out in-game and switch if they aren’t working for you.
- Mercy – Primarily a healer, Mercy has a power ultimate that gives her team a second chance. However, she is extremely vulnerable and relies heavily on her team for survival.
- Lucio – A powerful healer, Lucio has excellent mobility as well as utility. A good pick in any situation, his ultimate can grant his team the boost they need to survive enemy ultimates.
- Ana – A good secondary healer, Ana can do long-range healing and damage. Her ultimate can be game changing with the right synergy. Her other abilities, too, can be critical to winning team fights and games when executed well.
- Zenyatta – Excellent DPS and a great secondary healer, Zenyatta brings the hurt better than the heals. His ultimate is great for negating enemy ultimates, and his Orb of Discord can melt the opposing team.
- Symmetra – The only support that doesn’t heal, Symmetra can provide useful shields. Her teleporter is similar to a Mercy’s rez, and her weapon and turrets can absolutely destroy targets with good setup.
Mercy has two weapons, her staff and a blaster. A good Mercy will almost always use her staff, either to heal or damage boost one of her allies. This is because her blaster does extremely low damage, and it is almost always more valuable to damage boost a teammate that does far more DPS. Still, the blaster is useful for finishing off low health enemies or protecting Mercy in 1v1 situations. It isn’t as impossible as you might think for a Mercy to kill a Tracer or McCree with a few well placed head shots.
But, if you are playing Mercy, avoid the 1v1 at all costs. She is not designed to win duels. Instead, she is made to escape. So keep your team in your line of sight and use Guardian Angel to flee any fights that are not in your favor. While being able to escape is important, it is also crucial to avoid conflict in the first place. Stay hidden, keep moving: do not die. Mercy is only useful as long as she is alive and supporting her team, and she moves rather slowly on her own, so respawning can be extremely painful. The beam for her staff requires line of sight, but does not deactivate instantly. This allows you to dip in and out of cover while still providing support. The beam also has a pretty good range, so experiment with movement and don’t be afraid to move around.
Mercy’s ultimate ability is incredibly powerful. Resurrect allows her to bring back to life fallen teammates in her range. This means all the enemy’s team work is undone, and her team has a second chance. When Res is charged, Mercy’s survival is a priority. The need to stay hidden becomes even more important, as she’ll need to be alive to make any use of her ultimate.
Lucio’s movement abilities and healing allow him to survive rather easily. His wall riding lets him get around quite easily and dodge attacks. He provides a speed boost or healing over time to himself and any allies in range, with the ability to increase the boost or amount healed for a few seconds. He can do an insane amount of healing team-wide, unlike Mercy who is single target.
For healing, the best time to increase the effect is when the entire team is taking a good amount of damage, or when one or more are at critical and need to get back into the fight. Try not to waste this ability, as you might need it later.
For speed, the best time to increase the effect is when the whole team needs to spread out quickly (like a Junkrat or Pharah Ult.) or get to an area quickly. This is pretty common for control maps, as Lucio will boost the team to the point at the beginning, and taxi any respawning allies later in the match.
His ultimate, Sound Barrier, gives a crazy big and rapidly decaying shield to each teammate in range. This can allow the team to make or sustain a push, as well as survive enemy ultimates. Lucio’s ultimate is similar to Zenyatta’s, though it has a bit more effectiveness against burst damage. The key to good execution here is not popping it too early, as the shields may decay too soon.
Ana can win games or give her team a terrible handicap depending on how she is played. Her DPS is one of the lowest in the game, and so it does not serve a team well for their Ana to neglect healing in favor of kill seeking. She provides very decent long range healing. This keeps her survivability rather high, as well as that of her team. Though she doesn’t have the best DPS, a few well placed shots from Ana can wipe out any low health enemies. This makes her great for team fights, especially with the good use of her abilities.
Biotic Grenade – Ana’s Biotic Grenade heals any allies for a small amount and boosts healing on them for a few seconds. For enemies, it does a good deal of damage and prevents any healing done to them. This can be useful in so many ways, and requires a bit of practice and creativity to best use. It can also counter Zenyatta’s ultimate and decrease all of the other healers’ effectiveness.
Sleep dart – Sleep dart will render an enemy useless as they lay on the ground for a few seconds. This can interrupt ultimate abilities or remove critical members from team fights, giving your team the advantage. It is very powerful, but requires some practice to use. It is also crucial that Ana and her teammates refrain from damaging the sleeping enemy or they will instantly get up. So try to avoid hitting the target unless it will be a killing blow.
Nano Boost – Ana’s ultimate gives an ally increased movement speed, damage resistance, and damage for a few seconds. This can win games when executed well, as it very possible to get a team kill off of a Nano Boost. Paired with ultimates or high DPS characters, a Nano Boosted ally that gets support from an Ana and a few teammates can wipe an entire team before it runs out. The trick to this is knowing who to give it to and letting them know before you hit them.
A decent Zenyatta will always have an orb of discord (which increases incoming damage from all sources by 50%) and an orb of harmony (which gives a slow heal over time) on an enemy and ally respectively. They will also stick to the back lines and fire speeding death balls at any enemies they can see, dealing crazy amounts of damage. Because Zenyatta is quite slow and has no movement abilities like Lucio or Mercy, this positioning and his lower health pool makes him vulnerable to flankers. Zenyatta relies on his team or his own ability to take out flankers to survive. If you are playing Zen, keep an eye out for enemies coming to get you, and try to get the drop on them. Even hitting them once before they get to you can give you the advantage you need to win the 1v1.
Zenyatta becomes even stronger when he is able to communicate to his team exactly where the discord orb is. Though the orb is visible to your team, it can be difficult to see. Calling out discord allows your team to focus targets and melt them, making a 6v6 a 6v5 rather quickly, giving your team the advantage in a fight. If you can’t call out discords, it can still be useful to try to discord enemies that are already taking damage from your team. High priority targets are also a good pick, as it is likely your team will already be trying to take them out. Zenyatta is particularly effective against tanks. Their health drains rather quickly under discord, and he can hit them even easier with his own attacks.
Zenyatta’s ultimate is a lot like Lucios in that it allows him to negate a great deal of enemy ultimates. However, Zenyatta’s Transcendence only lets him heal against sustained damage. High burst damage will not be interrupted by his ultimate, as it can out damage the healing. If you hear an enemy Pharah or Genji ulting, it would be a very good call to activate Transcendence. But, against D.Va or Junkrat, your ult will be wasted.
As the only non-healing suppport, Symmetra fills an interesting role. She will mostly want to set up in a room or around some cover that allows her to defend her teleporter and melt any enemies that get close enough for her primary weapon and turrets. It is rather simple and easy to pick up, with additional nuance developing as one fleshes out their skill with the hero. Set up turrets, get kills and do damage until your teleporter is available, and then hole up in a room killing as necessary and providing shields as your team respawns.
Because she is limited to dealing damage close range, and she has a lower health pool, Symmetra is best used when it is easier to lure enemies into areas she is already set up in. She also shines when her team has an awful long walk from spawn to their defense point. However, knowing when to pick her, and when to switch off from her, will help your team immensely. Due to her short range, she offers less DPS than many other characters, and does not bring the healing that other supports can. This does not make her useless by any means, it does, however, create a very particular time for her to shine.
Hopefully, this guide has given you everything you need to know to jump right in and try one of the Overwatch Support classes, Happy Healing…