Overwatch: Support Woes

Overwatch is an online team-based first-person shooter in which players must work together as a team to secure the match objective.  There are three primary match types (assault, escort, control) that take place on several different maps, as well as, hybrid matches for select maps which incorporate aspects of the primary match types.  In order for teams to be successful, they need to form a cohesive group comprised of tanks, supports and damage dealers.  While there are certain heroes that are deemed superior to others within their classification, any combination can be successful.  Among the classifications, it has been my experience that “support” is, more often than not, the most frustrating to play.

The reason for this is that support heroes, excluding Symmetra, are priority targets for the opposing team and are very reliant on others to be successful.  Obviously, there are players who are skilled enough to dominate a match no matter the hero or class, but we are discussing the average player as that fits the majority of those who play Overwatch on both PC and console.  In the lower competitive tiers of Overwatch, which I consider to be Bronze through Platinum, if the assault heroes are incapable of quickly killing the enemy in a team fight or the tanks are more reckless and less protective, the matches become very difficult.  Similar could be said about playing a tank or assault; however, an average player in those roles is often more capable of protecting themselves, either by properly selecting the battles they will fight or by playing defensively.  Support heroes do not often have that luxury.  The enemy and your team often dictate the engagements, and even if you remain close to your teammates, you are still reliant on their ability to quickly eliminate the opposition.

For those who are thinking that this seems a bit of a one-sided view, allow me to clarify my meaning.  Overwatch is not your typical MMO triad of Tank, Healer, DPS, though each hero does fall into those particular categories at times, there is only a handful that falls firmly into those categories, while the others are a bit more flexible in how they can be played.  For instance, Winston is a “tank” hero who has the ability to harass the enemy backline by jumping over their defenses and directly onto their support heroes, and then jumping back toward his team and providing “tank” support.  If you are playing as support and an enemy Winston jumps on top of you, you will have limited options depending on the situation and the support hero you are playing.  However, given equally matched players, the Winston will likely kill you before you can kill him, so fighting is often futile.  You could try to outrun him, but Winston is a mobile character with an auto-aim weapon, so even moving erratically won’t completely save you and you’re unlikely to outrun him if he’s persistent.  So, that leaves you with having to rely on your team to react appropriately and focus the Winston to either force him to leave through damage or come protect you from the damage as best they can.  The other heroes within the non-support classes are better equipped for such a situation, though there are a few exceptions.

Now, this is not a rant to discredit what the other classes bring to the game, on the contrary, I am saying that non-support classes are more important than some may believe.  Support heroes are there to try and keep a team alive; however, tanks and damage classes have to perform their primary roles while also ensuring that their supports are protected.  Make no mistake each team will need the correct combination of heroes in order to be consistently successful; however, even selecting the best hero for each role pales in comparison to properly playing each hero and supporting your team as you should.  Maybe I am slightly off-base with my opinions, but as someone who played primarily as either tank or assault through the first two competitive seasons and then switched to support in the current season, my thoughts reflect my experiences.  Playing as tank and assault during the first two seasons, I always felt like I had some control over the outcome of the match, whether it be killing Genji with Winston as he dashed into our backline or picking Pharah out of the skies with McCree, I always felt that if I just worked a little harder or made fewer mistakes I could make a difference.  In the current season, as a support, it feels more like walking a tightrope during a hurricane.

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