Hey lads and lasses, Gangsir here.
I was talking to a friend who?s in high gold about supports in OW. He made the complaint that whenever he plays support, he feels like he has no real control or influence over how a match goes. He plays primarily DPS, but in games where a healer is needed, he usually flexes to healer.
I think a lot of people share his sentiment, that supports are ?spectators? of a match, and don?t really influence it. A support on your team will always output X amount of power, and if the rest of the team doesn?t provide enough, you lose.
This way of thinking is incorrect.
Most of you have probably heard the term ?healer?, and maybe use it interchangeably with support. The only?healer?in the game is Moira. The rest are?supports.?What?s the difference? A support?s purpose is to provide healing, yes, but also utility. You?cannotprovide just healing, unless you?re Moira. Just providing healing is referred to as ?being a healbot? by many high rank players. You can probably guess, but it?s a derogatory term.
If you?re being a healbot, then you?re putting everything up to your team. Your team has to put out the utility, the damage, basically the rest of your play, since you?re only gonna heal. This is why so many low rank supports feel that games are unstable and up to matchmaking, up to the skill of your DPS, etc, because they?re healbotting, hard. They have abilities, yes, but they either outright don?t use them, or use them without any sort of planning.
Playing support at non-metal ranks (Diamond and above) is?all?about getting out of the healbot mentality, and looking to use your abilities and damage to secure wins during teamfights. You have to do this, unless your team is already better than the enemy.
Supports are given powerful abilities with unique impact for a reason. There?s a reason why Ana?s anti-healing effect on her nade was given to her and not a DPS. There?s a reason why Lucio?s speed was given to him and not a tank. These abilities are how supports actually support. It?s not their healing. Their healing is just a nice side bonus. Overwatch does this to keep a counterbalance. DPS already have a ton of impact via their damage, so debuffs and destabilizers are given to supports, for the most part. (Sombra technically has a debuff, but she?s a support/DPS hybrid)
If you aren?t using a support?s utility, you aren?t playing as a full member of your team. If you?re just healbotting, you aren?t a support, because you aren?t?supporting?shit. You?re just healing, delaying the inevitable loss to a team with supports that are actually supporting. Supports are force multipliers, they take X amount of power or output from their team, and make it stronger. Damage boost is probably the most literal example of this, but non-damage related boosts are important too, like speed boost.
?But Gangsir, what if my team?s trash, and there?s no force to multiply??
There will always be force to multiply, so long as your team isn?t all hard throwing in spawn. If your team is on the weaker side, then you need to amplify your multiplier. As an arbitrary analogy, 1000 can be reached by 500?2, or 4?250. If your team is weaker, you need to increase how much support you contribute, and seek to boost the biggest power outputter on your team. You need to be trying to help people as much as you can, and trust your team.
I do this on Ana, and did this as I was climbing up through plat and gold, to where I am now in Diamond. I look for people that look like they have a plan, and pocket them, saying that I?m doing so. I?ll say stuff like ?Pocketing Zarya, finish your grav? or ?I got you genji, keep fighting?. This accomplishes two things:
- Communicates who I?m focusing heals on, so they know they can go harder than normal
- Explains why others aren?t receiving heals
And that?s just for healing. For my damage, I?ll look to create openings. For example, if I?m ana and I notice the enemy Ana?s exposed, I?ll tag her a few times to bait out her nade, then call ?Ana no nade top left, dive Ana?.?This kind of thing will work in almost any SR.?Don?t think that you have to be a high rank to make comms like this. In my experience a solid 70% of tanks will go with a plan that?s given to them. If you say ?dive X?, and they weren?t already going to dive a better target, they?ll do what you say. Hell, this works in reverse, too. If you tell me ?keep me up? or ?heal Genji? (preferably use your hero name) I?m going to instantly pocket you, no questions asked. Just make sure when you do this that it?s actually an opening,?not just what you want to happen.
?Bu-but Gangsir, what if my team doesn?t go for the openings I?m making??
You?re making invalid openings. My ana example doesn?t work if there?s nobody who can actually dive her, or if she?s being guarded by an anti-dive hero. Try to make a different opening. Maybe try to anti their rein, then call ?rein can?t heal, push him hard?.
Just keep trying until your team takes one.
I?ve had tons of games where someone said ?Zen anti-ed in their backline?, but he was out of line of sight of all our DPS, we had no dive, etc, so nobody could do anything about it. Make sure that things you do are actually openings.
You can adapt this concept to any support. The key thing is to make openings and chips in the armor of the enemy with your abilities and damage, so your DPS and tanks can take advantage. Then, heal them. Making openings should be priority 1, since without those, healing doesn?t matter. It just delays the inevitable loss.
Too many supports get told ?don?t DPS, just focus on healing?. This is a well-intentioned message, meant to stop people from playing support and never healing, but it leads to the healbot mindset. A better phrase would be ?Make sure your application of damage would quickly and directly result in advantage going towards your team?, but that?s too long to write on a coffee mug.
I play supports like opportunistic DPS, especially when I play Ana or Zen. I?ll be on Ana, healing and all that, but as soon as I see someone I can pressure or contest, I will. Enemy supports are a big one (I?ve had a zen complain that I was killing him more than our tracer), but also enemy DPS, provided I have advantage (aka not trying to contest snipers, but I?ll shoot at a junkrat).
I do this quickly, and that?s part of the trick. You can?t spend a ton of time purely focused on damaging as you?ll fall behind on healing. I?m talking more so a few shots, as a form of pressure. A sort of ?Yeah, I can see you, correct your positioning? type of thing. If I get someone low with my potshots I?ll call them out.
I?ll also put damage onto enemies in 1v1 scenarios with my team. If my genji?s trying to take out someone, I?ll alternate shots between healing the genji and putting damage onto his target, instead of just pocketing the genji fully. This makes him finish the fight faster, getting his dash reset faster, and reducing the amount of time I have to spend healing him. It also makes him less likely to die, as it confuses the target he?s after. (?Wait, Ana?s shooting me too!??)
Anyway, my point is that going for damage onto people as supports can be really effective, provided you do it properly, when you?re able to, and you don?t put yourself at risk doing it. Do it right, and your team might not even notice. Hell, they might even notice, and thank you for your help.
A team that still has their supports will almost never lose to a team without their supports. Supports are extremely important to have, probably even more so than tanks. I?ve won plenty of games with 4 DPS and two healers. I can?t remember ever winning a game with only DPS and tanks. Most of the time, games are won based on how long supports stay alive, more than most other factors. (Uncontested free-healing supports dramatically increase the holding power of a team)
If you aren?t the last person to die, you basically guarantee the deaths of everyone after you. A major win condition for the enemy team is to consistently and regularly take you out, as from then on, your team can just be out-resourced until they die.
Thus, your top priority as healer is to make sure you stay alive, for as long as you can. Take?safe positioning, stay where your team can help you, use your abilities to save yourself first instead of using them on your team or offensively, etc.
I can?t tell you how many VODs of supports I?ve watched where I?ve watched them get shot low, and keep using their abilities offensively/on their team (like throwing nade at someone else instead of healing yourself, when there?s no other way for you to regain health) and just being like: ?Whelp, you?re dead.? and then the enemy comes and kills them shortly after.
Keep yourself alive first, because you?re a source of infinite healing. Once you die, you output no healing. Going from ?full normal healing? to ?no healing at all? crushes teams. It?s always better to play safer and stay alive, even if it means only outputting partial heals.