Showing Support[s].

From rumoured $20 million franchise buy-ins, to a brand new stadium in Los Angeles, it’s clear Blizzard want eSports and the Overwatch League to be big. For all that investment to be justified they will need to grow their audience beyond the people who traditionally watch eSports. This is going to be challenging if those involved continue to focus the eSports experience primarily on DPS heroes and twitch skill.

The preseason exhibition matches for the Overwatch League have recently concluded. Mercy has become a staple of the meta, and with a few exceptions every match saw two of the six players on each team playing a support hero. Still the majority of coverage was focused on the DPS heroes, with in some cases an entire game being shown exclusively from the perspective of a single player on Widowmaker.

Overwatch is a popular game, 35 million players and counting. An undeniable aspect of its success is the game’s roster of heroes, and the varied play styles they support. Heroes that don’t require pure twitch skill are popular due to their characterisation, while their design means they can be played at a high level by those lacking a history with first-person shooters. From fandom to the game itself, tank and support characters are a big part of Overwatch‘s appeal. It’s clear that many in the community prefer to play these roles, and don’t want to focus exclusively on killing members of the opposing team.

A frequent topic in the Overwatch community is the state of Mercy. Her ability to Resurrect dead heroes – bringing them back into the fight – is inherently difficult to balance. The argument as it pertains to eSports is that this ability makes the game “boring”, diminishing the impact of individual kills. This speaks to the assumption underlying a lot of the Mercy discourse: good support play simply isn’t entertaining, only killing is. This is often broadened to suggest that only skilled plays by DPS heroes are what the audience care about.

Character defining ability, or over-powered crutch? Mercy’s Resurrect can undo other skilled plays, and will therefore always be contentious.

My first experience watching any eSport was Overwatch, with season 2 of OGN’s APEX tournament. I was lucky in that this tournament featured not only Ryu “Ryujehong” Je-Hong’s incredible Ana, but also some amazing Reinhardt play from Ryu “KAISER” Sang-hoon. Both of these players weren’t simply playing well, they were shown to be playing well. The broadcasts stayed with them, showing what skilled support and tank play looks like. I’d played several hours of Ana before watching Ryujehong play, after seeing his positioning in fights, and ability to fire off life saving Sleep Darts all I wanted to do when I played was focus on getting better at Ana; I now have ~60 hours of playtime with her. I’d always enjoyed playing Reinhardt; my twitch skills aren’t what they once were, but the sheer number of hours I’ve spent playing first-person shooters means my game sense is still strong. Watching KAISER I saw immediate ways to improve my own Reinhardt play, and was able to gain an understanding of exactly what being a “good tank” meant.

If I’d not seen these players showing off high level play on heroes I cared about I doubt I’d have become as invested in the game as I have. If Blizzard want Overwatch eSports to reach as large an audience as possible, they should look to the reasons the game is already popular: the variety of heroes and play styles it offers.

During the 2017 Overwatch World Cup, South Korea’s Mercy player Yang “Tobi” Jin-mo was consistently able to find ways to Resurrect players the commentators had already decided he’d never be able to reach. Time and again Tobi was somehow able to reach flankers and tanks that had died in dangerous positions and revive them, turning the tide of fights, and in no small way contributing to South Korea’s eventual World Cup success. I say “somehow” because not a single one of these was shown on the broadcast. Nor were they the subject of a post game slow-motion analysis, despite these tools being explicitly added to allow for replays of vital moments that would otherwise have been missed. A big part of South Korea’s ability to keep fighting simply got no coverage. How many Mercy players might have discovered a favourite player if Tobi’s skills had been given time on screen? How many might have become more invested in Overwatch as a game and an eSport by watching a hero they cared about played at a professional level?

Watching highly skilled players on “your” hero is inspiring, joyous. Not only does it encourage you to keep watching, it also feeds back into the game, increasing your desire to play with that hero. Players willing and able to play tanks and supports are vital to the sustainability of the Overwatch community. Blizzard and those involved in the Overwatch League can help encourage those players by highlighting skilled tank and support play, and not assuming that twitch skills are the only aspects of the game the audience care about.

OGN APEX Season 4 Final.

On October 21st newcomers GC Busan faced season 2 runners up RunAway in the OGN APEX Season 4 final.

If you haven’t already I’d recommend reading our introduction to each of the teams.

The APEX Season 4 final is a best of seven series following the format of: Control, Hybrid, Assault, Escort, Assault, Escort, Hybrid. With the exception of the first map – which is randomly selected – the losing team chooses the next map from the available pool. This series was played on the 1.14 patch, post-Junkrat changes, but before the Mercy and D.Va reworks, and without Junkertown.

Map 1 Control:

  • Nepal – Sanctum

Despite the majority of this map taking place inside GC Busan chose to bring out the Pharmercy with Hooreg and HaGoPeun. Sticking to their dive composition that had worked so well for them in the semi-final, RunAway enter the first fight with no direct answer to Hooreg’s Pharah, and suffered for it. Unwilling to switch their heroes, as it would mean the loss of KoX’s Zenyatta, the targeted Defence Matrix use of JJANU on the D.Va simply isn’t enough to mitigate the incoming damage from GC Busan.

JJANU’s self-destruct kill onto HaGoPuen’s Mercy with 91% accrued for GC Busan finally allow RunAway to take the point. Pushing their opposition back to their spawn area, for a moment it looks like they might be able to hold on. In the end RunAway simply didn’t have the ultimates to keep up their defence, and even a late game switch to Soldier 76 for KoX isn’t enough to keep them in the fight. GC Busan take the first map.

  • Nepal – Shrine

Sticking with what worked, it’s Pharmercy again for GC Busan. Pharah has always been powerful on open maps like Shrine and RunAway’s stubborn adherence to a Genji, Tracer DPS combo seems like a mistake. That is until KoX takes Hooreg out of the sky with a headshot from his Zenyatta.

Unfortunately, off the point, Profit is winning the Tracer battle against Stitch, and GC Busan take control.

With over 50% given over, Haksal kills Hooreg baiting out HaGoPeun’s ultimate. During the resurrect animation Haksal draws his Dragonblade striking down HaGoPeun, Closer on the Lucio, and the just resurrected Hooreg. Still it’s not quite enough. Profit takes out Haksal before falling to a self-destruct from JJANU and eventually the tank line of RunAway, supported by some outstanding play by Stitch allow them to take control with 80% already on the board for GC Busan.

Bumper keeps fellow support KoX alive in the face of an aggressive Profit, but they are pushed off the point and GC Busan are able to build up to 99% before RunAway can retake. Their opponents now entrenched on the point, GCBusan’s flex-DPS Hooreg brings out the Doomfist – a hero he made a name for himself on earlier in the season.

At 99% to 99% Haksal once more triggers his Dragonblade, slicing through Gesture’s Winston and dashing forward to engage Hooreg. A Rocket Punch pushes him away, unfortunately for GC Busan Haksal was the right hook when they should have been looking out for the left jab. Stitch comes in taking out Hooreg and Closer, before finishing up HaGoPeun.

RunAway take Shrine and already it’s clear this series isn’t going to be over any time soon.

  • Nepal – Village

Village has always been a popular map for Pharmercy, and having already run it twice GC Busan see no reason to change now. Again, a headshot from KoX takes out Hooreg’s Pharah, and again it’s not enough to secure the point.

The layout of Village means that while on defence the Pharah has relatively free reign, any attempt to attack the point itself require a descent to nearly ground level. It’s exactly this situation that RunAway attempt to exploit, Stitch and Haksal rushing in to initiate a capture, drawing GC Busan into an engage. The rest of RunAway are not far behind, covered by the Transcendence healing of KoX. Hooreg drops out of the sky and uses his Rocket Barrage to try and deal with the members of RunAway. This makes him a static target, a well-timed Deflect from Haksal sees a good portion of the Rocket Barrage damage directed back. JJANU has already dropped his self-destruct and manages to finish off Hooreg while out of his mech

Seconds later the self-destruct kills HaGoPeun before he can use his own ultimate, and RunAway finally take the point with 99% already conceded to GC Busan.

65% to RunAway and a second Rocket Barrage from Hooreg takes out several members, JJANU responds with another self-destruct but a beautifully placed Barrier Projector bubble from a mid-leap Gesture contains it. GC Busan are the only ones left alive, and a trickle of RunAway members aren’t enough to successfully contest.

Village, and the first game go to GC Busan.

Map 2 Hybrid:

  • Hollywood

As the losers of the first game RunAway choose Hollywood for their Hybrid map. GC Busan defend first, using a high ground defence with Hooreg on Soldier 76.

Stitch’s Tracer is spotted during an attempted flank but RunAway look like they’ve found an opening of their own when Hooreg drops to the low ground. Diving on him RunAway are suddenly caught out as the rest of GC Busan counter-dive, trapping them in a corridor and wiping them out.

Despite it not being their choice, GC Busan clearly have a plan for this map and they are executing it perfectly. RunAway are starting to look out of their depth.

The upper floor of the café beside the point is the primary place from which support players like HaGoPeun can watch over their team. Coming in for another push and Stitch is able to use Tracer’s superior speed and movement abilities to get into the ground floor of the café without being spotted. He takes out HaGoPeun’s Zenyatta, while TiZi coming in after him is able to deal with Hooreg. A Pulse Bomb kill by Stitch onto Gesture takes GC Busan’s Winston out of the fight and RunAway are able to secure the capture and start the payload moving.

Denying GC Busan the time to form a cohesive defence RunAway’s constant aggression allow them to push rapidly to the second point at the studio doors.

Moving inside and Stitch definitively wins the Tracer battle taking out Closer, Hooreg, and Gesture. Keeping up the aggression he accidentally pulls off what might be the first example of a zoning Pulse Bomb, a missed throw nevertheless driving GC Busan into a corner where Haksal is waiting with a Dragonblade.

Pure aggression wins out and RunAway complete the push on Hollywood with nearly two minutes on the clock.


On defence RunAway stick with their dive composition, while GC Busan modify theirs to allow Hooreg to play the Sombra.

After a couple of tentative attacks, Hooreg gets an early EMP and uses it immediately. The resulting team fight is messy and GC Busan lose both Hooreg and Profit, but their tanks are able to stick it out and they take the first third of the control meter. RunAway have never been one to give away the point easily and Bumper drops his Sound Barrier to contest, unfortunately it’s too late for TiZi’s Winston. With one tank down GC Busan make short work of the rest of the defenders and take the point with a forty second lead on RunAway’s time.

RunAway commit to contesting every single meter. The results are messy, uncoordinated, successful. The timer draining with every fight. Eventually RunAway are forced back into the studio to regroup. What looks like some breathing room for GC Busan suddenly turns into another fight however as the six members of RunAway all dive back in. At this stage RunAway is not so much a team as six individual players all out to do as much damage as possible. It works.

Hooreg miss throws his Translocator and can’t get away from JJANU’s self-destruct, Haksal draws the Dragonblade, Stitch and KoX take down Gesture, and Bumper finishes off WOOHYAL. RunAway are able to stop the payload barely four meters from the studio doors.

GC Busan have two minutes left, and aren’t out of it yet.

Sneaking around one of the flanks, Hooreg targets the opposing Zenyatta with his EMP and takes him out immediately. Without a Transcendence to provide sustained healing on the side of RunAway this is GC Busan’s fight. Their coordination is just better; their target selection cleaner. They take the fight and push on through the studio doors.

Inside it’s another fight, and another EMP from Hooreg that once again sees KoX go down. This is a far cry from the KoX whose Transcendence timing were so good against Hooreg’s Sombra the last time they faced each. A follow up self-destruct by WOOHYAL takes out Haksal and JJANU’s mech. GC Busan keep the push going.

Scant meters from the end and RunAway stabilise through solid plays by Haksal and Stitch. Now GC Busan have little time remaining, and few ultimates to work with.

Working himself around behind GC Busan Stitch misses his Pulse Bomb, his teammate JJANU however doesn’t miss with his self-destruct and takes out both tanks and the Lucio.

Another messy team fight follows, GC Busan come out on top, finishing their push in overtime meaning RunAway only need to take one third of the initial point (one tick) to win the game.


On the attack again and Stitch gets spotted attempting to flank causing Profit to chase him down. Hit by an Orb of Discord from HaGoPeun, Stitch takes a lot of damage and looks to be trying to disengage. Profit follow him back around to point and straight into the rest of RunAway. JJANU’s Defence Matrix keeps Stitch alive while he melee kills Profit. Haksal cuts down Gesture and HaGoPeun. RunAway take the point, winning Hollywood and tying the series.

Map 3 Assault:

  • Hanamura

It’s GC Busan’s map selection, and wanting to avoid RunAway’s favoured Temple of Anubis they instead choose Hanamura. On the defence first, they opt for a long-range composition with Hooreg on the Soldier 76 and HaGoPeun on the Ana. This will allow them to stand further back and cover their tank line from the elevated positions around the point.

Sticking with what worked on Hollywood it’s another dive composition for RunAway. Through the main doors and around to the right RunAway use the cover provided by the building there to scout out GC Busan’s positioning. Rushing out again TiZi is able to take down his Winston counterpart Gesture and initiate a push onto the point. The following team fight sees GC Busan forced to attack down toward their own point. A fraught situation and one that eventually works out in RunAway’s favour.

Resetting on point B, Closers switches from the Lucio to Zenyatta, with HaGoPeun remaining on the Ana. The dispersed positioning needed to defend point B, along with the longer sightlines mean targeted healing is more reliable than the auras provided by Lucio. This support combination also means GC Busan will have both a defensive (Transcendence) and an offensive (Nano Boost) ultimate to work with.

With their ultimate advantage RunAway attempt to snowball their momentum into a rapid capture of point B. HaGoPeun hits a Sleep Dart onto Haksal before he can draw the Dragonblade allowing WOOHYAL to finish him off before he can do any damage.

The next few minutes devolve into one extended fight as RunAway are unable to gain a big enough advantage to secure the point, but are also unwilling to retreat and regroup either. GC Busan win out in the end, through some brilliantly thrown Biotic Grenades from HaGoPeun, and a Nano Boosted Tracer.

Half their time gone RunAway eventually pull back to properly regroup, only for their next push to be thwarted by a Nano Boosted Winston. GC Busan are holding, and doing so with very few ultimates expended.

Several attempts later a Dragonblade from Haksal and smart Winston play from TiZi see RunAway break apart the defence for long enough to take the point.

Hooreg switches again for GC Busan’s attack, opting for McCree hoping to deal damage at range and rely on his Flashbang to counter Haksal’s Genji.

GC Busan get onto the point early but at the expense of Gesture on Winston. With Profit also down, they don’t have the numbers to win a team fight so pull back. Their next few attempts are held off by RunAway until Profit is able to get a double kill onto TiZi and JJANU. The support duo of RunAway does their best to contest, but it’s a losing battle. GC Busan take point A, albeit with a smaller time bank to work with.


As with GC Busan on the defence, RunAway take this opportunity to change their support composition. KoX stays on the Zenyatta and surprisingly it’s Bumper who switches onto the Ana.

With both support ultimates ready GC Busan push in hard on point B, Profit diving into the backline in what turns out to be a futile attempt to take out Bumper’s Ana. KoX drops the Transcendence to help RunAway win the fight.

With just over two and a half minutes remaining Profit and Hooreg take out the tanks of RunAway and it looks like GC Busan are going to capture the point. Seeing a low health Stitch drop down toward the health pack below the bridge onto point B Hooreg follow him, throwing a Flashbang at his expected position. A smart play that Stitch saw coming. He’d held back rather than go directly for the health pack, coming in seconds later as the Flashbang is detonating to kill Hooreg.

Just a minute remaining for GC Busan, and Hooreg has switched onto the Soldier 76. They are able to force out a Transcendence from KoX and go into for the capture knowing that HaGoPeun has his own ready. Hooreg drops his Biotic Field on the point, only for it to be negated immediately by a Biotic Grenade from Bumper. Seconds later HaGoPeun initiates his Transcendence, but the heal ban from the Biotic Grenade is still in effect and they are pushed back.

Fifteen seconds to go and Gesture is blown up by Stitch’s Pulse Bomb while Hooreg’s Tactical Visor ultimate ends as he’s killed by KoX from the far side of the point. Haksal draws his Dragonblade to take out WOOHYAL and there’s no time left for GC Busan.

RunAway take Hanamura and a two to one lead.

Map 4 Escort:

  • Watchpoint: Gibraltar

Another win for RunAway, another map selection for GC Busan this time around it’s Watchpoint: Gibraltar. A common map in western Overwatch tournaments it’s a rare sight in Korea.

After back to back losses GC Busan change up their DPS roles. Profit moves onto the Genji while Hooreg takes over Tracer duties; they’re looking to compete with RunAway’s DPS duo like for like.

Attack Widowmaker is a common sight on Watchpoint: Gibraltar, for RunAway that means KoX. They sacrifice the support provided by his Zenyatta in the hope of rapid kills to clear the way and get the payload moving. With Widowmaker pressuring GC Busan from the front Stitch is able to get around behind them and take out HaGoPeun on the Ana. Whatever GC Busan’s plan is, it doesn’t appear to be working.

High above the hanger floor, a fight atop the shuttle sees RunAway forcing GC Busan to fall back. All the while Bumper remains on the ground keeping the payload moving to point B.

Now able to mount a static defence GC Busan stabilise. Holding off RunAway again and again. The proximity of their spawn room, combined with the high healing output of both Closer’s Lucio and HaGoPeun’s Ana mean that no matter how much damage RunAway are able to do it just isn’t enough.

Compared to Haksal, in a straight fight Profit is the less capable Genji. GC Busan know this, so they ensure he never engages without protection. A Nano Boosted Dragonblade, a triple kill and GC Busan’s decision to go to Watchpoint: Gibraltar starts to look justified.

Separately both Haksal and Stitch attempt to dive HaGoPeun and shutdown GC Busan’s burst healing. Both times they are driven back, Biotic Grenades and intelligence positioning keeping Ana in the fight. Unable to deal with the constantly healed tanks of GC Busan, RunAway just can’t find a way through. The timer runs out without a full completion.


Profit teases his own Windowmaker before reverting to the Genji, HaGoPeun is back on the Zenyatta making it dive vs dive for GC Busan’s attack.

Constant pressure forces RunAway onto the low ground where a Sound Barrier from Closer gives Profit the protection he needs to take out Bumper and JJANU with a Dragonblade. Confronting the chaotic aggression of RunAway with their own more focused attack sees GC Busan rapidly take point A, then keep the fight going into the hanger. Constant harassment from Profit, Hooreg, and WOOHYAL deny RunAway the time they need to set up a defence on the high ground.

Caught by both WOOHYAL and Profit inside the shuttle, Haksal somehow manages to escape and return to his team. KoX’s Transcendence restores him to full health and a Dragonblade causes GC Busan to pull back granting RunAway their first team fight win of this round.

GC Busan seem to be learning from RunAway and don’t allow them any time to recover, immediately diving back in with a Transcendence of their own. Under the constant healing of the Zenyatta ultimate Gesture and WOOHYAL are able to wipe out most of RunAway, letting GC Busan take point B.

A potential miscommunication on the part of RunAway sees them all rush back in after the point has already been secured. KoX uses his Transcendence in a fight they are forced to retreat from, and now they are down a vital support ultimate with Profit’s Dragonblade ready to be drawn against them.

Bumper drops his Sound Barrier too early, and now with no support ultimates to buy time RunAway struggle to mount a defence. Haksal tries to initiate a fight back only to be ruthlessly targeted by nearly every member of GC Busan.

RunAway have run out of time and space. GC Busan are able to push to completion, bringing the series to a draw once again.

Map 5 Assault:

  • Temple of Anubis

RunAway’s consistent performance on Temple of Anubis over this season mean it was always going to be their map selection.

On attack GC Busan open with Profit back on the Tracer and Hooreg on the Widowmaker, though the latter initially decides to advance on the low ground rather than adopting the usual sniping position onto the top of the arches. The damage threat from the Widowmaker sends RunAway into the buildings around the point to take cover. Close confines that allow Gesture’s Winston free reign to do damage. The members of RunAway fall rapidly as GC Busan take the first point after a single fight.

Immediately KoX swaps off the Zenyatta for Sombra, he wants to get the health packs around point B hacked as soon as possible, setting himself up for an EMP based defence.

On the GC Busan side Hooreg switches the Widowmaker to the Doomfist looking to get in close and deal with Haksal’s Genji. In what looks like it might be a repeat of their initial attack, GC Busan capture two thirds of point B during a single drawn out fight before RunAway are able to take down HaGoPeun and Hooreg. With the large health pack closest to the point hacked by KoX, Profit has to retreat from the fight allowing RunAway to recover.

His EMP available KoX sneaks around in an attempt to catch HaGoPeun with it, draining his shields and making him an easy target. Unfortunately for RunAway WOOHYAL is ready, body blocking the incoming fire and driving KoX back.

While RunAway are trying to engage GC Busan in the doorway Profit has already snuck around to the point and comes close to completing the final third necessary for a full capture. He’s waiting for KoX as he Translocates back from his failed EMP attempt, and quickly takes him out. Only the return of JJANU on the D.Va is enough to make Profit withdraw.

Another attack from GC Busan, another attempt from KoX to EMP HaGoPeun in the back line. This time he’s stopped by Gesture on the Winston. This tactic from KoX might have worked against GC Busan earlier in the season, but they aren’t going to fall for it again.

A Meteor Strike initiated attack from Hooreg’s Doomfist extends into an all-out brawl on the point that sees GC Busan finally capturing it with just shy of a minute and a half remaining.


Temple of Anubis was RunAway’s map selection because of their tried and tested attack strategy with KoX on the Reaper. Usually reserved for point B, they bring decide to bring it out here for the initial attack. Bumper speed boosts KoX onto the point where he’s protected by the tanks of TiZi and JJANU. GC Busan are caught between Stitch on the Widowmaker and the close-range damage of Genji and Reaper. Much as GC Busan did themselves, RunAway take point A in with a single fight.

Bumper has built his ultimate, and KoX is over half way to his own by the time they push onward to the point B, and it looks like it’ll be taken just as quickly. A Sound Barrier from Bumper helps get them onto the point and they start to capture it, but they just can’t finish off the members of GC Busan quickly enough. RunAway’s healing is gone after WOOHYAL manages to take out Bumper. Soon after TiZi falls to HaGoPeun, now on the Sombra.

With each failed attack the desperation builds for RunAway. KoX wastes his Death Blossom away from the point to kill Hooreg’s Tracer, and Stitch misses a Pulse Bomb stick onto Gesture.

Two and a half minutes to go and RunAway finally get back on the point, but they just can’t kill Closer. Wall riding around the point, only to come back in from the other side with his Sound Barrier ready just as the rest of his team are rejoining fight. RunAway get pushed back yet again.

Having hacked every health pack around the point HaGoPeun’s EMP is available for almost every fight and his targeting is much better than KoX’s, as is his teams coordinated response to it. RunAway’s attacks are shut down time and time again.

At the very last-minute Profit swaps onto the Bastion whose pure sustained damage is just too much for RunAway to handle. They can’t complete the point B capture. GC Busan take Temple of Anubis, and a three to two lead.

Map 6 Escort:

  • Dorado

Given GC Busan’s long range hitscan skill and comfort with Pharah, Dorado is a surprise selection for RunAway. Though their only other option is Route 66, a map against which GC Busan defeated them the last time they faced each other.

GC Busan on attack first, and it’s another full dive composition for both teams.

Back on the Zenyatta for RunAway, KoX gets a headshot onto Hooreg during a flank attempt, while JJANU takes out Gesture halting GC Busan’s first push.

Stitch goes for his own flank attempt, and manages to stick WOOHYAL’s mech with a Pulse Bomb. The play was good but the D.Va’s response makes it even better for RunAway. Dropping off the high ground to get away from the Tracer, WOOHYAL instead carries the Pulse Bomb directly into the path of his own Zenyatta, and HaGoPeun is out of the fight.

Over half the time has gone and the payload still isn’t even close to point A.

A Transcendence push from GC Busan, leads to duelling self-destructs from WOOHYAL and JJANU, but it’s Profit’s Dragonblade that does the necessary work taking out JJANU’s mech and letting his team push to point A.

Once more RunAway refuse to give up any distance. They immediately reengage with a Transcendence of their own. Under its protection TiZi and Stitch take out the supports of GC Busan and they have to regroup.

Stitch is on a mission to deal with Gesture’s Winston, another Pulse Bomb stick takes out the GC Busan tank and leads to another fight win for RunAway. It’s a short-lived victory however as the GC Busan spawn room is just around the corner and Gesture is back in the fight within twenty seconds.

Bumper and KoX keep each other alive in the face of an aggressive dive from Hooreg and Gesture, though in doing so they have to retreat from the payload and GC Busan are able to get it moving up.

Stalled just inside the power plant beyond point B, Profit dives in with a Dragonblade that’s completely negated by KoX’s Transcendence. Haksal on the other hand, supported by TiZi, has the space to take out both Closer and HaGoPeun. There’s barely twenty seconds left and GC Busan just can’t find a way in.

Closer manages to get back and contest but his wall rides take him too high, the overtime meter drops down rapidly and RunAway hold GC Busan half way to the final point.


Mirrored compositions again with Profit trying to prove his worth on the Genji. Initially he does with a double kill onto JJANU and Stitch, before slicing through Haksal’s Genji. The rest of GC Busan are trading kills back and forth and the payload stalls out briefly under the arches into the market place.

RunAway maintain the pressure, and a Sound Barrier from Bumper sees them dive in, catching their opponents in one of the side rooms. Stitch and TiZi make short work of GC Busan and it’s a full team kill for RunAway; the first of the series.

Mid-team fight Stitch lands a Pulse Bomb onto a Primal Raging Gesture and JJANU finishes him off. Another Sound Barrier from Bumper helps RunAway continue their push. The coordination of GC Busan is starting to fall apart.

Closing on point B and again Stitch lands a Pulse Bomb onto Gesture, taking the Winston out of the fight. With a man advantage, TiZi uses his own Primal Rage to clean up the rest of GC Busan and point B goes to RunAway with four minutes left to push the payload just over fifty meters.

Profit draws his Dragonblade managing to kill Bumper through the extra shielding of his Sound Barrier, only for TiZi to leap on him and take him out of the fight.

Less than ten meters to go.

Profit changes to the Soldier 76 to try and deal with the members of RunAway from range only to be spotted by Stitch who harasses him, driving him back toward his spawn room.

With nobody to contest RunAway push the payload past the point that GC Busan reached to win Dorado. The series is tied once more and it’s going to the seventh map.

Map 7 Hybrid:

  • Eichenwalde

The mind games are in full force now as GC Busan pick Eichenwalde the site of RunAway’s game seven defeat against Lunatic-Hai in the season 2 final. On the attack first GC Busan are looking to not only defeat RunAway on Eichenwalde, but do so playing their opponents favoured dive composition.

It’s an aggressive first push by GC Busan, one that highlights how well Gesture is able to deploy his Barrier Projectors to protect his team. It’s his opposing number on Winston who goes down first, TiZi focused down with an Orb of Discord that allows Hooreg’s Tracer to secure the kill.

Even with their main tank down RunAway are able to win this first fight killing the GC Busan supports and forcing a retreat with no capture percentage accrued.

Profit gets into the backline with a Dragonblade and takes out KoX and Bumper, while at almost exactly the same moment Haksal is doing the same to his own supports, HaGoPeun and Closer going down.

With both support duos gone it’s GC Busan who managed to come out ahead. JJANU tries to hold the point for RunAway as long as he can, using his Defence Matrix to keep himself alive while he buys time for his team to rejoin the fight. In the end it’s just not enough and GC Busan complete the capture and start their push toward the castle.

The gates open, Gesture leaps up onto the battlements to take the high ground, only to land in the middle of the now regrouped RunAway. Unwilling to use his Primal Rage he drops back to the low ground and the safety of HaGoPeun’s Transcendence. Profit draws his Dragonblade again, finding nothing and protected by a Sound Barrier RunAway push GC Busan back.

Onto the bridge and TiZi triggers his Primal Rage leaping into the GC Busan backline to disrupt. At the other end of the bridge Profit is forced away by JJANU, only to be chased down by Stitch before he can find a health pack. Having won the fight, RunAway aggressively dive forward, JJANU providing cover for Stitch as he takes on the retreating members of GC Busan chasing them all the way back to their spawn room.

Down to thirty seconds, GC Busan choose to take the long way around. Profit dashing forward to keep the payload moving while his team engage. RunAway predictably dive in to counter attack, only for Closer to push both Stitch and TiZi off the side of the map. Suddenly everybody on RunAway is down and GC Busan have pushed right to the doors.

It’s Dragonblade verses Dragonblade in the castle, a brilliantly timed Sound Barrier from Closer means Profit comes out on top with two kills, while Haksal can’t find anything.

A last second dual kill self-destruct from JJANU looks like it might give RunAway some space, but it’s just not enough. GC Busan complete the push in overtime. RunAway will need a full push of their own or it’s all over.


On defence HaGoPeun and Closer have consistently provided the solid support backline that GC Busan need. It’s going to be a tough fight for RunAway, especially amidst the memories of what happened to them on this very map in season 2.

The first fight goes to GC Busan. RunAway’s second push has to be abandoned immediately when a perfect Pulse Bomb from Hooreg hits both Bumper and KoX. A third fight and Profit’s Dragonblade carves through the supports or RunAway, Bumper and KoX are down again and shortly after it’s a full team kill for GC Busan.

Half their time gone and RunAway have nothing to show for it.

As both support ultimates have been used GC Busan are at a disadvantage in the next fight and though Haksal goes down early RunAway are able to take the point. A miss-timed contest attempt by GC Busan nearly ends in tragedy for them, but they are able to get out again quickly once they realise their mistake.

As the payload rolls through the doors GC Busan initiate a dive from the high ground into the clustered members of RunAway. Sticth finds a perfect position but doesn’t have the Pulse Bomb ready to exploit it, fortunately Haksal is there and his Dragonblade does what Stitch couldn’t.

Halfway to the bridge and a targeted dive from GC Busan allows Profit to take out KoX, he then dies to JJANU but his job is done. With one support player out of the fight RunAway must disengage.

GC Busan now are following RunAway’s example and contesting every meter, draining the timer down no matter the cost. They push RunAway back to their spawn room, and there’s only a minute remaining.

There pressure is starting to show, Bumper drops a Sound Barrier after two members of his team are already down, and though they win the fight they won’t have that defensive ultimate for the fight at the castle doors. RunAway managed to take out GC Busan’s supports, but WOOHYAL and Gesture are much harder to deal with.

Both teams rush back in. TiZi gets killed early, and Closer wins the Lucio battle knocking Bumper off the side of the bridge. The timer drained, it’s into overtime, and if RunAway leave this payload it’s all over.

TiZi is back, but now he’s the only member of RunAway left. A burst of damage from his Tesla Cannon builds his ultimate. Primal Rage could be exactly what they need to close out the push to the doors, he triggers it leaping around the payload. He moves back against the doors onto the rubble piled there, leaps again. He goes too high, the overtime meter ticks down so fast that before he can land again it’s all gone. In an eerie repeat of their defeat in season 2 RunAway just can’t keep the payload in play.

GC Busan take Eichenwalde, the match, and the APEX Season 4 trophy.

RunAway managed to do what two time APEX winners and future Overwatch League team Lunatic-Hai couldn’t, and take multiple maps off GC Busan. In the end though it simply wasn’t enough, the superior support duo of Closer and HaGoPeun, along with some outstanding play by Gesture and Profit mean GC Busan are the new kings of Korean Overwatch.

OGN APEX Season 4 Final Preview – GC Busan.

Founded in 2017 and qualifying second in the APEX Contenders for season 4, nobody expected GC Busan to go as far as they have. Their first match on the main stage against first place qualifiers LW Red was solid if messy, showing only glimpses of the skill and coordination that would take them to the season 4 final.

It’s impossible to talk about GC Busan without mentioning their star DPS player Park “Profit” Joon-Yeong. “The best Tracer player in the world” is a category with fierce competition, and after his recent performance Profit has to be in contention. Given space to work he carved through the backline of Cloud 9 KongDoo (formerly KongDoo Panthera), cutting off their healing and swinging the momentum of team fights.

Though he can play other heroes, Profit is effectively a dedicated Tracer player. His DPS companion Lee “Hooreg” Dong-Eun on the other hand has shown a flexibility that many professional DPS players lack. Flexibility that has been vital to GC Busan’s success. From Pharah, to Widowmaker, to McCree, there are few heroes Hooreg isn’t competent with. After his prevalence in the early stages, the hotfix adjustment to Doomfist’s Rocket Punch hitbox has seen him used less as the tournament has progressed. A rare selection, it’s one that Hooreg can still pull out when required. Where DPS players usually focus on either projectile or hitscan heroes, Hooreg can make the most of both giving GC Busan a tactical depth that even some of the more established teams lack; Lunatic-Hai we can all see you.

If their DPS duo have a weakness to exploit it’s Profit’s tendency to be overly autonomous. Hooreg’s flexible hero pool and willingness to switch things up steer GC Busan toward a style that sees them attempt to catch their opponents between Hooreg’s long range damage and Profit’s backline harassment. Unable to directly protect each other, this formation can be punished if either of the two DPS players can be isolated and targeted.

Trying to ensure that doesn’t happen is the tank line of Hong “Gesture” Jae-Hee and Sung “WOOHYAL” Seung-Hyun. Where once it was common to see Gesture’s Winston leap in first and be punished for it, over the course of the tournament he’s calmed down, developing a more measured approach that has seen his first encounter survivability increase dramatically.

On paper the GC Busan sub-tank player is Moon “Ariel” Ji-Seok, though for their recent matches against Lunatic-Hai and Cloud 9 KongDoo it has been nominal flex player WOOHYAL stepping up to fulfil D.Va duties. The always smiling WOOHYAL has shown an ability to time his Boosters perfectly, knocking more than one opposing player to their death mid-ultimate; saving his team through an aggressive in your face play style combined with well targeted Defence Matrix use.

Up there with WOOHYAL for environmental kills is Jung “Closer” won sik on Lucio. Able to deal with more powerful opponents through smart positioning and use of the map, his Sound Barrier timing has also been lifesaving. Alongside Closer is Jo “HaGoPeun” Hyeon-Woo on Zenyatta. The support duo of GC Busan has shown a steadily increasing sense of coordination and timing. Smartly staggering their ultimates to give their team the sustainability to stay in fights longer, and win out against opponents with a clear numbers advantage.

Unrelentingly aggressive in attack, GC Busan are still able to maintain that momentum should matches go into overtime. Combining this “all in” approach with surprisingly conservative ultimate usage, and top tier support play, has allowed them to draw their opposition into using ultimates in team fights that GC Busan go on to win. Setting them up to enter subsequent engagements with an ultimate advantage that regularly snowballs into a map win.

Growth. Of their confident. Of their teamwork. Of their fanbase. This is the defining characteristic of GC Busan over the course of APEX season 4. They have grown steadily as a team while others have fallen back into too familiar, too predictable patterns.

It would be easy to make excuses for GC Busan’s season 4 performance: “Lunatic-Hai haven’t been playing well”, “Cloud 9 KongDoo underestimated their opponents”; however, excuses don’t explain their ability to defeat the two-time APEX champions Lunatic-Hai 3-0, not once but twice. A best of seven semi-final match was always going to be challenging for a new team, especially against season 3 runners up Cloud 9 KongDoo. Yet GC Busan made it look easy, taking the match without dropping a single map.

Since losing their first match, GC Busan’s only defeat this season has been a close 3-2 loss against fellow finalists RunAway; a team as skilled as there are unpredictable. The GC Busan that are gearing up for the final on October 21st look subtly different to the one that lost in September; more consistent, with a better sense of their own strengths and weaknesses.

Coming into the final having defeated two of the best teams in Korea, and without dropping a single map out of the last seven, GC Busan are the underdogs only because RunAway have been here before. As incredible a sight as it would be to see Runner lifting the trophy in tears, I have to admit that this is probably GC Busan’s year.

OGN APEX Season 4 Final Preview – RunAway.

From the lowest scoring team in APEX season 1, to season 2 runners up, only to be knocked out early in season 3. The pink jerseyed RunAway head into the season 4 final looking better than ever. There were some wobbles in the group stages, concerns that were largely put to rest after their 4-0 win over RX Foxes (formerly NC Foxes) in the semi-final.

With former off-tank player Park “Bumper” Sang-beom now their primary Lucio, DPS player Kim “Haksal” Hyo-jong has been freed to return to his beloved Genji, where his comfort level is evident. It’s been over a year since Overwatch launched, and professional teams have had hundreds of hours to practice against Genji. Despite this Haksal is still able pull off multi-kills with his ultimate Dragonblade, turning the tide of the fight in RunAway’s favour, or simply forcing the opposing team to retreat. Even when he’s not leaping in with his sword drawn, his confidence playing alongside his long time DPS partner Lee “Stitch” Choong-hui on Tracer can be seen in the way the duo position themselves before and during fights. Individually strong, they are formidable when working together. Coordinating attacks from multiple directions that divide the attention of their opponents, catching them between the Tracer on the ground and the Genji diving in from above.

Whereas in other teams the dive (the aggressive leap onto the opposition, for which the current Winston, D.Va, Tracer, Genji, Zenyatta, and Lucio meta is named), would generally be instigated by the Winston, here it’s all on Haksal’s Genji. Winston player Hwang “TiZi” Jang-hyeon tends to stay back, leaping in only after the engage has been initiated. Dropping a bubble to isolate the fight from long range damage and splitting the opposing team’s focus even further. A stoic presence on the team, TiZi’s willingness to let Haksal take the lead in engages has seen him survive longer than other Winstons, keeping RunAway in fights their might otherwise lose.

Supporting this aggressive front line is either Bumper, or Choi “JJANU” Hyeon-woo on the D.Va. While one uses their mech and Defence Matrix to block and absorb enemy fire the other switches onto the Lucio to provide sustained team fight healing. Recently Bumper has adopted the more consistent support role where he brings the same defensive mindset he exhibited as D.Va to his Lucio play. Able to consistently peel (force attacking players away from their intended target) for his team, he keeps his fellow support player Kim “KoX” Min-soo alive with smart use of his speed and healing auras, along with clutch “boops” from his Soundwave to push attackers back. KoX for his part brings the aim of a DPS player to Zenyatta. Able to headshot flankers while supporting his teammate’s dive with skilfully targeted Orbs of Discord and Harmony. As with several other Korean teams it’s the support player KoX who moves onto the Sombra when needed, co-opting his own awareness of support positioning to locate and eliminate the opposing Zenyatta with targeted EMPs that strip the Omnic monk of his shields, removing a three quarters of his health pool.

Though the individual players of RunAway’s primary roster are highly skilled on their preferred heroes they have long shown a willingness to switch up their composition when needed. Haksal’s tracking making for solid Zarya play in defence, while Stitch’s hitscan skills transfer smoothly to McCree. KoX meanwhile is always ready to step up to a DPS role, whether that be long range hitscan from Soldier 76, or a more brute force close range attack with Reaper. Triple DPS isn’t really a style favoured by RunAway but they have the players to pull it off.

Always a team of high individual skill and flexibility, where RunAway suffered in earlier seasons was in their coordination and patience. Two aspects that were above reproach against RX Foxes where they settled into an aggressive counter dive style that looked near unstoppable. No longer did we see Haksal initiating his ultimate and diving in alone. In multiple instances he held off using it entirely, instead letting his teammates Stitch and TiZi finish off the opposition. Sacrificing the crowd pleasing plays to ensure his teammates could build their own ultimates. A more mature, selfless mentality shown throughout RunAway, one that has seen their consistency rise steadily over the course of APEX season 4.

Though these six players form the core roster of RunAway for APEX season 4, should the need arise their have a pair of substitutes to call on. Technically his role as a main tank means he’s also a Winston player, in reality Ryu “KAISER” Sang-hoon has one hero: Reinhardt. That’s hardly a weakness when you’re as good a Reinhardt as he is. His sense of exactly when to be aggressive and when to stay back and protect his team is superb, and his Earthshatter timings are pure .gif fodder.

RunAway’s true secret weapon though is to be found in the form of their founder, manager, and technically still active Lucio player, Yoon “Runner” Dae-hoon. He’s not been in the starting roster for the last several matches, yet he’s always in the booth until the last possible moment encouraging his team. His passion is palpable, from the tears when his team win, to the sheer unrestrained joy that saw him accidentally break part of the booth after one match, and headbutt his teammates Stitch after another (fortunately no long-term harm was done to Stitch, Runner, or the booth). A popular streamer in Korea, Runner’s tactics and ability to analyse other teams are the reason RunAway seem able to adapt to opposition plays even before they make them. Originally the team’s Lucio player, and honestly not the most reliable in that role, he’s stepped back from that this season, and instead serves as the team’s real-world Lucio, pumping them up emotionally and psychologically before every game.

If RunAway have a weakness it’s here, their performance is feast or famine. On roles they enjoy, with momentum on their side, they make a good case for being considered one of the best teams in the world. If the necessities of role switching mean they have to play out of their comfort zone. If they get tilted to the point that even Runner himself can’t break them out of it, their coordination falls apart. Though a strong performance can rally them again, often not even the individual mechanical skill of Haksal, Stitch, or KoX are enough to grind out a win.

It’s telling that their only loss so far in this season of APEX was against the defending champions Lunatic-Hai. Having suffered a reverse sweep defeat against them in the season 2 final RunAway seemed overly wary of Lunatic-Hai and suffered for it. For their own part Lunatic-Hai have had problems themselves this season, and were eventually knocked out by the other APEX finalists GC Busan, a team RunAway themselves beat 3-2 in the round of sixteen quarter finals.

Going into the APEX season 4 final on October 21st, Runner and his team need to remember that despite GC Busan having knocked out both the defending champions Lunatic-Hai, and season 3 runners up Cloud 9 KongDoo (formerly KongDoo Panthera), they are a team that RunAway can and have beaten. If Runner doesn’t try to over complicate things with new tactics and team compositions, if he allows his team to play their comfort picks, it could well be their time to lift the APEX trophy.

A trip down the Skill Rating rabbit hole.

I really like Overwatch, probably too much for my actual level of skill. I watch professional games, like the recent OGN APEX Season 2, and discuss the character selections and tactics used. I’ve used videos, articles, and podcasts to try and improve my game. I also  just like talking about Overwatch, from its convoluted and occasionally contradictory fiction to the design of its characters; I can talk for hours about how fascinating I find the design of my favourites like Ana, Zarya, and Zenyatta.

I avoided playing competitive Overwatch for the initial season, I wanted to wait until the quirks were worked out. I finally started playing with my Overwatch group mate in season 2. We’d queue as pair, one of us tank the other support; usually D.Va and Lucio; I got shouted at in team chat for picking Ana on Dorado attack during one match. It was a thrilling if occasionally frustrating time, and after only a few hours of play we topped out with a Skill Rating (SR) in the 1800s (high Silver) by the time the season ended. I felt confidant that with some work we could break the 2000 barrier and reach Gold tier.

With the changes to how SR functioned in season 3 it was no surprise that we placed lower initially, around the 1200 mark (Bronze). Again playing mostly as a tank and healer pairing, we finally reentered Silver, but the games were a little more frequently frustrating. We’d also ended end up playing more often when the other wasn’t available. Together we closed out the season with an SR in the 1500s (low Silver).

Former Olympic weightlifter Aleksandra “Zarya” Zaryanova uses projected barriers on herself and her allies to channel incoming fire into increased damage.

Since season 3 I’ve really started to focus on a core of characters, ones I find: mechanically interesting, enjoyable to play, and that can be useful in most compositions. Those are Zarya, Ana, and Zenyatta.

Zarya is a secondary tank, she projects barriers around herself and her allies that can absorb all forms of incoming damage. These barriers last for 2 seconds or 200 health before dissipating, each point of damage absorbed is redirected into increased power for her particle cannon. At 100% charge the particle cannon is one of the most power weapons in the game, able to burn through nearly 200 hit points per second. Her own hit points are made up of 200 health and 200 shields, the latter of which recharges after a period of taking no damage. She plays best as with an aggressive style, taking a few hits to her shields before deploying a bubble and using the redirected energy to burn through the enemy. Her Ultimate ability, Graviton Surge, is a launched projectile that pulls all enemies within 8 meters together into a single point, setting them up for a multi-kill. This is especially powerful when paired with one of the direct damage Ultimates of the rest of your team.

A support sniper, Ana uses her rifle to shoot health into her allies and inflict brief damage over time to her enemies. Her Biotic Grenade can be thrown to increase the healing applied to any allies it hits, and prevent healing on any enemies. Many characters in Overwatch have self-healing abilities and being able to shut them down allows Ana’s team to focus fire and kill them rapidly. She can also fire a Sleep Dart that will knock out an enemy for 5 seconds, this can be used to cancel an enemy Ultimate, take opponents out of a fight temporarily, or as a last second defense when Ana is being attacked. The victim of the dart will wake again if they take any damage, making it a risky proposition when you cannot communicate your target to your team. Ana’s Ultimate is a Nano Boost that can be fired at a teammate to increase both their damage output and damage resistance for several seconds. When used on the right target this can be game changing, allowing a team to push through an entrenched defense or repel a dedicated attack.

Zenyatta is a combination of support and DPS, his standard attack is a projectile that flies fast with a flat trajectory and low spread, making it easy to target enemies. In addition he can throw out an Orb of Harmony and an Orb of Discord. The former attached to allies healing them for 30 hit points per second, provided Zenyatta can maintain line-of-sight. The latter attaches to enemies and increases the damage they take from all sources by 30%, again provided Zenyatta can maintain line-of-sight. Targeting an enemy tank with an Orb of Discord can be devastating, causing even a Reinhardt to go down quickly. His Ultimate, Transcendence, makes Zenyatta immune from all damage for several seconds while increasing his movement speed and healing all allies within 10m for 300 hit points per-second. This Ultimate can also be used to block line-of-sight for enemies, any damage that would be inflicted on teammates behind a transcendent Zenyatta will instead be absorbed.

For a variety of reasons we weren’t able to maintain our group for competitive this season, though we still play quick play and arcade. So I entered the placement matches on my own. Ana is a difficult character to play, but I’d worked at it for over thirteen hours and felt that I was above average for the level of play I was at. So she was my focus. I lost the first placement match which wasn’t the best experience, but then followed a win, and a draw. Eventually with all ten placement matches done I had another several hours on Ana, alongside time on Tracer and Zarya when needed to rush to a point or provide a tank that could help keep our DPS heavy team alive. By the time the game revealed my SR for season 4 I was sitting on three losses, one draw, and six wins, which resulted in starting Bronze with an SR of 1191, a full 500 lower than my final rating at the end of the previous season. Disappointing, though I understood that Blizzard’s desire was for people to start low and work their way up to their “true SR”.

A support sniper Ana Amari (mother of Fareeha Amari, aka Pharah), literally shots health into her teammates. She also looks like a Metal Gear Solid character.

My first few games went about as expected, there were some losses, a larger number of wins (some unfortunately due to leavers on the opposing team), and after a day I had reached an SR of 1323, still Bronze, but closer to where I had started last season. Furthermore I had received praise from several other players about my Ana play. I never got a Play Of The Match, as a healer that was entirely expected, but my general stats for Ana were good for the level of play. Also I had never had a single person complain about my selecting Ana.

I can’t say I was playing the best I have, but there were some games where I really do feel I was working as hard as I ever have. This is especially true of one game on Route 66 where one of our team left a few minutes into our attack. Somehow our team of five managed to push the payload all the way to within 20m of the final point. Then we had to defend again as a team of 5 verses a team of 6. At the request of my team, who had earned my respect with their tenacity and been polite and calm in team chat throughout, I switched to a DPS so we could build our 5 person team around a pair of tanks, a pair of DPS and a single healer. I picked up Pharah, the DPS character I have most experience with, and we did what we could. We forced the enemy team into overtime but eventually failed to stop the payload. An incredible game with one of the best teams I’ve played with, it was still demoralising to lose in a situation like that. But, I didn’t let it affect me, or so I thought.

Then, something happened.

The next day I started playing again and everything seemed to go wrong. Each match was a loss, often in what felt like one-sided fights. Team mates would shout at each other in the chat, complaining over character picks, and tactics. Everything seemed to spiral downward. I wasn’t immune to this urge to blame others, especially during one match on Lijiang Tower. As Zenyatta I was matched with our Roadhog for the most eliminations on our team after the first round. It was only 4 but that just made it feel worse as this was on a team with a Soldier 76 and a Genji, two dedicated DPS characters. We changed our composition but still managed to lose that match.

The next match I tried to make sure I selected a character that would fit our composition, so with a Reinhardt, and several defense and support characters on Dorado defense I picked up Soldier 76; a character I’m not great with but which I felt fit best for the composition we had. The moment we’d begun setting up our defenses our Reinhardt switched to a Mei leaving us without a tank. We struggled to defend the first two points, and by the time we were pushed back into the final area I checked my statistics for that game and found I had the most healing of anybody on our team, at a meager 900. This was with a Zenyatta on our team, a character who had been instantly picked when the game started. I lost it, I shouldn’t have, but I tilted. I typed an angry message about it in the team chat passively aggressively berating the Zenyatta for never healing. It was particularly frustrating as somebody who’s spent hours trying to learn how best to play Zenyatta; I would have gladly taken that role if they hadn’t wanted to be a healer and said so. Our team dissolved into a mess and another loss.

I should have stopped playing, I should have taken a break and calmed down. I didn’t. I kept playing, and kept losing, and unsurprisingly I was always able to find a reason for our loss besides myself. By the time I finally quit out of the last match (yes, I had become the very thing I hated), I had dropped to an SR or 924.

Omnic monk Tekhartha Zenyatta uses buffs and debuffs to support his team. He can also deal a fair amount of damage, but has the lowest health of any character in the game.

I don’t usually care about numerical indicators in games, numbers getting bigger holds little sway. Unfortunately, I want to get better at Overwatch. This investment has caused a lot of emotion to become wrapped up in my SR rank. I’m aware enough of my own abilities to never expect to make it to Platinum or Diamond, but I feel that I should be able to reach low Gold, or high Silver at the least.

I might conceptually understand how the game is played at a high level, but that’s not where I’m playing. What I feel are the correct choices are leading me into plays I don’t fully understand, that simply don’t work without the full support of my team. This desire to apply “collective wisdom” to a situations where it doesn’t fit is a theme in Bronze. A lot of people will request that a team form a 2-2-2 composition: two tanks, two DPS, and two healers. Yet usually when we would lose it’s to teams that weren’t running that composition. At this level Junkrat and Mei (both defence characters) are devastating, yet whenever anybody picked one they’d provoke somebody’s ire. The “meta” of Bronze is very different to that of higher level play. This has been the biggest shock to me, the difference in play between Bronze and Silver is significant. The best matches I had in Overwatch were as I was approaching Gold , getting back there is going to be a slog, and may not even be possible.

More “common wisdom” is that if I simply wanted to gain SR I should focus on playing a character like Pharah, or Junkrat. Both character who are very difficult to deal with at this level of play. I have experience with both, but it’s hard to bring myself to play somebody simply to gain SR rather than to improve at that character. I enjoy the game most when I’m improving with a character I find mechanically interesting. But a win for me, is a win for everybody else on my team too. So, in the end does it matter if that’s a win as Pharah, or a win as Ana? Can’t I just push to get out of low SR so I can focus on Ana again once I’m out at a place where the style of player is conductive to it?

Ana is a complicated hero to play, possibly one of the hardest to master in the game. Her kit is all about providing utility to others rather than inflict damage herself. I enjoy that sense of responsibility, the need to multi-task. Sadly, as with many of the support characters she operates best in a team that understands how she functions. As an Ana I can heal from a long distance provided I have line-of-sight, which means that I can’t heal the Genji who keeps running off behind a wall. I understood that not everybody has gone as deep on the mechanics of Overwatch as I have, I know it can be necessary to switch characters mid-game, and I do. Though it’s hard to escape the notion that my very desire to switch my character to fit the team composition has had a negative impact on my own SR. Overall I have five hours of play on Ana this season, and a 60% win rate; compared to an overall win rate of 46% after ten hours of play. It’s hard not to see that and think I should just focus on Ana regardless of the team composition.

I want to get better at playing Ana, but that’s difficult to do in games where my team is so spread out that I can’t even see them, let alone prioritise my healing targets. I am getting better at using Ana’s Sleep Dart though, as without the support of a team it’s the only defence I have against being flanked.

My play times for Season 4, as of April 16th 2017.

For now, I’ve managed to claw my way back up to 1067. Thanks, in no small part to a good team, and some hard work as Zarya and Winston, that helped us win a match on Dorado while down a player. I’ve barely played Ana since I dropped into the 900s, but I have spent time on both Zarya and Zenyatta. The former is very strong in Bronze, I’ve encountered a lot of players who either don’t understand how her abilities work, or who simply underestimated her damage output when charged. Every D.Va I’ve encountered has attempted to block my primary fire with their Defence Matrix only to see their mech destroyed in a matter of seconds. As enjoyable as this brutal efficiency can be, I don’t feel I’m getting better with her, merely exploiting the fact that I’m facing opponents who don’t know how to deal with her.

Losing 300 SR in a few hours is not a pleasant experience. It shouldn’t matter. It does. At Bronze and low Silver, 300 SR can make the difference between being able to work with a team who understand and appreciates the power of an Ana or Zenyatta, and one who makes those characters all but impossible to play.