How To Run Triple Support
The latest patch introduced Ana, the support sniper, and included major buffs to Zenyatta. Overwatch has undergone a transformation; gone is the static support meta of repetitive Mercy and Lucio to make way for four viable supports - and even all five on defence. There was much talk before this patch about the possibility of a triple support composition, but how viable is it in reality?
The patch hit less than a week ago, so if you’re not familiar with the changes then check out our article to get to grips with the differences. Top teams have had some time to experiment with Ana, Zen, and a variety of different team compositions in their scrims and matches. I spoke to a range of support players from the best teams in the world to see what they were trying and how they were adapting!
The biggest change has been the buff to Zenyatta, turning him into a top-tier hero capable of giving sustained heals with Harmony and outputting vast damage (especially with effective use of Discord). The buffs to his ultimate have also made Zenyatta far more effective, and most teams are running him in their compositions.
Zenyatta's Orb of Discord is the most powerful tool in his arsenal. It now has an almost instant application with no cooldown, allowing you to snap it onto key targets to increase your entire team’s damage. It boosts damage by 50%, and crucially this is multiplicative. Unlike Mercy's 30% extra damage which gets added on to other boosts, Discord multiplies all damage by an extra 50%! Here's how the maths breaks down:
- Ana’s Nano Boost with Mercy’s damage boost adds together: 50+30=80% damage increase.
- Zen’s Discord with Mercy’s damage boost multiplies together: 1.5x1.3=1.95 (95% damage increase)
- Zen’s Discord with Ana’s Nano Boost multiples at: 1.5x1.5=2.25 (125% increase!)
- Triple support could potentially see Discord, Nano Boost, and Mercy’s damage boost at: 1.5x1.8=2.7 (170% damage increase)
It’s clear immediately that there is great synergy potential with Discord on top of what Zen can deal himself; remember too that Zen can heal at 30hp/s with Harmony, and his ultimate, Transcendence, counters a range of dps ultimates at 300hp/s healing.
Whilst some teams are experimenting a lot with Ana, and a few with triple support, most have chosen Zenyatta and Lucio as their core supports for now. This duo is so good because Zenyatta can heal almost as well as Mercy without being in the fray, and adds a ton of damage into the mix. The loss of Resurrect is mitigated by playing well around Transcendence; teams have to recognise the threat before it wipes their team and use the healing to block opponents’ Blossoms or Barrages.
Lucio perfectly covers the weaknesses of Zenyatta by allowing him an escape mechanism through speed boost, as well as being able to quickly pick any spawners up who weren’t able to be saved in a fight. Zen’s lack of mobility can be a real hindrance without a Lucio around, even with 200hp.
Having established a base for our offensive triple support, we need to add another hero into the mix. Mercy has a lot of overlap with Zenyatta currently and is most useful on defence, where her Resurrect is still very effective when your team is not dictating the pace. Instead, the top teams experimenting with triple support are running Ana alongside Zen and Lucio.
Fitting Ana into any team composition requires some partners in crime. While her regular equipment isn’t very impactful, her ultimate is incredible on the right target; Nano Boosting a Genji or a Reinhardt is often too much for any defensive composition to handle. Due to the unreliable, skillshot nature of Ana’s rifle, it is most effective to build with tanks who deliberately take damage and stay still to be healed. You can counter this if you see it by refusing to shoot at the statues, only attacking when your team wants to engage or to break a shield.
The Biotic Grenade is also a very good counter to Transcendence and alongside her Sleep Dart, which can immobilise a high-priority target, Ana’s tools can work well against other supports.
Teams using an offensive triple support composition aim to snowball their extremely powerful ultimates into a chain. With a team composition similar to Zenyatta, Lucio, Ana, Reinhardt, McCree, and Genji, you can stagger and snowball your ultimates. Nano Boosting your Genji/Reinhardt will allow you to take the first teamfight, during which time you can build Transcendence. Popping that off as quickly as possible into the recovering defence will win you a second teamfight, by which time you have built the Sound Barrier. By repeating and cycling, this is an easy recipe to keep defensive teams on the back foot and unable to stabilise. Games can be over very quickly if you get the timing right!
Another triple support strategy that top teams are experimenting with is a Symmetra, Mercy, and Zenyatta defence. Compositions without Mercy on defence need to take the initiative, but with Mercy and Symmetra the aim of this line-up is to slow the tempo down. Holding against a range of ultimates or the newly buffed D.Va can be hard, but if you’re able to set up your teleporter and Resurrect before the push then this composition has the potential to hold strong. Individual casualties can get back into the fray through the teleporter and there is no direct engagement, so Lucio is not a necessity. Instead, Zenyatta provides damage and healing to those Mercy cannot reach.
In the coming weeks we will see teams trying a range of interesting support strategies, with a number of triple healer variations. This patch has been a fantastic one for players and spectators, adding a fresh feel and room for experimentation.
Supports are hard to come by in matchmaking, three of them even more so, but given how fun Ana and Zen are to play this may be less of a problem now than ever. If you want to replicate this in your team or in matchmaking, communication is vital. Support ultimates and abilities such as Sleep Dart require all of your team to be on the same page. And remember: conserving your ults is key! Try to stagger them and use only what is required to win a fight; blowing enormous support ultimates in every engagement will slow you down overall.
Go out there and find the new best strategies – there has never been a better time to play support!
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