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Why Mercy's recent overhaul made her too powerful

Ever since her complete rework went live last month, Mercy has been a hot topic of conversation in competitive Overwatch circles. Though at first there was a bit of an outcry from frustrated Mercy mains around the world, they soon realized that her changes turned her into a must-have in every situation. So did everyone else, for that matter. Her new non-ultimate Resurrect—which has a 30-second cooldown and only resurrects one person—and new ultimate, Valkyrie, made fighting against Mercy even more tedious than before, with the new meta bringing a fresh round of problems for players to figure out. But is it all bad, or are things still headed in the right direction? Let’s take a look at where Mercy is now, what changes were discussed on the PTR, and what some pros have to say about the new Mercy.

Mercy in her current form: Why she sometimes feels broken

Now that tempers have settled and everyone wants Mercy in their team composition again, it's safe to say that her old ultimate wasn't all that great or needed. Indeed, her pick percentage is through the roof at every level of play. According to OmnicMeta, Mercy has a 95 percent pick rate in the Gold league which then scales up to an unbelievable 99 percent at the highest levels of play. As they suggest, a big part of her popularity is due to her 30-second resurrection ability that can be reset by using her new ultimate Valkyrie. 

This has a profound impact on how engagements start, and how players choose their heroes. Getting an early pickoff used to lead to a big change in momentum, for example, but Mercy can now easily cancel that out with her new kit. The question, though, is whether or not this new Mercy is overpowered. Some professional Overwatch players seem to think so. 

Indy "SPACE" Halpern is a tank player who recently filled in for Cloud9 at Overwatch Contenders season one. Before that, he was with Arc6 in the same capacity. 

"In her current state, she's ridiculously broken and whoever has the better Mercy wins," SPACE said.

Jake Lyons, current free agent and DPS star for Team USA in the Overwatch World Cup, felt much the same:

"Her new kit has a much better design, but it is over-tuned at the moment. In her original post-rework state, she was definitely overpowered."

Apart from her 30-second Res, Mercy's new ultimate Valkyrie has been some cause for concern. However, most of the issues lie with its granting improved mobility, not an excess of healing. Valkyrie's improved mobility makes Mercy extremely hard to kill, especially at lower levels where player tracking isn't as good. On top of this, the crazy influx of Junkrat "mains" since his buffs went through means it's pretty common to not have reliable anti-air DPS at all times. Before, Pharah was the only threat that demanded the immediate attention of hitscan DPS. These days, not giving Mercy that same respect can lead to a lot of misplays, as well as fight conversions for the opposition. 

But Valkyrie isn't necessarily bad, just over-tuned. "I like the idea of Valkyrie since there are no other support transform ults (like Genji or Bastion)," Lyons said. "It brings some flavor to support ults."

Changes that were discussed on the PTR, and what went live 

With Mercy in such a strong, over-played state, it didn't take long for Blizzard to propose some changes on the PTR. The first announcement felt a little heavy-handed:

"Valkyrie - No longer resets or lowers Resurrection's cooldown. Instead it now doubles Resurrection's range."

Yeah, you can float higher above the fight and bring people back, but that would make Mercy a bit less competitively fit, especially at higher levels of play. Her newest proposal felt a little more appropriate. Gone was the reset for Resurrection, but instead, you have a free charge to use as you please, though it no longer resets the cooldown of Guardian Angel:

"For example, in the past if you want to res two targets with Valkyrie, you had to first res one target, then ult (causing the cooldown to reset), then res the other target. With this new change you can now hit Valkyrie first, fly in quickly and res two targets instantly...Resurrect no longer resets the cooldown of Guardian Angel. This makes Resurrect more reasonable to fight against, since Mercy will now be slightly more vulnerable if she chooses to res someone in a bad position."

Indeed, these were the biggest components of the patch that went live yesterday, along with a change to Guardian Angel that allows players to unlock from their current target

Overall, it looks like Blizzard is taking a lot into consideration with Overwatch's most iconic healer. She's in a much better place than she used to be, but there's still work to be done. In general, it's much better to have Mercy than to not have Mercy, and that's not the best place to be in when it comes to game balance. We'll see what the future holds, but for right now, you had better polish up your Mercy skills if you have to fill in for support.