In this piece I will discuss how to collect stats for the Support heroes of the game so as to be able to identify player playstyles and find ways to evaluate performance.
This is no easy task, however, because these heroes have skills that enable other heroes, meaning that the stats you collect for the said skills provide no insight for the performance of the Support player himself, like
Ana’s Nano Boost, for example. What’s more, one hero in this category, Symmetra, has been used in very few professional matches, and many of her skills aren’t indicative of a player’s ability but more of his opponents’ inability, as you will see this down the line when I discuss her.
Let’s start with the (almost) perma-picked support hero in Overwatch. He can heal and deal damage at the same time and his barrier is one of the few defensive ultimates in-game, able to absorb damage and hold a point.
His kill breakdown is the following: Bodyshots, Headshots, Melee Blows, Soundwaves & Environmental Kills, when possible.
Environmental kills is definitely a WOW stat, hype inducing but not always relevant. The thing that can make a difference style-wise is the Melee Blows. If this number is quite high, it can show that the player prefers to go up close and personal against his opponents whereas a low number in this category can hint that the player prefers to use his pistol.
Assists are already tracked, but I don’t know if the offensive assists are properly tracked or if it is a stat that is severely skewed. I‘ve read that it is a kill by a teammate when he’s AMPed speedboosted but this is a really weird stat, if that’s the case. The scenario where a Lucio is AMP speedboosting to disengage and a teammate gets a kill while under the effects of his aura is not really an ideal stat. Defensive assists, i.e. teammate getting a kill while being healed or when having a Sound Barrier on, are the only ones that can be tracked correctly and provide valid insight.
Lucio is a support hero that falls in the healer category, but his toolkit isn’t solely about healing and this makes things a bit more complicated, since we need more stats to actually understand if a number is lower intentionally, because of a style preference or tactics, or if it’s lower due to lack of skill.
Therefore, straight off the bat, we need stats that track how much % of his playtime a Lucio player is speedboosting and how much he’s healing. For healing, because of Lucio’s amplified healing skill, we need to know how many times he has activated the skill and what’s the average amplified healing he gets with it. Combined with his overall healing stats, we can get a good combination of stats to know what the style is and how effective it is.
For his Sound Barrier, apart from the number of Sound Barriers provided to teammates, we need also a stat that can track how many of his teammates were up in the proximity to potentially get a Sound Barrier. After the Barrier’s application, damage absorbed by the Barrier before expiring should also be a known stat. With these stats, we will have a good idea of which Lucio has the better control of his Ultimate and also differences in styles and tactics. For example, using the Sound Barrier as an engagement tactic or keeping it for clutch situations.
Second up is Ana, who was considered a problem in the Tank era, but in the Dive era, she feels underwhelming.
Ana’s kit is the only one in-game that heals and damages via the same way, her sniper rifle darts. Weapon accuracy under this light is pretty irrelevant as an indicator unless it’s extremely low or high, for some weird reason. Hero damage and healing are enough to cover her performance in this area.
Ana can kill via 4 ways: Bodyshots, Melee Blows, Sleep Darts & Biotic Nades.
Sleep Darts can be deadly, if the target is really low (below 15 HP), but it’s not their main purpose. Right now we know how many times a player has slept opponents, but we don’t know the sleep dart accuracy, meaning how many times he activated the skill and how many times he missed. Nonetheless, the important stats for this skill is to know how many times a sleep dart was an assist leading to a kill and how many times the opponent slept was in Ultimate mode.
The tricky part is her healing amplifying nade. Amplified healing should be tracked as a separate stat from whichever source it comes and should be different than Ana’s normal healing. I would argue that in Ana based compositions amplified healing should always be distinguished and tracked separately, since it is something that shouldn’t be confused with Lucio’s Amped Healing. Once we know this separate stat, we will be able to get insight into a player’s decisions regarding nade usage and style.
Playing aggressively with Ana isn’t only about focusing targets down with her rifle. Her nade’s other effect, healing denial, is her most offensive skill. There are teams whose Ana players prioritize denying healing to the enemies or using the nade to finish off a low health (below 70) enemy. In order to evaluate this playstyle, we need to take into account how many opponents are getting naded per use, as well as how many nade kills an Ana player gets on average. From the stats gathered so far, the number of kills she gets in this way is quite significant for Ana players.
Assists, both offensive (naded enemies) and defensive (healed allies), are tracked sufficiently. Nothing needs to change here.
Her ultimate, nano boost, falls into the “surefire” ultimate category since there is no way to shut it down unless you kill the nano boosted hero. Its activation process also can’t be interrupted, neither can the ultimate be absorbed by D.Va matrix, shields, etc. A sleep dart may stop the player from utilizing the 50% damage increase boost, but nothing can dispel the 50% damage reductio. So, we need two stats to know for sure how much value a player got out of the nano-boost, and these stats don’t even reflect positively or negatively on the Ana player himself. Therefore, Ultimate analysis for Ana’s Nano Boost is the only case where the stats don’t matter at all for the hero having it.
The bloodthirsty monk is a very interesting case, because he’s the only support hero that enables the whole team with his Discord Orb and his Ultimate is the only one providing healing.
His kill breakdown is plenty simple: Bodyshots, Headshots and Melee Blows.
Headshot kills in this category is the differentiating factor between good and average Zenyatta players, since this hero can become a sniper at the hands of an expert with his right-clicks. In this sense, an interesting stat is to know how many of a Zenyatta’s kills (bodyshots/headshots) are Single Orbs and how many Orb Volleys.
His toolkit is enabling his team both defensively and offensively. In the defense department, only two stats are important: avg. healing done/10 mins and defensive assists. In the attack department, apart from offensive assists, I would like to know how much damage on average is amplified per discorded target. Even if the target doesn’t go down, the amplified damage is a good indicator of how well the team is executing on the discorded targets. Interestingly enough, a Zenyatta’s discord orb stats are helping us evaluate team performance rather than player performance.
For his Transcendence stats, apart from his overall Healing Done and his Most Transcendence Healing that are being shown in-game right now, it’s also important to know the distribution of the healing; how many players were healed up per activation. The final number may be the same for two Zenyatta players, but the distribution can show if Transcedence was used to keep the whole team alive or was an emergency reaction trying to keep the tanks alive on point to contest furthermore. It’s good to know how many players were up for potential healing.
All in all, Zenyatta doesn’t have any tricks in his stats collection. Every action of his and the subsequent stats are all important and he’s a well-rounded support.
Mercy is a character with many highs and lows. The reason for that is that she’s mostly a healing bot. Unlike any other healer in-game, she can’t deal damage and heal at the same time. This is a very important factor when talking about her kill breakdown.
She can kill opponents with Bodyshots, Headshots and Melee Blows, but it’s a rare sight and these kills have no real value or give us any insight about the player’s performance. Maybe create some hype for a player who can clutch with the pistol on Mercy and take someone down with him, but these clutches aren’t all that important in Overwatch.
The things that matter the most are her healing and damage boosting, toolkit-wise. Unsurprisingly, all we need for her healing performance is avg. healing done per 10 mins, since her healing has standard output, like Zenyatta’s. Her damage boosting is entirely dependent on which hero she’s boosting, so it’s not really a stat that can tell us much for the Mercy player’s performance. Like Zenyatta’s discord orb, damage boosted can help us evaluate a team’s specific tactic. For instance, since Mercy in professional matches is chosen in combination with Pharah and the latter is the one getting almost constantly boosted by her, it means that the damage boosting stats are indicative of the Pharah player’s performance, not Mercy’s.
For her Ultimate, the stats needed are like Lucio’s Sound Barrier. We already know how many players get resurrected with each activation, but we also need to have a stat of how many players were available for resurrection at the moment of the Ultimate’s activation. With Winston’s Lab’s Fight Reader, we can create extra metrics about a Resurrection’s impact, based on how fast the players resurrected were killed, or if they managed to eliminate their opponents, or how many Ultimates were nullified because they were used before the ressurection.
The exception to the support category is definitely Symmetra. After her rework, she should have been placed in the Defence category because the only support she provides is her Ultimate Shield Generator, if she chooses to place it.
Her pickrate in professional matches is close to 0% and therefore gathering valuable stats is entirely done on a very basic level.
Symmetra can kill via three ways: Bodyshots, Melee Blows & Turrets. Her Bodyshots can be further broken down to Laser Beam shots and Energy Balls shots, but because of the latter’s low speed and varying damage, it won’t provide much insight for the skill of the player. It’s mostly spam that manages to catch some player out of position.
The hardest part to evaluate is her turrets. The reason is that the biggest factor for her turrets to do their work is placement. And placement isn’t something that can be quantified with numbers like avg. damage done, avg. uptime duration or kills. Moreover, number of turrets placed is moot.
Her Barrier metrics work the same as for the Tank heroes. Avg. Damage Blocked, Avg. Depletion time, Times Deployed etc. These are definitely insightful stats.
And to top it all off, she is the only hero with a Double Ultimate, perplexing things even more since we need to have stats tracking each Ultimate’s performance separately and even these stats aren’t really telling us much about the Symmetra player, because it is the job of the other team to shut her Ultimates down. Teleporter and Shield Generator stay alive for as long as the opponents don’t kill them, meaning that all stats collected from these Ultimates will reflect bad only on the other team as a whole and not on the player himself.
All in all, Symmetra’s design makes it really hard to evaluate her performance and tell if a player is really doing well or he’s just up against a really bad team; or a team that has no way to counter her. That’s why she doesn’t flourish in structured play as much, where teams have practiced ways to shut her down.
I dare to say that support heroes are the hardest to evaluate stats-wise. They are entirely dependent on the composition they are used into and all their numbers vary accordingly. People cry for scoreboards where they can see which Support hero has the highest healing, or how big the difference is between the supports, but this is impossible to do.
What we need, especially for Healers, is composition data from professional matches, so as to see how much the stats of every hero vary when used in combination with the other support heroes and therefore what’s expected of him on average for every composition, for every map and every game mode. GGEZ, right?