The very mention of the character’s alias may already be a put off for some. Some might assume I’m writing this to defend her, and her players, with those skillful fingers at the ready to flame. If you’re curious, and want to understand an unbiased position about this problem, feel free to stick around. Otherwise, don’t, since I am sure you have better things to attend to rather than to read a 3,000-word (est) piece. If you need something to cool down with, here’s a puppy video. Feel free to drop me a message me if you spot any grammatical error, for me to make the appropriate edits.
Also, if you recognize my name from any stream chat, hello there. Yes, I was a Mercy main hiding amongst you. I'm mostly quiet as I rather exist as an observing player of the game than to be labelled as something that may change the perceptions or responses toward me.
Mercy players then stuck to the character as it was the best healer at the time before Ana came into the picture. Having Mercy as the easiest hero to pick up also contributed to the number of times Mercy was picked for a game when a healer was needed, when others avoided the support role as it wasn’t as fun. For some, she was the perfect pick for players with aiming skills that weren’t as great, players with hardware limitations (affecting the FPS for example), and players with ISP issues (affecting the ping). For others, she was the dream girl that people wanted to role play with, or simply take a back seat with while watching the others have fun.
The days went on; Songs regarding the woes of supports were composed (here is one, and here is another one), and Overwatch memes circulated, especially the ones with Stylosa. His video titled Play of the Mercy gained a lot of response since people agreed how silly easy it was for her to get Play of the Game. When her PotG got nerfed, the Mercy players begin to favour larger resurrects. Admittedly, large resurrects were more satisfying to cast since it had the highest degree of denial, rendering the opponent's efforts useless, and resetting fights. Playing Mercy does require great timing, good positioning, and skills to at least stay alive to be able to cast the ultimate. In the past, players weren’t as smart to look for Mercy, to distract her to not let her build her ultimate, or to simply let her resurrect. But let’s face it, Overwatch has been around for a year. Players now are way smarter than before, and they know how to suppress an opponent Mercy. A Mercy left behind by her team? Dive her. Heroes never die? Oh, as expected, let’s feast upon those poor unfortunate souls that just got resurrected.
Resurrect is an ultimate that banks more on the death of teammates rather than aiding in fight engagements with most of the team alive, in comparison to Sound Barrier and Tranquility which allows a team to rush and rumble. Mercy typically requires a more careful play style, and doesn’t contribute to kills in the sense that she is not eliminating people, again as explained by the “either or” nature of play. Of course, there are Mercy players who can kill, but they are rare, and they only do so when it is safe to do so. The kill participation for Mercy is based on her fire meter, and how long she toggles her beam onto someone who’s doing work in the game. For instance, you’ll see a Mercy with 50% kill participation, accompanied by a DPS like a Pharah with 60% kill participation, on the boards. Running in with a Mercy is running in with a 5v6 elimination potential, and it would hurt the team more if the Mercy player is just chilling and not actively contributing to the game.
Being an IGL (in-game leader) isn’t something everyone is able to become. Though, shot calling or making relevant calls is something that can be done, developed over time alongside your game sense. As a support player, more can be contributed since being a support enables us to have a wider view of the playing field; You have more freedom to keep track of ultimates, remind your teammates to not overextend, suggest engagements, and etcetera. That way, your team can focus more on fights rather than worrying about everything else. Take most support players from the professional teams for example. Again, not everyone is able to do so, that applies to Mercy players. Most of the time, all you’ll hear from a Mercy player (if they even decide to communicate) is "I have rez, die on point". There might be reasons as to why they don’t communicate. Maybe they don’t have a mic, simply don’t want to because that’s what they think helps so much in the game, or they are simply oblivious to what else a Mercy player can say or do. Though, it could also stem from the building social stigma against Mercy players where they are treated disrespectfully from the start, or mercilessly harassed. Pun intended. There exist the special kind of male players with an unexplained hostility against female players, making female players (or female Mercy players in this case) feel uncomfortable. As for male players who play Mercy, they are mocked with gender insults because according to some logic, a character’s gender dictates a player’s gender in real life. Examples are Bambi, Christal, and Eevee.
In the past, the Competitive system wasn’t too rewarding to support players since there was the issue of the fire meter, but now it’s too rewarding to support players, especially for those playing Mercy. If you stat pad the best in the game compared to other players of the same character, you are rewarded more and lose less. Some Mercy players with the sole aim to climb by abusing the system will prioritize larger resurrects rather than impactful ones to distinguish themselves from other Mercy players to the system. The system right now can’t measure a player’s skills accurately, and only looks at the stats to gauge how well a player is. So, despite having a low win rate (i.e. less than 40% win rate), some players are miraculously placed with a higher SR, just for obtaining better stats or playing a niche character. It is understandable for players who are able to play more than one character, or are better players overall, to feel dissatisfied for being rewarded less for doing more or playing more intelligently. To make things worse, there exist the condescending Mercy players who are hungry for PotGs and stats, and will not play in the interest of the game. However, remember that not all Mercy players have the same attitude about the game as those. There are good Mercy players that you have surely come across, or have yet to. Trust me, I’ve had my fair share of them, and even painful stories told to me. Here's a toaster-quality example from a while back if you think you can handle the cancer.
The problem with the Competitive system right now is that the only sense of reward for players is the SR, since pretty much everyone has at least a golden weapon by now. The SR is what players use to validate how well they are as a player for the game. Though, SR doesn’t always correlate to a skillful player. Well, to a certain extent it does. What if for instance a player gets games where there is a thrower/leaver/troll? Ranked games is just a matter of the draw too. Besides, someone may be better than you, and you may be better than someone else, but the SR may say otherwise due to circumstances like stats, time played, and the games (and players) you get. If a patronizing Mercy player (or players in general) goes around shoving their SR into your face, just remember that it is the only way they could ever feel a sense of acknowledgement, rather than actually being commended by their teammates. Consider professional tournament play, which I know is a very different scene compared to the game’s Competitive play. If we were to adopt the logic of high SR equates to a higher percentage of winning, does this mean that the team with higher average SR are always bound to win? Rather than anything, a disciplined team which worked together as a unit with better, smarter, and well timed engagements will.
Choosing to Main something in the game is perfectly fine, but even so, most players have something else to fall back onto. As individuals who bought the game, we have every right to pick what we want to play or main. Hanzo main, Genji main, Mercy main, they’re all the same in the sense that the players are playing characters they enjoy the most or are better at. Just like in real life, some people are suited to be doctors, law enforcers, engineers, and etcetera. So, with the same logic, some players are meant to play certain roles since they’d be more effective playing a character they’re geared for. Not all Mercy mains are one tricks, for example, Oasis who used to be known as one, actually plays a great Ana too. Even if a player is a one trick, as long as the player is willing to play something else, better yet, play in the interest of the game, and not tilt the team. Anything is better than this and this. Though, you can see from the second link that not every Mercy main is possessive of Mercy, and is willing to play another character. Playing Mercy (or any support role) doesn’t make the player immune from blame just because you picked up the role. As Overwatch is a team game, whatever anyone does actually contributes to the outcome of the game. Let's say if you’ve done your best, but still lost, you can at least say that you did the best that you could, and didn’t lose as bad as if you were to instead not do anything at all. Regardless of what you play, focus on becoming a smarter player than a silly blamer, and practice good sportsmanship if possible.
Boosting, by definition, is having players on the other side throw on purpose, or having someone else play your account to boost your rank. If a Mercy player is a OTP with nothing else in the career profile, rather than being boosted, they might be carried. Carrying is having someone of a higher rank queue with a player, and helping said player climb the ranks. However, consider any Overwatch online group or Discord channels, you’ll see that there are players posting for queues to climb out of an elo. How is this different? Is only one character in the whole of Overwatch not allowed to queue together with others because doing so equates to being carried? To players who got to their ranks on their own accord, working hard while improving their game play, kudos. Going back to the point about queuing; if queuing with someone else is the most effective way to win games, then by all means, do so. It’s definitely better to have someone on your side with the same interest rather than randoms who might not. A DPS duo, a Tank duo, a Pharmercy, and the likes, go for it. Unless it’s absolutely clear that a player, Mercy player for the sake of this argument, is solely pocketing a DPS and not giving a single care about the rest of the team or the game, please do not assume that every Mercy player is carried. Also, to the clueless hopping onto this hate bandwagon without proper understanding or reasoning, questionable judgement.
There is also the issue with the meta. As we know, at this point, everybody wants to play the meta that professional players are playing at, since it's the most efficient tactic available most of the time. The deathball meta, the dive meta, the full hold meta, the pharmercy meta, etcetera, all of these are viable choices, if the conditions are right. Where Mercy sits in this point of time in Overwatch is selective in higher levels of play, since she's better paired of with a Pharah for maximization, but the Pharmercy combo can be easily negated if the opponents choose to be smarter with their play and composition, or if the pair has little to no synergy (the number of traumatized pairs are countless). Actually, any meta can be easily negated with smarter play. Try putting forth two teams with mirror compositions, more often than not, the team with smarter plays will win the match. Meta is simply a suggestion, winning a match still boils down to the players' game sense and mechanical skills.
When this Mercy hate issue escalates to a point that Blizzard or the Overwatch team must make changes to keep the gaming community as satisfied as possible, I guess we can expect to see a revamped Competitive system soon. Perhaps some might find it more equitable, even though there will still be the issue of those demanding for more SR for having done more in the game based on their stats or medals. Perhaps consider a Competitive system which refreshes every season? Every season, players (especially OTPs, regardless of what role) can basically do whatever they want during placement matches, and still placed at roughly the same SR they ended with. Some even throw their placements since they know they'd be back to where they were, even while having ridiculously low win rates, and spoiling the game for others. How about a system that weighs more on winrates rather than stats? Stats, at its very core, is just meant to be a personal indicator as to how well you are doing your job, but it isn't always reliable as to whether your performance is winning the game.
As the issue lies with the bad Mercy players rather than every Mercy player, how do we go about solving this? Should we bring back the Avoid Player / Do Not Prefer Player system? Well, once upon a time, it existed in the game, but it had to be removed as soon as it was clear that it was being abused by players who couldn’t deal with better players. The system penalized the better players rather than the lesser ones. How about a Merit system? It has a slight resemblance to the previous system, but as we all know, the Prefer Player option right now doesn’t do much to the matchmaking. A Merit system similar to a Peer Evaluation system is what I have in mind. Imagine that every player has a little checkbox under their portraits, where you can simply tap the mouse button to give an up-vote if you're satisfied by the player's game play. There's an unseen list or queue that ranks the player by merit, whether overall or based on a character played. This Merit system will allow players with more Merit to be queued more often into games. Let's apply this idea to practice with Mercy players. At the end of the game, you liked/disliked how this Mercy player played the game, you give an up-vote/don't give an up-vote, it's more likely you get/don't get into queue again with this player. Each time the player causes the team to be dissatisfied with their play, down they go with their queue priority. However, this is a system where every player has to exercise this option for it to be viable. Else, it’ll just end up with the same fate as Rate the Match. There might also be the issue where players who don’t play as often will end up having less Merits compared to those who play more games. This could be solved with the implementation of an algorithm which calculates Merit as a percentage over the number of games played, just like the win rate. This is simply a suggestion, feel free to improve on this idea if you’d like.
I’ve seen people posting that Mercy should just be removed from the game. Well, sure, the character has her flaws, and she has gone through things just like the other heroes. Rather than completely omitting her from the game, the best that the Overwatch team can do is just to rework her, since even Jeff thinks she is too powerful. Mercy can't simply be dismissed as she’s already so tied in with the Overwatch brand and lore. Though, what else can she be reworked with, to make her more skill dependent to play especially? Almost every support feature already exists in the other supports' (and Sombra’s) kit. Personally, I believe she is fine as she is, even with the PTR changes to her ultimate not being able to be cast in spawn. Do we give her independent flight abilities? An angelic aura as another skill or secondary ultimate that works similar to a barrier whereby allies will be invulnerable?
Whatever situation it may be, we'll always have the good, the bad, and the ugly. Just like Overwatch players, just like Mercy players. There’s nothing that we can directly do about these bad players. A witch hunt is out of the question as it's impossible and impractical to do so. Just keep your fingers crossed to get better games each time, and focus on your game play while trying your best to work with the team you get, until changes are made to improve the situation. Tilting or becoming reluctant to try when we draw bad games with bad players is common, so take a break once in a while or dodge, since tilting to the ends of the universe is detrimental to the quality of your play, and health. Remember that everyone has their good days and bad days too. We are human after all, we don't have pure control over situations. If you decide to go onto forums or posts, do your best remain logical and sane with constructive arguements as more often than not, more can be done that way rather than mindlessly raging on the keyboard.
To sum things up, Overwatch is a game constantly going through phases of improvements to cope with the players, and their diversity. While the system is considered broken at the moment, the issue lies more with players who will abuse something that can be taken advantage of. The suggestions that I have made, though still having room for amendments, should be helpful with solving issues while having the least repercussions, I hope. Bearing in mind, since there are several tiers of Overwatch players, making everyone happy is impossible, and a compromise is harder to identify than a problem.