Mercy Mains: Up Your APM!

APM: ACTIONS PER MINUTE, in other words, how many micro-decisions, movements, and mechanics are made every minute by a hero. Today's guide is only going to touch on the beam APM, which is really only half of Mercy APM (movement mechanics being the other half).


Hello, all. My name is Spilo, and I'm a retired Contenders Head Coach, and a long-time VOD reviewer of all ranks, Bronze to Top 500.

Today's guide is going to be rather unique, as it's going over a rather controversial hero, and I'm afraid my words might annoy some folks on both sides of the fence (Mercy haters and Mercy mains). Let's start off with two (potentially risky) statements:

Mercy is not an easy hero to play: she has a fairly drastic skill curve, and has some of the highest potential APM in Overwatch.

Mercy is NOT significantly victimized by her team's performance when compared to other heroes. The community has pushed Mercy into only team-dependent, to the point to where a great number of Mercy mains become lazy, complain, and put little effort into self-improvement. (I will NOT be discussing the sexism issue that frustrates Mercy-mains and females in Overwatch in general, nor how the class design of Mercy makes your direct impact less tangible.)


It's time to stop coddling, bullying, and patronizing Mercy-mains.
It's time to start taking responsibility.
It's time to talk about what Mercy needs to be doing in team fights.

Whenever we discuss a hero's role in Overwatch, we have to highlight what that hero is best at- what is unique about that hero.

Mercy offers:

– Strong single-target healing

– Damage boost

– Resurrect

– High mobility

This gives Mercy the unique position of being the most versatile pocket support in the game.

Now I can already hear you: "yeah yeah, pocket your DPS, use damage boost, we know we know." But see, this is where a lot of Mercy players shut down. A lot of Mercy players will sit brain-AFK and blue/yellow beam a DPS and hope for the best (or just mash the heal beam on a tank and pray that works).

The goal with Mercy is NOT to only pocket ONE player, but to pocket EACH individual on her team when they will get the most value. The APM is making dozens of decisions and adjustments EVERY team fight to prioritize your pocket priority, heal vs. damage, and to be managing your positioning/movement at the same time!

As Mercy, you are a constant source of pressure on the enemy team, either through healing critical individuals so they can resume pressuring enemies, or by damage boosting a hero's damage output.

The challenge is to learn (and master) how to prioritize your beam to maximize your pressure.

The goal of this guide is to introduce this concept of pressure through proper APM, AND to teach you how to start practicing it.

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There are three key points for understanding who (and how to pocket), these are:


  1. Pocket Aggression:

As Mercy, it is your goal to enable aggressing teammates whenever possible. Teammates who are aggressing are usually the ones who will benefit the most from heal/damage boost, and the ones that will have the most impact on the fight. Keep in mind aggression looks different for each hero. A Rein might go in swinging (obvious aggression) but a McCree may aggress by taking an angle, a Widow by grappling to high ground.
In addition, it is your job to pocket against enemy aggression. If you are playing a more ranged comp vs. a brawlier/dive comp, it is likely the enemy team will close the distance on your teammates at some point. Your priority then becomes to pocket whoever the enemy is aggressing on.

Pocket aggression as much as you possibly can with two key exceptions: avoid putting yourself at risk positionally (utilize maximum beam range, ensure your aggressing target isn't going to put you in the middle of the enemy) and prioritize healing critical teammates before pocketing aggression. There are some instances where putting yourself at risk/ignoring critical teammates is fine, but those are more the exception and not the rule.

  1. Pursue Damage Boost

Some of you may think the wording is odd with my choice of "pursue," but pursuing damage boost is exactly the type of mindset I want you be on when playing Mercy. Damage boost should be something you look forward to, something you look for every opportunity you can to use.

Pretend you are doing house chores and there's a wonderful book that you just CAN'T put down. Between washing the windows and sweeping the floor you take a peek or two just to read a paragraph or a sentence. You look for EVERY opportunity to indulge yourself in just a moment or two of enjoyment, and that's exactly how damage boost should be treated. There will be squishies that will need healing, critical tanks to top off, but whenever possible, damage boost!

Damage boost is so important, because when utilized properly, the proactive pressure from Damage Boost puts more pressure on the enemy team, which means less pressure on your team. You indirectly reduce the amount of damage/pressure your team takes by damage boosting more. This is why heal stats in Overwatch are useless, because if you are better at damage boosting, you'll likely end up with lower heal numbers because your teammates will be taking less damage!

Last small point with damage boost, if you are properly prioritizing aggression, and damage boosting that aggression, you will likely end up damage boosting the hero who will need healing! If someone is aggressing that means they are simultaneously the most likely to benefit from damage boost and need healing, and you are in a perfect position to provide both!

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  1. Priority Heroes

We've spent a lot of time explaining how to pocket, but not really who. This one is a long and complex topic, and not something I will be able to answer in full, but I will help by establishing some concepts: Mercy isn't a great tank healer when compared to Baptiste/Moira/Ana, and damage boost is more impactful on heroes that do more damage (duh). This means that usually Mercy prioritizes pocketing aggressive DPS, keeping her squishies alive, and defaulting damage boost on the most aggressive high damage dealer on the field.

There's a reason why Mercy is often run with heroes like Echo/Pharah- high damage heroes with high mobility and often high levels of aggression- a perfect match! On the opposite end of the spectrum, a hero like Winston/Sombra don't have great synergy with Mercy, as they are lower damage heroes, and their aggression is often too deep, risking Mercy's life.

As Mercy, it should be your job to be constantly analyzing the battlefield, looking for heroes that will punish enemies the most with damage boost, usually squishies. The obvious exception is when you are running Mercy with Brig, Zen, or Lucio, which may demand you to be healing tanks more (unless you are running something like Ball/Hog).

Now for some visual examples!

Example 1: https://i.imgur.com/mUAJ2kx.png

Our first priority as Mercy (something you can do in spawn) is figure out who you will likely be default pocketing because they are a high damage hero. In this case it will be our Echo- a highly mobile hero with high damage.

However, remember as Mercy we need to be maximizing our value by paying attention to what's actually happening on the battlefield.

Looking at our example here, the Echo seems to be playing very passively, which means our damage boost/heal pocket isn't going to be as impactful. In this example, it would be very reasonable to pocket our Zarya as she is 1). High Charge (high damage) 2). Aggressing 3). Squishier than Rein (so will more likely benefit from pocket with this level of aggression).

Example 2: https://i.imgur.com/BAGLeie.png

Once again we are on Echo, so default pocket on Echo is the play.

We cannot turn off brain pocket Echo- we have to read the battlefield. In this instance, however, we can see the Echo is playing with a lot of aggression, which means she absolutely would benefit from pocket.

I highlighted two other things to discuss: one, an aggressing Rein who, if our Echo wasn't aggressing, would be fine to pocket considering his aggression in comparison to our Zarya/Genji. Secondly, I wanted to point out Genji's HP- a lot of Mercy players would probably stop what they are doing and heal up the 25 HP that Genji's missing. This would probably be a mistake, as it would take your focus midfight away from more impactful support on the Echo or Rein. Healing tiny bits of chip damage is something you have to use your judgement on midfight!

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Example 3: https://i.imgur.com/4PONkvS.png

This is the toughest one yet, and epitomizes the potential APM in Mercy (not including movement).
Hanzo is our default pocket as he has the highest damage potential if he is aggressing at all.

Things are a bit complex here. First off, Hanzo is missing a decent chunk of HP- he needs to be healed so he can properly aggress on a sightline. Secondly, Zarya is aggressing into the enemy team and approaching her effective range. Thirdly, Genji has blade, and is likely to whip that out soon. Lastly, our Ana is very close to Ultimate- maybe we could damage boost her/avoid healing our Zarya/Rein just so she can build up that last bit of Ult charge?

What would (likely) be the optimal play here? I would recommend:

  1. Heal the Hanzo ASAP so he can start to aggress
  2. If your Hanzo aggresses, pocket him over Zarya, if he remains passive on a sightline, GA across the gap and behind the corner and pocket your Zarya
  3. Avoid healing the tanks (even the Zarya) if possible, so that your Ana can build up the last of the Nano
  4. If Genji blades, immediately pocket his aggression, being careful to utilize height/distance with your movement to avoid ending up in the middle of the enemy team.
  5. In cleaning up staggers/stalls, prioritize pocket on Zarya/Rein who will be directly on top of enemies who are trying to touch- maintain distance between yourself and cart to prevent an unlucky death.

And that's just one fight!

Mercy players, it's time to take command of your improvement. Challenge yourself to min-max every bit of value in every skirmish in ever team fight. No lazy brain!

Mercy haters, screw off. The class when executed well requires a lot more effort than y'all understand.

FULL GUIDE (more detail, including a ton of visual examples- it is a roast review, be warned!):

My stream (where I do roast reviews/coaching): https://www.twitch.tv/spilo

My Discord (where you can ask questions and get coaching): https://discord.gg/tqvgygx


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