We reported recently on changes to the “on fire” mechanic in Overwatch, resulting in less “on fire” time for healers. Many players speculated that this change was the reason behind the seemingly more difficult skill rating climb for healers in competitive Overwatch. This situation was enough of a big deal that the team behind Overwatch made a post detailing how exactly “on fire” mechanics work and shed a little light on how skill rating in general is calculated. They assured players that there was “no widespread issue” with the rate at which healers gain SR, but this has done little to assuage the concerns and anger of a lot of support players who feel they’re being penalized for choosing the role.
On Battle.net, Overwatch Principal Designer Scott Mercer tried his best to clear up some misconceptions about the reported issue. He started off by saying the team had recently made some balance changes to SR in the competitive mode of Overwatch. Apparently, players were getting full assist credit for kills when they only shot an enemy once or twice, resulting in inflated SR gains when it came time to calculate a player’s contribution to the match. The practical effects of this change were that players are generally seeing less time “on fire”.
Many players speculated that the lower “on fire” rate was the reason behind the lower SR gains, but Mercer assured players that there was no direct connection between time “on fire” and the SR gained at the end of the match.
“The determination of being “On Fire” examines not just your own performance, but your performance relative to your teammates. The calculation of your SR adjustment after a match doesn’t look at your teammates, but instead compares you to the performance of other similarly skilled players with that hero across an enormous pool of competitive matches. So, we compare your Genji play to the play of other Genjis, Ana vs. Anas, etc. Since we’re comparing “apples to apples”, we shouldn’t see any kind of support specific bias in SR adjustments due to player performance.”
Though the team has insisted there’s no systemic issue with the way SR is calculated, they acknowledged that there may be issues with specific heroes or play styles and that the team would continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as needed.
While this answer isn’t necessarily what the healers of Overwatch wanted to hear, it’s good that Mercer acknowledged there might be an issue with specific characters. Maybe there’s an issue with supports and healers people often choose like Lucio, Ana, and Mercy that’s unrelated to the balance changes recently implemented. Regardless, a lot of people are still seeing an SR issues with healers and it’s very unlikely that it’s all in their heads. Hopefully Blizzard can get to the bottom of this issue, or we may soon see a lack of healers in Overwatch – a role that’s already generally underrepresented.