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Overwatch dev explains how On Fire and Skill Ratings work following claims of anti-Support bias

Mercy is one of the most important heroes in Overwatch‘s Competitive Play. Unfortunately, while she is also one of the most played, there’s some evidence to suggest her “On Fire” status and Skill Rating don’t match up.

Players have flooded the forums with anecdotal evidence that the recent 1.10 patch nerfed the rate at which Support heroes gained On Fire status. This, of course, can potentially change how much skill rating a player earns at the end of a match.

Some Mercy players have actually surveyed how SR points are rewarded after matches, and they discovered that Season 4 has a “clear falloff in games” for Mercy players. That’s despite the hero being among the most played this season.

Anyone that’s played as a Support hero would have surely noticed that skill rating drops further after a loss than it rises after a win. That’s at odds with how the game actually treats Support players, particularly heroes like Mercy, who relies on kill assists as the primary fuel for the on fire meter.

Game director, Jeff Kaplan, responded to fan concerns on the forums, acknowledging that a bug was detected with Mercy that caused her SR to be affected and devalued more than her Attack, Tank and Defense counterparts.

“We fixed an issue that was causing Mercy’s contributions to be lower as it pertained to skill rating reward at the end of a competitive win,” Kaplan said. “We’re still investigating to make sure the issue is entirely fixed. The fix we put live was integrated on Tuesday but we’re still hearing some reports. We’ll keep working to fix it if it is in fact still broken. We’re trying to verify right now.”

The bug appears to have been related to a weird decrease in on-fire gains Mercy achieves for every kill assist.

Before the recent Orisa patch went live, Mercy would gain 50 fire points for every kill assist.

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Once the patch went live, however, that number apparently dropped considerably, which led to significant drops in SR should a Mercy player lose a Competitive Play match.

Quality Assurance Lead, Max Thompson, also responded to the concerns, confirming that the rate at which SR is accrued had changed with the latest update.

The issue stems back to the way in which the game rewards players for kill assists. Patch 1.9 made adjustments so that players had to be actively involved in a play in order to get an assist. Further balancing changes were applied in 1.10. This might explain why Mercy players are noticing a drop in the number of Ultimates they have per match.

Simply put, “On Fire” status is determined by two things: your own individual performance, as well as your performance relative to your teammates. There’s obviously stricter requirements in order to achieve a kill assist, which is the primary form of “Fire” for Mercy players to work towards an ultimate.

Skill Rating, on the other hand, does not look at your teammates, but instead compares your performance to other similarly skill players with the same hero across a pool of competitive matches.

As an example, if you’re playing as Mercy, your SR is determined by how you perform over a pool of matches compared to similarly ranked players over the same period of time. If you over-perform, you get a higher SR bump. Under perform, and you’ll see a small rise.

Interestingly, Blizzard has admitted that some players are experiencing lower SR gains on wins relative to what other similarly skilled and performed players are.

The problem could be related to specific heroes, and not the rate at which On Fire status or SR is distributed.

Overwatch principal designer, Scott Mercer, says it could still very well be an issue that is localised to a specific hero.

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It appears as though players affected most by the recent patches are Mercy players. While the logic behind changing the benchmark for a “kill assist” is welcomed, Mercy would actively need to be directly involved and connected to a player in order to get the assist.

By the very nature of her mechanics, it would be impossible for her to ever get an assist without being tethered to a teammate. Players are noticing smaller SR gains when playing as Mercy, so a localised issue with her could be the problem here.

Have you experience any issues with Mercy following patch 1.10? Sound off in the comments below!

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