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Sunday, May 8, 2016

How to Counter and play against Tracer

Tracer can be one of the most annoying heroes to play against when she is being played to her top potential. She will Blink around you in circles while shooting your head, and if you somehow manage to hurt Tracer or get her into a position where a kill is going to happen - bam, rewind. Because of all this pure annoyance she brings to the map, the way to deal with Tracer is the opposite of what your gut tells you - do not chase the Tracer.  Tracer wants to isolate and frustrate targets; as shes kiting and destroying your backline, a great Tracer will keep tabs of who is actively hunting her down and where she can kite them to isolate them. Always find teammates, and stay in at least pairs against Tracer. Again, splitting up and trying to hunt the Tracer down is what she wants. So if we are all grouped up in and around the Countrol-point or Payload she will not be able to isolate a target. Better yet, because of her low hp pool she risks dieing every time she comes to harass a group of heroes.

Lets look at Tracers numbers. She has one of the lowest heath Point pools in the game at 150 HP. Her Pulse Pistols do 1.5 to 6 damage per shot allowing head-shots, and fire at 40 shots per second. Her reload time on these is also only 1 second - this gives Tracer non-stop damage out-put. Blink is where Tracer will dominate or make mistakes - the 3 second cooldown per charge, and her holding up to 3 charges, allows tracer to consistently dodge abilities/lines of fire while outputting damage. Blinks also have approximately a 7 Meter distance, and can dodge through Reinhardt's charge or other stuns.

Recall makes Tracer an almost impossible kill to find when she is using this ability properly. Rewind healing her to 3 seconds before, as well as relocating her to that position, Tracer will be hard to finish off. Add the benefit that Rewind cleanses debuffs, removes another Tracers Pulse Bomb, or can be used to  dodge stuns as long as the animation finishes. Because Rewind does have a 12 second cooldown, forcing usage of this will be critical to secure the kill on her. Pulse Bomb, when stuck by it, will instant kill most heroes because it does 400 damage. There is not much way to avoid being killed by this ability if Tracer wants to stick you. If we get stuck, or a teammate does, remember to quickly spread out and negate its aoe damage (which its Area of effect is pretty limited to begin with). 

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Again when dealing with heroes/tactics that rely on separating and "picking" / "ganking" their opponents will always fall weak to grouped up heroes that can assist one another in the fight. Tracer cannot risk getting concentrated by two or more heroes in a fight, because of her very small HP pool. Stick together, spam gun fire and abilities at her when she is at a distance, and focus her down as a team when she moves in for kills/harass. If we try to chase or hunt down Tracer remember we are now playing her game. She moves faster than almost all the heroes, and can always juke you with Rewind. This is why chasing her is always discouraged, she will waste your time to secure or defend the objective and horrify your healers. Stick together, push together, fight together and Tracer will become a wasted pick!

Hard Counters to Tracer (Difficulties of Counter to Tracer)


McCree (Medium-Hard Difficulty)

McCree is one of, if not the, best answers to Tracer you can grab up if you are the damage dealer on your team. His Fan of the Hammer, and Flashbang make dealing with tracer significantly easier than most heroes. Properly using these abilities in conjunction, with a roll if needed, will obliterate the Tracer in one fan. Do not forget that our primary fire is 100% accurate and deals 70 damage before damage drop - this can help soften Tracer up and make her think twice about moving in for a kill.

Fan the Hammer is what allows McCree to be such a devastating side line ganker, as well as terrifying when team-fights are breaking out. Although none of the shots from Fan can critical hit, they all hit for 70 damage ending up in a disgusting 420 damage if all connect.  Because Fan is somewhat erratic with is firing pattern, proximity is key. The more up close and personal we are, the more chances we have of landing each shot. Most people are not aware that his Combat Roll resets the ammo in his peacekeeper upon usage. Fan, roll, fan will deal 840 damage in just a few seconds. Coupling this with Flashbang will have dangerous results for the enemy.

The MVP for McCree against almost all the heroes in the game; Flashbang. A quick casted stun that lasts for .75 seconds will give you the window needed to land your first fan for free. It is important to know that Flashbang will automatically detonate a short distance in front of you if it does not hit a hero or wall. Aiming our Flashbang is much easier if we can anticipate when Tracer will be up close. However we can always default to throwing it at walls, the ground, or even over a Reinhardt shield if we are close enough. Specifically against heroes like Tracer, Flashbang does deal 25 damage - this being 1/6ths of Tracers HP pool will give you a small boost in damage against her.

Dead-Eye is an amazing ultimate not only because of its kill potential but also its zoning potential. Specifically against Tracer Dead-Eye will not be particularly useful or special but it will always help you kill her team, thus isolating her. The 6 second duration on Dead-eye and 170 Damage/second channeling while targets are in your vision creates panic, fear, and discord. The sheer presence of this ultimate is why sometimes cancelling it is the better call than wasting it for 1 kill. Because it lasts 6 seconds, and you still keep 50% of the charge if cancelled, using Dead-eye to zone and put fear in your opponents is a strong usage. If the enemy team has to hide and cower away from the control point or pay-load, your team has an opening to setup an offensive position on the CP/PL and wipe the enemy as they push back out to gain control. So do not be afraid to use Dead-Eye just to cancel, but be wary of wasting it to get only one kill; unless its a healer, extremely critical hero, or one of the last few heroes alive during a push, it can have a better usage later.


Junkrat (Medium-Low Difficulty)

Junkrat deals with Tracer pretty well because of his ability to deny paths/areas with Grenade spam, but also the power of his two abilities. Concussion mine does 120 damage to enemies, and allows Junkrat to gain verticality quickly; Steel Trap on the other hand is a Tracer's worst nightmare. Being a 3 second stun that last forever or until its replaced. Using these abilities to their potential will negate a Tracer quickly and force a different hero to be played.

Although Tracer is fast, squirrley, and hard to kill - Junkrats grenades do 3/4ths of her health (120 damage), and can be lobbed to any location on the map using their bouncing mechanic. Grenades will bounce up to 3 times, and explode shortly after the 3rd bounce. This allows Junkrat to play decently far back and still sneak his grenades behind, on top, or right in front of the enemy. For a Tracer dashing around the map, one miss-step near a grenade will force her to back off and grab a health-pack or waste rewind. The added benefit to your grenade spam is it can deny Tracer paths to get to your team, and manipulate her over all impact.

Concussion mine is an absolutely amazing ability against Tracer, and just in general. This mine does 120 damage, knocks targets back, and can be used under/near yourself to gain elevation. When you are being persued by a Tracer, this ability will keep her from being able to have any chance of killing you. Always be prepared to use this at your feet against to escape, because Tracer is very hard pressed to gain the same elevation as you. Tracer will have to default to what the map offers to follow you, so use this to your advantage with traps and predictive grenades.. Lastly this mine does as much as your grenades when it connects in close distances, this plus a grenade will instantly kill Tracer.

A hunter lays his trap! Steel trap is MVP strong usage of this ability will completely shut out and negate Tracers impact. When she is caught by the Trap she cannot cast Blink or Recall, and this stun effect last for 3 full seconds. This is more than enough time to land two quick grenades, or quicker yet, grenade + mine. To use this ability to its potential we need to understand the maps, choke points, flanking routes, and spawns. As you play more, the use of steel trap will become more and more apparent, and you will start to feel the impact of it. Most importantly, the more you learn the map and how to place it, the 3 second stun will change outcomes of fights. Remember it doesn't have to just be laid down and forgotten about, you can throw it out in fights for a "targetted" 3 second stun.

Rip Tire much like Dead-Eye will not directly help you against Tracer. Junkrats general tool kit is what allows him to change the outcome of pushes, defenses, and teamfights involving Tracer. More like McCree, this ultimate will help kill the enemy, opening up time and room to find and kill Tracer if she hasn't already walked into our trap.

Mei (Medium-Low Difficulty) (moved to reflect spreadsheet)

While Tracer will always have Recall to reset the slow effect from Mei, and shouldn't allow herself to get frozen; having Mei with your group will prevent Tracer from making any concerted advances. Meis Endothermic Blaster and Icicle alternate fire, offer solid short range and long range options against Tracer. If Tracer ever gets too bold to peruse a teammate you can use Ice wall to stop her advances, or to block her escape and freeze her for a quick kill. Lastly Mei should never have any issues dieing to a Tracer when she is positioning with her team, because Ice Block will save Mei from any attempts on her life while healing Mei back up by 150 HP. 

Endothermic Blaster, or Freeze Ray, requires only a few seconds of connecting with a target to freeze them and stun them. Against Tracer, while again she has Blink and Recall to avoid this, you will deter her from being able to get up close personal with your team. If she only has Blink available to escape, your stacked slow will persist for a short moment. If she does get greedy and wants to kill your team, this blaster will make her regret the decision and force Recall usage or just kill her. Position yourself around targets that can assist you setting up the freeze, if a Roadhog lands a hook on Tracer you have a free second to build up the freeze. Also keep in mind that your Endothermic Blaster using the freeze ray will dish out 45 DPS, and help put some hurt on Tracer even if you don't freeze her.

Ice wall is a great ability to protect your team from Tracer, or to limit where she can move to get behind. On many of the maps, Tracer is limited to only a few paths to get around, and there will often be choke points to the points of interest. A well timed/placed Ice-wall can allow your team to focus on the other side of the fight, rather than the annoying Tracer in the back line. Furthermore, you can use this ability to block Tracer in, especially if she recently used Recall, and quickly gun her down.

If Mei ever finds her self in a position where her life is under threat from Tracer, Cryo-Freeze will stop Tracer from doing any damage for 4 seconds and heal Mei for 150 HP. This gives Mei additonal room to play with when combating a Tracer. Because this Ice Block prevents all damage taken during its duration, we can also run out of the group when stuck by Pulse Bomb and quickly Block it.



Soft Counters to Tracer (Difficulties of Counter to Tracer)




Symmetra  (Medium-Low Difficulty)

Symmetra's response to Tracer comes from her ability to fortify positions and fight Tracer in small enclosures with a charged up Photon Projector Beam. If Symmetra can kite Tracer into a position with Sentrys while her Beam is charged, Tracer will have only a few seconds to recall before the DPS shreds her. Use Symmetra to limit the mobility of Tracer by closing out the side routes of the map with your body plus sentries.

Photon Projector is a very strong weapon against targets that want to be mobile and force you to work with all 360 degrees of vision. Because your Beam will temporarily stick to the target as they move around you in circles, you have more time and opportunity to adjust and continue to focus down Tracer. Remember at a max charge, your beam will be doing 120 DPS to Tracer, and will only require ~1.4 seconds to kill her. 

Sentry's are the most important skill against Tracer. These little beam projectors will stack their slow effect, and deal 25 DPS per Sentry. When Tracer runs into a room with 2 or 3 Sentry's she will quickly have to make a few less optimal decisions. She can blink through and ignore them, using most of her charges to clear their damage and slow. She could rewind out and ignore that room, knowing its now a significantly harder path to move through. Finally should spend some time picking at your Sentry's, using blink and rewind to get in and out to destroy them. All 3 of the above deviations share similar impacts, Tracer is not harassing or hunting your team. Denying Tracer time/room to operate is key for a Symmetra to have an impact against her. Do not forget that if you can catch Tracer without rewind, low on health or blinks, you can dispense of her quickly especially with Sentrys around.

Torbjörn (Low Difficulty)

Torbjörn is another response to Tracer when you want to create an area of safe room for your team to operate in and setup at. Because of his Turrets auto-aim, Tracer will have a tough time dealing with this without taking substantial damage. His Shotgun alternate fire makes hitting Tracer easy than most when she does try to commit to killing your turret. Ignored by most people is his armor packs, which give 75 Armor and armor reduces damage taken by half for the life the pack (meaning when you take 75 damage to the armor it can't be healed back).

Torbjörn's alternate fire is very effective at putting some damage into a Tracer, or threatening to just kill her if she gets to close. Remember that even if she is not close enough for this to reliably hit her, our Primary fire has an arc to it and loses no damage over distance. You can use this to deny the paths she wants to use to get around, as well as spam down her team.

The Turret is the most important tool when dealing with Tracer, or heroes of her nature. Because your Turret has "aim-hack" or will be 100% accurate within its detection radius, Tracer will have to respect where it is and priortize taking care of it. This is where Torbjörn can be used to great effect. Placement in such a way that Tracer has to risk a lot to kill the turret could net easy kills on her; if your placement can account for this and suppressing the enemy team you quickly become the most annoying her next to Bastion. Additionally Tracer is not worrying about how to kill your team, when she will risk dieing to the Turrent during kill attempts. This will remove pressure from your team and greatly limit Tracers impact. 

Armor packs do not get enough credit, adding 75 HP in armor is a lot more than most realize. Because armor is a mitigator, stopping 5 of damage if the instance is greater than 10 or stopping half the damage if the instance is less than 10. Against Tracer, she will be hard pressed to kill your support, even if they are a Zenyatta, because of this armor pack. Combo this with Symmetra shields, and your squishy 200 HP Widowmaker now has 300 Hp, 75 of which mitigates damage and 25 which recharges when not taking damage. Defensive synergies like this can make Tracer a much easier hero to deal with!


Genji  (High Difficulty)

The Cyborg Ninja is quite effective at dealing with Tracer when he can be played to his highest potential. Genji might end up qualifying as a Hard counter at the top levels of play because his tool-kit, but for the purpose of this guide he will be a Soft counter because of that difficulty. Genjis true strength against Tracer is his ability to both keep up with her around the map, but also have the onus to out play her in most of the duels. A very skilled Genji will strategically save and wait to use his Deflection to ensure the kill. Because Tracer has no way to directly stop or influence his use of Deflect when piloted by a top skilled player, Genji should always have the upper hand. Combine the above with Genji's double jump and wall climbing, and he can manipulate the map to his advantage and leave Tracer confused and dead.

Mentioned above, Genji comes built with a fair bit of movement. Although Tracer is the fastest horizontal moving hero in the game, Genji has a good balance of vertical and horizontal movement. Exploiting the former to force Tracer into playing your game will already have an impact on her play. Because you can consistently keep tabs on her by being at a higher elevation, you can assist your team when they are flanked, or get to Tracer before she gets to your team. When you are in heated duels against Tracer and you have wasted your Deflect, calm use of double jump into wall climb will allow you escape a situation where you should have died. Most importantly because your Swift Strike, or blade dash, does 50 damage you can use it with a fan of shurikens to kill a Tracer in close range. Killing someone with your blade dash, or getting a kill while its on cooldown, will reset its cooldown and allow it be used again (Note: his ultimate also resets the Cooldown).

Deflect is the mark of a very high skill Genji because this ability is the trump card to all projectile fire and abilities (it can even reflect Dragonstrike, Graviton Surge, Whole Hog, etc.). Mastering Genji will be a lot about understanding when to use it, and how not to waste it. Because only a few heroes can interrupt this ability, mastering fear of death with this hero will allow you to use Deflect to kill someone, dash away, reset and heal. Against a Tracer Deflect can make or break the duels you have, saving this for when the Tracer is explicitly going in for the kill is key. If you waste deflect, Tracer can reset the fight or simply blink behind you. Be patient, be precise, and always try to finish her off with either deflect into dash, or Shurikens into dash. 


Zarya  (Medium Difficulty)

Zarya is one of the better tanks to have when Tracer is ruining your team. Although her beam does not follow targets like Symmetra, it is still much easier to aim against high mobility targets like Tracer than traditional projectile weapons. Looking towards Zarya's skills, her Barrier projection is very handy to buy teammates a moment to kill Tracer or survive a deadly ultimate like Pulse Bomb. Barriers absorb up to 200 damage but (need to confirm with play testing still) will absorb all of an instance of damage. Meaning although a Rip-Tire does 600 damage, the Barrier will absorb all 600 because it is in one instance where the barrier exists.

Your beam doesnt follow Tracer but it can melt through her, especially when at full charge. Dealing 80 DPS base damage, a Zarya at full charge will be doing close to 160 DPS with her beam, only needing 1 second of concentrated aiming to kill Tracer. Zarya's alternate fire is also pretty useful at medium to long ranges versus a Tracer. Dealing 46 damage per orb, and up to 92 damage when at full charge, you can soften up Tracer and make finishing her off much easier.

Bubbles bubbles bubbles! Zarya's strength against Tracer comes from negating her damage with Barriers and charging up her damage. The combination of stopping Tracer from killing your teammates while gaining damage charge allows Zarya to significantly hamper Tracers presence. As well, these Barriers block up to 200 damage over 2 seconds, but will also block more damage than that if it occurs in one instance; i.e. Pulse Bomb. If you see a teammate get stuck, or you get stuck yourself, quickly Barrier up and the ultimate will become damage for Zarya not Tracer!



Thank you for reading this! I will be editing all guides after launch with relevant details and fixes! If you have any thoughts/feedback feel free to comment or Email me!


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