Though often overlooked in favor of more exciting tasks, vision is one of the most important responsibilities of a successful Support. The importance only grows as the level of play increases. In League of Legends, the Fog of War and Mini-Map make it easy to visualize the importance of vision. Since both of these are absent in Overwatch, the idea of vision is more nuanced, but still essential to success at high levels.
League of Legends
The basics of vision in League comes down to Wards. While all roles are able to (and should) place wards, the reality is that the other roles need to spend their gold on damage or defensive items, rather than on warding items or Control Wards. This leaves the majority of the responsibility up to the support.
Vision starts during the laning phase, and just like everything else in League, how to be most impactful varies from game to game. If the major threat is from an early-game Jungler, wards are often better spent in the river. If the enemy Jungler prefers to farm, however, and the enemy Bot Lane has high kill pressure, wards might be better spent in the lane bushes.
The most important thing to keep in mind early in the game is efficiency. With only Trinket Wards available until the support items upgrade, and Control Wards costing precious gold, vision options are limited. If the enemy Mid Laner is pushed in, and their Jungler is showing top, a river ward might be a waste. Waiting an extra 30 seconds could make all the difference between spotting an incoming gank, or just missing it due to your ward expiring too soon.
Later in the Game
Throughout the past few seasons, vision has taken some hits. The introduction and then removal of Sightstones and limiting the amount of Control Wards has changed the game drastically. No longer is the goal to see as much of the map as possible at all times. Instead teams, and specifically Supports, need to be much more deliberate with their vision choices.
At one time, a Support can have three Vision Wards and one Control ward on the map. This is enough to ward safely around a lane, Dragon, or Baron, but not all three. Of course other members of the team should be warding too, each with a Control Ward and possibly a Trinket, but how often does that really happen? Being aware of whether the team should be pushing a lane or taking Baron next can determine whether you have enough vision available for the proper area, and remember: Wards Save Lives.
Vision in Overwatch is very different than in League. After all, you can see everything, right? With no brush-like cover providing one-way vision, and no Fog of War, what’s to worry about?
As it turns out, there are still strategic advantages to be gained from having knowledge of the enemies movements, and a lot of this still falls on the support. Simple things like important cooldowns can be communicated by anyone on the team. However, there are other things that Support Heroes seem to have a natural advantage with.
The mobility of Heroes like Lucio, Baptiste and Mercy can get them out ahead of or above the rest of their team. This unique vantage point can be used to provide vital information that may give their team an edge.
With players able to switch characters in the middle of a game, and each team unsure what lineup the other will be running until they meet on the map, any advanced knowledge can be useful. Racing out ahead, or getting a bird’s eye view can inform your team of how to counter the opponent, and in certain situations can provide an advantage.
The Aim Game
Even once fights have started, keeping track of the enemies movements and abilities is vital. Doing so, however, can be hard to do while attempting to land headshots or position to block damage. Here again, some supports hold an advantage.
Lucio, Mercy and Moira do not need to aim to provide healing for their team, which lets them focus more on the enemy team as a whole, rather than just who they are aiming at to heal or damage. True, a good support will be putting out damage as well as healing, but that is not their main function.
Knowledge is Power
Though managed completely differently, the concept of vision in both games boils down to the same thing – knowledge of the enemy team and their movements. In games where an immense amount of effort is put into making things balanced, having superior vision can provide the leg up needed to be victorious.