Overwatch's Summer Games end on August 29, which means there isn't much time left to get good at Lucioball. Except no one is that good at Lucioball, even the players ranked in top 500. But while players who hate it have already gone back to playing Rocket League, the competitive Lucioball players left standing have done their best to rise above the game's quirks.
Sometimes, it's way too hard to get a goal to register in Lucioball. (gif via YouTube)
Lucioball is a 3v3 soccer mode in which every player spawns as the healer Lucio. They pelt a giant ball around a field using a specifically-tuned array of Lucio's moves and try to score on the other team's goal. Lucioball debuted in last year's Summer Games, and this year, there's both casual Lucioball and a "Copa Lucioball" mode, which will award you a player ranking à la competitive Overwatch.
Since last winter, Overwatch has made a couple of big changes to Lucioball. Last year players could use Lucio's Soundwave to push other players, but that has since been removed. Lucio's Ultimate no longer pulls the ball toward him, so players can't hide inside another team's net and sneak a goal in.
The removal of those two elements has helped Lucioball feel more balanced, thereby justifying the game's new competitive-only mode. A crop of fan-run online tournaments for Lucioball are already underway. That said, high-level competitive Lucioball doesn't look that different from casual play. The game's tough on everyone.
The hardest part of the game, for both inexperienced and highly-ranked players, is that Lucioball's goalposts have very exacting standards. Sometimes, the ball and the goalposts just don't seem to want to register a point. Turn down your volume before watching this demonstration of top 500 Lucioball players lamenting some picky goalpost detection:
Some players have learned that the goalposts' oddness can work in their favour. Take, for example, this clip from a stream by Overwatch pro Elliott "Muselk" Watkins, in which he knocks a scoring ball back out of his own team's net after it had already passed the backboard:
Immediately following this unlikely save, Muselk's teammates fail to get the other team's goalpost to register a point. What goes around, comes around!
Players have to hit the ball into the goalposts as straight and true as possible to ensure points register. Punches and boops often have unpredictable aim, but high-level players have discovered a technique that forces the ball to rocket forward in a speedy straight line. They use the jump pad to land on top of the ball. Lucio falls with enough force after exiting a jump pad that his gravity propels the ball and even puts some air on it:
Here's another example of the technique in action, as demonstrated by a high-ranked player whose teammate sets up the shot ahead of time. The ball is already in the air once Lucio lands on it, and it goes high and fast over the goalkeeper's head:
We reached out to Blizzard for an explanation of why this technique works so well, to which the Overwatch development team responded, "It is unintended, but we're OK with it."
Erin Catto, the Overwatch team's principal software engineer, described the move as "an emergent behaviour" that works because of the player's collision mechanics.
"The ball cannot block the player's movement, and the player should not push the ball through the floor. So I designed the player collision with the ball to behave like a spring," Catto explained. "In this case, the ball presses deep into the player's collision volume (the spring compresses), then shoots out like a watermelon seed (the spring expands)."
This move takes practise to pull off, and its existence proves that there are still techniques left to discover in Lucioball, just in time for the last week of competitive play and tournaments.
Here's one last technique that won't elevate the game, but will elevate the irritation of the other team, which could potentially work in your favour. You can apply one of Lucio's graffiti sprays directly to the ball, which won't move it forward, but will allow you to show off.
In this example, the other team doesn't put up much of a fight, given that they're two points behind with six seconds left on the clock, but who's to say the spray didn't break what was left of their spirit?
If you're not above psychological warfare, you could add this new form of taunting to your Lucioball toolbelt. Otherwise, keep an eye out for players hopping on the ball in competitive mode.