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Mei Strategy & Gameplay Guide “Ice wall, coming up.”

Last updated on Jun 01, 2016 at 09:19 by Vlad 6 comments

Table of Contents

Mei Portrait
  • Mei Personal Details Real Name: Mei-Ling Zhou, Age: 31
  • Mei Occupation Occupation: Climatologist, Adventurer
  • Mei Geographical Origins Base of Operations: Xi'an, China (formerly)
  • Mei Affiliation Affiliation: Overwatch (formerly)

This guide takes an in-depth look at how to play Mei in Overwatch. We look at the strengths and weaknesses of the hero, and we go over mechanics, recommended strategies, and things to beware of.

The guide has been written based on our extensive experience playing the game since before the Closed Beta began, and it relies on our decades-long FPS experience. That said, our aim is to keep the guide relatively brief and easy to understand, making it accessible to veterans and new players alike.

If you have any comment on the guide's content or structure, please let us know in the comments! :)

Stamp of Approval

This guide has been reviewed and approved by michr, formerly one of the best Day of Defeat players in Europe, who now plays Overwatch for OWKings. He also writes for Gosu Gamers.

1. Strengths

  • Excellent at disrupting enemy team
  • Can freeze enemies solid, making them easy targets
  • Good survivability and defensive mechanisms
  • Ease to use ultimate (Blizzard Icon Blizzard) that can have devastating consequences

2. Weaknesses

  • Low damage at medium and long range (due to damage drop-off)
  • Mobile enemy heroes are difficult to freeze
  • Ultimate is often ineffective without help from her team

3. Strategy

In this section, we will briefly go over the main strategies you should employ as Mei. We will begin with an Overview, and then we will go in depth more about each ability that Mei has.

3.1. Overview

Mei is a defensive hero that specialises in frost-based abilities to disrupt the enemy team.

At close range, Mei's damage potential is very high, and she can easily challenge any hero if she makes use of her Endothermic Blaster Icon Endothermic Blaster's primary fire to slow or freeze her target. Due to the damage drop-off of her alternate fire at longer ranges (and due to the limited range of her primary fire), she is less and less viable the farther away her enemies are.

Mei is very useful to her team if she focuses on her strength, which is disruption of the enemy team. Her Ice Wall Icon Ice Wall blocks the targeted area for up to 4.5 seconds, making it extremely effective in a variety of situations (preventing enemies from advancing or retreating, separating enemy teams, etc), while the slowing effect of her Endothermic Blaster can frustrate enemies and make them easier targets for Mei's teammates.

Mei's Blizzard Icon Blizzard is very much in-tune with the rest of her kit, freezing and damaging enemies in an area. While, again, it can serve to get Mei kills (if the enemies cannot escape the Blizzard area in time and get frozen, and if Mei is allowed to damage them), it is far more effective and reliable at keeping the enemies off a point, or when working together with other powerful abilities from Mei's team.

All in all, Mei works almost as a utility hero. With the exception of some rare moments, she does not get to shine at the forefront like offense or even some defense heroes (Widowmaker, Bastion), and instead she is there to increase the efficiency of her more damaging teammates.

Mei is, in our opinion, stronger when defending than when attacking, but she is generally viable on all maps and in all situations. If you are playing Mei and you notice that your teammates lack the damage to follow up on your disruptions (killing slowed or frozen enemies, killing enemies you have managed to block off from the rest of their team) and you end up being nothing more than an annoyance to the other team, you could consider changing to a more impactful hero.

3.2. Abilities

3.2.1. Endothermic Blaster (Frost Stream)

Mei Endothermic Blaster
Endothermic Blaster (LMB, RMB) Mei

LMB: Short range spray weapon that freezes. RMB: Launch a long range projectile.

The primary fire of Mei's Endothermic Blaster Icon Endothermic Blaster shoots a channeled frost stream in front of Mei. Enemies who are hit by it take a low amount of damage and are slowed. Consecutive hits on them increase the slowing effect until they become frozen solid. For an enemy to become solid, they must have sustained about 2 seconds of your frost stream, and if they are not hit by your frost stream at all for 2 seconds, then the freeze effect on them is reset.

Enemies are frozen solid for 1.5 seconds, during which time they cannot perform any action or use any ability. At the end of this time, if they are still alive, their freeze is completely reset and if you wish to freeze them again you must once again hit them with your frost stream for 2 seconds. This means that hitting a frozen target with your frost stream does not do contribute anything to freezing them, and instead only does a small amount of damage to them.

Mei's Endothermic Blaster has a maximum ammo capacity of 200, and each second spent channeling the frost stream costs 20 ammo.

Mei's frost stream is a unique ability in Overwatch, which allows her to tackle any enemy hero and, in principle, kill them. Once an enemy has taken enough ticks from her frost stream, they will be slowed enough that being frozen solid is almost unavoidable. This gives Mei the chance to headshot them with her alternate fire (practically guaranteed hits on a stationary target), and it also gives her a head start at re-freezing them once their freeze runs out. If you also consider Mei using melee attacks (default keybind V), then her damage potential on a target slowed or frozen by her frost stream is tremendous.

What we describe above should be your basic strategy for engaging any enemy hero in close range (the range of the frost stream), but be aware that there are several things that work against Mei.

To begin with, agile heroes that run and jump a lot are difficult to hit for long enough to freeze them solid. This means that, despite the fact that Mei is considered by many to be a counter to Genji and Tracer, in practice she has great difficulty actually freezing them in place if they are played by competent players. Of course, any Tracer or Genji that did not manage to burst Mei down will not wish to remain around her, given the danger of being frozen, so we feel that Mei and these heroes sort of cancel each other out.

Next, consider that many heroes have reliable escape mechanisms that allow them to get away from Mei, even if she has begun to freeze them. Winston can leap away, Tracer and Genji can Blink Icon Blink and use Swift Strike Icon Swift Strike respectively, Reaper can use Wraith Form Icon Wraith Form, Widowmaker can use Grappling Hook Icon Grappling Hook, and so on.

Moreover, Mei will have a very difficult time against McCree, who can catch her off guard with his Flashbang Icon Flashbang and kill her before she has a chance to react, as well as against Zarya, whose shields block the frost stream freezing effect, rendering Mei practically useless. In fact, the frost stream does not penetrate any shields at all (like Winston's Barrier Projector Icon Barrier Projector or Reinhardt's Barrier Field Icon Barrier Field).

Finally, for Mei to be able to kill enemy heroes with her frost stream-based combo, she must be allowed to deal damage to these heroes. If she runs into 2 or more enemy heroes, even if she manages to freeze one, it is unlikely that she will survive long enough to kill her target.

We do not say any of this to discourage you from playing Mei or from using her frost stream. We simply feel that it is important for you to realize Mei's vulnerabilities, and not to assume that just because you can freeze enemies in place, you can charge into the enemy team and get kills.

There is nothing else to say about how to use your frost stream except to point out that, basically, whenever you see an enemy and you are not in danger of dying, you should try to freeze and kill them, or hope that a teammate will help you kill them.

3.2.2. Endothermic Blaster (Icicle Projectiles)

Mei Endothermic Blaster
Endothermic Blaster (LMB, RMB) Mei

LMB: Short range spray weapon that freezes. RMB: Launch a long range projectile.

The alternate fire of Mei's Endothermic Blaster Icon Endothermic Blaster fires an icicle projectile that deals 75 damage to its target at close range. As a projectile, it has travel time (though it is quite fast) but it flies in a straight line, and it also has damage drop-off at range. Each icicle projectile costs 25 ammo, meaning that she can fire 8 projectiles before needing to reload. This firing mode has a rate of fire of 2 shots per second, granting Mei high damage potential.

The icicle projectiles are an important part of Mei's kit, as they are her only means of doing damage outside of the close range of her frost stream. Their damage is, as we mentioned, very high, but hitting moving targets with them will require practice.

Consider that, in addition to the projectiles having travel time, there is also a short delay between when you use your alternate fire and when the projectile is shot. You will need to correct for all of these factors, which often means shooting ahead of where you think your target is going. As we said, it will take you some practice to get used to this firing mode.

Whenever you have no one in range of your frost stream (and no need to use your other abilities), you should be shooting icicle projectiles at distant targets. Stationary enemies should be your priority, as hitting them is very easy, and the perfect accuracy of your icicles allows you to repeatedly headshot them.

As mentioned above, your alternate fire forms a powerful synergy with your frost stream (and with your ultimate, as we will see below). If you have managed to freeze an enemy solid, you should use this time to headshot them with icicle projectiles, even at very close range.

3.2.3. Ice Wall

Mei Ice Wall
Ice Wall (E) Mei
  • Cooldown: 10 seconds

Create a wall in front of you.

Ice Wall Icon Ice Wall is Mei's signature ability. When used, it creates a solid line of tall ice pillars that persist for 4.5 seconds or until destroyed. Each pillar has 500 damage, and they are also destroyed instantly by a Payload being pushed through them. Subsequent presses of Ice Wall's keybind (before actually casting the ability) allow you to change the orientation of the Ice Wall.

While active, the Ice Wall acts just like any other obstacle in Overwatch. It blocks line of sight, damage, and movement, and players can use it as the object of their various abilities (Lúcio's Wall Ride Icon Wall Ride, Widowmaker's Grappling Hook Icon Grappling Hook, and so on).

There are many uses for Mei's Ice Wall, but since it deals no damage itself, all of them have to do with blocking paths and disrupting the enemy team. As mentioned earlier in the guide, you will find that the most impactful uses are to prevent one or more enemies from escaping (by placing the Ice Wall behind them, or to block a doorway they are trying to use), or to prevent one or more enemies from reaching you. An example of the latter situation is blocking a Genji who has used Dragonblade Icon Dragonblade or a Soldier: 76 with Tactical Visor Icon Tactical Visor active from reaching your team.

Other strong uses are to have the Ice Wall block line of sight, allowing you and your team to take cover from powerful abilities such as D.Va's Self-Destruct Icon Self-Destruct or McCree's Deadeye Icon Deadeye.

Moreover, you can use Ice Wall to split an enemy team up in two, disrupting their heals or other buffs, or you can use it simply to make your escape from a dangerous enemy.

It will not take you many games of Overwatch to learn that Mei players love to block the attacking team from leaving their spawn point just as the gates open by placing an Ice Wall there. While the tactic seems quite lame, it does have the merit of delaying some of the attackers (those who choose that gate) for 4.5 seconds, so you can certainly do the same when playing Mei.

One cool usage of Ice Wall is to create a wall in the Charge Icon Charge path of an allied Reinhardt, which will serve as a solid object for him to crush his Charge target against without traveling deep into the enemy team. This requires coordination with your allied Reinhardt, or at least very quick reflexes.

Finally, we would like to mention a peculiar effect of Ice Wall. When it is placed directly on top of a teammate, it will push that teammate on top of the Ice Wall. This can be used to boost teammates to areas that they could otherwise not reach (a good example is using it on Bastion to help him get a better position).

Overall, we advise you to use Ice Wall often, even if it is just to annoy the other team, since every second you can delay them counts. That said, do not waste it when you think a good opportunity is just around the corner.

3.2.4. Cryo-Freeze

Mei Cryo-Freeze
Cryo-Freeze (LShift) Mei
  • Cooldown: 12 seconds

Become invulnerable and heal yourself.

Cryo-Freeze Icon Cryo-Freeze is Mei's primary defensive ability. It encases her in a solid block of ice for up to 4 seconds (you can cancel it at any time by using your Right Mouse Button). During this time, Mei is completely invulnerable, any debuffs are removed from her, and she heals up for a total of 150 hit points over the 4-second duration. The block of ice counts as a solid object.

The main purpose of Cryo-Freeze is to prevent you from dying. When you are low on health and taking fire, simply use Cryo-Freeze. This will heal you up, give your Ice Wall Icon Ice Wall a chance to cool down, and give your teammates a chance to come to your rescue. Naturally, since you are stationary for the duration of Cryo-Freeze, your enemy or enemies will simply wait for it to end and then continue attacking you, so if you do not get any help, you will probably still be in trouble when Cryo-Freeze ends.

One area in which Cryo-Freeze is very strong is avoiding high amounts of damage. You can use it to protect yourself from practically any enemy ultimate ability, which means that Mei never has to worry about such powerful abilities as Reaper's Death Blossom Icon Death Blossom or McCree's Deadeye Icon Deadeye.

Moreover, since the block of ice is a solid object, your teammates can use it to take cover. So, if your entire team is very exposed to a D.Va Self-Destruct Icon Self-Destruct, you can use Cryo-Freeze to save everyone. You can also move in front of a McCree using Deadeye Icon Deadeye and Cryo-Freeze to block his line of sight.

Keep in mind that Cryo-Freeze begins to cool down when its effect ends, so canceling it early with Right Mouse Button if you do not need its entire duration is recommended.

3.2.5. Blizzard

Mei Blizzard
Blizzard (Q) Mei
  • Ultimate

Launch a weather control drone that freezes enemies in a wide area.

When Mei uses Blizzard Icon Blizzard, she throws a small drone on the ground in front of her. For 5 seconds, enemies in a large radius around the drone are progressively frozen and they also take a low amount of damage every second (basically, it is almost as if everyone in the radius is being hit by Mei's frost stream). Enemies who take 3.5 seconds of damage from Blizzard become frozen solid for 1.5 seconds. Players must be within line of sight of the drone for them to be affected by Blizzard.

The ability is easy to use (very little aiming is required, and its radius is large enough that there is a good margin of error). Its damage is not high (an enemy who spends all 5 seconds inside Blizzard only takes about 100 damage), but Blizzard is highly effective.

The most important thing to consider when using Blizzard is to make sure that you do so at a time and place where it is important. Using Blizzard to survive a close encounter with 2 heroes in a corridor far away from the objective is valid, but it is far from optimal.

The ideal usage of Blizzard is against most or all of the enemy team, when they are in a place where they cannot avoid it (such as a small room, a narrow choke point), or when they are already incapacitated by your teammates (Zarya's Graviton Surge Icon Graviton Surge or Reinhardt's Earthshatter Icon Earthshatter). In this cases, especially if you have teammates around, you should have a fairly easy time killing any enemies caught in the Blizzard (even if they do not get to be frozen solid, they will still be very slow).

This is not always possible to achieve, however (and it is not worth saving your Blizzard for too long waiting for it to happen). If you can use Blizzard on 2-3 enemies, that is generally good enough, but once again, you should try to do so only around the objective.

Moreover, keep in mind that enemies who are quick to react will be able to run out of Blizzard under normal circumstances. So, you must do your best to prevent them from doing so. This can be done by throwing the drone behind them (so that they have to either run into your team or through all of Blizzard's radius), blocking them off with your Ice Wall Icon Ice Wall, or even just slowing them with your Endothermic Blaster Icon Endothermic Blaster.

Finally, keep in mind that Blizzard works well even just as a tool to keep the enemies off the objective for a few seconds, which could buy you and your team all the time you need to repel an attack.

4. ChangeLog

  • 01 Jun. 2016: Added a mention that you can alter Ice Wall's orientation.
  • 22 May 2016: Updated the guide following michr's review.
    • Revamped the evaluation of the power of Mei's Endothermic Blaster.
    • Added another Ice Wall strategy, as well as a niche usage for Cryo-Freeze.
    • Mentioned that Blizzard only affects enemies who are in line of sight of the drone.
  • 07 May 2016: Guide added.
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