Let's start this guide with one of the most impressive and effective tournament Mei moments in recent memory.
Mei isn't the most popular hero, but the ability to dismantle the enemies strategy with a single ability is always in demand. If you are up to the challenge (and can coordinate with your team) clever Mei usage can net huge advantages.
Mei is a hero that rewards a strategic, creative mind. She’s not your typical hard carry hero, but her ability to duel almost anyone in the game while simultaneously setting up your team for success through the use of her Ice Wall makes her quite an imposing figure on Overwatch’s battlefield. Today we’ll be focusing on all the fun stuff you can do with one of the most underrated abilities in the game; Ice Wall.
The very first thing you should learn to do with Ice Wall is to split up the enemy team. You’ve no doubt heard someone (perhaps even myself) talk about having a ‘numbers advantage’ over the enemy team. Generally, this refers to getting an early kill before a fight breaks out, then pushing the advantage by forcing a 6 vs. 5 fight.
Mei’s Ice Wall gives you the opportunity to create a numbers advantage without killing anyone. This strategy is most effective on maps with well-defined choke points like King’s Row or Hanamura Point A, where you can place your wall across the choke after only a few enemies have moved through. One of the best recent examples of this strategy was used by London Spitfire in the pre-season games, where Rascal’s Mei allowed them to constantly win fights through clever use of the Ice Wall on Horizon Lunar Colony.
One of the most difficult things to achieve in a team of solo players is focus fire, meaning you all target the same enemy player at the same time to ensure a fast kill. The great thing about Mei and her Ice Wall is that she makes it incredibly easy for your team to focus fire, since they’ll only have line of sight to a couple of the enemy players. People shoot at what they can see, so give them one or two targets to focus at a time and you’ll find it really easy to win fights!
Building on what we mentioned about restricting your teammate’s lines of sight, you can also use Ice Walls to block enemy line of sight too. There are a ton of ways this can be useful, and they can all help you save allies or hinder enemy players. For example, a Level 3 Torbjorn turret can be hard to deal with if you don’t have some high damage, long-range abilities at your team’s disposal.
Fortunately, since the turret requires line of sight to lock on and deal damage, you can drop an Ice Wall in front of it to make it useless for a big chunk of Torb’s ultimate duration. Ice Wall lasts 4.5 seconds, which is slightly over a third of Torbjorn’s Ultimate duration. That might not sound like a huge amount of time, but it can buy enough time for your team to find cover or get enough picks to win the fight despite the Level 3 Turret.
Blocking line of sight can also be a great way to disrupt the enemy backline, especially if they have a Widowmaker or Ana. These characters want to sit way at the back of the map, using their scope advantage to land precision shots from relative safety. Although Mei’s damage drop-off doesn’t make her ideal for actually killing those targets, the Ice Wall will prevent them from being able to attack your team or heal their allies in Ana’s case.
One of the sneakiest uses of Ice Wall involves using it to counter Zarya’s Graviton Surge, which is easily one of the most powerful Ultimate abilities in the game, particularly when combined with DPS Ultimates. Graviton Surge pulls you in like a black hole, but it cannot pull you through terrain (unless you have enough momentum to orbit around a wall). That means Ice Wall can be used to shift you and your team away from the center of the Graviton Surge.
Mei’s Cryo-Freeze gives her the ability to endure a Graviton Surge by herself, but it’s no good if you’re alive and the rest of your team is dead; in fact, that’s a disadvantage because you’ll stagger and waste time. By placing an Ice Wall under your team, you lift them up out of the Grav. Although this doesn’t let you completely escape, it does give your team a fighting chance at surviving through it, since it can allow you to dodge enough damage until the Graviton expires.
Now and again, you can even escape deadly combinations like Tracer’s Pulse Bomb, since they have a good chance of sticking your wall instead of the team. Don’t expect it to save you from Hanzo’s Dragonstrike though; the Area of Effect is just a little too large in most scenarios.
Mei is one of the worst hero choices for the impatient; it can take her quite a while to get anywhere thanks to her pretty low movement speed and lack of movement abilities. That being said, certain maps do make life easier for Mei, since Ice Wall can be used to traverse gaps that would usually be outside of her reach.
There are far too many spots like this to list, so your best bet is to explore your favorite maps and get creative. There are lots of high ground areas, shortcuts and obstacles that Mei can bypass by creating a bridge with her Ice Wall, and the best part is that if you coordinate properly, your team can come along for the ride! In fact, we’re reminded of a brilliant display of creative strategy from Meta Athena during the second season of OGN’s APEX tournament. Don’t underestimate the power of Mei!
A while ago, it used to be possible to actually trap enemies against low ceilings using Ice Wall, but this seems to have been changed by Blizzard and rarely occurs outside of a bug. That being said, you can still achieve the desired effect with a little bit of creativity. There are lots of spots on each map where you can trap an enemy, particularly if they have low DPS or no verticality that can be used to escape.
Good examples include corners of rooms (placing a horizontal wall against a corner will essentially trap that enemy in the corner until the wall expires), underneath bridges and in smaller tunnels that are typically used for flanking. This trick can often help you sneakily win maps in Overtime too, since those precious seconds could deny the enemy team the time they need to reach the objective.