I’ve recently joined a competitive team, and I was thinking about one of my favorite supports, Bucket, and why i don’t think he works for Competitive play. In fact, I don’t think he will work out with his current set of abilities, unless they are changed mechanically. Unlike some, I think that a high-damage support is viable, and that damage itself at high enough levels can be a deterrent. But the reason why he won’t be competitive has to do with directly pressuring the monster.
At high levels of play, many monsters will try to waste as much time of the early/post-evolve domes as possible, avoiding damage by kiting the hunters around obstacles, or hiding in corners. The hunters have to exert as much direct damage pressure as possible to press their early advantage.
In most domes, Cabot is able to do this. Cabot can push damage on a running monster on his own, and when the monster is forced out of the corner, he and the assault can get in some amped damage.
Bucket, on the other hand, cannot exert such direct pressure. Bucket is a super defensive support, relying on the premise that the monster will fight rather than run, and that the hunters can decide the terms of the fight. In that sense, Bucket may spend up to 15 seconds, a quarter of the dome, just setting up turrets, when the reality is that the monster will probably only get hit by them for about 3 seconds, taking maybe 2-5 bars of armor damage, tops.
So, Bucket will severely underperform Cabot in damage any time the monster chooses to be evasive in the dome, which is usually when the hunters have the advantage. Bucket is trading away the ability to pressure for the ability to get consistent damage in combat. If the monster plays evasively, that means Bucket is trading the early game for the late game.
Therefore, in order for Bucket to be viable just by buffing his sentries/rockets, he would need to do several domes worth of Cabot damage at Stage 3. I think we can all see how that would be problematic in pub games.
Most monsters will play evasively to counter bucket, because they’re banking on the fact that the sentry damage won’t be enough at stage 3. Once they hit that stage, their damage output makes fights shorter, and Bucket doesn’t help you extend the fight, like Hank does. Therein lies the rub: Bucket is less aggressive than Cabot & less protective than Hank. He cannot exert direct pressure on the monster at early stages, and his late game pressure is not enough to make up for it.
The solution is to give Bucket something so threatening that the monster would be forced to fight in those early domes & take some of that steady sentry damage. I am not sure what this could be, but it needs to be something new that isn’t in the game right now. Perhaps tagging the monster makes him take more damage. Perhaps sentries could point to the monster’s location no matter how far away the monster is. Maybe sentry damage could be amped up the closer the monster is to the sentry. Maybe Bucket upgrades his sentries ammunition as the monster stages up to do more and more damage to armor, or just more damage. But he needs something new that will help him force the fight, something that would synergize well with the turrets. He needs some way to exert direct pressure against an evasive monster.
Its possible that Torvald might help Bucket out a little bit, because Monsters must move constantly to counter his mortars. Torvald also has the markers that multiply damage. But I don’t think that will be enough to make Bucket better than Cabot, since Cabot can double mortar damage, and Bucket sentries should never do as much damage on their own as the mortar cannons.
There may be some relays or maps where Markov Bucket Maggie is actually so annoying that it may be viable, but I’d argue that this isn’t very fun for either side, and can feel a bit dirty. If you don’t get much damage in the early game, but then you just play super evasively at the relay, nobody feels good about that win, especially the monster.
I didn’t mention the UAV here because I think its a good skill, just not in competitive play. If your competitive team is getting juked, then your team is not doing their job, and you need to practice sticking close on the monster after a dome. Its fine for Bucket to have this utility, even if it never gets used in Competitive. But it doesn’t count as adding direct pressure, because most teams don’t struggle with tracking. If they do struggle with tracking, the fact that bucket’s tag takes so much time compared to Cabot’s, it means that you’ll probably be fighting a monster with more armor than you would with Cabot.
Bucket can’t exert direct pressure on the monster in early domes. He trades the early game for the late game, but his damage isn’t enough to compensate for multiple domes worth of Cabot damage. If it was, the turrets would be OP. He needs something that forces the monster to fight in the early game.