I’m a low-GM / High Master player and I’m here to share some things that I don’t see mentionned enough and I think are worthy of being talked about. It won’t make you instantly better at the game but the more knowledge you can rack up the easier it will be for you to improve your gameplay and increase your odds of winning.
( Keep in mind that understanding and applying are two separate things and practice is required to fully understand theory )
Risk & Rewards : There are four types of plays.
- Low risk and low reward : This is the “safe” play, there is little to no skill involved on your part, and you use it to gain a small edge on your opponent, but it’s something they will see coming so they can mitigate the effects. You should always be going for these plays at any moment in the game, as you can’t fail ii and set your team behind.
( Anything from destroying Rein’s Shield from behind your own cover, to poke / get picks from behind a safe cover, all you need to care about is flankers and ults. Not taking a single chance against their widow / roadhog )
- Low risk and high reward : These are opportunities that you, as a player, must learn to identify quickly as these are not made available by you making a good play, but because your ennemies are out of position and should be punished for that. They will become slowly exctint the higher you go but will still be present.
( From sniping a enemy who is out of cover while being safe to capping points they forget to defend. )
- High risk and low reward : That sort of play is what you must remove from your gameplay entirely as gambling your influence on the game constantly by taking useless risks will cause you to lose more games.
( Trying to 1vs1 a counter, betting on the fact that their dps will not hit you while running from point A to point B, flanking a support who isn’t alone and risking that 2+ more ennemies won’t hit you before you finish killing / distracting, pressing dragonblade when your whole team died and betting on a 1vs4 instead of managing your ult )
- High Risk and High Reward : These are the things you’ll see a lot of High Elo and OTPs ( One Trick Pony, people who commit to playing only one class / hero no matter what ) go for, and unless you’re one of these categories I’d advise you not to go for. They have the potential to turn the game back in your favor or completely screw your team over by wasting your ult and the space someone created for you and one maybe two pushes.
( Trying to pull a tricky flank on Tracer and get both support, pretty much anything flanked related. Betting on a very specific chain of event to occur ; deflecting a Zarya ult into blade, or using Winston Rage to knock off ennemies against a Roadhog / Zeniatta / DVA combo. Save up nanovisor for a specific spot in the map to get a flank off and get their entire backline but being weaker until that point and risking not being able to setup … )
To summarize, if you’re looking to play the safe way, aim for a low risk low reward gameplay as it limits your mistakes, you will not die a lot but won’t have the optimal impact you could have on the game, but it’s still your safest bet to win games. If you’re looking to improve on your mechanical skill , you should be going for the high rewards play anytime they open up to you. Yes, you will pay the price sometimes but you will actively learn from that mistake, and when you hit that play it feels rewarding. If you’re looking to improve your game knowledge, you should go for the high risk gameplay. Yes, I’m aware you’re not going to win games that way, but doing so will help you reach a better understanding on the game making your comfort zone bigger.
Not many players realise how important their character body is, especially the Tanks. Yes, you get hit by everything that fly near you and some tanks are walking free ult charges and you’re here to take the hits for your allies, but there’s so much more your body can do :
- You can block hooks for your allies, but you can also block every single bullet until you die. If your McRee is ulting, sit in front of him and tank any sleep / hooks / burst damage they could receive. Yes you might die, but it’s worth a 4 man High Noon even if your name won’t be on the POTG. If your Pharah is ulting and you’re DVA / Winston, jump between her and ennemies to take as much of the heat, it’s your job, they do more damage than you. Whenever your genji ult, locate the roadhog and distract him / put yourself between him and genji. Even in GM, there are only two things that shut down a Nanoblade, hook and earthshatter. You can’t do anything about Earthshatter unless you’re Zarya or Rein, so focus on making the Roadhog life’s hell so he can’t hook Genji.
I could go on and on but you get my point, if you’re bodyblocking for allies you need to identificate the biggest threat to your carry / support and shut it down with your abilities, damage, or by sitting between them and your ally.
- You can block your ennemies with your own body. This one is especially true for DVA but can be applied to any tank depending on the situation. If you’re flanking 3+ people in a corridor and pincer them with your team on the other side, do not move, even if it means you give up the mecha and die, because you’re cutting their retreat, you act as a Mei Wall. And while tank are certainly not as wide and high as the wall, there are many entrances and alleyways on certains maps where you can just sit and split the team. There are only 4 ways for a enemy to push you aside in a corridor : Rein’s Charge / DVA’s Boop / Roadhog’s Hook / Winston under Rage. A Lucio can’t boop a tank who is facing him and not jumping, and pharah isn’t present in corridors. Whenever you have the opportunity especially if it’s a support try to block a entrance and force them to fight or run the long way around.
One Trick Pony
This is a bit controversial depending on who you ask so I will first go with pure facts then on my own opinion on the matter. ( I will go with Tracer to illustrate but it remains true with everything. )
- Fact : The OTP know the matchup with you better than you ever will.
This Tracer has been against every class as Tracer, for hours and probaby days, he knows when to back out to dodge flashbangs, she’s seen enough Mcrees at his rating to know at which point they’re likely to flashand thus will dodge it. She know the range of Reinhart / Winston and can kite both without ever taking damage if he she decides to. She know where to look for Mercy, how Zeniatta shoots to not die to him, how predictable Ana are …
( This is relative to where the Tracer is rating-wise, meaning that if he’s Gold he’ll have seen enough Gold players to outsmart them, same for Diam / Master etc… ).
- Fact : The OTP knows every little trick that could help them get the edge on you.
Tracer know where her Recall will get her accurately, know dash timing, can land decent bombs, has a tracking decent enough to kill you in less than 2 clips and to use a melee to finish you off. She also know every map spots for her to sit on and wait for flanks, where are the healthpacks she can back off to, where her current ratings opposents usually sits.
- Fact : The OTP will turn a 70 to 30 counter match up into a 50-50.
If you want to counter a OTP, you need to either have someone who mains the counter or to find alternate ways to counter her. As previously stated, she know her counters by heart and has in memory the time window for her to kill before she is forced to back out. If you put someone who is bad at Mcree to counter he, she’s going to turn the match up into a 70 to 30 for her and you’ll have one less dps because he will either miss shots or die to her constantly. Get a Junkrat and praise RNG God, get a Pharah, reduce the window of outplay for her to a minimal while keeping in mind the skill or your player.
- Fact : Even when performing badly he will not swap.
Now, Hero Swapping is one of the mechanics of Overwatch, but some players can use it better than others. This OTP can’t use it at all. Even if he’s performing badly, if he has that many hours on it he’s bound to do something in the game, why ? He wouldn’t put 200 hours into Tracer if he never won or did anything on it, he wouldn’t be playing the game otherwise. What I’m leading to is simple, adapt around her pick, because she won’t, get a Zarya and get a Gravibomb off, get a Zeniatta and discord his target, get a Monkey and create space for her. Even if he’s a truely inconsistent player, he will do something at some point, or maybe he has a bad game, but then again, everyone does. And even if the guy who has never touched anything but Tracer since the Beta, do you seriously think putting him on a Support or Tank that he has never played will help you with the game ? Remember he’s the kind of player who will go for High Risk / High Reward playstyle because he has pulled it off before so he’s confident he can do it again, so encourage him in that way.
- Opinion : OTPing is the easiest way to climb alone.
Regardless of what you decided to put your soul into, I think OTPing is still the best way for you to climb the ladder by yourself, as you’ll be more confident during games and less likely to put your game into others players hands. And that’s true even if you’re playing support ( Watch how DPStanky plays and tell me that’s not High Risk / High Reward yolo Lucio 😀 ).
- Opinion : OTPs are healthy for the game.
If there wasn’t any OTPs, we wouldn’t know who to look up to for very tiny tricks that only these people whospent 200 hours on something noticed, we wouldn’t have a reference to look up to ( If I want to know how good my Winston is, I compare it to the best one I know, which is Miro, and plays the difference game. ) and they also challenge your way of thinking and get you better at the game. You’re tired of Mcree players in Plat but that Mcree OTP did something really crazy you didn’t think off ? You can understand Mcree better and be way on your way to beat Diamond Mcrees now !
Know the Maps
I should call that know every ledge but it sounds way less sexy, have you ever took the time to boot up a custom game, check skirmish mode, and visit every map with someone who can dash / climb ? Did you know that you can sit on this spot ? What about that one ? And that one ? You can contest the payoad from here, and here ! This kind of knowledge is something anyone can learn and you might end up using it. If you don’t know it and someone use it against you it will be your fault for not knowing something that takes 5 mins in a custom game to find out.
Improving your Game Awareness
Now this is something I use, and found very effective for the few people I coached, so I think it’s worth sharing. Don’t you think, as a Overwatch player, you’re spoiled ? You’re spoonfed information constantly, how you treat that information making a big part of how good you are at the game. What happens if you stop being fed information and have to look for it ? Have you ever heard of blind person having a really good hearing ? That’s a misconception, they don’t have a better hearing, they merely focus more on sounds than sighted people do and therefore know how to interpret them, judge the distance and place that sound better. Now, I’m not telling you turn off your screen while playing, but to turn off your sound.Just, completely off, no voice chats, no sounds from OW at all. You can blast One Direction as loud as you want if it doesn’t hinder your focus go for it, that’s not where I’m going to. You get two vital cues from sound in this game, who is ulting and where depending to you ( Even if you don’t even see them ), and footsteps. Now, remove both ! What happens ? You’ll die, at first. You’re going to get surprised by reaper / mcrees around corner, every high noon / tactical visor is going to melt you off.
And then you’ll reach a state of paranoia, in which you’ll wonder “Can Mcree HighNoon from there ? Where he is ? Does he have it ?”. “What are the chances I meet someone when I get around that corner ? Whats their teamcomp ? Who’s their flanker ?” And you’ll keep asking yourself questions, and end up dying less, and less, and playing safer, betting on low risk / low reward gameplay. You’re going to become so fearful of dying from a High Noon coming from behind you where their Mcree spent 30s going around your team that you’ll wonder “Hey where is Mcree ? Havent heard him shoot ? Where was he last time ? Does he have ult up ?”. Now at first, You’ll usually start questionning yourself too late and die when wondering where was the last time you saw him. But after some time you’ll be done questionning yourself and you’ll react to his play 5 to 10s before it happens, warning your team / ccing him or ambushing him.
And then, you turn the sound back on, and instead of having lots of questions and fear, you have lots of questions and hints as to what’s going on. To me, if you hear a ult and panic, then hearing it is useless. Whenever you hear a ult you should have seen it coming and have a plan to react to it, “It’s High Noon” Doesn’t mean run and hide, if you have a solid game awareness, it should be “It’s Hi-Argh” with you shooting / ccing him. Same for every ult in the game but it’s especially true for Tactical Visor / Death Lotus / High Noon / Rocket Barrage.
Now, if I’m playing to win, I will abuse any tactics I know off,and this is one of the dirtiest that I don’t see used often enough. If you’re a flanker with some mobility ( Genji / Tracer / DVA / Winston ) and kill say, Symmetra, on point A of Anubis. It’s the first push, you got a pick, your team is getting decimated. You’ve 2 choices : You go back to your spawn with your tail between your legs, you sit behind them and poke / harass to get ult charges. Or the third option, which is spawn killing. That Symmetra you killed ? She’s about to respawn and come back to point A isn’t she ? Wouldn’t it be a shame if say, a Winston dropped on her and killed her when she’s barely leaving point B ? Do you see where I’m going ?You do it again, and again. At some point someone is bound to show up right ? So that’s two of them on you, they don’t have a TP / Gen up because you’ve been farming it for a minute now and Symm can’t leave B. You can either choose to play with them ( Prioritize living, dying here isn’t as troublesome as dying on point A but it’s still annoying as you might not get another chance at doing that.) or run back to point A before they do. If you choose 2nd option, engage the fight, you’re in prime flanking position, and they’re only 4.
The best targets for that dirty tactic? In order : Mercy > Lucio > Zeniatta > Symmetra > Ana.
Order may vary depending on with which character you’re doing so. Winston destroy all five of them without losing his armor if he ambush, genji can have trouble against Symmetra and Ana, Tracer might die to all of them.
The best Maps to do so? In order : Anubis > 2 CP Maps > KOTH Maps > Payload Maps.
The reason Anubis is first is because going from the leftside at the start let you reach B easily whereas on the others maps it’s harder to get behind. KOTH maps tend to be messier than Payload maps so it’s easier to slip past the enemy team.
Before you try do to so on KOTH maps learn the healthpack spots at the start of each map since you will need to use them and have probably never even used / seen them before.