Winston is probably the most misunderstood main tank in the game. People have the notion that Winston has to be diving onto the enemy constantly or that they should always be going for supports. A lot of times, the Winston player ends up feeding and then blames his team for not following up. Great Winston players know how to do damage and make impact, while minimizing the amount of damage they take. In this guide I will focus on the basics that new Winston players or Winston mains who are feeling stuck can apply to their games. I will not be talking about everything that pertains to Winston like primal techniques and playmaking but only the essentials that a good Winston player should know.
- The Map: Before anything else, you first need to think about the map and how viable Winston is on that particular map. Remember that Winston thrives in maps with a lot of high ground and open areas. Maps like Watchpoint Gibraltar or 2nd point Hollywood, just to name a few, are very good Winston maps. Maps like last point Route 66 or second point King’s Row may see Winston struggling in such tight spaces. Although, really good Winston players with a good team behind them can make any map work. Another thing to think about in a map are health packs. Health packs are very important to Winston’s survivability due to his high mobility, he doesn’t need to rely on his healers to stay alive. So if you’re in a pinch and can’t get to your healer think about where the health packs are first.
- Your Team Comp: Pretty obvious, Winston works best with a dive comp with DPS that can help do damage with him.Assuming that you have a D.va you need to think about what kind of DPS and supports you have and then play around it as best you can. If you’re playing with a Tracer, recognize that she doesn’t have vertical mobility like Genji so you may not be able to kill targets on high ground as effectively. If you have double snipers then think about following up on low targets that won’t end up costing your life or focusing on peeling for your snipers instead. If you’re playing with an Ana then understand that she is limited by her line of sight and that she is also a very divable target so she may need some help crossing the street, she is an old lady after all. Having a Zen discord targets can make Winston’s life a lot easier as he can go from target to target very quickly. Sometimes you might be running triple DPS with no D.va and now you have to either be hyper aggressive with your DPS or more passive as to only look for opportunities that your DPS give to you.
- Target Priority: I’m not going to make list of the most divable targets in the game because people generally have an idea of who to go for as Winston. The problem that I see people doing is that they either overcommit to that target or that they don’t know when to switch to a different target. My first advice is hit tab, look at the enemy team comp and make a mental note in your head on who you should be prioritizing and who you should be avoiding as Winston. The next thing you need to think about is what are the cool downs that those heroes have when you dive them. A good Mcree will save his flashbang when a Winston dives him but a good Winston will have bubble to bait out the flashbang. Then the next thing to think about, is “will I survive if I go for that target?” You don’t want to die for a squishy target if it means costing your life unless you either have primal or sure that you can get value out of the kill. Sometimes switching targets is viable if the target your are tickling isn’t going to die. For example, you don’t see anyone else so you decide to go for a full health Brigitte but then in your peripherals the enemy Ana just used her sleep making her an easier target to go for. Also, if you see your team focusing something differently then it’s fine to go for that target as well. It can be overwhelming at first to think abut all of those things but as you play Winston more, everything becomes second nature and without thinking you just do it.
- Communication: Winston is a main tank, and it’s so important as a main tank to at the very least make the basic callouts.You need to call who you’re diving on, where you are diving, counting down the dive, asking if your team is ready to dive, as well as calling targets that you’re on every time you change targets.
- Positioning: Winston doesn’t have the luxury like Reinhardt of bringing up his shield any time. That’s why it’s important that as Winston you should be playing right next to hard cover or on high ground. You should almost NEVER be in exposed space. Being on high ground also allows you to drop on targets without burning the leap cool down, which could be used as an escape or focus down a different target. Be unpredictable with your spots as well, once the enemy knows where you like to set up they will be expecting the same thing from you. Avoid enclosed spaces as much as possible unless you are sure that you can confirm that kill.
- The Leap: Besides all the different types of Winston jumps, it’s important to know first, “if you should jump.” The leap is still an important cool down and should only be used when necessary just like every other cool down. First thing to note is that you shouldn’t blind jump into the enemy team. Blind jumping is the best way to feed the enemy team. Secondly, use the leap to take control of space instead of always diving targets. For example, Oasis City Center has a Gazebo at the middle of the point. What I like to do is jump above there and take that space to prevent the enemy from taking first. From there this gives me line of sight on the entire map as well as what the enemy team is running. Once I know what they are running, I can either call a dive on a out of position target or drop down on the enemy then use the leap to get back to my team or back on the high ground. Winston’s leap also has a significant drop off in damage so if you don’t land on someone directly you don’t get the full 45 damage. if you are going to leap onto somebody then melee cancel right before you land on someone to get easy burst damage. Other important thing to know are the different types of Winston leaps:
- Standard Jump: Simply just pressing jump
- Short Jump: Pressing leap then holding S or pulling back on the left stick
- High Jump: Doing the regular jump then the leap
- Butt Jump: Jumping on a target that can do critical damage to Winston. Turn a 180 to avoid the headshot damage then turn back to the enemy.
- The Bubble: Winston’s barrier is only 600 HP and is not meant to block significant damage. It is mostly used to block CClike flashbang, sleep dart, hook, etc. so that you get the most value out of the barrier. Another good way to use bubble is blocking of Ana from healing her allies, which allows your team to focus on the rest of the team. Try to ult track for significant ultimates that can be blocked by the bubble like D.va bomb, meteor strike, high noon, etc. Do not spam this ability every time it comes off of cool down, make sure it always has a purpose.
- When to Primal: Primal is the most mechanically demanding aspect of Winston. It acts as a second life for Winston allowing him to become 1000HP with his leap on a 2 second cool down. Use it to stay alive in the fight and to be more aggressive when you have it to make big plays. Besides the typical environmental kills it can be used to disrupt the enemy backline forcing supports to pop their ultimates early, allowing your DPS to use their ultimates freely. It can also be used after you run out of ammo to confirm a kill that you were on but used a movement ability to get out. Can also be used defensively to disrupt enemy DPS ultimates from getting value but just be careful not to send that Mcree in the sky and having LOS on your entire team. Those are only a few ways to use primal but be creative in how you to use it. PLEASE DO NOT USE IT WHEN YOUR ENTIRE TEAM IS DEAD. BIG. FEED.
- Adapting Play Styles: We get it, ranked is a mess and you’re not always going to get the perfect team comp you are looking for. However, Winston in my opinion has the most adaptability among the main tanks. Some Winston’s can have a very aggressive play style with doing as much damage as they can and getting out with barely any HP left. Other Winston’s take a more measured approach and look for opportunities to pounce on. Some Winston’s even play peel focus and will try to help their backline and DPS as much as they can. The really good Winston’s know when to play these types of play at different situations. There shouldn’t be just one set way, although, some players might lean towards a certain style more than others. What it really comes down to is experience, reading the situation, and preference.
- Know Your Limits: Winston can be punished very quickly with just one mistake. The only way that Winston players are going to learn this is by playing Winston more. I can give you different examples of when to back out or how you shouldn’t overstay your welcome but there are so many factors that go into this. My biggest advice for people learning Winston is takes risks, allow yourself to make the mistakes, then learn from them and figure out why you made the mistake.
My intention with making these kinds of posts is not to start any controversy but more to give general information to people of all ranks. I understand that some people already know this but keep in mind that, you’re not everyone and there will always be someone who can get something out of this. When I post, I always hope that if 1 person understands a concept or idea then that’s a success, for me, because someone learned something valuable and can apply it to their actual games. The general knowledge of the average Overwatch player is relatively low, not because they don’t try, but because they either are misinformed or they don’t know where to look as Overwatch doesn’t give an in depth tutorial of game sense, communication, and team play.