Part 1: General Play and Thoughts
Winston is a hero that seems to divide opinion there is the camp who believe he is a niche pick and the weakest of the tank class, and other who believe that he can be a deciding factor in any match on any map by harassing and hunting the key players of the opposing teams and causing chaos in the backline. I, unsurprisingly, fit into the latter camp. Winston is a character I kind of fell into, I had been trying to find a hero whose kit I understood and who I could play effectively. I started with McRee but after a few hours I found I didn’t click with him and moved toward Hanzo who I have put a fair amount of hours into and still occasionally pick back up in certain scenarios. Winston however was the hero that I really got, he is ultra mobile, perhaps the most mobile character in the game as he has both verticality and a horizontal movement ability instigate/ escape potential and he is, in general, a lot of fun to play. So after some requisite time spent with the simian scientist, I thought I’d indulge myself by writing down my thoughts on how he plays and how to play him for anyone’s perusal.
NOTE – These thoughts are based on Winston from a console players perspective, although this season I made it into the top 250 Winston players in Comp and the top 600 in QP.
The general- apply to any hero- points:
Communication is key. More so with Winston than anyone you will need to coordinate your jumps at the start of every engagement as you will more often than not be the one that instigates the fight. So be vocal and clear about when you intend to jump as you won’t last long alone.
Timing and Trickling: You won’t last long diving in alone at the earliest opportunity. You are a big old hunk of hitbox and even with 500 health you will be focussed down immediately so don’t trickle in alone. Don’t go in unsupported. Be patient, you need to pick your shots so wait until the DPS has strayed a little from the healer, or until your target has taken some damage already then go for the kill. Remember your dive does 50 damage on its own, combine it with a melee as you land and you’ve taken of 80hp before you start to fry them, so when you jump on someone do it literally and make sure you land right on top of them.
In a Nutshell –
Winston can be considered one dimensional by some, the whole ‘no aim, no brain, Winston main’ adage attests to this notion. He can be seen as mainly a dive instigator who jumps into the backline and picks of a Mercy, Lucio, Ana or other squishy before jumping back out in order to rinse and repeat but it takes more subtlety than that to get the most out of him. Winston is very versatile, he can stall when contesting a point or payload, push opponents into or away from the team, quickly back up a support team mate under attack, flank, cut off the flank routes, scout and team up on dangerous enemies with a partner. So which of these things should a Winston player focus on? Well, all of them.
The Dive Ape –
Winston is the god of the dive and the king of high ground control, no one is better at getting to the back line of the enemy and causing a team to either turn to deal with him, thusly taking the focus of the oncoming team, or not being shown enough respect to the point he quickly takes the key support player before he is focussed making the team’s chances of winning the fight much greater.
So what is the best way to dive?
Well firstly don’t do it alone, there is a reason that entire dive comps exist. When Winston dives it’s better to have a dive buddy, usually a DPS like Tracer or a good Genji works very well even a good Sombra as her passive makes Winston a fearsome proposition. If you dive in as a two then you have a better chance of taking the key support plus any other player nearby making the fight a 6v4 in your favour. Make sure that it is Winston who dives first as his size, health and the fact that the Tesla cannon indiscriminately attaches to anything in front of it automatically means he is a better bet to chip away before Genji or another DPS can finish off. You also have the advantage of dropping your shield to give a) yourself some protection and b) give your dive mate a safe spot to jump into before locking his target. Make sure your jump isn’t aimed to go too vertical for the first jump as you don’t want to give the enemy any time to re-position and focus you down . You can use the jump back to get more verticality if your intention is to draw attention or if you are reloading your Tesla gun however. Your team must push at the same time, this is the key. When a dive works you will win that team fight pretty much 100% of the time.
Target priority: Mercy, Lucio, Zen, Ana (sometimes), Genji, Sym (when not in full death ray mode) and any hero who has 50% or less health bar Hog. Take out those squishy heroes, it’s your job, if you have the opportunity to take away a healer from the enemy make it your priority, if all the supports are down then take out a high value DPS like McRee or Soldier. Genji is your bread and butter and won’t survive long, Snipers are practically a free jar of peanut butter for Winston and due to their nature are often isolated. Ana and her nade of doom can be tricky but with good bubble placement and timing you should be able to handily defeat her, if you go in against a Zen at less than 400 HP you may not have the best of times as discord/ headshot will take you down super fast. The key to these two duels is to make sure you hit the jump pack/ melee combo that way you have taken almost half their health before they can react.
So the dive worked, the healer is down, what do I do now?
Well you need to play third wheel I’m afraid. Against most 200 hp or lower characters Winston will win the 1v1 I mean obviously, he’s a 500hp Silver back, but your focus should be teaming up to finish off the most dangerous enemy. So here is a scenario, you and Genji have dived on the backline, Mercy is down and the team has filed in and is engaged with the enemy in a 6v5 who do you attack? is it a) the Junkrat on half health on ground level engaged with the Soldier? Is it b) the Reinhardt engaged with your Rein in a 50/ 50 fight? Is it c) the D-va fighting your Zen and Reaper? Or is it d) the Mei in the rear of the fight alone?
For me the answer is B. Without the advantage of high ground I fancy my full health Soldier to finish a half health Junkrat. My Zen and Reaper will tear through D-Va in seconds and Mei is so much easier to deal with when you focus her down as a team. The tank battle however is evenly poised, both have a chance of winning and a 50/50 fight isn’t anything you need to be interested in. As Winston you have the ability to relocate and lend a hand and change the 1v2 odds every 6 seconds, and you also have a shield, which should be ready again by now, that you can use to cut the fight off from any outside damage (placing the shield in the right place as you enter the battle will mean that any enemy that has the won their 1v1 now can’t get involved from afar and has to get in close with Winston and Rein and if they do that then they will lose, instantly. In this situation I help my other tank always, for two reasons really, firstly I always fancy my chances against Rein, my weapon negates his shield and I have the drop on him and secondly because it means that when we team up and beat the Rein, both tanks are now a combined 1000hp of free agents in the fight and can create more 2 or even 3v1’s snowballing the fight into one the enemy cannot win. This strat applies to any comp you are against, find the fight that is most evenly poised or you are actively disadvantaged in and make it uneven in your favour. Winston is hyper mobile with a knock back and AOE damage on his mobility ability, make sure you use it to its full potential when engaging in a dive, if your initial dive is successful and you’ve made a pick then you can consider yourself a free agent to engage in any other 1v1 occurring in the team fight..
What if the next target is a Winston counter like Reaper or Roadhog?
Reaper is a little more scarce in the Meta at the moment and a clever Winston can use the bubble to win a footsy duel, when I say win I mean anything from drawing out a wraith from and making him disengage or eliminating him entirely. Hog is another matter, he is very, very prevalent in the Meta and for good reason, he kills pretty much everything in 2 shots or less with very few exceptions. You are not one of those exceptions. After D.Va, Winston is possibly the easiest hook target and after a hook combo plus one other primary fire you’re dead. So you’re left with a dilemma how do you handle Hog? A few options present themselves, you can stay away and only tackle him when he is isolated and you have a team to focus him down before he can wreck you. You can bait out the hook and counter it with a bubble and play footsy, you won’t kill him but you’ll keep him occupied long enough for the team fight to sway in your favour. If you absolutely have to engage him 1v1 then do it from high ground, find a ledge and take advantage of hook 2.1’s more forgiving nature when LOS is broken. If you can draw out take a breather consider yourself successful in the duel as Hog just became an easier target for your team to focus should they have won their own duels.
Don’t be afraid to sacrifice yourself for the team if it means you swing the odds in your teams favour. Even if the Reaper or Roadhog kill you, they have less chance of winning the next fight as their defence ability is on cool down.
Part 2: The Barrier Projector
Welcome intrepid simian scientist enthusiasts to the second part of a (long) guide to Winston. Today we will be looking at perhaps the most overlooked aspect of Winston’s kit and the one I most struggle to get the best value out of; his barrier projector. Firstly let’s get the boring matter of the stats of the BP out of the way first.
HP – 600
Radius – 5m (sphere)
Duration – 5 seconds or until damage blocked exceeds 600
Cool Down 13 seconds.
The BP is maybe the piece of Winston’s kit which is most often criticised and misunderstood. It can absorb a relatively low amount of damage when compared to the shield of Reinhardt. The CD is very long especially considering that the from placing a barrier you may have to wait a full 18 seconds before a new one can be used. If any aspect of Winston’s kit needs addressing by Blizzard then the CD of the barrier is perhaps the only one I see merit in. It is in the use of the barrier however, that most people just starting out with Winston make the most mistakes. So let’s (hopefully) shed some light on it. Broadly speaking the shield has two main uses, with a few subsidiary uses within those overarching concepts. The two concepts are thus:
• The reaction barrier – the use of which is predominantly that of a life saving tool. The escape barrier used to give a second of respite before your Jump Pack is off CD. Finally the cancel barrier which is used to stop opposing ults.
• The tactical barrier – The use of which is to clear safe passage for your team. The globe barrier which protects high ground advantage. The safety net barrier which is used to protect key players on your team. Finally the Battle barrier.
Let’s begin with the Reaction Barrier and it’s many uses.
• The life saver – Is the most frequently used use of the BP and one that requires little explanation. You’ve dived in and been overwhelmed, drop a shield to protect you whilst your Jump Pack is on CD and then bail. It’s the first use you need to master, the key is to not panic (and I am guilty of this) as soon as you take a shot an immediate reaction is to drop BP when you forget you are in fact a tank and can soak up a fair bit of damage. If you are in a 1v1 then maybe save your BP until you are at 300hp or so, if you’re up against a few enemies drop it when your armour is gone.
• The escape barrier – is slightly different in so much as you don’t stay in it waiting you drop it as you run away so it can take the damage that would be peppering into your back. This barrier works best in a confined space as it can essentially act as a wall, if you use it in the open and your opponent can flank and finish you.
• The cancel barrier – Of all the uses this is the most tricky, over time however it will become a muscle reflex. How many Ults do you think Winston can cancel? You probably think not many if any at all right? Actually, wrong. Winston is an ult cancelling machine. For the purposes of this guide let’s just look at the one’s he cancels using the barrier. Reinhardt about to drop the hammer? Barrier. Everyone is safe. Zarya caught you all in a graviton wave, leaving you like fish in a barrel? Barrier. you have probably saved at least your tanks. Reaper dropping in with a death blossom? Barrier. If you can keep you self plus a couple more you have radically decreased the damage they take. Even better if you can cage him inside it everyone gets a better chance of survival or escape. D.Va self destruct incoming? Barrier. Sorry D.Va no POTG for you. Lucio sound barrier? Cage him. No shields for the rest of you, ‘Sorry about that’. You can negate (but not stop) at least a portion of the damage from Rocket Barrage (or if you’re really good you can reflect it back in the flying fiends face), and Whole Hog. If you can catch a rip tyre in a barrier it will absorb the damage. The Shimada brother’s however will bypass the barrier completely, and Sombra destroys it with hers. Bastion will make very, very short work of it, and Tracer will be able to get in and out of it without it making any difference to her style of play, it does help against the snipers as a it offers an encompassing protection rather than a limited front facing one ala Rein.
The Cancel barrier is super tricky to get right, but it can be hugely effective in limiting the effectiveness of the opponents ults. Practice will engrain these uses into your repertoire becoming part of your Overwatch reflex’s giving you the ability to react appropriately in any situation.
The Tactical Barrier:
• The safe passage zone – Use your shield in conjunction with your jump pack to give your team a safe zone in which to advance into. This works best on attack maps like Hanamura, Volskya and Hollywood. If you can dive in and turn the enemy whilst dropping a shield just on the other side of the choke you have given your team licence to move in and engage the enemy without the comfort of a defensive choke point. The habit of dropping a shield for your team to move into is a great one to get into.
• The globe barrier – perfect for defending payload maps with high ground advantage like Gibraltar and Route 66 or Numbani as it gives a tactical advantage of protecting your team from every side allowing you to readjust your defensive positioning for the engagement. Don’t forget that the barrier is a sphere so using it on bridges gives it extra effectiveness. .
• The safety net – One of my personal favourite uses, I like to play with a Zenyatta on my side as he both heals me from a distance and increases my output as a damage dealer with a discord orb. He is however limited in his mobility and can be the prey of a Widowmaker or another long distance attacker. So give him a spot he can sit in and be protected from those headshot’s, 5 seconds is all he will need to either call out a location for you to attack, regenerate his shields or get to safety (an example of this can be found here – https://youtu.be/LFmbWktchu8?t=458)
• The battle barrier – the most difficult tactical nuance to be able to perform. If you are low on health, have a too long to wait for a jump pack CD or need to contest a point in overtime this will come in handy. The Battle barrier in concept sounds easy, you bait an opponent into a 1v1 pop your barrier and fight, it takes real finesse to do well however. You need to keep moving in and out of your barrier, pick an edge and when your opponent comes inside the shield you move out, when he comes out to attack you move back in. Miro (the best Winston in the world) does this masterfully and has managed to overcome top level Reaper’s using this tactic. Keep in mind though that it is always best to escape then reengage on your terms. When you have to stay the course and take someone on though do it by decreasing their DPS advantage by creating an ‘Arena’ in which you have the advantage.
The BP is a hugely useful tool in the right hands and can change the momentum of a fight into your hands if you can master it. If I was to sum up my advice on the BP into a TL;DR it would be thus, don’t just think of it as way to block damage, think of it as a portable safe zone in which you fight on your terms.
Here is how to maximise the bubble in a duel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWHS-ZHrZQ8
Part 3: The Tickle Gun and The Mad Leap
Part three: The Tesla Cannon and the Jump Pack. One of the most often cited areas of weakness in Winston’s kit is the limited damage of his primary method of attack; the Tesla Cannon. Before we move into the pros and cons of his main weapon lets break down the numbers.
8m range creating an AOE cone in front of it damaging any hero caught in it. There is no limit to how many people can be targeted by the TC at any one time.
The TC can be accused of tickling enemies as opposed to outright decimating them, it’s more a tool to kill 200hp and below heroes or taking down low health opponents reliably and through shields such as Reins. 60dps isn’t much but keep in mind it’s 60dps to anything caught in its radius , so if you have all 6 enemies caught in a tight space or in a graviton then you’ll be issuing out an enormous 360dps all in all, so it can be a bonus in contributing to close quarter fights with your team as you’re adding some killing power to each fight in front of you. It pretty much requires no aim to use, just keep what you’re killing roughly in front of you and it will be effective.
The cons are that it will take around a week to take down a full health tank 1v1 so don’t bother. Mercy pretty much negates any target you’re focussing with her heal and Lucio on amp it up prolongs a kill to a frustrating level as does a harmony orb. If Ana is focus healing whatever you’re trying to kill, well let’s just not talk about it.
The only real advice to give regarding the TC is to get into the habit of timing a melee to finish off low health enemies, the worst part of trying to get a kill with Winston is having to reload just as they reach their last sliver of health which leads to a second tip; the length of time on the reload matches perfectly with a jump pack jump straight up in the air.
The way that TC really comes into its own is in chasing down escaping enemies and finishing them off reliably. That is the key argument in favour of the TC, it is a reliable source of damage, it locks on and has no drop off when it’s attached. So don’t underestimate it too much, it gives Genji mains nightmares.
So Winston is the king of the dive and high ground control and this is due, nearly entirely, to his most useful and powerful piece of kit, the Jump Pack.
CD 6 seconds (2 in Primal Rage)
50 aoe damage upon landing
Slight knockback effect on landing
I can’t stress enough how potentially powerful you can make the JP, the absolute worst thing you can do, and this is what I see a lot of Winston players being guilty of, is using it only as a method of engagement and retreat. I see so many Winston’s use JP to get relatively near an opponent before the latch on with the TC then as soon as CD is off they leap away. If this is you then you’re missing out in a huge pool of your diversity and potential. JP does 50 damage upon impact so don’t think of it as a method of travel, think of it more as an enormous, silver back shaped mortar, you want to land as close to if not on whoever you’re about to take out. Add in a melee attack as soon as you impact which a) cancels the landing animation and enables the TC to come into play fractionally quicker and b) gives the jump a possible damage output of 80. So say you are jumping a Hanzo/ Widow/ Soldier etc if you land the JP/ Melee combo, before they can even react you’ve taken them to 120hp, meaning it will take you 2 seconds (less with a melee finish) to take them out. You’re health pool advantage means you win that fight every time, then you turn around rinse and repeat. With good timing and accuracy on the JP it’s possible to do 140 damage in just over a second with Winston:
50(JP) + 30(melee) + 60 (TC)= 140
JP + Melee= almost instant DPS (disregarding travel time in leap) + 1 second of TC= a very annoying Ape.
The knockback effect isn’t huge on the JP but if you see someone right on the ledge of a map i.e. Nepal Shrine, Ilios well, Eichenwalde bridge etc it’s entirely possible to knock them off the map for easy kills.
Make sure when you leap you do it from unexpected angles, don’t give people time to adjust, anticipate or create space between you and them. Dive in from the side or the rear to get the best effect, they time it takes for them to turn and aim to damage you may give save you some health for the next engagement. For me JP is the best when used liberally during a big skirmish. The best thing you can do when learning Winston is understanding that he is the epitome of opportunism on the battlefield. Fights on open maps, especially KOTH, tend to be slightly spread out , what JP allows you to do is finish fights quickly and snowball the entire battle in your favour. It’s important to keep communicating with your team and as soon as they mention someone is low, leap over and finish them doubly quick, if another shot is called on a low health opponent on the other side of the map, JP gives you the most efficient, effective and (when combined with the TC) reliable method of finishing that conflict, so use it very liberally in a fight, as soon as it is off CD then off you go.
JP is also an effective method of escape and repositioning, high ground maps are where it shines best i.e. Winston’s home of Gibraltar. If you are leaping for escape then make sure you use the map you’re on to your advantage. Leap into cover or to a high spot that breaks LOS with your opponent in order to maximise survivability.
This has gone on far longer than I intended so I’ll wrap it up with a closing thought. If you can only master one aspect of Winston focus your effort into the Jump Pack, it has enormous potential for damage combos, positional control, displacement, harassing and environmental elims. Trust me with a little practice you’ll be able to effectively and accurately aim your leaps and become a real nightmare for not only backline but the opposition in general.
Part 4: I’m Feeling ANGRY!
Part 4: Primal Rage
No Ult in the game is more misunderstood than Winston’s Primal Rage. For most players it ranks as one of if not the worst Ult in the game, but is it? Well in my opinion no, no it’s not.
The numbers first.
Damage 40dps per attack, with significant knockback effect.
Effect on CD’s Jump Pack CD reset at beginning and end of Ult, CD reduced to 2 seconds during.
So why do I believe PR is an underrated Ult? Well I believe its misunderstanding comes from how all the other Ults in the game work. The rest of the Tank roster either have amazing damage ults (D.Va and Hog) or the best CC Ults in the entire game (Rein and Zarya) Winston doesn’t really fit into either. PR isn’t so much a CC ability as it is a dispersal tool, it’s great for breaking up lines and deathballs, it can be used to target a key enemy and either knock them away from the fight or toward your team for an easy pick. In that sense PR is probably more a CC ult than anything else. It is also much more subtle and varied in its use however. Rein and Zarya have to rely on teamwork to get the most value out of their ults, Winston players can be a tad more selfish and this mainly due to two factors. 1) Primal Rage charges very quickly and 2) It acts as an extra life. Point 2 is a huge benefit for Primal rage, it doesn’t just add 500hp when it’s activated it takes your health up to 1000hp,if you were about to die with 1hp left and you pop PR then that 999 free hp’s right there. Added to the hyper mobility caused by the CD resets and reductions on Jump Pack, and the general panic you cause by slapping everyone around it can be a real life saver, literally.
I’m going to contradict myself slightly here, because as amazing as the free health that PR gives you is, it is also the biggest reason that people misuse and misunderstand it. How many times have you seen tips on using PR that look like this: ‘Don’t pop it until you’re at least 100hp or lower or you’re wasting it.’? Probably a few times right. Well that is the worst advice to give a Winston player. PR is a REACTIVE ult. By all means if you’re low health and stalling a point use it, it’s a good way to get value for the team. Don’t be afraid to use it when you see the opportunity though. I keep banging on in all these guides that Winston is a hero that most benefits from opportunism and you have to be ready to use PR whenever the right circumstances come around. So what are these circumstances? They break down into 2 categories.
- The defensive Rage. Used when you’re low health or stalling a payload/ KOTH point. When you want to break a team’s formation apart or you want to knock an enemy away from a high value ally. When you need to escape a fight in order to group back up with your team. If you’re caught in a CC ult like grav and need to survive to contest etc. These things are all pretty obvious. Mostly they’ll be initiated at low health and be a means of buying time or distance.
- The offensive Rage. This is what separates good and very good Winston players. Knowing when to initiate PR for an effective pick in an attacking scenario, even if you’re already at full health. Environmental kills are a huge factor in this mentality, if I see a key target like a Hog, Ana, Rein, Zarya, Zen or key DPS standing close to edge of the map I always take advantage of their poor positioning and knock them off with PR. You must get into the habit of punishing people that stray too close to the edge, environmental kills aren’t only satisfying to pull off but they have other advantages one being that Mercy can’t rez anyone who has been knocked off the map. If you can get two to three in a environmental kill then well done, but if it’s only one and that one is a key target then you’ve still done the right thing in removing them. Make sure you follow up by disrupting the backline after or pushing the Rein out of the way of his team.
The other offensive strat to use with PR is corner juggling. It is something that I have really practiced and have become quite adept at, keep an enemy in the corner and juggle them with your slaps. They will be trapped there and if it’s a squishy you’ll kill them and if it’s a Tank you’ve removed them from the fight, on either front it’s job done.
With practice you’ll get the feel for when the right scenario to use PR comes about. Just don’t hold onto it because you feel you will waste it on one enemy. Sometimes taking out that one person can begin the snowball effect for your team to win.
Last thoughts. I want to keep this a little shorter than the rest of the guides so as to not bore your eyes, so I’ll leave you with a couple of tips, some examples I’ve done from all the above, a pro clip of how amazing PR can be and a good (long) video on the subject by Icarus. So my last tip is to remember how much PR effects Winston’s mobility for the better. JP is on a 2 second CD and it resets at both the beginning and end of its use allowing for you to get at least one double jump in. Don’t worry if the kill feed isn’t lighting up with your name when you’re using it, sometimes disruption can be enough to win.
My Best bits using PR so far : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4DQD8DGO7A
Part 5: Maps and Mates
Maps and Modes.
Overwatch game modes are split into four broad categories Escort, Hybrid, Assault (or 2CP) and Control (or KoTh: King of the hill). In these categories Escort, Hybrid and Assault are split into attack and defence runs. So how does Winston fit in?
KoTH is a Winston playground. The more frantic battles located in a central battlefield where both teams are equally separated by distance to begin with allow Winston to best exploit his high mobility. The nature of the team fights in KoTH also allow Winston to be as opportunistic as possible, he is more easily able to dive into different fights wherever he feels he is needed thusly creating a snowball effect and allowing your team to gain victory. Of the KoTH maps there are a few that stand out above others as exceptional Winston zones. Two in particular spring to mind, Ilios Lighthouse and Lijang Night Market. Lighthouse is possibly one of the best maps to run a Winston on in the entire game, it has a lot of exploitable high ground for both offensive and defensive value, it is incredibly easy to get maximum value out of Primal Rage and its knockbacks when contesting the point for environmental kills, the same is true of the Night Market map. Nepal is also good but it doesn’t quite have as many facets that a Winston can utilise. Sanctum for example, has the potential for epic plays when contesting the point, but it’s probably a better map for a Pharah than it is for Winston mainly due to it not offering the type of high ground escape points that Ilios does. Oasis is interesting, I find that gardens and city centre are pretty strong maps for Winston as there is a lot of cover you can use, high ground to control and open space in which to maximise your mobility. University offers the best potential for environmental kills due to the high ground, but it is packed with tight spaces which diminish Winston as a threat.
Escort Attack and Defence. Winston’s home map of Gibraltar is, unsurprisingly, a fantastic Winston map, it is split into open and confined spaces but crucially, it is packed to the gills with high ground and escape routes. Winston is the best character in the game at controlling the high spaces on maps, Pharah is great from afar, but Winston can get up close and personal, can drop in and out in order to distract, harass and pick off the weak and damaged. He also has his BP which, due to its spherical nature, is best used on places like the bridge immediately outside the attackers spawn on the first point of Gibraltar. Route 66 street phase is good for Winston as it is more open, but the first and final stage aren’t best suited for him; Rein is much better for both. Dorado is a middle ground where it is good but not spectacular for Winston, he can do well in the first and second parts, but other tanks may be more viable.
An Aside: Winston can work very well on defence, he can disrupt enemies when they have positional advantage, is great for contesting and can harass healers or key targets longer than pretty much anyone, that being said if you’re just starting out as a Winston player the decision making you need to be effective as a defensive Winston is a lot more disciplined than an offensive one. With that in mind I’d conjecture that, for now, Winston is a better hero for attack stages than he is for defensive ones.
Hybrid: Attack. Kings Row and Numbani can be very happy hunting grounds for a Winston. The first points on both maps are tailor made for him. On Kings Row the JP negates the defensive solidity of the choke point and (here is a little free tip) this point: Screenshot
which is reachable through one JP leap from the high ground of spawn, is the best perch I’m yet to discover for Winston. He is protected by LOS from any threat on the point, can disrupt anyone holding the tight part of the choke, can destroy any turrets being used on the gate, and he can simply back over the wall without JP where a handy large health pack is waiting. It also offers a place to get the most protection from the BP, I love running him on the first point of Kings Row, street phase can be tricky as it is a confined area without enough escape leap possibilities, the final stage is pretty solid for him however as it is just open enough to use your mobility well and just narrow enough for your BP to be a major factor in your kit. Numbani’s first two phases offer great angles for attack for Winston and enough high ground for him to control to make him a very solid pick, the final push isn’t his strongest area on this map however. Eichenwalde points 1 and 2 are good for Winston and if he leads a dive comp he can break the first choke pretty easily. Hollywood is pretty solid for him to attack in general, especially the second phase but like Dorado it isn’t a spectacular map for him to be at his best, but it’s still pretty solid overall.
Assault. One map over all others in any mode offers him the most balance in attack and defence and that is Anubis, I prefer Winston on defence over Rein on this map as he offers amazing high ground control, there are plenty of spaces to dive into in order to attack or retreat, and he is able to use his JP to navigate the map better than pretty much anybody. On the defensive side of things here: Screenshot
and here: Screenshot
are the ideal positions for you to take up.
Hanamura is a tough one as he better for attacking the second point due to his JP offering a means to attack from either side. The opposite is true for Volskaya, he is better for attacking point A, you can leap from the building housing the large health pack outside of attacker spawn over the choke and onto the van, pop your BP and disrupt the front line whilst your team push in. You can flank nicely on point B on Volskaya by going this route: Screenshot
and it offers high ground protection as well as environmental kill opportunities as the defenders leave spawn. Of the three assault maps Anubis is the best for Winston by far, Volskaya is great for him to attack and Hanamura is pretty average.
Of course all of this is irrelevant if you don’t have a good team comp around you. Which is a lovely segue for the next part of this guide:
Oh Winston……I’ve got your favourite:
The lore of Overwatch shows Winston to be the loveable centre of the group, Tracer is pretty much his family now and he has nice voice lines with Genji and Mei amongst others, but in game who are his go to people?
First of all the Dive comp turn Winston into a wrecking machine and something akin to Winston/ Zarya/ Zen/ Lucio/ Genji/ Tracer or Wisnton/ Tracer/ Genji/ Sombra/ Lucio/ Zen are fantastic team comps to run in order to get the best value out of him. Some people don’t see him as being valuable as a solo tank, but in a highly mobile triple DPS he can be a force of nature.
In terms of individual heroes there are three who he synergises best with: Zenyatta, Zarya and Genji. A Discord and Harmony orb combo makes Winston a terrifying proposition for anyone to deal with, Zarya and he have a symbiotic relationship, she protects him and he charges her up and he can cause huge damage in a graviton with a leap and cannon combo. Genji is your perfect accomplice for diving. Tracer can be very good at assisting Winston but her mobility is more limited to the ground, Genji however can attack with you from any angle and you’ll be amazed at how quickly entire teams can fall when they’re jumped by a Genji/ Winston combo. Make sure you both pick the same target and make sure said target is of high value, Ana/ Mercy should be top of the list, then any dangerous DPS you see regularly pop up in the kill feed, then any stubborn tank you can’t seem to shift.
He mixes fairly well with Ana as Bannano boost is surprisingly effective, Widow can weaken enemies for him to jump and finish off, Hog can take the focus of a team allowing Winston to dive the back line with more freedom. D.Va is a good dive buddy, but you risk removing two tanks from the front line.
If you have a Mercy then make sure you dive to her for healing, don’t drag her into a melee if you can help it. I find he isn’t at his best with Rein, a Winston player prefers a more frantic guerrilla style fight over Reins more methodical war of attrition style.
Everyone else on the cast is neither highly effective or ineffective with Winston, pay attention to who your S76 or other DPS is targeting and if you can help bring them down quicker, do so.
Part 6: The Monkey Mindset
I am going to make a statement here which I believe belies the most important thing you can really LEARN with Winston (or any hero in fact) and that is if you can really get your mindset and approach to any game/ mode/ map to be totally centred around what your role is in the team, and what your level of ability allows you to do within that role; you’ll begin to see yourself climb up the ranks.
So I am going to illustrate this by using myself as an example.
LukeyPhooz/ haljordan613 The Winston main.
When I first picked up Winston it was by chance; I played a game of mystery heroes and got him, once I began jumping about and zapping people I decided he was going to be the hero I put most of my effort into learning and mastering. It’s been a long road (well over a100 hours over QP and 3 Comp seasons) but I really feel that I now know Winston as a character and I am very confident that I can get value out of him in any situation.
Value is a key term in Overwatch, it’s thrown about by a lot of YouTubers and streamers, but it is never really explored adequately. So let me give you a key mindset approach about value. Value is not determined by medals. Elims are not a sole source of value, objective kills and time aren’t, even healing isn’t always. They can be indicators of performance, but not value. I would often switch from Winston if I wasn’t medalling in elims or obj kills, because I thought I wasn’t getting anything out of him and being a detriment to my team. For Winston specifically however they aren’t the be all and end all. Maybe I am not getting gold or bronze even, I used to take that as a sign of my own deficiency, but it can often not be the case. Say I only have 11 elims in a game on Anubis, no medals and I have died 7 times. Most would say that’s a bang average or worse game for a tank. But what if out of the 11 elims I had, the enemy teams Mercy accounted for 6 of them? Maybe of the 7 deaths I have received 3 have been from drawing out a whole hog or pulse bomb? Am I a detriment to my team? I won’t answer that, I’ll only leave you to ponder it.
You can’t look at yourself when playing Winston as being a success or failure just because your K/D ratio isn’t great or because your medal table is bare. You can have a huge impact by just getting into the face of a tank like Hog, who will nearly always best you, long enough for your team to get a pick or two then turn to focus him.
That brings me to the next Monkey Mindset tip, sometimes you can have a good death. Tank play can be attributed to many things, sustaining fights with large HP pools, creating space for aggressive pushes or defensive out plays, controlling certain areas of maps i.e. Rein in a choke, Winston on high ground etc. One overlooked thing for Winston specifically, and I also think D.Va falls into this category, is being a sacrificial lamb. He is great for drawing out an ult. Tesla Cannon has a habit (although it is weak) of panicking other players. I can’t count the amount of times I have drawn out Sound Barrier/ Transcendence / Whole Hog/ Pulse Bomb/ Earthshatter. Being a constant nuisance can have a massive benefit for your team. That is the first principal when you begin to play Winston, make sure you’re being a constant thorn in the side of the enemy. Don’t be afraid to take a death, if you draw out an ult, take attention for long enough, push a support away from their team, maybe you just got battered long enough for your own support to charge their ult; all this can lead to a team victory.
In classical scientific tradition, lets contradict ourselves. Monkey Mindset tip: don’t give it up cheaply. Your life that is (get your mind out of the gutter, he’s a man of science after all). The biggest difference I have made in my approach to Winston is recognising when it’s time to get out. My death ratio has dramatically fallen as a result and my SR and performance has increased to match. Look, here’s the thing, I know you really want to kill that Genji who is on half health and in your sights, I understand that the Widow is low and mocking you from above, but there are 4 of them around your target , and you would be solo ape’ing in, just back out. Honestly the biggest mistake Winston players make is over commitment. Now that’s not to say don’t be bold (we will look at that soon), just know your limits. You’re a monstrous wrecking ball, but only if you use your brain. Be smart and pick fights you can win, then dive them and win them quickly. If you’re playing Winston try not to look at the match as a battle of 1v1’s or incremental battles which you win or lose. Look at the big picture, the macro. You can be an assassin if you need to be, but you need to also be aware of creating space, keeping focus on you when you need to, assisting DPS in taking out a key target and protecting your own support. You have more to think about than pretty much any tank.
Monkey Mindset: Be Bold. Seriously, be brave and confident, nothing irritates me more than Tanks who won’t take the initiative. You’re Winston. Initiative is your entire game. If you’re solo queuing, then tell your team you are diving and go for it. I promise you they will soon take your lead and follow behind making you feel much more confident, and bringing the team together. Don’t be terrified of your counters either, simply respect them. I will nearly always take on a Reaper 1v1 if my bubble is off CD, because I can do this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWHS-ZHrZQ8, and so can you. Have a healthy respect for your counter, then proceed to out think them. If they win, then they win, they’re supposed to after all. If it’s close however, they may think twice before targeting you so liberally.
Monkey Mindset: Have Fun. He’s a gigantic, talking, space ape. If you’re not playing him with a smile on your face you’re doing something wrong. Have fun in how you play him, the way I do isn’t the right way; just the way I most enjoy. You may be more cavalier or conservative, find the style you enjoy most and are most comfortable with and learn to master it. Winston is so much fun to play and he is so diverse that there is a plethora of possibilities waiting to be discovered about what he can and can’t do.
And so we draw an end to my simian ramblings. I have really enjoyed producing these, and have found that just by writing my thoughts down I have been able to see how I see Winston, which has in turn made my game much, much more well rounded. If you feel you’re not doing well with your own hero, then writing down what you think they should be able to do has a pleasing clarity to it, just something to think about.
I upload to YouTube fairly regularly, playing mainly Winston, so if you want to see any of that you can here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9Tzdbv4g1e1uX4KENpZf1Q