Preface My motivation for this post is being on way too many teams that don’t understand how pairs of tanks work together. In some cases it could be the tanks themselves, like when I had to watch my dva/Winston play like Rein/Zarya and proceed to get stomped. Other times it might be the DPS or healers not adjusting their playstyle or hero selection to match their tanks. This guide is designed for diamond and below, and will go through the various tank pairs available in the game with the goal of getting unfamiliar teams the chance to work better with each other.
Dva/Winston Of course this pair of tanks wants to play dive but this requires a lot more patience from the tanks than people realise. Keeping it simple, locate the target(s), dive the target(s), retreat to cover. If the tanks need help killing the targets they’re diving, DPS needs to choose heroes that can attain sightlines to help with that. Supports need to not only add damage to the dives, but also provide healing on the dives and/or retreats. This makes Ana/Zen/Mercy very viable but don’t sleep on Lucio. His speed boost can get him in and out of the dives quickly (bonus if wall rides are available, like they are on a map like Gibraltar).
Rein/Zarya Classic Brawl. I’ll repeat the magic word, brawl. Too many times have I seen this comp play like they’re running a Bastion comp and it pains my heart. This comp excels in short spaces compared to long spaces on maps but there are ways to close big gaps of space with the rest of your team. A Mei or Lucio can be very effective in helping the team close space to ensure an in-your-face brawl. In addition, the team has to play like they’re brawling (there’s that word again). So Baptiste might look like a shoddy pick at first glance, but if he brawls with the tanks, he can output a lot of heals, self sustain, and don’t forget he’s got a life saving cooldown. If your Bap sits in the back line spamming heals from afar, he is vulnerable and will get eaten up by enemy DPS because brawl comps can’t protect a far away back line. Bap is the example I used but this applies to any support in this comp. You HAVE to stay with your Rein and Zarya. As for DPS, your goals are to close space, stun/damage targets when they penetrate your front line, and help your tanks finish off enemies. In case you forgot, brawl. Need imagery? Think 1970s hockey.
Winston/Zarya Hybrid Dive/Brawl. Having explained these 2 styles a little bit (not the goal of the guide), I’ll jump right into it. Winston is going to want to locate and dive targets and then retreat. He does get more protection with the Zarya alongside him and double bubble management is really important. So many times I see Winston throw his bubble down and also get bubbled by zarya at the same time. Ideally you would see jump in, zarya bubble, Winston bubble, jump out. But the main idea with these 2 tanks is that Winston dives to initiate the fight and then the rest of the team follows up and brawls to win the fight. DPS on this team need to support Winston’s dive and/or ensure the following brawl is won. For supports, Lucio is a good start. He can support a diving Winston and/or rush the brawl in. Zen is good if Winston needs help (this depends a lot on what the enemy team is running). Moira is good if the follow up brawl needs help.
Rein/Dva For the Dva in this comp, they need to contest high ground, dive anyone harassing your Rein, and possibly peel for the back line (Zarya normally has trouble with the 1st and 3rd part of this). Dva can’t play the same as if she has a Winston alongside her. The DPS can be flexible but it depends on which style the Rein wants to run. Does he want to play more passive and protect the rest of the team so they can get picks? Does he want to play more of a rush style? This will depend on the map, game type, and enemy comp, but DPS need to support the game plan. The same applies to the supports, keeping in mind that a Dva on high ground and a Rein on low ground might both need heals at the same time.
Hog/Dva I always thought this tankline was garbage until I saw it played well (against me). The goal is to destroy close range enemies with high amounts of burst damage. DPS, reread the last sentence. The Dva in this comp needs to put high priority on using DM to protect Hog. Supports, you’re probably not going to get too cozy sitting in the back line. But with that said, Ana is a great pick. Her nades are of extreme importance. Zen also works well. But funny enough, Ana/Zen might not be the best combo (enemy team dependent). Brig, Lucio, and Moira can work here. I would avoid Mercy.
Hog/Zarya If Rein/Zarya is an organised brawl (1970s hockey), think of this tank pair as a chaotic brawl (messy streetfight). Hog needs to get good angles for his hooks. DPS can great creative with their angles here. Supports need to keep a high charged Zarya alive. CC abilities from both DPS and supports are helpful. Mei, Lucio (boop), McCree, and Mei come to mind right now. If played right, the enemy team should have trouble targeting any one person on your team (this is why Zarya needs to be especially protected) and feel like they got hit by a wave of crazy after each fight.
Hammond/Dva This comp dives like a dva/Winston pair but is less patient. There is less of a focus on picking a target to dive, but more of a focus on aggression with the dive. The whole team needs to dive together and it should be overwhelming. DPS, your goal is to aid the dive so that your tanks can’t get instantly focused and eliminated. You will also need to prioritise low health targets (this is key!). For supports, Moira/Lucio is a good pair but other supports work also as long as they play along with the aggressive style. Stay away from someone like Bap.
Hammond/Hog This is a mix of the previous 2 tank pairs written about. Aggressive, chaotic and able to take advantage of the map being played. I wouldn’t roll this on Eichenwalde, but it can definitely work on something like Nepal or Ilios. It is worth noting that the biggest strength of this comp is to get people out of position. DPS should be able to focus and melt an enemy when it is out of position (hook or ball boop will do this). For supports, Zen and his discord work well here. He can help the DPS with their job. Someone like Lucio can help the tanks with their goal. Even though your tanks can peel, don’t expect too much peel from your tanks. I would probably stay away from Brig and Bap.
Rein/Hog Bully Brawl. Your team will want to play close together here and it should be tough to kill your team with all 6 members alive. If anyone penetrates your front line (or converse if Hog hooks them into your team), they should get melted instantly. For the sake of imagery, I will call this the Kirby comp. When Kirby swallows an enemy, it gets melted immediately. Unlike a Rein/Zarya comp, this style of brawl is more passive and selective. You dictate when the brawl kicks off and that is when an enemy penetrates your front line. Then your team bullies and melts them. Mei/Reaper/Sombra are some possible heroes that get a thumbs up. Echo/Pharah get a thumbs down. Supports, you need to be durable in a close-knit group. Stay away from Zen and Mercy.
Dva/Zarya Not a great tank line generally, but could be good in specific situations. Dva’s goal is to dive individual high ground targets and being able to get bubbled by Zarya is massive. When not diving, her DM becomes very important. With the Zarya here, she is picked because she can gain charge very quickly (say the enemy team is running a spammy junkrat). Otherwise, I would not recommend this tank line. DPS should be able to support whoever Zarya is focusing or whoever is focusing your Zarya. DPS may possibly need to aid Dva in her dives (eg she dives a pocketed Ashe or Pharah). Supports, you won’t have too much protection from your tanks so mobility and cover is extremely important. Help your team win the fight after Dva completes a successful dive, which provides you with a numbers advantage. So overall, play slow until you get the advantage in numbers, then push around the rest of the enemy team.
Rein/Winston Again not a generally good tank pair, but provides the hybrid option between zarya/Winston and Rein/Dva. The reason you would take this comp instead of Zarya/Winston is because of Rein’s shield. The reason you take this pair over Rein/Dva is because Winston provides more value than Dva (enemy dependant). The key to the Rein and Winston comp is to always have sight lines available of where your Winston dives. When Winston dives, everybody else focuses targets in that area. They shouldn’t be able to focus your Winston AND your DPS (remember beefy Rein shield). So if the enemy focuses and kills your Winston, the distraction should be enough to win the fight. You can think of it as a dive with spam follow up. DPS need to mainly deal damage at distance. Supports need to deal damage at distance and need to heal from distance and nearby. Zen, Ana, and Mercy pocketing are good. Bap is not a bad choice either. Lucio could be good if used creatively. Stay away from Brig and Moira.
Rein/Hammond Not recommended but similar to the Rein/Winston pair. Hammond’s diving would provide more value than Winston (knocking people out of position, providing a longer distraction because of map type, ability to escape). I’m not going to add much more here because this comp would function like the previous one.
Hammond/Zarya This tank pair should function like Zarya/Winston (#3) but Hammond provides more value than Winston because of the map and/or enemy comp. In essence, Hammond buys your team time to start a Brawl.
Winston/Hammond I don’t like this comp a lot. Not a great tank line. It could be helpful though if your team NEEDS to focus the enemy back line, although other pairs of tanks usually do the job better. I’d avoid this one.
Winston/Hog Stay away from this normally. Functions well if you need Winston’s bubble ability to block enemy healers from healing their team AND Hog’s hook ability to punish certain enemy targets. DPS should be able to punish quickly after Winston separates the enemy lines with his bubble. High, burst damage is essential. For supports, Ana (nade) and Zen (discord) help with the burst damage.