Mechanics and team comps are all important aspects of Overwatch, but in a team game, those things can only take a team so far. A team has to constantly evolve and adapt with meta shifts or roster changes to their team, without losing the signature that defines them. In this post, I?ll talk about certain factors that separate good teams from great teams. Unlike my other team guide posts, this posts is purely dedicated to established teams who have already built synergy together and are looking to take the next step in becoming a better team. There will be some overlap from previous posts so if you want to check those out, they will be linked at the bottom of the post.
- Being Decisive:?Overwatch, in its very nature, is a fast paced shooter where a million things can be happening at once. So, when it comes to shotcalling, ult tracking, or choosing a route, there isn?t time for the shotcaller to say, ?uhhh, maybe we should go left?? Why? Because when you?re in a fast paced game?you have to make quick decisions, and time spent ?deciding? on what to do is time lost on actually executing a plan. Will your shotcaller or team make perfect decisions all the time? No, of course not, but that?s why it?s important in scrims to make those bad decisions and figure out why they were wrong and learn from them. So, that when a team is in an actual tournament environment, they will be ready to make those quick decisions that they faced previously. Unless, you?re a new team and working on certain communication techniques, there shouldn?t be any reason why the team isn?t being decisive.
- Respecting the Call/Trusting Teammates:?Furthering my previous point, when a person makes a call, even if you know it?s a bad call then it has to be followed. Time spent arguing with a call wastes time for a team to execute a plan. Not respecting the call, splits the team, because if one person makes a call but someone else makes a different one then it divides the team on what to do. For example, a person has made a call that the fight is winnable and dives a target but someone else says reset. Some members will try to fight it and others will try to reset. That ends up dividing the attention of the team and the people fighting look like they?re feeding and the rest staggering themselves because the enemy team will eventually go for stagger kills.?Trust your teammates to make a call because a bad call with all six members following it is better than half of the team following a good one.
- Clear Comms:?I?ve talked about this before, but it?s so important for players to cut out comms that don?t matter.?What I mean by this is that a actions are performs based on a certain call.?Whether it be a call to focus a target, a call to rotate to a location, or a positional call out on a Widowmaker. All of those calls imply an action(Jayne, 2018), but a call like, ?I didn?t get healed? or ?why didn?t you combo with me?? aren?t important calls at all. For one, they just annoy your teammates because maybe they died trying to help you and now you?re getting mad at them for something that is not in their control. Secondly, your team should already be talking about the next fight, not the mistakes that happened in the previous fight. Talking about misplays and mistakes are meant to be in VOD reviews, and adjustments in between rounds/maps. When in game, it?s important to learn from mistakes, without letting them hold you back.
- Locational Call Outs vs Targets of Focus:?This is a very small communication detail but can mean life or death for your teammate. We?ve all heard a call, ?Tracer behind? and that?s fine, but what does it mean for your team? Should she be the target of focus? Should your Dva automatically peeling to help? Is it just a positional call out to warn a teammate? Keep in mind,?people see different things and interpret situations differently.?So, during scrims/tournaments there should be distinct call outs between locational call outs and targets of focus. Tone of voice and repetition can be used to signify differences between these calls. For example, a positional call out could be, ?Widowmaker in server room? vs a target of focus could say, ?WIDOW! WIDOW! WIDOW! IN SERVER!? Almost the same phrases but different ways of saying them that could distinguish a positional call out vs a target of focus. That?s only an example, but a team could use a different method to differentiate those types of calls.
- Listening:?It?s easy to talk, but it?s harder to listen. When it comes to working with shotcallers and coaches, listening is one of the most important tools for a player to get better. Some players, can easily take criticism from coaches and listen to their shotcallers. Other players, will say ?okay? then do their own thing because they think their way is better. Then there are players who are outright uncoachable and just refuse to listen and argue with calls all the time.?Not everyone on a team can be caller, there has to be people on a team who need to be listeners.?There also has to be times where a player must take criticism for their play so that they actually learn.
- Payload Management/Objective Conscious:??They C9ed!!? Okay, this has happened to all teams but of course, because of the internet, the original phrase has lost its meaning of,?a team getting off a point when they were winning the team fight.?Despite the occasional misplays around the objective, high level teams understand how to play around objectives.
- Escort/Hybrid: Teams know that in defending escort maps, that?multiple prolonged team fights on point, even if they lose, are more important than taking quick team fights away from payload.?Defending teams understand that the more fights and the longer they are, means that the attacking team will struggle in the end due to the loss in the time bank. One the other hand,?attacking teams understand that taking map control is more important than having 3 on cart,?because it gives them a buffer between the defending team and the payload. They make it so, ?if you want to get to the objective then you have to go through us.? Attacking teams also understand the particular heroes to move the payload, while the rest of the team is taking map control. Sometimes it will be the Lucio, other times the Dva, then sometimes it may be the Zenyatta or Ana.
- Hybrid/2CP: Teams are also aware that it is sometimes worth giving ticks on objectives than trying to prevent as much capture progress as possible. As a defending team on a first point hybrid or 2cp map, it?s worth knowing that?if your team has an advantageous position, then it?s fine for the attacking team to go to point because eventually the defending team will pick off attackers one by one, or build up more impactful ultimates to stop their initial push.
- Control Point: When it comes to control point,?the approach, depending on the team comp is important.?With any of Overwatch map there is a left, main, and right route in taking a point. Teams know that based on their team comp, the most optimal route to take. It?s important to know if holding on point is advantageous or not. Nepal Shrine is a good example of a map where a team could hold on point as it provides high ground and a decent view of the map. A map like Ilios Ruins where the point is in a hole, isn?t the best place sometimes to make a hold.
- All Game Modes: It?s important to?recognize playing for retake or playing for stall.?If a team is playing for retake then that means they plan on slowly winning the team fight and picking heroes to land key abilities to turn the team fight. As opposed to playing for stall where a team picks heroes to play for time off the clock or get it into over time. Heroes like Wrecking Ball and Mei are good for stall, while heroes like Doomfist and Ana are good for retake. There can be overlap between both, but your team needs to know if they want to play for retake to actually turn the team fight or stall to put it into overtime.
- Controlling Pace:?Different teams and certain team comps dictate a certain pace purely on how they play. An aggressive dive comp is inherently fast paced, looking to get quick frags and not taking damage in the poke phase. Other comps like an Orisa bunker comp, wants to take long drawn out poke fights and eventually burn out the resources of the enemy team. It?s important to?recognize how your team likes to play, building comps around that, then making the enemy team feel uncomfortable with the pace you?re trying to force onto them.
- Knowing the Win Condition:?It?s easy to track if the enemy team has Grav/Dragons but what if your team doesn?t have a defensive ultimate to do anything about it? Is your team just going to take the L and go onto the next team fight or is your team going to try to outplay the grav/dragon combo? Teams like to base win conditions purely on ultimates whether it be the enemy team?s or their own, which is fine to a certain point. What I mean by this is that teams should be implementing moves, besides ultimates, that can counter the enemy team from their win conditions. For example, the enemy team has nano blade but your team doesn?t have trans or beat to help negate the damage but your Dva has bomb. So you tell your supports to play really far back so that the genji has to use both dashes to even try to get value out of his blade and then when he does your Dva can send a bomb to the backline and either kill or zone out the Genji. This shows that,?while ultimates are important to a teams win condition, don?t forget important factors like abilities, map control, and positioning.?These are all important aspects of a team fight that are just as impactful as ultimates.
- Adapting on the Fly:?A lot of good teams can implement strats, which will help them win some games, but what happens when those strats stop working because a better team does something unexpected and counters it? Is your team going to force the same thing over and over or are they going to change something that will help them adapt? The great teams can adapt on the fly because they first,?identify what the actual problem is then implement the correct course of action.?In ranked, the solution is always, ?just switch? but in high level play, it doesn?t always work that way. Don?t get me wrong, hero switches are important and can help, but that?s not the only factor why a team could be losing. Sometimes a simple call of, ?Brig play farther back with the supports instead of upfront? can completely change how a team operates. It could also be a complete composition switch where certain comps just don?t work in a certain map. It all depends on the circumstances, but it?s important to first identify the actual problem then implementing the correct course of action.
- Conscious of Supports:?Teams sometimes forget that supports are the most vulnerable targets in Overwatch and just allow the support players to make positional rotations on their own.?Maps, team comps, and styles of play can all dictate how and where a support player should be.?Remember, different situations mean a different course of action. An Ana against a Dive comp can?t play in the same position if she?s against a GOATS comp. As for the rest of team, it?s important to respect the sight lines of their supports and knowing their limits based on where the supports are. As for a supports, it?s important to recognize different styles of play, calling out your own rotations and locations, to help reference your team on where you are. A team should also be responsible for escorting a support to a safer location if need be, as well as peeling for them in the right situations.
OUTSIDE OF THE GAME
- Experimenting:?Metas are not just born out of thin air, but from teams who are willing to experiment on new comps, when new heroes come out or buffs/nerfs come into the next patch. Some experiments will fail miserably, others will work out better than expected.?It?s important to try something new when a change comes into Overwatch because being that team that suddenly finds a team comp that works really well can create a huge meta shift.?The team Goats, for example, an open division team, ran their comp to a huge degree of success, and all of a sudden even Overwatch League teams started to run it, and most recently is shown to have different variations in the World Cup. You never know, your team might be the first one to create the next meta shift.
- Productive VOD Review:?This can be a topic in itself, but VOD reviews are so important to the success of a team, and just like having a productive scrim, a productive VOD review can help gauge the success of a team. As a coach, it?s important to perceive VOD reviews as a tool to help give your players a different perspective. There may be things that happen in a scrim that a player doesn?t realize, but when you go over it with him in a 3rd person perspective then he starts to see things in a team aspect. For players, it?s important to record your own POV so that after scrims, you get to see the mistakes and think of solutions for those mistakes. My biggest suggestion is that,?when conducting a VOD review, list down the key mistakes and then prioritize them. Write those down, then provide solutions, don?t just point out mistakes without any solutions to them.?If you?re unsure, then ask your players and discuss it, more times than not, players can have really good ideas to help work around problems. Once you figure out the solutions, then implement those into the next scrim. Then review that scrim and see if your team has made progress, then keep tweaking it until your team is satisfied with the progress.
- Personal Improvement:?It?s important not to sacrifice personal improvement for team improvement. While playing with the team is important, you?can?t stagnate as a player to not improve in terms of mechanics and game sense.?Look at your own VODs and figure out things that could be done differently, practice new heroes, or create custom games that help improve mechanics. Team play is important, but a team can only go as far as the worst player can take them. Without personal improvement the team will find itself stuck from getting any better.
- Don?t Fix Everything At Once:?Improvement takes time, for some teams, it will take longer than others.?The important thing is to prioritize what needs to be fixed short term then figuring out the next goals after that.Like I previously mentioned, make a list, and make it a point to focus on 1 or 2 goals for a certain amount of time. Use scrims and VOD reviews as tools to work around those goals. Once the team is satisfied then move onto the next goal. It?s important to not fix everything at once because then nothing ends up becoming fixed. Progress can be slow, but slow progress is better than no progress.
- Balancing Fun and Serious:?It?s important that a team balances between being serious in game and having fun. Having fun in Overwatch is good because in the end, it?s a game, and games are meant to be enjoyed, especially with the people around you. It?s also important to recognize that if your team wants to get better, there has to be ground rules on when to be serious. If the team is always looking to have fun, then they will never legitimately improve but if they?re always serious then they are prone to burnout and morale easily breaks in poor performances.?Balance between both sets up a team to improve, while also having good morale when a team doesn?t perform well.