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Basic Tips for Competitive Play

Michael Bitton Posted:
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Now that season 2 is live, I’ve been spending a lot of time playing competitive Overwatch. While I’m not a top tier player, I do understand the best practices for how to play Overwatch, even if my mechanical skills aren’t as high as they could be.. This week, we’ll be sharing some easy tips on how to improve your Overwatch play no matter what tier you’re in.


No, it doesn’t matter if you have a mic, though obviously it helps to have one and participate if you’re able to. Go into your options and find the Sound tab, scroll down to the team voice option, and set it to auto join. Make sure you’re in voice comms every match so that you can either participate in or at least hear what others are talking about. Communication is key in all team games, so something as simple as including yourself, or just listening in will up your game immediately. If you’re willing to, call out targets and threats, organize your team before engagements or call to disengage, and be sure to mention when your ultimate is ready.

How you say things is also equally important as what you’re saying. Remember to be constructive, and not just because it’s polite, but because it also serves your own interests. People are likely to be more receptive to suggestions if you aren’t being a jerk. Yelling at someone to get off Torbjorn on attack isn’t as likely to work as asking them if they have another character they’d be comfortable on.

Be Vigilant

As a Mercy player hanging out in the back of the group, this is probably what frustrates me most about those at my admittedly average skill level.  Pay attention to what’s going on around you! And particularly what’s going on behind you. See, most of the games highest threats are flankers, and they can completely wipe out your team (or kill your Mercy, leading to the wipe of your team). For example, Reaper’s heavy boots make a very distinct sound when he’s moving around. Listen for it (and other key sound cues). And don’t ignore it if you do hear it behind out. Out of sight, out of mind isn’t a thing in Overwatch. Make a habit of checking behind you every few seconds, too.  Living in the backline, I can’t tell you how many players I notice never looking behind them. If you’re a poor shot or not so great at landing hooks, that’s OK. You can level up your game a ton by simply working on your spatial awareness.  Shutting down the Reaper who’s looking to flank your team can be the difference between a win and a loss and it often is.

Group Up

This is the real differentiator between high level players and everyone else. Numbers advantage matters. A lot. If you’ve played League of Legends, would you engage the full enemy team under their tower in mid by yourself? No? Then why are you spawning in and trying to engage the entire enemy team defending a point? Believe it or not, many players do this. Filing in one by one to your death just robs your team of making any sort of coordinated push for an objective and also feeds your enemy ultimate charge so they have a better chance at resisting whatever push you ultimately manage to cobble together (typically during the last 30 seconds of a match).

If you’re trying to take an objective and you lose a guy while grouping up, wait. Group up together before a push. The reverse is also true. Your Roadhog make a lucky pick and take out a high priority target? Take advantage of the numbers being in your favor and initiate a fight.

Ultimate Charge

There’s more to ultimates in Overwatch than simply keeping track of which team members have theirs ready and which enemy team members recently used theirs. There’s a sort of constant tug of war of ultimate charge going on throughout the match and it’s important to keep it in mind. For example, if you’re playing Roadhog and you regularly expose yourself to enemy fire, you might not think it’s a big deal because you can duck into a corner and heal yourself back up. Well, the reality is that you’re feeding potentially multiple enemy team members ultimate charge every time you do this. Even though you also gain charge for healing yourself, it’s not exactly a trade in your favor. Reducing your exposure to enemy fire might seem obvious, but we often think about it in terms of how much we can push it before dying, since there are health packs on the map and healers on our team. But the mere act of taking damage grants your enemy an advantage, so unless you’re a tank that can nullify incoming damage (e.g. Reinhardt’s shield or D.Va’s Defense Matrix), you probably want to avoid taking damage unless it’s necessary.

Be Flexible

Before you jump into competitive play, think about whichever character you feel you play best. Identify two or three more characters, preferably within other roles and get those characters to comfort level similar to your favorite. Ideally, I would aim for two characters in your primary role and one of each in the other roles (tank/DPS/healer). If you want to give yourself the best odds in competitive play, you’ll want to have a bench of characters you can play in different scenarios. Overwatch doesn’t have a draft process, so you don’t want to be stuck playing healer if you’re primarily a DPS player and find yourself unable to adequately perform your role.  Cover your bases to give yourself the best chances to win.

At the same time, you also need to be firm on those comfortable picks if your teammates are trying to get you to pick something simply because it’s better in the meta. Unless you’re at the highest tier of play or you’re being hard countered by a competent enemy, it’s likely better to pick a character you’re comfortable on over one that’s better for the composition on paper. If Zarya is perfect for the composition, but you’re an amazing Roadhog and you’ve never played her, you’re more likely to do better on Roadhog than you are fresh on Zarya. Try to calmly explain this when asked and hopefully your teammates will understand.

Do you have any tips for Overwatch competitive play? Share ‘em with us in the comments below!


Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB