Overwatch is a game that is bound to its meta, with pro and experienced players tending to herd themselves into relatively strict compositions, admonishing the use of certain characters and opting for specific counters to specific heroes.
However, on a competitive level it’s made interesting as a result of even the slightest change to its meta resulting in widespread updates to the way the entire game is played. Even a slight buff or nerf can dramatically alter the “approved” team compositions, meaning that becoming skilled at playing as most of its heroes is beneficial to your overall success.
But there are essentially tips that every player can take on board to improve their effectiveness. So as we head into Overwatch season 8, let’s take a look at how you can increase your SR and climb up the ranks in its competitive mode.
Work on your Tracer
A good Tracer is one of the most valuable tools in any team’s arsenal. Able to boost into the enemy’s back line and single-handedly deal with their healers, a skilled Tracer can be a major headache for the enemy team, and unlike most Overwatch heroes she has no reliable counter.
The skill ceiling for Tracer is high, with her requiring both precision and an understanding of positioning in order to be utilized effectively. If you’re just starting out, then trying to immediately get to grips with Tracer isn’t ideal, so spend time with her on the training map and in quick play before you launch into competitive.
A good Tracer can draw the focus away from the rest of her team, causing your opponents to prioritize dealing with you before they move on to your teammates. This is particularly advantageous in Escort matches, with you able to distract your rivals from the objective as they try to ensure that you don’t eliminate their healers. In order to be most effective, you’re going to want to stealthily Blink towards your opponents’ healers, take them down and then Recall out of there before their team notices.
Understand dive comp
Team composition is the key to success in Overwatch, with dive comp arguably being the most valuable and effective tactic to use. Overwatch pro play has been criticized for its over-utilization of dive comp, so this highlights just how useful it can be.
Dive comp revolves around a selection of high-mobility heroes focusing upon individual targets to bring them down. Winston is the backbone of this strategy, with him able to dive onto the back lines and put down his shield to isolate a player, while Genji is also crucial thanks to his agility. Many pro teams also make use of Zenyatta, with his Discord orbs allowing his teammates to make quick work of an opponent, while Zarya is also used as a second tank and Lucio as a second healer.
While dive comp is best-suited to a full team working alongside one other, if you’re gunning it solo then you can still enforce some semblance of this strategy. Many Overwatch players will understand what you mean if you suggest to switch to dive comp in the team chat, so try to get some communication going and work together in order to focus upon high-priority targets.
Prepare for Mercy
Mercy is still one of the strongest heroes in the entire game, with her Revive ability and ult able to change the face of a game. If you’re a Mercy player then prepare to be in high demand this season, and if you’re playing against a team with a competent Mercy then you’re going to want to focus your efforts on eliminating her ASAP.
While Mercy no longer has her Resurrect ability, her new Valkyrie ultimate allows her to zip along the sky while healing/reviving teammates, and her deceptively small hitbox (those wings don’t count, unfortunately) makes her difficult to shoot down. Mercy is a staple of pro play, and many a game will be decided by which player makes the best use of her. If you’re playing against a team that’s sailing to victory by way of a skilled Mercy player, make sure that you have a DPS such as Tracer, Soldier 76 or Roadhog that can get in and take her out.
Don’t focus on your win/loss ratio too much
Your ten placement matches will determine your rank, and while you’ll certainly want to win more games than you lose, the number of SR points you’ll earn is mostly dictated by your personal performance. As such, you’re going to want to really focus upon playing to your own strengths and making use of your preferred heroes, rather than worrying too much about losing too many matches.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you should stubbornly stick to a single hero regardless of whether or not it’s beneficial to your team. Fitting in with your team’s composition is going to be infinitely more useful than sticking to a Bastion if you can’t make your way onto the Payload, so make sure to not be selfish with your choices and rotate your hero choices accordingly.
Try not to solo queue
Climbing up the ranks as a solo player is certainly achievable, though for best results you’re going to want to team up with a player (or players) who complement your style. The Overwatch community is unfortunately known for its toxicity, so you’re going to want to minimize the risk of stumbling into unhelpful players by packing our your teams with people you know. This obviously won’t be achievable for those who don’t have friends who play the game, but for those who do, try to stick to playing competitively when they’re online.
If you’re playing in pairs, you should also try to pick heroes that work well with one another. For instance, Pharah and Mercy provide a natural combination, though other great couples include Winston and D.Va who can isolate opponents while blocking damage, Reinhardt and McCree for providing a front line shield alongside mid-distance damage, or Bastion and Orisa for moving along a Payload or defending a point. Try to fit into a groove with another player, or at least communicate with the other players on your team, and you’ll start seeing success more often than not.
Don’t switch just because your team demands it
In Overwatch, you’ll often join a game where your teammates are already angry for an inexplicable reason. You may have opted for a Widowmaker on attack — a perfectly viable strategy but one that can turn a few heads — or made the grave error of selecting Genji / Hanzo. You may have committed the cardinal sin of choosing another support over Mercy, or failed to provide your hot-headed DPS with some healing when they needed it most. Some players have a tendency to attempt to dictate exactly how you should play, and if you feel that the hero you’ve selected will provide your team with the help it needs, then don’t switch just because they tell you too.
It’s easy to get peer-pressured into moving to a role you’re not comfortable with in Overwatch, but if you suck at playing as a particular hero that one guy on your team demands that you switch to, then it’s ultimately not going to help anyone. Play to your own strengths, rotate when necessary, but never start playing as a second healer just because your Soldier 76 won’t stop getting himself killed.