So you’ve just hit level 25 and you’re ready to start playing some competitive games. I wanted to share some tips that I wish i’d known jumping on to the ladder and provide some helpful guidance to prepare you for success; whether you’ve played a lot of Overwatch and are just starting in competitive or your pretty new to the game still. Competitive, unlike Quick Play or the Brawl of the Week, has you play through an entire match as the same team with punishments for those who drop out. Some matches can take awhile, so make sure when you sit down to play you’re able to commit.
Playing competitive earns you a rank between 1-100, with 100 being the best and 1 being the worst. Every two and a half months is called a season, after each season your rank resets and you have to climb the ladder all over again; competing in each season grants you a special spray and icon. Outside of season rewards you also receive competitive points. These points can be cashed in for golden weapon skins at 300 per a hero, so you have to win 300 matches to unlock one. Blizzard might also reveal other unlocks in the future that you can spend these points on.
The final notable difference with competitive is that the individual maps play differently; Control Maps are now a best of five format with escort and hybrid being based on the distance the payload has travelled.
Assault has also had some changes; teams take turns playing on offense and the side with the most points wins. With a draw, the teams play an additional round of offense but with the previous rounds remaining time. Then a draw at this point results in sudden death!
The First Ten Matches
So now you know what competitive mode is and what you earn for playing it, you need to jump in and play your first ten matches.
Personally, I advise always playing competitive in group. If you don’t have friends use communities such as https://www.reddit.com/r/OverwatchLFT or https://lfg.pub/g/overwatch to find a group of players to play with; playing with other people new to competitive is a good idea as you can learn the game together then and don’t have just one person carrying the team.
While you learn about team composition and how to counter different strategies in competitive, you’re probably going to lose. During your first ten matches this only really effects where your rank will start on the ladder so don‘t sweat a loss.
Consider switching hero if your team is getting beaten into the ground. At the start of the match make sure tank, offense and support are covered with at least one hero, then choose complimenting heroes from there. Knowing how to build a good team composition will help your team stay in the game longer.
Remember it’s important to stretch before exercise.
Whenever you play competitive, make sure to play some warm up games in quick play or the weekly brawl. This is a perfect place to work on your aim and get back into the game after a break. Make sure to practise heroes you struggle with here for a kinder practise environment.
Variety is the spice of life
Don’t only pick one hero and only one hero. Sometimes no matter how many hours you have as Hanzo, he just isn’t the right pick of the time. The worst matches can be turned around by re-jigging your composition.
It’s important to have a strong support network
Play a support. Don’t have a support? Then pick a support, don’t just expect someone else to pick it up every time. If you want to win in competitive you should practise Lucio or Mercy.
Learn the maps, knowing every path to an area and every health pack location can mean the difference between a win and a loss.
To finish up I’d like to highlight a few heroes you should try to learn so that you have a versatile selection to choose from during the match. These are by no means the only “viable” heroes and not all of them are easy to pickup but it should give you a good starting point for playing competitive.
Tracer: Quick and very capable of melting tanks and heroes caught unaware like Bastion, Tracer is a very capable flanker who can be hard to kill due to her amazing maneuverability and ability to go back in time 3 seconds; returning her health to whatever it was at that point.
Tracer also has the ability to keep a team in overtime for awhile through some recent changes, this is not as useful as before with overtime being shorter now.
If her strong agility wasn’t enough, she also has a small explosive AOE ult that is very good for punishing teams who bunch up too much or killing that Bastion who just isn’t paying attention. Do you ever get that feeling of Deja Vu?
Soldier:76: We’re all soldiers now and Soldier 76 is a well rounded hero who comes with the ability to output decent damage, heal himself and team for a small amount. His ultimate is also amazing for wiping out an enemy team as it allows you to just look in an enemies teams general direction and unleash havoc.
Reaper: Reaper is another strong offense hero with good survivability and an ultimate that wipes out a team when caught unawares. Not only that but his twin shotguns peel away tanks like Reinhardt and D.Va’s large health pools making him a force to reckon with; damage isn’t the only thing Reaper excels at and I mostly recommend him for newcomers because of his mobility and survivability.
Enemies that ‘die die die’ near Reaper drop souls that can heal you. He can also teleport a short distance into hard to reach places, perfect for that flanking ultimate. To round him out our one true edge lord is very capable of running away with his shift skill, turning him into a spectre that can move through enemies and doesn’t take damage for a short time.
Mei: Mei get’s a lot of hate mostly because of how damn effective she can be, her primary fire slows and freezes enemies making it easy to line up her secondary fire for a headshot. Defense wise she comes with an ice wall which is great for blocking doorways, ultimates, or making it so a team can’t get on the point; like the other heroes, I recommend her because she’s comes with an a-mei-zing regeneration ability that makes her an indestructible icicle.
This is before we even get to her ultimate which is fantastic for setting up team wipes as it freezes all enemies in a circular area leaving everyone caught very very vulnerable. She’s also super cute!
Torbjorn: The little swedish builder is a real strong defense hero that is showing up in most compositions, his turret is quick to build and fast to upgrade and his armor packs provide much needed additional health for some of the squishier heroes but you don’t just have to hide next to your turret.
Torbjorn has a liquid metal gun that canshoot in an arc (sometimes this means you can fire at people you can’t see over ledges), not only that but it comes with a shotgun alternate fire that like Reaper shreds tanks.
If that doesn’t convince you though there’s his ultimate Molten Core which gives Torbjorn and his turret a significant temporary buff in speed, health and damage output. Just be sure not to make a chicken out of a feather by using it to early.
Junkrat: It’s a perfect day for some mayhem. Junkrat is a high damage defense hero armed with a grenade launcher, concussive (capable of sending you or an enemy flying into the air) and a bear trap which holds those who step in it still for a few seconds. Junkrat is a real strong hero to use against teams with a large number of tanks and he really shines in the assault and escort missions capable of laying a barrage of explosives on the enemy from afar. If that’s not cutting it, you can use his ult to drive behind cover or jump over that pesky Reinhardt’s shield to deal some significant damage to a grouped up team. Be careful though as Rip Tire can be shot by pretty much anything wasting your ultimate.
Winston: Capable of chasing down squishy heroes and leaving shield bubbles to protect your teammates Winston is probably the strongest tank out there. This big furry sack of HP comes with a leap that allows him to reach high places or jump on to the objective with relative ease and his tesla cannon strips those around him of their HP with little need to aim. Winston is great for pushing through choke points because of his shield bubble which can even be placed on the payload if you need some cover while you escort it. He also is very capable of chasing down weaker heroes as his manoeuvrability makes it very hard to shake him off. He’s a versatile hero who can be used in multiple situations and as he says ‘Imagination is the essence of discovery’.
Reinhardt: Our resident old man is one hundred percent german power, his mobile shield wall recharges when put down is capable of blocking up to 2000 damage before it breaks, this can shut down ultimates that belong to the likes of Soldier 76 and can provide cover when caught by a Zarya Ult. In addition Reinhardt can charge across the battlefield knocking aside those he clips and bringing the first unsuspecting fool he hits all they way with him. The charge continues for some distance or until you hit a solid surface dealing damage on collision to whoever you have pinned. Tanks will often survive this so be careful of Road Hog and D.Va who can retailiate with force.
Reinhardt does also have a few offensive skills, he doesn’t carry a gun and instead can swing his gigantic hammer around knocking those it hits and dealing 75 damage. In addition you can make use of his flame strike ability to take down other heroes hiding behind the barriers that belong to Winston and Reinhardt. To finish him off our proud knight has his powerful stun Earth Shatter, knocking enemies down in a cone to allow you or teammates to quickly finish them off.
Zarya: Zarya’s health pool is made up of half shields which means all you have to do is use her shield ability or find some cover and you can recover a good chunk of your health. Not only that but the weapons she carries is capable of dealing some serious damage as it gains charge. Charge is gained by using Zarya’s two abilities, one shields you from all damage for a short time while the other shields an ally. Damage taken increases your weapons charge and so the more damage you take with these on, the more damage you can deal. To round her out, she also has one of the best control ultimates in the game; sucking all enemies within range into a single point like a black hole. This can allow you to setup the entire enemy team for one of the many powerful ultimates in the game, for together we are strong!
Mercy: With Mercy around heroes never die, her Staff is capable of healing or boosting the damage of an ally while her pistol can put out consistent damage if you need to defend yourself; the Valkyrie suit makes sure your health stays topped up regenerating 20 health per a second after not taking damage for 3 seconds. The suit also allows you to fly towards an ally or slow your descent and this allows you to zip between dying teammates with relative ease.
The most important part of Mercy is that her ultimate can resurrect nearby teammates who have died. This can completely turn the tide of the match and is why when you have her ultimate you should stay in cover and wait for the perfect moment.
Lucio: Oh, let’s break it down! Lucio is a passive healing support that regenerates anyone who is in a 300 metre radius around him. He can boost this with his secondary ability ‘amp it up’ and this constant healing is a massive help in all of the game modes, no matter what side you’re on. When not healing, Lucio can switch to a speed boost that makes everyone move faster and this too is boosted by amp it up.
As with Mercy, Lucio also has a game changing ultimate Sound Barrier giving nearby allies 500 temporary health that decays quickly. Using this ultimate as your team rushes onto the enemy point as the enemy team uses a high damage ultimate will save the day and nearly always change the outcome of a fight.
Hopefully you find this advice useful whether you’re jumping into Overwatch for the first time or have been playing for awhile. We’d love to hear your competitive Overwatch experiences in the comments.