Lately, I feel like Overwatch competitive has been testing the patience of even the most sound of players. There are a lot of things that could be better, but for many of us we keep on playing. I’ve taken several breaks over the course of the past year to help keep my sanity and, upon returning, I’ve tried to work on my own outlook and approach to the game. Though it often feels hopeless, I’ve come to the conclusion that more often than not I can do more. This isn’t simply from a mechanical perspective, but from a team and morale perspective.
I want to share five conclusions that I’ve come to over the course of this last year. These are less focused on what you can do mechanically, though, and more focused on how you can sanity-check yourself (and your team) in the face of what can feel like insurmountable odds.
1.) Less is more in voice chat
Though I’m a little shy at times, it doesn’t necessarily take much to get me chatty sometimes. Being talkative isn’t a problem in and of itself, but in the heat of battle nervous habits can sometimes spur more idle chit-chat than is necessary. After coming back from a break and trying to be more selective about my call-outs, I realized how much more talkative I had been before.
I’m not talking exclusively about being toxic here, but also comments like those referring to how the battle is unfolding or how enemy hero picks are annoying me. But if these remarks don’t provide helpful information to my team, they’re probably just building more anxious energy that the team as a whole doesn’t need. Keep things succint and encouraging, and don’t let a case of “motormouth” amp you up more than you already are.
2.) Fix what can be fixed, not what is beyond repair
So you lost the first point on the first teamfight. It happens. But this is often where a team’s resolve can be tested the most.
Its disappointing for sure, but avoid the temptation to get defeatist… even if you don’t utter a word to your teammates about it *points at self*. As with practicing the first bullet point, resist the urge to oblige your anxious energies and choose instead to just “reset.” In matches I’ve been in, its not unusual for the team to be one or two hero switches away from a solid comp; draw the team’s conversation towards these points and away from how you just got rolled. The same goes for when your other teammates make mistakes; don’t call them out for throwing and hurl insults (“useless charge-happy Rein,”) but rather emphasize why their play is important going forward (“we really need your shield for our hitscans.”)
3.) Be diplomatic about hero switching
Though hero switching is a fundamental part of Overwatch, many of us have seen how delicate of an issue it can be to approach. But really, at the end of the day, the same principles from my previous point apply here. Turn something like a “hero switch” into a positive. “We could use a more mobile tank” sounds a lot better than “Your Rein play sucks.” Avoid stirring the pot in unnecessary ways.
But what about if YOU want a hero that someone else is already playing? That almost inevitably sounds like a call-out, doesn’t it? Again, focus on the positive aspects of the switch and not on the other person’s play. “That Pharah is giving us a lot of trouble. Can I play D.Va? I think I can lock her down with defense matrix.”
4.) Prioritize focus on your role
This has probably been the biggest thorn in my side. Let’s face it: A LOT often goes wrong in any competitive game of (solo-queue) Overwatch. The team comp is a mess, no one is grouping up and your supports can barely make it out of spawn without being lambasted. Often, I found myself trying so hard to fix one problem that by the time it was fixed, we were too late to fix the half-dozen other things that we hadn’t even noticed… including my own play. In fact, sometimes I’d try to do other people’s jobs when I was in no position to do so. “But someone has to, right?” Well, that approach can be a very risky one. This shortcoming of mine was especially prevalent when basic concepts like grouping were being ignored.
Of course, fundamental failings are going to bring down the entire team. But ignoring your own quality of play in favor of “coaching” someone else not only skews the team dynamic more, but can make things very touchy very fast among teammates. To get to the end of a match and realize I hadn’t done my job more than once or twice was a horrible feeling. Was it my team’s fault? Maybe partially, but I have to at least TRY to fulfill MY role.
Encourage well-oiled gameplay, but do it by rallying your teammates around your specific role. If anything, TRY TRY TRY. And when things don’t pan out, explain to the team how they can help you. Ask for help on finishing off supports or taking key positions. Reassure your tanks that you’ll follow them in and/or keep them topped off. Inspire–not belittle–your teammates, and morale can be much easier to maintain.
5.) Always analyze your own play
Finally, never walk away from a match not looking at yourself. Yes, there will always be an element of chance to the matchmaker. Yes, your teammates will make mistakes. But if you’re going to focus on that EXCLUSIVELY, don’t expect to get better as a player. I’m all for talking about trolls and toxicity and how we can fix these issues, because it does affect individual players and how their matches turn out. However, as long as you keep queueing up for competitive, you should be looking to improve even in the most dire of circumstances.
Never miss an opportunity to get better or take away a nugget of knowledge. If you’re waiting for the perfect game to come along, you will be waiting forever. I mean, that’s what this whole guide is about: perseverance in the face of adversity. And when I get those key takeaways, 20-minute losses don’t feel nearly as wasteful. In fact, sometimes its exciting to jump back in with your newfound knowledge! This approach can be humbling but also encouraging. Look to yourself, because dwelling on the mistakes of another player (especially one you may never see again) isn’t nearly as productive.
I hope someone out there finds this guide helpful! Stay the course my friends!