Overwatch competitive play is one hell of a ride. Rise and fall is natural with any competitive game, but there is something about Overwatch that makes the swings so much greater. Take for instance my competitive ranking. At the beginning of season 2 I placed high gold tier, and after just a few rounds with higher level friends I was in Platinum. My highest rank is season 2 was around 2600, but from there I went on a massive losing streak. It was atrocious. I think I finished season 2 around 2300 or so. That coupled with the announcement that season 3 would probably start players at lower rank to allow them to work up to higher tiers meant I was not surprised when I placed at 2151 after my placement matches for season 3. Unfortunately, my losing streak followed me and I dropped all the way down to around 1700. Just a season ago I was at 2600, and here I was a full 900 points higher. That, however, is not the 900 point swing I want to talk about. By the end of season 3 I had jumped up to the 2200 range, which meant that I had lost 400 SR only to gain back 500 SR before the end of the season. I certainly don’t want to talk about how I lost so many matches, but I want to highlight how I swung back up. None of this is particularly new or enlightening, but I hope this serves as a reminder and starting point for swinging back up. Almost all of my season 3 matches were played with my friend Tmack, and he was often the one who dished out these lessons mid or post-match.
- Keep Going
This is probably the hardest thing to do in competitive when the losing streak is beginning or is going strong. By keep going, I don’t necessarily mean keep giving competitive a try. What I really mean is keep going in your current play session. What Tmack and I discovered was that most of the time, we would only play 2 or 3 matches before getting upset or tired and moving on to something else. This meant we were never truly in the groove of the game, but we would quit before that groove came. We eventually learned that if we could play more than 2-3 games at a time (maybe 5-10?) we could get the losses out of the way, get into the groove of the game, and finish the night on a nice win streak. Each night Tmack and I sat down to play Overwatch we would set a goal for ourselves. We are either going to play this many matches, this amount of time, or we are going to get to this SR. We wouldn’t stop until we reached that goal. We made the goals reasonable too. We never tried to jump from 1700 to 2000 in one sitting; instead, we’d try to move from 1700 to 1775 or 1800 and try the same process the next time we could play. This was easily the biggest difference between an incredibly long losing streak and the ability to piece together a winning streak.
In my lurking on some of the Overwatch discussion boards, a common theme among console players is the lack of communication that occurs. I found this to be true 95% of the time. People just don’t use their mic to chat. The temptation, then, is to turn off your own headset since no one else is talking, but this is the exact opposite thing to do. Just because people are not using their mic does not mean that they can’t hear you speaking. And if you are the only one speaking, that gives you the ability to be the point person on strategy and calling out what you see. It might be a lonely business, but keeping communication up makes you feel better about your own performance in most cases. It may suck that Reaper’s ult killed your entire team, but you at least called out that he was coming and may have the ult available.
- Stay Positive
This one is closely connected to number 2. This is also the one that I probably struggle with most. If my team has a Rein, DVA, Road, Soldier and Junkrat, and the last person decides we need a Hanzo, I will definitely be upset that we don’t have healer (amongst the other team comp problems). That said, it’s important to stay calm and positive. Ask for a switch politely, and if no one does it, make the switch yourself, channel your inner-Lucio and affirm that the team is gonna do great, and call out the good plays everyone makes. Hanzo gets a scatter kill? Say, “Nice scatter!” Road shuts down a high noon with his hook? “Great hook!” You can say all this all the while being a little annoyed that you’re solo healing your time without a Rein. Always look for the positives to call out. This will boost your team’s morale and will affect your approach to the game for the better. If you lose, make sure you give everyone a “Good game and good luck on the future.” If you win, give each team member a piece of the love. Cheer on your teammates who get play of the game and/or make the voting board at the end. Again, this isn’t easy, but it makes it easier to keep playing the game and gives you a better outlook to perform well.
- Keep Your Group Small
If you are solo-queuing, this doesn’t apply to you. But if you’re teaming up with others, try to keep your group small unless you are really confident in everyone’s ability. Tmack and I ran into this problem a couple of times. We would group up in a party, have a really great game and win, vote to stay as a team because we played well together, and then proceed to lose the next 2 games with that team. The game takes into consideration how many people are grouped up and assumes that more people partied up will perform better. Most of the time this is true, but not when you’re still playing with a bunch of randos, random players whose tendencies and strengths you are unaware of. Fight the urge to stay as a team after a great victory, because Tmack and I found that we did better when we stayed smaller.
- Fill the Roles
This should be pretty obvious, but make sure you’re filling the roles of what your team needs. It’s okay to have a character that you flock towards, and it’s okay to try and play that character as much as possible. Heck, I played Reinhardt almost exclusively in season 3. What is not okay is sticking to that character when your team clearly needs something else. For instance, Tmack tried to play as much soldier as possible in season 3, but anytime our team picked no healers (regardless of who picked first) he would instantly switch to an Ana or a Lucio to fill that gap. Similarly, I would do my best to share the healing load if we had enough tanks. Closely related to this is being willing to switch as the situation calls for it. I love Reinhardt, but I can’t stick with him when there’s a Bastion, Junkrat and Soldier on the enemy team because my shield just doesn’t stay up. Instead, I switch to a DVA or a Zarya to try to better assist my team.
These are the things that enabled Tmack and I to acquire success in our competitive endeavors. I think these tips are pretty universal in their ability to help players become better in their competitive play. Do any of my tips feel like hogwash? Did I miss an essential trick for climbing the ranks? Let me know in the comments below! And of course, best of luck when the new season begins. As always, thanks for reading. Stay average my lads and lasses!