Are your Overwatch skills rusty? After playing the hero shooter for a few years, my gameplay approach could use a little boost. I spoke with numerous esports pros to get their thoughts on how you can play better, win more often, and have more fun. (Even if you don’t have much of a history with Overwatch, this list of expert strategies is designed to be accessible for players of varying abilities.)
Communication With Your Team Is Crucial
Assistant coach for the Philly Fusion, Christopher “ChrisTFer” Graham, looked slightly horrified when I told him that sometimes I take my headphones off and just “vibe out” while playing Overwatch after a long day of work. “It takes a lot more effort. It’s sometimes not as fun to be the one that’s vocal,” he said.
Actively using your headset might be a frustrating experience at first, especially if your teammates don’t reciprocate a similar level of communication, but ChrisTFer is a firm believer that novice Overwatch players perform better when they have their microphones turned on. “It’s why a lot of people would like to play with friends as much as possible, because then you can guarantee that people are going to at least give you the most basic information.”
Just Kidding, Keep It to Yourself
In February, the morning of my scheduled interview with Jake Lyon, coach and player for the Houston Outlaws, I woke up without electricity in my Kansas apartment. Unlike the Texans who were plunged for days into a deadly blackout, I was fortunate enough to have my power restored by early afternoon. Jake carved out time to share his expert perspective on Overwatch and provide strategies for novices despite the extenuating circumstances.
When it comes to communication between players at lower skill levels, Jake gave a tip in contrast to ChrisTFer’s advice. “Maybe this is controversial, but I don’t think that communication is actually that valuable up until a pretty high level,” he said. “I actually think you’ll probably have more impact just playing your own game.” The numerous heroes, abilities, and maps can be overwhelming for new players trying to understand the game’s balance. Adding voice chat on top of all that divides the player’s attention even further.
Jake said, “A lot of times you can waste more energy and focus communicating, and it’ll just make you not play as well. If your teammates aren’t very team-minded, you might just be shooting yourself in the foot. My mindset is to make critical calls if you need to call, but for the most part, I think it’s better to focus on your own game and try to play as well as you possibly can.”
Don’t Be Toxic
Recently, Lee “Fearless” Eui-seok, who is Korean and plays for the Dallas Fuel, spoke out about experiencing pervasive anti-Asian racism while living in Texas. Translated on Twitter by Florida Mayhem manager Jade Kim, Fearless said, “Being Asian here is terrifying, seriously. People keep trying to pick fights with us.” After targeted incidents where he was coughed on, cursed at, and called Chinese, he mentioned wearing his jersey around as a form of protection. “If I have my jersey on, I think they realize we’re part of some kind of team, so they don’t bother us as much. But if I have my everyday clothes on, they run up to us, harass us, then run away.”
When reached for comment, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson made the following statement: “At Activision Blizzard, we condemn racism in the strongest possible terms. We stand with the Asian community, our employees, and our players and are working across our organization, including esports, to do our part to combat hate and ignorance.”
This toxic, racist behavior is just as unacceptable in the game as it is real life. While playing a competitive video game that features a multiplayer voice chat, issues like targeted harassment can run rampant. On an individual level, it is important for gamers not to perpetuate hateful messages. If you vent your anger toward another player, the impact is lasting and can reverberate.