Before we go any further let me put some context to this story. I ended Season 6 hovering around the 2300+ SR and I mained Pharah, while occasionally switching to Roadhog depending on the map. I usually play on Competitive Mode with my casual team mates on the PS4, and we usually form between a two-stack or up to a six-stack group when everyone’s around.
However, heading into the end of Season 7, I wasn’t in a good position. My head wasn’t in the right place. I had tons of personal issues on the side while at the same time juggling trying to set up a new company and website. Suffice to say, it took a toll on my gaming. I deteriorated and so did my SR. I plummeted to 1860 SR and was demoted to Silver. Then a red-haired Irish lass was unveiled at BlizzCon. After dabbling with her kit, and understanding her style of play (and practicing using her on Quick Play), I decided to main her for Season 8. And voila!
Everything picked up and I have since racked up nearly 900SR and recently finished Season 8 at 2705SR, or mid-Plat. Season and Career High! But is it all down to Moira? It’s more than that. Good news for everyone though – it was a combination of many little factors that can be implemented on other heroes as well. Just that in my case, playing as Moira enforced these ‘fundamentals’ which improved my approach entirely, resulting in that huge jump in Skill Rating.
Moira taught me so much about positioning and discipline in managing resources. On top of that, learning to be adept with this hero has indirectly taught me other nuances of Overwatch, which I believe would be useful to everyone who intends to climb up the ladder.
But how are your advice any different, Kenn? You’re just mid-Platinum!
Ow. True. But hear me out.
If you follow Overwatch YouTubers, or any channel in that matter, I’m sure you’ve come across numerous tips on how to rank up. While most of these tips can come out as obvious, it’s mostly due to the fact that folks who give these tips never had to chug through elo hell – the high Silver to lower Platinum realm. Most of these YouTubers already have the mechanical skill or experience competing at the higher levels – some even come from other esports scene prior to Overwatch – and they mostly play with equally skilful players. For mere casuals like the majority of us, their advice just don’t make sense. Like an F1 driver giving you tips on how to beat peak hour traffic.
Sure bro. You drive a single-seater, 950-horsepowered beast. I drive an underpowered 1.6L Sedan. Relatable.
So today I am going to share some tips (that worked for me) on how to improve in Overwatch, regardless if you only focus on Quick Play, or an aspiring climber in the Competitive mode. Do take note that while these tips work with me primarily on Moira, they are equally useful on other characters as well.
We aren’t going to touch about improving one’s mechanical skill as it differs from one person to another. It’s either you have it, or you don’t and the amount of training vary from one person to another.
1. Know Your Hero’s Kit inside out.
Memorize the cooldowns and its quirks. How far can she phase shift? The maximum distance of her Biotic Grasp, and how her Biotic Orbs bounce off the walls. (lol! Grow up, Kenn!). All of these info should come as second nature to anyone playing as Moira. When I play as Pharah, I instinctively know how high can she hover solely based on muscle memory. I can roughly estimate how long I have to lead my rockets, or how far will the Concussive Blast knock people off. For those playing as other characters, you can do the same. What’s Tracer’s blink reach? Where will you Recall to? How far til Reinhardt’s charge stops? Information like these puts you a smidge ahead of your competitors, but its effect is huge once you master them all.
2. Enter Competitive Mode with the right attitude.
No one plays to lose yet the fear of losing will always linger at the back of our minds. We are human after all. ‘What if I get shitty team mates?’. ‘What if there’s a leaver?’. ‘What if I cannot play my best hero?’. Starting your rounds with negative thoughts will eventually shift your mindset that will be detrimental to your own team. That’s akin to giving a free win to the opponents. To overcome this, build your confidence by getting into a few rounds on Quick Play or even skirmish mode with your mates. Heck, go to the Training Mode to warm yourself up. It helps.
3. Learn to Detect When You Are in Or Not in ‘The Zone’.
We have good days, and we have really bad ones. Sometimes even when equipped with the best attitude known to man, you just got to accept that your body isn’t in tuned for the stress, or your mind isn’t in the right place. The solution to this is repetition. Make sure that you’re comfortable with the expected stress playing on Competitive Mode. Build a tolerance to it and once it’s considered normal, you will have lesser ‘Off Days’ going forward. But on the flipside, once you realize you’re on a roll, go all out. Adrenaline’s a wonderful thing when put to good use and once you hit peak reflex and alertness, you will be unstoppable.
4. Set A Cap On How Much SR is Too Much once the rot sets in.
Some may call this method ‘cheating’ but it’s just being smart. Set a cap before you jump into Competitive Mode. Tell yourself: How much SR are you willing to lose? I usually set a limit of -100 per day as indicator that I’m just not feeling it. I also learned that the most rounds I can do per day before I start losing focus is about six games in so tailor your threshold accordingly. Cuz once you’ve hit the wall, you have to accept that you’re just not good enough to climb that day. There’s no shame in taking a step back to set yourself straight rather than ruining it for everyone else.
5. Increase Your Hero Pool and Be Alert of What Is Working (or not).
Some may take it as being forced to master every single hero but in reality, you only need to be adept with three or four at maximum. While one-tricking is the best way to go (according to some YouTubers), requests for other players to switch so you can use your favored hero rarely end well. Be ready to flex and play to your team’s composition rather than trying to be the superstar all the time. I’ve encountered numerous oppositions which consist of six DPS players yet being outplayed by my squad of 2-2-2 simply because we fielded a more balanced setup. Know when to be the support, and when to take charge. Sometimes your main hero is not the best hero for that round.
6. Remember – It’s Just A Game. Why You Have to Be Mad?
Ultimately we play video games because we want to have fun. Once it starts to not be enjoyable, then you know it is time to stop. No amount of in-game reward is worth getting yourself all riled up – unless you’re (weirdly) into that kind of stuff. A healthy mental state makes a whole lot of difference so I highly recommend jumping on Competitive Mode only when you feel that you’re in the right state of mind. We could use a lot less toxicity in our gaming.
Adjust Your Mindset According to the Situation, State of the Game and Hero you are Using.
During my early days on Moira, I was super aggro thanks to my Pharah-like mentality, of wanting to dish as much punishment as I could. I forgot that my main role was to primarily to keep my team mates alive to my team’s detriment. So for example – if you’re on Tracer, prioritize your targets. Playing as the main tank? Stick to the objective and protect your squishies. Always remind yourself that switching heroes also come with switching of roles in the battlefield.
Of course you could summarize everything mentioned above as ‘Git gud’ – but really. All steps mentioned above are realistic changes any player at any skill level can take to get good at the game. Do you have any (realistic) tips to climb up the ranks? Be a sport and share with us in the comments section below!