written by Disco
The French writer and aristocrat Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” And when the goal is to win a fight in Overwatch, not having a plan can make any wishes of winning that match fade away. So for those who are looking to improve their Overwatch play, the skill of making an effective plan is a valuable skill to have.
The idea of planning is a smaller part of a much larger skill in Overwatch and in many other games: decision making. In a game as complex as Overwatch, commonly referenced topics like positioning, target focus, and ultimate usage are all based on decisions; choosing where to stay, who to target, and when to use abilities are all decisions that impact gameplay. Even for players who are mechanically skilled at Overwatch, bad decision making can reduce the amount of opportunities for them to use said mechanical skills to create advantages.
The above diagram is an example of a bare bones method of determining what the best approach is to a fight. More specifically, the diagram is a flowchart containing questions to ask before a fight to determine what the conditions of winning a fight are. From there, players can choose how to achieve those conditions in their game. While this method is more useful in full team environments, this strategy is also effective in solo queue, as it allows players to see what strategies are effective for both sides based on their win conditions. Note that there are potentially infinite ways to make a plan; this is just a model for players to build and improve upon.
To give an example of how to use this flowchart, let’s take a look at one of the fights from Temple of Anubis in the RCI match between Blink Strike and Underscore (using a recording of the match without the RCI stream overlay). At the two minute mark, underScore_ (the red team) are looking to push in with an attack and take the point; Blink Strike (the blue team), however, have rebuffed their attacks with ease. Using the flowchart, underScore_ are not in control of the point, but they do have two ultimates that could win them the fight: D.Va’s Self-Destruct and Sombra’s EMP. Looking at the enemy team’s ultimates, they don’t have any ultimates online that can protect the team from both an EMP and a D.Va ult, especially if they can force the fight to occur on point and prevent Blink Strike from getting into cover. With this in mind, underScore_ should look to get as much value out of EMP and Self-Destruct as they can so that they can win the fight from there. And as it turns out, they do exactly that and get two eliminations, allowing them to take Anubis A from Blink Strike.
A second example of using the flowchart is on Horizon Lunar Colony in the underScore_ vs Skynet match. After both teams completed their attack with time remaining, Skynet was only able to take point A in the third round. Thus, with 2 minutes to get the first point and take a tick of the second point, underScore_ looked to be in a good position to win the attacker-friendly map.
Skynet has control of point, and since the round has only started, underScore_ doesn’t have any ultimates. Thus, they are relying on pushing aggressively with their tanks or getting picks with their snipers; Skynet can win the fight if they prevent underScore_ from achieving either by playing behind Orisa’s shield and use their Soldier: 76 and Junkrat to bring consistent damage onto the incoming tanks. In the match, Skynet is able to win the first fight by not getting picked and repelling the tank push, but they ultimately fall to the last-second push underScore_ makes. However, with their time bank drained from Skynet winning the first fight, they are not able to push effectively onto second point, allowing Skynet to dodge the map loss and make it a tie.
Hopefully, this planning model will provide a good foundation for winning fights in Overwatch, allowing players to turn their wishes of improvement into reachable goals. There are many more aspects to planning a fight, but establishing what circumstances are needed for victory is an important step for any plan to succeed, regardless of what environment is used. Even valued skills like game sense and situational awareness serve primarily to feed the decision making process, and this fundamental necessity of smart decision making in Overwatch is a large part of what makes the game as interesting, exciting and complex as it is.
“A failure to plan is a plan to fail.”