written by Disco
McCree’s Deadeye can make any battlefield a western showdown, but like every other hero, he can’t do this all the time. Ultimate tracking is one of the most useful skills a support player can have in a team environment in Overwatch. Many of the steps in planning out fights rely on knowing what ultimates are available to both teams. In this (albeit short) article, we will detail an introductory method for ultimate tracking and some tips to apply ultimate tracking to Overwatch games.
First, a definition of ultimate tracking: tracking an ultimate is equivalent to knowing what ultimates the enemy team has at any given time. This may be as simple as whether the team has an ultimate fully charged or not to giving a percentage value to an error margin of five percent. In either case, this provides valuable information to the team and to each individual players, as ultimates in Overwatch have the ability to change the outcome of a fight (and potentially, a game) simply in their usage and effectiveness.
Before going into the method, it’s important to note that ultimates are charged both passively and actively. That is, a player who is not doing anything will eventually get their ultimate; however, making an impact in the match by doing damage, healing, or using abilities helps charge the ultimate faster. Thus, the more work that someone does during a fight, the more ultimate charge they receive. This idea becomes more relevant with the fact that some ultimates charge faster than others. For example, Tracer has a very fast rate of charge received compared to a hero like Lucio. These differences do matter, and thus it is very important to become familiar with these differences to become a good ult tracker.
With all this being said, the aforementioned introductory method is as follows: whatever ultimates were not used in the last fight will be available during the next fight. This simple test is an easy yet relatively effective way to keep track of what ultimates are available for the enemy team. If, for example, Zarya used her Graviton Surge at the end of the last fight, it is very unlikely the Zarya has another one ready for the next fight. And because Zarya’s ultimate is slow to charge without Zarya doing a lot of damage, it is unlikely to be online until fight after the next fight.
This method (and ultimate tracking) rely on a couple of key principles for players to use. First and foremost is that the ultimate tracker needs to be actively paying attention to the game. In order to know who used their ultimates in the previous fight (and later on, who has done enough damage to move along their ultimate charge rate), the tracker must be aware of his surroundings beyond simply playing the game. Without this awareness, there is no way to guarantee that a list of enemy ultimates is anywhere close to being accurate. While teammates can help provide a list of ultimates used in the last fight, it’s important for the tracker to do this themselves as much as possible.
Next, this particular method of ultimate tracking is reliant on team fights starting and stopping. A team that trickles will never be able to actively establish enemy team ultimates using the introductory method detailed previously because of the reliance on having a previous team fight to look at. Further, if the goal is to plan out team fights, actually having team fights is important. As a player gets better and better at tracking ultimates, there is more leeway to be able to call out ultimates at any point in a match, not just in between team fights.
Finally, it’s important to note that ultimate tracking is a skill that takes time and practice to master. Even with the simplicity of the introductory method, there is a process of becoming attentive enough to pay attention to what is going on while still playing the game. This comes from both playing the game to practice ultimate tracking and watching previous games to practice (and, in some ways, to have an answer key of sorts) by not having to play and track at the same time.
This introductory method is simply that – introductory. This is not designed for players who already know how to track ultimates, but rather for players who have not learned how to do so yet. This skill can be developed to extremes if enough time and dedication is put forward: for example, I’ve seen top support players track ultimates to the second with little error. Until players get to that point, however, this method is a suitable introduction to tracking ultimates. And if the enemy McCree does have his Deadeye ready to go? Try not to be the other guy in the showdown.