Unfair Advantages in Overwatch: How to Recognize Them

written by Disco


No, not cheating.

In Overwatch, unfair advantages are the result of teams either misplaying a situation or playing well enough to create said advantages. These advantages are what allow for snowball situations to occur; teams that make the most of unfair advantages gained from the previous team fight will often win the following fight as well. Especially in lower ranks, being able to make the fights unfair is often what helps teams win the game even from the first or second team fight, as it is very difficult to come back from those situations.

The first step in snowballing victories is to recognize what team has certain advantages. This may seem extremely simple and trivial to do – however, without recognizing the specifics of those advantages, the application of said advantages is less likely to work due to having a generalized approach. Not doing this also makes things like mechanics less effective. If a player has the mechanical ability to use these advantages 80% of the time but only recognizes them 20% of the time, they will only make the plays to start snowballing a game 16% of the time. However, if a player who isn’t as mechanically skilled (hypothetically, can use these situations 50% of the time to snowball) can recognize these situations 50% of the time, they will be able to snowball situations 25% of the time. The video below comes from ioStux, who discusses this idea in significantly more detail from the perspective of aim drills.

relevant bit at 6:37

Here are some of the different advantages teams can have that could result in a snowball victory or defeat:

Ultimate Economy

As Seagull talked about in his video about the state of Overwatch, ultimates have the tremendous ability to impact team fights. A fight where one team has ultimates and the other team does not usually means the team lacking ultimates is going to lose. By noting when ultimate economy is in a team’s favor (say, by tracking those ultimates), a team can push a fight with the right number of ultimates to win the fight and have enough ultimates to win the next fight as well.


In a similar vein, noting that a team has no counter to an ultimate (for example, Zenyatta’s Transcendence for a Genji’s Dragonblade) can allow for a successful team fight victory using that ultimate. The opposite case also applies: noting that a team has a counter to an ultimate that the other team has can allow that ultimate to get no value, allowing for a potential snowball situation.

Uneven Matchups

One of the most common unfair advantages is having more people in a fight than the other team. If a team only has 5 heroes at the teamfight and the other team has 6, the latter team should win the fight. Especially when a team is trickling back into the fight, this advantage becomes quite enormous.

Vulnerable Heroes

If a hero is out of position, outside range of their team’s protection, and unable to protect themselves, this is a potential situation to take advantage of. For example, heroes like Zenyatta, McCree, and Ana have no useful mobility and cannot consistently protect themselves from a coordinated dive unless they are positioned properly and teammates can support them if that happens.

Hero Counters


This is also a concept Seagull talked about in his aforementioned video. A team that consistently runs Tracer into a Brigitte or Pharah into a Widowmaker and cannot get value out of that hero can create an unfair advantage for the enemy team. This is why a large part of the game at a high level can come down to having a flexible hero pool, as being able to react to hard counters is extremely important.

The Clock

Even the best teams in the world cannot win a match if they don’t have time on the clock to do anything. As a defending team, wasting the enemy team’s time is extremely important to winning a match. For the attacking team, recognizing how much time is left in the round helps inform decisions such as ultimate economy and hero switches.


A team that is tilted does not play as well. Even if players tune out their teammates and focus on their gameplay so that they can do well, they then lose out on being able to work as a team to win fights. Tilt is quite contagious in Overwatch, and recognizing that the opposing team is tilting can create situations for applying even more pressure to achieve victory.

Recognition of these opportunities to snowball a fight (alternatively, recognizing these situations for the enemy team to snowball a fight) can help take an even match and turn it into a victory. Especially for tournaments where teams are drafted instead of pre-selected, being able to make the most of these advantages is what often determines who wins and who loses. This is not the whole story; recognition of these situations has to have the follow up of good team play and mechanical skill. However, that story is for another article and another time.

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