Hey there FPS101, you may remember me from my comprehensive soldier guide that I shared a while back. It seemed to be well received, so I wanted to write this guide after observing how many players don’t know how to maximize their general awareness. In this guide, I’ll go over how to improve map awareness, situational awareness, etc. Improving this can improve the number of elims you get, reduce the number of deaths you suffer, etc. Becoming more aware is a key component to improving as a whole. I’ll split the guide into 5 sections, discussing awareness in general, as a flanking DPS, as a staple DPS, as a Tank, and as a Support. It’ll be fairly long like my last one, so grab a drink and snack, and enjoy the read.
Section 1 – General awareness
This section is about awareness that every hero should have, and actions that every hero should take. First, the biggest one:
Never, I repeat, Never, walk around a corner looking at the sky, the floor, whatever. The only place you should be looking is at the corner as you round it, at about head height.
This clip shows me demonstrating on Dorado how to walk around corners correctly.
This clip shows how to do it wrong.
Notice the difference? Perhaps recognize yourself? Doing this allows you to shoot anyone you find around the corner extremely quickly, as you don’t have to whip your crosshair very far to acquire your aim. Now, at first, this is going to feel strange. It’s a bit unnatural to pivot around the corner keeping your crosshair on it, as well as checking more than just straight in front of you, but this allows you to not move like a bot, and notice more things about your environment. (It’s such a habit for me recording the second clip was painful)
Looking behind you
Always be checking your backside. Often you can notice things happening before they happen to you. You can also notice teammates in danger and protect them. It takes very little time, so do it.
Watch the killfeed/scoreboard
You need to know how the state of the game is. Who’s dead? Who died to that ult?
Is someone popping off? (You might want to avoid them as they’re probably in the zone and will likely destroy you too.)
Did your entire team just destroy everyone, or did everyone get destroyed? If it takes you a few seconds to process it, pull behind cover and look. You don’t need to be showing yourself to the enemy all the time. Now that general awareness has been covered, let’s take a look at specific class awareness:
Section 2 – Flanker DPS awareness
The key to being aware as a flanker is to track 3 things:
Where is the enemy?
Where dey at, doe? If you don’t know where the enemy is as a whole, you can’t flank them correctly. To identify this, you can do a few different things, and you can bounce confirmation off each of them.
- Listen – Can you hear shooting or groans of pain? Use your ears to tell where they are.
- Sight – If you can just plain see them, you know where they are.
- Callouts – If you’re blessed enough to be on a team with strong callouts, you can listen to your teammates telling you the generalized location of enemies. “Mccree on top left” “Mercy on bottom left in building”, etc. If you get this, return it with some of your own identifying other enemies that weren’t called out. If you keep bouncing calls back and forth you can create a radar system. Also, don’t be afraid to double-call. If you see and say that the mercy is in the bottom left in the building after someone else, that just further re-affirms that yes, she is indeed there, and has been there since the last call. Just don’t re-call immediately, that’s just spam. If you don’t want to call back, then hit your Acknowledged keybind, so the caller knows you know.
- Location of the objective: Where does the enemy have to be in order to stop you from capping? They’re most likely there unless they’re hard throwing or distracted.
Once you’ve identified where the team is as a whole, you can start narrowing.
Where are the key targets?
As a flanker, your job is to assassinate key targets that are vital to the enemies’ continued sustain. This is for the most part supports, although could also be staple DPS. Make sure to specifically identify where these targets are. Once you’ve done that, get the easy elims out of the way:
Is anyone standing in a stupid place?
If anyone’s playing like a (insert rank lower than yours) and is laughably out of position, delete them first. They’ll be significantly easier to kill than someone in a smart place.
Is anyone standing in a really smart place that gives them a huge advantage?
Speaking of smart places, removing people from good positions is also your job. This means soldiers on high ground, supports alone in the back, widowmakers, etc. Note that there is a huge caveat here. If you are incapable of getting the enemy out of their position, you may have to accept defeat and try to work around them, or have some other high mobility hero try. It’s better to pass the baton than get memed on repeatedly by the soldier who you can’t 1v1 off the high ground, and have the soldier still be there, andyou dead.
Timing your engage
The second thing to keep in mind once you’ve identified your enemies’ position is when to engage. You have the where, now you need the when. You want to engage when the enemy is distracted with the rest of your team. If you go in too early, or too late, you end up with the enemy able to turn their focus on you. When that happens, you won’t be able to get anything done.
So, wait for your team to go in and commit with a push, then move in on their backline. Optimally, you want to create a ton of pressure by making people unable to decide who to attack. Do they kill the Mccree shooting their supports from the front, or the rein shield, or you, or the enemy supports, ?????. Cue enemy collapse. If you go in at the wrong time, the enemy team will turn, obliterate you, then focus back on your team, now at a 5v6 disadvantage.
You cannot 1v6. You may think you can, but you can’t. A team of 6 silvers will still defeat a single grandmaster. You cannot take the entire concentrated heat of the enemy, so you have to make sure you don’t draw attention as you kill the enemy backline.
That wraps up flanking DPS. Now, let’s go over staple DPS.
Section 3 – Staple DPS
A “staple DPS” is a hero that isn’t a flanker or a sniper. Heroes like Mccree, Soldier, Junkrat, etc, are all staple DPS. They make up the grand majority of damage outgoing from your team, and should have golds in damage most of the time. Their job is to put damage onto the enemy team, and help break barriers. Since staple DPS are often with the mass of the team, their job is a bit different from flankers. Primarily, your awareness should be on:
Your own positioning
Don’t get so focused on the enemy that you forget your own positioning. You want to stay alive, so you can continue to put in work. The way you stay alive is to maximize the effectivity of your positioning. This means using angles, using cover, high ground, etc.
A lot of people don’t know what pros mean when they talk about “Angles”. It’s a bit of a mythical term that brings back memories of geometry class with Mr. Hawthorn…. Anyway, all “angles” means is ensuring you only see (and can be seen by) the people that you want to see and be seen by. For example, you want to see the enemy tanks, so you can shoot at them. You don’t want to be seen by the enemy widow. So, the key to using angles effectively is to position yourself in a way where there’s very few angles to shoot you from, while maximizing your targets on screen. If the enemy can only come from one direction, you can’t miss anything.
For an example of how powerful good use of angles is, behold Taimou being made useless by the Outlaws. An excellent widow looks like a noob.
The map is OP. No, really. Not only do walls boast infinite damage resistance, but they also conceal you, and block abilities that ignore shields. Jeff plz. Until Jeff nerfs the map, you need to use it to your advantage. You can’t get headshot if there’s a wall in the way. taps temple They can fire at that pillar all damn day, but you can’t be hit. You wouldn’t stand out in the open in a real life gunfight, so why would you in a shooter game? Hell, cover is even stronger in OW than in real life, since real life bullets can go through some walls.
I’ll just put an excerpt from my Soldier guide for this.
Always be on high ground if the enemy will let you. A good soldier on the high ground uncontested can wreck scrubs harder than a rodeo bull in a china shop. I once held a map for 6 mins on the second point because the enemy refused to remove me. … While you’re there, use your land advantage to shoot behind the enemy shields at squishies like supports. If you keep taking out their supports, they can’t push with any real power.
Where are the enemy frontliners/flankers?
Don’t worry about their backline, focus on the spearhead of their team, which is either the flankers or the frontliners, like a reinhardt, orisa, enemy staple DPS, etc. From there, do your job, and look for opportunities. You can kill someone who’s out of position just as well as a flanker, especially if you have range like a McCree or Soldier. If everyone’s behind the shield, break it. They can’t push well unless their shield can last. Ensure it doesn’t.
Protecting your team
While you’re doing that however, don’t get tunnel visioned. Look behind you. Is the enemy genji trying to take out your supports? Flashbang that fool. There’s nothing more tilting to tryhard flankers than getting shutdown hard every time they try to go for supports. Even if you fail to kill them and they get away, you just wasted their time, and saved your zenyatta. #WasteTheirTime2018. Prepare to be showered in healing since your healer loves you now.
I’ve seen a lot of posts on the front page about aggression and “pressing W” lately. So, if someone takes this advice a little too close to heart and presses W a little too much, punish them. Since they’re feeding by overextending, make sure to eat your fill and build that ult. Since flankers won’t be there to do it, it falls on you and the tanks.
Section 4 – Awareness as a Tank
Ah, the noble tank, and one of the most key hero classes to have awareness on. Since you aren’t really a slayer, your awareness is going to be focused mainly on your team, with some enemy thrown in.
Where your team is
Where is your team? Are they right behind you, behind your shield? Are they in front of you, taking fire? Are you prepared to mitigate enemy ults, so they don’t get hurt?
As a tank, your job is either to prevent damage, or mitigate it. Your job is also to engage, which is where the situational awareness comes in. So, the first thing you should focus on is:
The state of the team fight
How are things going? Is anyone on either side dead yet? Do you have an opening? Can you make one safely? Often I see enemy tanks do very suicidal things. The winston will dive in when a team fight isn’t happening, and we just turn on him and destroy him. Or, the rein will charge in, (not always a bad idea) which will create momentary chaos, but the rest of his team won’t follow, and he just gets destroyed. Make sure that if you commit to doing something, ensure it’s a good idea at the moment.
State of enemy ults
Who has ult on the enemy team? While you can’t just press tab and find out, you can deduce it. First, identify who just ulted in the last minute. These people have a very low chance of having ult. Don’t disregard them, but relax. Then, identify who you haven’t seen or heard ult yet, ever. (Remember that you can hear enemy ults broadcast over radio or see them in the killfeed. Ults also make sound. Loud clang -> distant earthshatter.) These people are long holders and most certainly have ult.
For everyone else, you have to deduce it off their behaviour. Is the enemy zarya suddenly being aggressive after playing passive all game? She got it. Rein stopped firestriking? He’s got his ult and he’s trying to avoid getting earthshattered himself.
Enemy Mccree disappeared? He’s flanking for a high noon from the rear. Enemy Zen playing carefully and passively all of a sudden? He’s got trans and he’s trying to be alive to negate something. Bait him. And so on, for all heroes.
The hardest ones to identify are players that are good enough to not telegraph their ult. I’ve found that often one-tricks don’t telegraph, since they’re smarter with their specific hero than the average (insert rank). They can ult at any moment, but you won’t know when, just off their body language.
Either way, just be prepared. Tanks are the best at negating most ults, as they have the health to survive, or the abilities to outright stop or block the ult.
Teammates in danger
Tanks are the best at peeling, which means saving your teammate that cannot save themselves, from their attacker. If you notice your supports getting attacked, chase their attacker off. If you notice your DPS ult, protect them so they can get the full ult off. (EG if your McCree ults from behind your shield, DO NOT move, do not drop that shield, even if a genji is beating on you. You have the health to take some punishment, your ulting McCree is a sitting origami swan made from tissue paper.
You work for your team. Let your team know that they can trust you.
Section 5 – Supports
The single most important class to have awareness on. Awareness makes up 90% of a support’s SR, since most supports aren’t slayers or play makers.
Players that need healing
You are a healer, your job is to heal, primarily. Never forget that. Your priority list for healing should be:
People actively ulting > People you can top off quickly > People actively taking fire > Other supports > Staple DPS/squishy heroes > Key tanks > off-tanks > Snipers/non-staple DPS > Self-healers
Armed with this, heal. People ulting is a priority, you don’t want them to die and waste their ult. Especially focus on vulnerable ulters, like Pharah, Mccree, etc. (Even if they’re full health, they very quickly might not be) Then, look for people actively taking fire, and heal them. They’re actively taking fire because they’re trying to do something, and you want things done, so help them. Tell others to wait a bit behind cover until you get to them. (Oh, and if you’re told to wait, sit your ass down in a safe place and wait. Don’t get impatient and try poking with 50 health, you will get picked off, since the enemy comms are gonna light up with “X is low”)
If multiple people are taking fire, heal in the priority of the rest of the list. ie, supports, staple dps, etc. After you get done with healing people under fire, and the teamfight’s won, heal your other support first. Once they’re full, they can alleviate the job of healing, by helping.
Then, heal staple DPS, since they have small health pools (a 100 health Mccree is in more danger than a 200 hp Orisa, even though it’s the same percentage), and are probably immediately near you. After that, tanks, and finally non-staple teammates like flankers/snipers. Self healers can be healed if you need ult, otherwise let them heal themselves for their ult, or if they ask to be healed, go ahead and heal them.
If you’re a support that possesses a defensive ult, make sure you save it to get the most value out of it. If you’re zenyatta for example, you want to use that trans to make sure people live through the enemy graviton. So, in order to make sure you use your ult to it’s max effect, you want to keep in mind enemy ults. The way I see it, there are 4 kinds of ults:
- Setup ults
These are ults that provide mass AOE CC, in order to line up enemies for killing. These are the ults that you want to be watching for, as they are your cue to pop your defensive ult. Examples: Earthshatter, Graviton, etc
- Insurance ults
These are ults that are often used with setup/slaying ults in order to further increase the chance of a teamwipe. Examples include EMP, Nanoboost, Valk, Blizzard, etc. They ensure that the enemy can’t pull any shenanigans to avoid dying. They can result in kills on their own, or be used as setup though.
- Slaying ults
As it’s written on the tin, ults that kill people. Fairly self explanatory, used with setup ults. Example: Death blossom, dragon blade, deadeye, etc.
- Defensive ults These ults prevent teamkills.
These ults should be used reactively or proactively to enemy setup ults. Be aware that some insurance ults can negate your defensive ult, so be prepared. Examples: Trans, beat drop, coalescence (to a degree), etc.
Your own positioning and safety
Absolutely keep an eye on this. If you’re dead, you can’t support. While you’re healing away, make sure you always are asking yourself “Can I be in a better place right now?”, and if you answer that question yes, move. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of an enemy DPS’s “people in stupid places” check.
As for your abilities, they are for you, primarily. If you have the choice between damage orbing the enemy and healing yourself, heal yourself. Grenade yourself if you’re hurting, then others. Guardian angel to get away from danger, not into it. Keep yourself alive, don’t burn yourself to keep others warm.
As for receiving peeling, the best thing you can do is call out that you need help. There is a right way and a wrong way to do this.
Wrong: “Help me, help me, genji’s on me”
Those 5 fine gentle(wo)men don’t know you. They don’t recognize your voice. Never use first person when calling out yourself. If you’re playing Zenyatta, instead say
“Genji on your Zen” “Zen needs help”
It’s gonna feel strange referring to yourself in third person, but you’ll get used to it. Once you’ve got that down, improve it even further:
Perfect: “Genji attacking zen in back, top” “Enemy Genji on your mercy in hotel building”
Giving a position as well lets your teammates (who do actually want to help you, for the most part) know who’s under attack, by what, and where. This lets your McCree say, “Oh, hotel building, I’m right next to that, hold on mercy! Lemme’ just meme on this dude for ya”. Genji gets denied, you get a free elim on a distracted tryhard genji, and you and your healer keeps living. (In case you can’t tell, I hate genjis)
If you can’t call out that you need help, run for your tanks/staple DPS, and try to stay alive. If they’re any good they’ll see you under duress and help you.
90% of all dead healers comes from the rest of the team not knowing that you need help. Don’t die off by yourself in a dark alleyway molested by a ninja, let your team know someone’s trying to kill you. If they know, they’re surprisingly good at peeling, at least in my experience. The very existence of another teammate can make your assailant bail, for fear of getting destroyed by a pocketed hero. Hell, worse case scenario you both die to him, but hey, at least he had to try a bit harder. XD
Remember that it can be very difficult to remember to do these things while you’re actually playing. The heat of the moment can make you forget to check behind you, forget to crosshair place correctly, etc. The best strategy is to focus on one habit at a time until you get it down, then move on to the next. If you try to tackle them all at once, you’ll forget some.
Awareness is key to skill, and safety. As they say, the safest man is one who knows everything that’s going to happen, and is happening.
If you liked my guide, please feel free to share and crosspost it! Also, if you have any questions, corrections, or comments, put them below! Thanks for reading!
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