What up, it’s ya boi Big GS up in this subreddit, back with another guide. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I hope you are all enjoying the recent changes to overwatch, the additions to the PTR, (hammond is a really cool hero) LFG, and everything else.
One of the major flaws that most people have that keep them from climbing is proper use of cover, positioning safely, and using angles to reduce need for dodging and erratic movement, allowing for easier aim. Many players in low elo have not built a habit/instinct of taking a good position automatically. If you want to not get picked off at higher ranks, and increase your survivability in all ranks, you need to be constantly conscious of where you’re standing.
Cover is defined as any object that the enemy cannot shoot through. There’s dynamic cover, which is your team’s shields, other teammates, anything that can move or isn’t always there. Static cover is the map’s walls, floors, pillars, etc.
Static cover isn’t transparent (unless it’s a window), so you can’t see through it. Thus, without widow sights or a sonar arrow, you cannot see through walls. Going behind a wall hides your position, which is useful when hiding from the enemy. If you can’t be seen, you can’t be shot.
Overwatch maps are designed to have many sources of cover. This takes the form of walls, corners, objects such as cars, (although cars make terrible cover IRL, only really meaty parts like the engine block will stop bullets reliably) small pillars, high ground, etc. While playing, take careful note of the types of cover offered by the map. Some cover is enough to hide you completely, and some only hides to chest height. Chest height cover can reduce damage from inaccurate guns like shotguns, and can also be ducked behind if your character is short enough. Sadly, it doesn’t protect against headshots when you don’t crouch.
Static cover has no health, and will block basically every ability in the game, (the only exception I can think of is Hanzo dragons), with the disadvantage that you can’t shoot through it either. Thus, you must leave cover to return fire.
Dynamic cover is any kind of shield, or your other teammates. It’s cover that’s created by a team ability and can move around, and allows friendly shots through. You can even see through it. However, it has the drawback of having a limited amount of health until it breaks. Dynamic cover is superior in that it allows you to return fire while still being completely covered. Thus, you should seek to use your team’s shields whenever possible, and be aware of where your team’s shield is. It is very easy to forget where your rein is, push ahead of him, and die while he tries to catch up with you.
“Peeking” is a term used in fps games that means “show yourself to the opponent without cover”. Peeking can be bad, or necessary, depending on the current situation. There are heroes that you should always avoid peeking, and some you always have to peek. If you never peek, you’ll just sit behind a wall contributing nothing.
Generally it’s possible to get away with peeking as long as it’s not repeated from the same location. The first location of the peek and whatever action you take reveals your presence (if the enemy is aware enough to instantly notice your peek), and allows them to prepare. The number of consecutive peeks you can get away with without getting shot decreases as enemy DPS skill goes up. You could peek a bronze widow all day, but only once for a grandmaster widow. Sometimes not even once.
If you need to peek repeatedly, try to do it from different locations. Peek on the other side of the wall for example. Then, if you must peek three or more times, randomize which sides you peek from, or disengage.
Subtype – Jiggle Peeking
“Jiggle Peeking” is rapidly peeking and unpeeking. It looks like this from the perspective of the peeker. For projectile heroes, this allows you to peek, fire a projectile, then immediately hide. This makes it hard to return fire. Hitscans can somewhat jiggle peek too, but have to say peeked for longer, since the target must be on their screen at the moment of firing in order to get hit. Thus, it’s more dangerous.
How to use cover correctly
A common mistake in bronze-plat is standing out in the open a lot. While not always punished, (It may be punished by a flanker that’s more woke than average) this puts you in a dangerous situation, and increases your death count.
A general rule of thumb is: “If you can’t get to cover in about 1.5 seconds, you’re in danger.”. A good way to get into the habit of this is to jump into quickplay, and try to hug cover. Every so often ask yourself “If a high noon goes off right now, can I get to cover before I get deleted?” Even if nothing happens to you standing out in the open, you can make sure nothing happens by being aware and careful, and staying in cover.
Angles – Blocking off unnecessary sightlines
And now on to angles. This is a pretty easy to grasp concept, and I’ve even got a nice gif to help readers understand what I’m describing.
The first and most vital thing to notice is how FOV works with corners. Here’s a gif. Notice how I can see more and more the more I back off from the corner? I couldn’t see the blue car in the choke until I backed off a bit. Backing off also makes it so I can see the car without fully exposing myself around the corner, as you can see in the ends of the gif. Standing farther away from something expands your sightlines while still keeping you safe, (I can immediately re-hide that car if I step to the left 2 steps, as you see) so keep this in mind while playing.
You want to always be standing where the angles and cover favor you the most. In a game that puts you against players of the same skill, every small advantage that you can eke out is one that will help you win more and climb.
So, how do you actually use angles practically? While playing, you want to stand so that you block off sightlines that you don’t need to pay attention to. Ever been sniped by a widow that you didn’t know was there? If you were standing in a good position, she wouldn’t have been able to shoot at you easily. In order to shoot at you, she’d have to extend out to where she can see you, but by doing that, you can see her. With a bit of keeping your eyes peeled, this can allow you time to say “Widow, no sniping!” (do kids these days know about Dora the Explorer?) and hide/adjust. You can troll widows that you know are trying to take you out by continuously adjusting so they can’t get an angle on you. I do this quite a bit when I play Ana, because widows like to snipe anas, just like in the lore.
Here, we get into the nitty gritty. Let’s look at some concrete examples, with example screenshots. For this section, I’ll present an image, labeled with letters, then talk about the position’s pros and cons, referencing the letter over the area I’m talking about. I recommend expanding the images with RES or having them open in another window so you can cross-reference easily.
Example 1 – Hollywood 1st
This is an overhead view of Hollywood’s first point. For this example, we’ll assume the player is on defense here.
- A: Not good. Out in the open, with multiple ways to see and shoot at you. I wouldn’t stand here as my position unless I was the main tank of my team with a shield. The rest of my team in that case would stand on the payload or D.
- B: Pretty good starter position for all heroes except long range ones. Ana/Widow etc should not stand here, (as people love to countersnipe people here, and it’s closer than they need to be) but having a soldier with an orisa (or a torb if you’re into that) would be very effective. Offers little cover unless you step down into the stairs, so try to have a shield up there. Also be aware of your supports’ line of sight, it’s possible a mercy standing at D won’t be able to reach you. Oh, and be aware that a mei can in fact reach you up here by walling herself up. I catch many unaware teams that way that don’t realize I can clear that height.
- C: Good for strong static defense like a Bastion, but a little too far back for DPS to see the enemy effectively. Would be good for an Ana or Zen, if somebody stands at A and stops them from marching into you.
- D: D is basically on the payload, good for supports or off tanks when not doing anything. Mercy can often be found here. If you’re going to stand here, be aware of people going through security (the second door from the right, left of F with the lamp), and coming around behind you from the right of F.
- F: Super aggressive position, I wouldn’t hold here unless you’re going for a spawncamp push. The enemy has too much cover, and you have no escape. I call positions like this “meat grinder” positions, in that anyone here is going to be taking damage constantly. Depending on the stage of the fight, D can also be a meat grinder position.
- E: Popular for long range classes, it keeps them out of the fray and allows them to relax. Unfortunately prone to getting flanked on and light in cover, so if you’re going to stand here, watch yourself. Be ready to drop onto the point/escape if the fight goes sour.
Example 2 – Left of Hanamura 1st
A popular place for Zenyattas and Anas to stand, but can be beneficial to a lot of heroes. Why? Let’s take a look.
By standing here, you allow yourself quick access to the objective, and are protected from A and B, common places for snipers to stand. By heading towards D you can quickly access a healthpack, and you’re able to watch for flankers from C, and quickly escape towards C. Just be wary of flanks from D, and snipers standing far down the choke. To avoid LOS of the choke, step onto the point or into D.
Since it’s a bit farther range, I’d recommend standing here as a long range DPS (like a Widow, Soldier, etc), or as a long range support. Main tanks shouldn’t be here, they should be further up.
Example 3 – Volskaya 1st
Wew, this one has a lot of places to stand, each with their drawbacks and benefits. Let’s analyze this.
- A : This letter encompasses both the right and left of the truck. This is the main tank hold position, it’s where your tanks should be for the most part, with close range healers like mercy/moira. A bastion can also sit effectively in the corner near C.
- B: A popular highground location for long range hitscans. Little to no cover, so relies on their countersniping ability or ability to dodge. With the advent of symmetra everyone can get up here, but generally should be left to long range hitscans/Hanzo, as it’s a bit vulnerable to people going right of A and around.
- C: Standing inside C is my favorite position when I’m playing McCree as it offers a wonderfully small angle onto me, while allowing me to see the coastal approach to the choke, along with a healthpack. Me standing there also prevents cheeky flanks onto E/D. Also good for mei so she can wall people off, and Zenyatta to be able to apply discord.
- D: I hate to be cynical, but I call this the “We’re about to get memed on” position, as it allows you to see only your teammates (to reduce the chance of getting deleted by the superior team), and lets you quickly drop and exit when the roll happens, preserving your life. Good for long range supports on bad teams. If you trust your team, take A or F.
- E: A bit too far back, good for placing a torb turret or for going for a sick retake on a lost point, but I wouldn’t stand here to begin with as the enemy has to get pretty far in before you can even see them. It’s also very prone to flanks.
- F: A common place for long range hitscan to stand, as it provides a good view of everything. I usually like to stand here as soldier or Ana. Just watch for blitzes from the right of A, and countersniping, as you have no cover here.
- G: The point, don’t stand here unless you’re actively defending it, as you can’t see anything but the point.
Of course, there’s vastly more examples than I show here, and if you want info on those, try thinking through them yourself. Ask yourself whenever you take a position:
- Can I see my teammates? Especially supports?
- Can I see relevant enemies that I want to see? (eg enemy tanks)
- Am I able to get to full cover quickly if a LOS based ultimate goes off? (D.va nuke, Deadeye, etc)
- Am I able to get to the objective to contest relatively quickly?
If the answers are all yes, that’s probably a good position.
Maintaining line of sight where it matters
Story time to drive home the point.
I played a game just yesterday with what I can proudly say is the most aware Genji I’ve ever played with. I was playing Ana on Nepal Sanctum, and I was standing over on our side on the right side, here. He was straight across from me, on the enemy left side, and a bit low, fighting somebody. I said quickly over voice: “Genji, double jump where you are real quick” and got a shot onto him as he peeked up over the stairs. “Again.” And hit him again, healing to full. After the fight (and the enemy expressing his confusion at the magic regenerating genji), he thanked me and I told him that I’d keep him healed as long as he pressed the healing button and showed himself to me. My aim is pretty decent being a DPS player, so I can usually reliably hit people as long as I have line of sight to them. (The friendly wallhacks supports have helps a lot) I’ve threaded the needle with many shots that saved lives and confounded enemies. (Pro tip, if your enemies get a haze effect around them and gain health, look for a purple bullet tracer and remove the ana, her presence impacts more than you think)
My point and the moral of the story is, keep line of sight to your healers. Most healers have healing to spare, but can’t deal it because they can’t keep a line of sight to their team. That “bronze boosted ana” that you love to hate on so much for not healing you will turn into an angel if you make a conscious effort to stay where you can see her. A good ana can very quickly hit you with a quick bullet, and even just 75 health can make you live. Staying where you can see supports also lets you help them fight people that try to assassinate them.
It’s not just ana that needs LOS, mercy needs it for her mobility, Zen needs it to apply orbs, etc. Keep it in mind. Occasionally turn around and make sure your supports can see you. Minimize the time they can’t.
Thanks for reading, as always! If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, do let me know.
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