Overwatch eSports Series - Team Compositions and Counter Picks

Blizzard's Overwatch is wrapping up the first few weeks of Season 1. We've had a blast playing, also glad to welcome our console friends to the fold. All in all, the scene is very much different from Quickplay, with a focus on quick capping and keeping the opposing team scattered and always without it's utilities (Aka Support / Tanks). In this week's synopsis we will be flexing a little more Meta know-how, and optimizing team compositions and dynamic team switches. Get ready to flex that competitive muscle when you are done with this week's post!

This time on the Overwatch eSports series we thought it would be a perfect time to take a look at team compositions and counter picks sure to help players defend against even the 'cheesiest' of enemy comps. When queuing with a full pre-made, or even solo, it's important to consider the opposing team's composition based on the current map defensive strategies for both the starting gate, and the first point of the map, so we will spend some time going over some popular choices for hero picks a little later on, but first lets talk general theory!


Playing the Momentum

The absolute worst case situation for a competitive match is a full defensive 'Team Kill' within the first contention point of a map, as this will always result in a quick offensive capture of the first point on an assault map, or at least 1 checkpoint on a payload. To lose the whole squad to a team-kill will almost always put you on the defensive, both mentally and competitively so it's important to know when to make strategic composition switches to best position your team's control of the new defensive holds for Point B, or 2nd half Check-Points on Payload Maps to slow that enemy momentum down.

In Overwatch every inch you can push your payload, or second you can shave off a point capture, makes the difference in climbing into that new season high rank, or falling back down the ladder
— YakeYames NA Competitive Rank 68

Alternatively, if your team is doing all the steam-rolling, then it's double as advantageous to keep your momentum going after wiping out the enemy team fully; if you can take the next set of defensive points from your enemy, you've forced them to fight two battles:

  1. Keeping you from the actual objective points
  2. Fighting to regain the positions on the map that give them the chance to keep you off the point.

By shifting their primary objective from the point capture itself, you will be able to isolate enemy heroes whoa re scrambling to take back control of their power position per each control point.

A grounded Pharah becomes an easy target, a Widow with no height advantage has limited mobility options, a Torb with no Line of Sight is halved in power potential. Those players now have to focus on regaining their tried and true play-styles instead of keeping you off the point.

 To illustrate this, check out Cloud 9 versus EnVyUs on Hollywood. After losing Point A, at around 1:50 , the offensive team (Cloud9) makes the strategic decision to re-pick for the next contention point, using the newly added advanced spawn to let them take early control of the Western Stage of the Hollywood map. Dropping their Zarya, Rhineheart, and McCree for two Winstons and a Genji.

The Winston's allow for the rapid harassment of any snipers sitting in cover, as well as the static shields which can cover those few precious moments of forward progress from the gate. Reaver's Widow immediately takes control of the now cleared high ground and is able to pick two players from EnVy with their Mercy support down, essentially winning the contention point, And forcing the fight closer to the Defensive spawn.

If your current strat isn't working, rather than try and poke at a solid defensive, re-arrange your comp and force the defense to adjust to the change in offensive pace. Making a bastion second guess his turret mode placement could give your front-line heroes the millisecond they needed to slip past the choke point and start harassing the enemy support or snipers.

Composition Quick Picks

Like mentioned in previous posts, Knowing which heroes offer natural counters to others can really impact the entire match, and showcase your true understanding of the Overwatch meta. Take a look at /u/xerograde and his very handy image reference sheet

Yellow Frame shows the hero, the three Red Frames to it's immediate right show the counters.

This graphic is a solid place to start in terms of quickly narrowing down a few options to dynamically change your Overwatch play-style when set against powerful opponents. If you think you have better suggestions, let us know in the comments ! 

Spending a few minutes before match looking over the possible team compositions and knowing the 2-3 hero rotations that can shut down their strategy is a great way to allocate pre-match time, and allows for team captains or shot-callers to understand their teams abilities in terms of calling switches. There's nothing more frustrating than getting pinned downed by a widow, and not immediately knowing who on your team can pull off their DPS or Tank and go Genji / Winston to start pressuring that threat.

Pro-Tip: Use the above image to also assign focus fire calls based on your best performing hero; If your team's widow is holding the enemy team down behind a blind corner, anticipate the enemy Genji counter pick, and be ready with a 'Win-Winston' or Zarya of your own.

If you caught the little joke in the last sentence, you are well are your way to mastering counter picks and competitive mode dynamic team play.

Also, if you haven't stopped by MasterOverwatch.com, it's easily the best one-stop resource for hero stats, global rankings, and LFG across platforms. We want to make sure that the hard-work that goes into these community tools get their overdue shout-out! We pulled their info on the most played heroes of the competitive season below.

Week 1 most played heroes


We've all been playing our main heroes, climbing the bell curve of the Overwatch competitive scene, and then boom! you get shut down by a team that makes you look like you are used to Rank 30 games (Don't worry only about 1% of total Overwatch players are that low). What went wrong ?

Let's focus on some of the major hero picks of the week and dissect how they can perform just a little better. Maybe your Lucio didn't know how to cross-fade and bunny-hop to take advantage of both his support buffs, or maybe your aggro Genji couldn't nail down his ledge hoping to gain that extra ground early. Perhaps your Zarya does quite know the exact time to engage that short allied energy shield damage burst combo...


Lucio has been THE utility support pick for a while, Mercy comes in a close second but the reason Lucio beats her out on pick count is because a well timed Lucio Ult, Sound Barrier, preserves your team from those pesky team kill ultimates, whereas Mercy is a reset on a successful enemy Ult. Put simply: with a good Lucio, you'll never need a Mercy Ult. 

Lucio's cross-fade makes him the most mobile support in the game. Again Mercy can take advantage of height, but she's also almost always left incredibly exposed at the same time. Lucios can almost always get to those top spots too, but with the cover of walls, and the ability to rapidly change directions and elevation at will. Check out this absolute necessary play style video for all you non-main Lucio players that may switch to him out of pure need in a sticky situation. Heck even Lucio mains might get some value on the bunny hop mechanic!

Soldier 76

Right now the meta on some maps is to go two 76 for your DPS; Volskaya, and Kings Row has some of the better top-down flanking strategies for defenders. Not to mention the moving platforms inside B-point on Volskaya basically turn you into an Auto-Aiming Mobile Bastion Unit, also known as an 'AAiMBU' in our personal Overwatch circles.

Also the fact that you can animation cancel Soldier's heal when coupled with his Ultimate means that he becomes one of the most complete heroes in terms of personal ability: boost jumps, self heals, speed, high RoF weapon, and 1-click ultimate. Coupled with a Lucio speed boost, 76 is a sprinting, full-auto menace.


The support darling, Mercy picks are the bread and butter of almost any composition. Her ultimate literally wins or loses games on the regular. Her damage boost can wipe through even Lucio's Sound Barrier when coupled with a Zarya Ult, or Bastion Turret. Lastly, her Aerial mobility allows her to quickly reach snipers and other top-down players like Pharah or Hanzo who need a damage boost or quick heal before they move in the open to a new spot. Mercy is all about knowing where your team needs to be. With a dedicated pocket support, a Pharah can easily take the high ground and get some rockets on a Widow emplacement, or a hidden Hanzo who's about to Ult. Knowing where your teammates are planning to go and positioning yourself to glide in and boost / buff them is imperative to set up your Ultimate if their push fails.

The best mercy players know that you don't need direct LOS (Line of Sight) to keep their beams up, and that you can quickly switch stream types without stopping the flow of the support beam as seen in the video. Mercy gains ultimate very quickly, so if your primary carry goes down do not be afraid to resurrect 1-2 teammates if you need the momentum.

Thanks for reading!

That does it for this week's update, stay tuned weekly to the OSSIC Blog for the most up to date Overwatch tips, tricks, and strategy discussion. We will delve into Tanking and damage roles next! If you want us to take a look at a certain map, or comp, or want to talk about Overwatch shoot us an email info@ossic.com!