For all his flaws, Winston – one of the most iconic Overwatch characters – is one of the more interesting characters in the roster. And while he doesn’t get quite as much play in public games when compared to the likes of Reinhardt, Zarya or – more recently – Orisa, he’s certainly a favourite pick among many of pro teams.
Especially recently: we’ve seen a spate of dive comp teams taking to the competitive meta and Winston fits that role quite suitably, able to leap into a pack and soften up key targets ready for his allies damage dealers to roll in and finish them off.
So we thought it was about time to give the big ape his moment, and take a look at how to play Winston like a pro.
The basics of playing Winston
As ever, first things first. To play Winston probably you’re going to need to know the core facets of what makes the ape such an interesting – and perhaps tricky to master – tank to play.
Firstly, more than any other tank he shares a stable with Winston doesn’t rely so much of sticking by his allies to protect them. His mobility is his asset, primarily his ability to leap into combat and start dealing damage that way.
A large part of this is because he’s only capable of dealing damage in close range, and while that’s never a tank’s real duty it is impossible to overlook how his kit is built for just that sort of playstyle. He’s all about getting up in the enemy’s grill, causing a bit of chaos.
And don’t forget his shield, either, which might not be the toughest barrier in the game but has a number of uses. For one, it can cover all angles which makes it useful for holding capture points in maps like Nepal. But then it’s also useful for applying as soon as you land, creating a little more security as you land in the midst of the enemy and begin wailing on someone.
With that said, for as often as we see Winston there aren’t too many pros who make proper use of him. So we’re taking a look at Miro and Numlocked, and how they can teach you to play Winston like a pro.
Close range combat
One of the most important ways to play Overwatch properly is not to aim for kills or assists or even to focus down the objective. These are all important, of course, but the best pros are always looking for ways to maximise their ultimate gain.
For Winston that means trying to tag as many enemies as possible with his Tesla Cannon, since its electrical charge can zap out and hit extra nearby enemies. It’s not a weapon that does a great deal of damage, but it’s one of the few that – when used properly – can slowly chip away at even the whole team if they’re bunched up together.
The key is to look for ways to target whole groups, preferably without getting spotted as you barrel in closer. Hitting two enemies might put you in greater risk, but it’ll build your ultimate quicker than chasing down a single enemy.
Take a look at the clip of Miro below, who uses Winston’s ability to leap over walls to get a very tidy position on Temple Of Anubis, particularly at a point where the whole team is required to bunch together. It’s important for ultimate building, but just as useful for dealing chip damage to the enemy to weaken them up for the damage dealers.
How best to use Jump Pack
Thanks to Winston’s Jump Pack ability he has the quickest mobility of any tank in the game, getting straight into the fight faster than any other.
But it can be better used for positioning, more than anything else, able to reach points on the map that most tanks – perhaps with the exception of D.Va – can’t. This gives him a much greater element of surprise, making it possible to get some fantastic spots to poking the enemy team from as they pass right on by.
It’s important to use this ability, then, to take the fight to turrets or snipers that other team-mates can’t reach so ably.
Not only that, it’s also most useful to stay alive. You’ll see many pros simply leap up into the air, giving them enough breathing space to avoid being focused by enemies for a little while. Hit and run tactics work, too, coming in, dealing and taking some damage before leaping away to safety. Regular and smart use of Jump Pack is key to surviving as Winston, one of the reasons that makes Miro so impossible to kill. As seen below.
It’s true that Winston’s barrier isn’t the strongest in the game, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a lot of value. It’s especially powerful on king of the hill games – both attacking or defending – since it creates a safe zone for all allies within it.
This means ensuring that when you do use this ability that you maximising its effectiveness. Placing it directly in the way of gunfire, blocking off passages or simply landing it within the centre of your team to make sure as many players are covered as possible.
But with that said, Winston’s shield is not one that cannot be used as effectively to cover your entire team. Overwatch is rarely a game of sitting still, and placing a barrier in a poor location because that’s where the team are currently will not be useful.
Considering placing it at a more viable spot ahead of your team (if they’re smart they’ll make their way into it), which means placing it in positions that will block the most gunfire. Again, in narrow passages or entry ways into a defense/attack point will make it most helpful. Even if they’re not within the shield itself, so long as the barrier is between your allies and the enemy it will still defend them.
And, lest we forget, remember that Winston’s shield can also be used selfishly. It refreshes relatively quickly enough that if you’re diving into an enemy team then activating this once you arrive will give you some added protection.
Here’s Numlocked highlighting a good situation to place that shield on King’s Row, where he leaps in and places a shield to block gunfire. Admittedly he becomes trapped by Mei’s Ice Wall, but it’s a good example of when, where and how to use it.
When to ultimate
Winston’s ultimate isn’t the most destructive available, but it can certainly do a lot to change the prospects of a battle, and for a number of reasons.
For one thing, it not only heals Winston completely, but boosts his health up to 1000, making him an incredible beast to have to try and take down. That in itself is useful for Winston’s sustainability – so try to only really use it once you’re being focused or your health is low, because that maximises the benefit of the ultimate.
But it also reduces the cooldown of Winston’s Jump Pack, which – as discussed above – helps to make him an even more frustrating annoyance.
Then it forces him to only use his melee attacks to deal damage, but adds a larger area of effect to it that knocks players struck by it quite far back. This can be used to dislodge important players (healers/damage dealers), knock enemies into out-of-bounds zones or even focus down enemies ‘til they’re dead.
Look for opportunities where any of these will be possible – mostly to sow a little chaos into the enemy team – and you’ll get great use out of Winston’s ultimate. Much like Miro does here…