While Ana wasn’t the most game-changing character in Overwatch when she was added into the game, her toolkit offered a potential that – after she was buffed up a little – has since made her a consistent appearance in most any competitive lineup.

And since she’s such a predominant hero to see, there’s likely a number of Overwatch players out there wanting to improve their skills with the sniping healer. It’s true that she’s one of the tougher characters to get to grips with, so having a few pointers will likely help you out.

So we’ve trawled through all the very best pro players that regularly use Ana – Ryujehong, Chipshajen, Ster, everyone – to find our evidence of how you can play Ana like a pro.

The Basics of Ana

Ana’s benefits are many and she can be decisive in turning a teamfight around. Her ability to heal and hurt in equal measure, to stun key threats and to massively buff an ally to superhuman strength. That last one, her ultimate, is one of the better ultimates in the game and, when used properly, capable of turning the tide of most any situation.

But don’t think you’ll be able to step into her shoes and start blasting away. She’s one of the tougher heroes to master, not only for her long-range shots (requiring impeccable positioning) but for being able to pick the most important targets, hit that Sleep Dart flawlessly and be aware of everything beyond the scope of her rifle.

And note that while she can be quite an effective healer, she is more commonly played as an off-healer, allowing the likes of Mercy, Lucio or Zenyatta to fill the role of primary healer. If you’re able to communicate with your team, let them know you’ll be providing support for the tanks (easier to hit) while the healer can focus their efforts on weaker damage dealers.

Picking targets

The most important thing to remember when it comes to Ana is that you are first and foremost a support character. While she is kind of unique in that she can deal a healthy dose of damage, your priority should be to hold back behind the team and blast the targets that need it.

Take a look at the clip of Chipshajen on King’s Row below, he doesn’t even pop his head out around the gap in the wall and – as such – makes him a tough target for the enemy. His survival means his team’s survival.

Too often players will look to deal damage and while that’s an option it shouldn’t ever take precedent over healing. And notice the targets he picks and the way he picks them. Ana’s healing is gradual, an applied regen and therefore it helps to keep targets permanently healing ready for the moment they take damage.

He focuses tanks since they’re bigger targets and should be the ones at the frontlines, but note that he switches to anyone who is critical first and – if a weaker character – attempts to use the Bionic Grenade to bolster that healing buff more quickly since they’re more fragile.

Now it’ll take a lot of practice to achieve the same results as Chipshajen here, but do so and you’ll be able to keep your team alive just as well – and even without looking down the scope of your rifle.

Practice your Sleep Dart
The thing with Ana is that you need to be super accurate if you want to achieve proper results. This is true for her rifle – which without decent accuracy will mean your healing abilities suffer – but it’s doubly true for her Sleep Dart.

The problem is that the Sleep Dart requires a much more precise accuracy to properly hit enemies, and at the speeds that typical Overwatch matches play at it can be tricky to reach those required accuracy levels. But even pros will miss as many as they hit, so as long as you get a feel for the exact moment to trigger the ability then you’ll be part of the way of knocking enemies on their feet.

In terms of targets, it’s a useful ability either for knocking an attacker to the ground to give Ana time to escape or call for backup (or even kill them yourself if you’re good enough). But it’s most useful for stopping powerful threats in their tracks.

This typically means targeting players as they are using – or about to use – their ultimate. Easy targets include Pharah, McCree or Reaper while tougher targets are the likes of Genji or Tracer. However if you can stop their ultimates before they cause any real damage, then your work as Ana is done.

This clip below shows Ryujehong blasting a Dragonstriking Genji the very moment he activated it, knocking him to the ground and essentially wasting his whole ultimate. Note that the stun lasts for quite a few seconds, or until damage is dealt – so make sure you coordinate with your teammates to ensure its effect is not diminished.

How to use Biotic Grenade

This AOE ability is important for many reasons: it gives your allies a place to heal outside of your own rifle darts, boosts the healing they receive, damages enemies in its radius and also prevents any healing to enemy players too. This is useful for stopping self-healing abilities – such as Roadhog – as well as blocking an irritating Mercy from keeping a target alive.

There’s a fairly low cooldown on the ability, too, so try to make good use of it when you can. It’s a great option for dealing additional damage at mid-range while you focus on healing, as well as finishing off any enemies that might be trying to escape from an encounter – both examples of which you’ll see in the clip of Ryujehong below.

Try to use it as advantageously as possible, either on large groups of players, to block healing on enemies or in narrow corridors and rooms to make it as effective as possible. It needs quick reactions to use it properly, as is the case with a lot of Ana’s toolset.

When to use the ultimate

Now it’s important to remember that Ana’s ultimate can be a significant game changer, and should be used as such. Hitting the wrong target or wasting it to defeat a single enemy player is not the way it should be used.

It’s hard to say who the right targets are – though there are some who really don’t need the Nanoboost – but it’s best used in conjunction with other ultimates. Damage dealers like Genji and Bastion are prime targets, whose ultimates are enhanced almost tenfold thanks to Ana’s Nanoboost. In the clip from Seagull below you’ll see a perfect example of the sort of damage a player can wreck under the influence of Nanoboost.

Some of the better targets include the aforementioned damage dealers, in addition to the likes of Soldier 76 and Reaper. Tanks are especially good targets, too, since they become practically invincible, while Reinhardt, Zarya, Winston and Roadhog are particularly great targets – with or without ults.

One underrated option should be Symmetra, too. It takes a lot of skill and teamwork to pull off, but if your team can keep her alive then a Nanoboosted Symmetra with her fully charged beam can practically wipe out teams. Give it a try.

Key Pros to watch

While these tips will no doubt get you understanding Ana a little bit more, you’ll do well to pay attention to some of the best Ana players in the world to truly get to grips with her.

Ryu “ryujehong” Je Hong

This Lunatic-Hai player is widely considered as the best Ana player in the world, and it’s easy to see why with any of his plays. He’s quick, has incredible reactions and can wreck a team with a support.

Sebastian “chipshajen” Widlund

Another player who tends to main Ana is Swiss Chipsajen for Team EnVyUs, who tends to favour the support aspect of Ana over her ability to also deal damage.

Andreas “Nevix” Karlsson

Nevix is one of the few support players to pick Ana consistently for competitively play, and it shows in the way he handles her.

Ster

While Ster isn’t a pro player – unless you count Blizzard’s World Cup – he’s one of the bigger streamers for Overwatch, spending equal amounts of time between Pharah and Ana. He’s often used as an analyst for Overwatch tournaments too, so he knows his stuff.

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