It can be a bit overwhelming to get into any new sport, let alone one of the biggest eSport league in the world. In an attempt to get you up to speed, I will be presenting a five part series to introduce everyone to the Overwatch League, the four different game modes, the basics of Overwatch’s heroes, some common terminology, and a look at the Boston Uprising’s roster. In this article, I’ll be looking at the Uprising common terminology.
If you talk to Overwatch League fans or listen to a broadcast, you will hear some terminology you don’t know. If you’re not careful you’ll be easily left behind! As a result, a basic understanding of some common terms and concepts is worth reviewing. This won’t be an exhaustive list, but should help you sit through a game of Overwatch and feel comfortable knowing what’s going on. Let’s try to hit the basics.
Overwatch League teams interface with a constantly changing dominant strategy as other sports teams. Whether it’s moving to a 3-point heavy shooting in basketball, pass-focused offense, or the defensive infield shift, rules and tactics are always changing. ESports has this type of meta change often. Regular patches to the game change the fundamental ways it can be played. In addition, in Overwatch new heroes and maps continue to be updated on a regular basis. This means that the meta, or the commonly accepted primary tactics used by teams, is constantly moving. For example, dive was a dominant strategy for the first three stages of the inaugural Overwatch League season. Stage four saw the introduction of GOATS which teams had to quickly adapt too.
The heroes that you choose for your team are the foundation of any strategy in Overwatch. Whether you choose all support characters, 3 DPS and 3 tanks, or any other combination will dictate how you play the game. Commentary around the game is often focused on how different hero classes are chosen. Different team comps become so popular that they get their own name (see dive, goats, 2-2-2, etc).
Team comps centered around quickly mobilizing towards a goal are called dive. Generally the idea is for a team to pick an enemy hero and have all heroes converge (or dive) on that single target. Given that the team that gets the first kill statistically wins the most team fights, dive is popular because it prioritizes achieving the first kill. Dive is generally created with a core of Winston, Dva, Zenyatta and Tracer. For more info, see here.
Another popular team comp that includes 3 tanks (Rein, Zarya, Winston and/or DVa) and 3 support (Lucio, Birgitte, Zenyatta, and/or Moira). Originally used by a North American Contenders team called GOATS, this team comp is the primary meta for the start of the 2019 Overwatch League season. This team comp is focused on tanks being blanketed with constant healing, making them difficult to take down. With Lucio onboard, they are also able to quickly get from point to point.
Any team comp that includes three tanks. Arguably a meme until GOATS came around and showed the team comp could succeed. With the addition of Hammond the triple tank has seen renewed attention.
Generally the default team comp you see in online play. This includes two tank heroes, two DPS heroes and two support heroes.
A team comp on escort/hybrid maps where teams set up on the payload. Generally this means putting a Bastion or Torb turret on the payload with a shield and/or a pocketed support. As a result, the payload becomes almost a mobile weapon for the offensive team
CC (Crowd Control)
Crowd Control is a catch all term for hero abilities that limit or stop a hero’s movement by either slowing or stunning them. Examples of this include McCree’s Flashbang ability, Mei’s ultimate Blizzard and Endothermic Blaster, or Ana’s sleep dart. Therefore if you hear something like “Winston is popping his ultimate for CC” you know Primal Rage is coming.
POTG (Play of the Game)
At the end of a game of Overwatch a single highlight from the match is replayed. Play of the game, or POG, is the name of this end game highlight. When watching a game from the Overwatch League, fans often call out “POG!” when something exciting happens. Think of it as the eSports version of being on Sportscenter’s Top 10 Plays.
An online meme that is used when someone is excited. Often you’ll see Twitch chat fill up with “POG!” after an exciting play. You can follow an online rabbit hole to find out more about the origin.
A changing meta throughout a season of Overwatch League means that the most flexible team will be rewarded. If a team is only strong in one meta they risk being left behind in the next meta. As a result, teams have to develop a roster of diverse skillsets in order to convert to the dominant meta of the time.
Regular patches to the Overwatch game itself by Blizzard change the characteristics of the game’s heroes. They can be both positive and negative. For example, if a hero’s guns are changed to an additional amount of damage per bullet, this positive change is called a buff. Conversely, if a hero is weakened by a patch it is called a nerf.
The eSports word for an announcer. Because everything has to be different in eSports.
Main/hero pool/one trick
All phrases that refer to the primary or set of heroes that Overwatch players have the most expertise in. To main a hero is to default them – the one you have most familiarity with. While you may main a certain hero, you can still have a hero pool of other characters that you are competent at. Conversely, to be a one-trick is to only have one hero that you main and not have any others in your hero pool.
A type of attack, special ability, or ultimate that pushes other characters back. Certain levels where enemies can be pushed off the map to their death make booping useful. An example of a boom attack is Lúcio’s Soundwave.
A hero that is ‘squishy’ is anyone with a small health pool/health bar. Non-tank characters are generally considered a squishy and ripe to be taken out quickly by most other characters.
To peel is to essentially drop everything you’re doing and get to your teammates who are under attack. This was first prominent when dive was meta in the Overwatch League. If the enemy team dove onto a teammate, the only response would be for everyone else on the team to peel to the one under attack. Another way to get a team’s front-line attack to stop is to get them to peel. Attack the backline and get front-line attackers to peel back to help. There is more information on peel here.
A choke is a location on the map where there is generally little space a team has to traverse through. By focusing on choke areas, the opposing team knows where the other team is going to be and can set up their position to respond. Oftentimes escort, hybrid, and assault game modes see the defensive team focus on choke points to thwart the offensive team.
The front/back line is a generic way of understanding how teams orient themselves on the map. Generally a team’s frontline consists of its tanks and dps characters. They are first to engage the enemy or reach the goal on the map. Back lines are made up of a team’s support characters. Heroes that get hurt in a team fight will flee to the back line to get healed before reentering the fight. Also, the backline is in constant need of peeling from the front line in the event of an attack. The balance between the two lines is what makes a team formidable.
An ultimate is a power that heroes gain after a fluid amount of time. While players can theoretically just wait for an ultimate to charge, often they aim to charge it through actions. This includes using other powers, both offensive and defensive. Additionally, some heroes are able to charge their ultimates quicker than others. For example, Tracer’s Pulse Bomb and Sombra’s EMP are ultimates that can be gained quicker than DVa’s Self Destruct or Zarya’s Graviton Surge.
At a meta level within a game, teams are tracking which heroes are accruing their ultimates and have them at the ready. Ultimates often dictates the winner of a team fight. As a result, the careful accrual and expenditure of ultimates can dictate the overall game. Therefore, the team that is constantly tracking their ultimates as well as the enemy’s within the context of the broader game has a better chance of winning.
AoE (Area of Effect)
Abbreviation for Area of Effect. Used to describe abilities or weapons that can affect multiple targets within a specified area. These are useful to get an enemy or enemy team away from a specific area on the map, like a payload or objective point.
Any type of attack that can hurt more than one target. Ashe’s dynamite, Pharah’s rockets, or Junkrat’s grenade launcher all do this. Oftentimes teams will try to focus all their splash attacks on areas of the map where they know the enemy will concentrate, like a choke point or an objective.
Teams intentionally waiting to kill an enemy after a team fight to prevent them from getting respawned faster and thus preventing the attacking team to regroup faster. To delay or ‘stagger’ an opposing team’s respawn and extend the time needed for regrouping results in a smaller time bank. Staggering is a great way to force an opposing team to burn time while they regroup, or force them to make a mistake in their haste.
Heroes whose primary fire hits their targets instantly is categorized as a hitscan. In contrast, a projectile is an attack that launches from the attacker and delays in reaching the target. An effective projectile hero is an expert at tracking enemies and calculating the right place to aim their weapon to lead their target.
A full hold is when a defensive team prevents the attacking team from reaching a single tick on the objective point. This happens on assault and hybrid game modes. To be able to prevent the enemy from getting even a tick on the first point is quite the accomplishment, given that the offensive team spawns significantly closer than the defensive team.
If a team loses an objective or fails to capture it because they accidentally either vacated the point, or did not touch it in time despite winning the fight, they C9’d. This term comes from the pre-Overwatch League APEX Season 2, where the team Cloud 9 (or C9 for short) made this mistake in several key matches. Today, people say C9 when a team leaves or doesn’t get on the objective, even if it was impossible to get on.
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