In Overwatch, teamwork is important. And with the 3-3 composition having a firm foothold in the meta, good tank play is more important than ever. It’s hard to argue one role being more important than others in this game, but tanks are certainly the anchor in any good composition.
They protect their fellow teammates and enable DPS and supports to play their roles more comfortably. But being a good tank is more than just standing in the way to control the other team’s damage or using your increased health pool to overwhelm softer targets. As a tank, you also have your own set of goals you should try to achieve to give yourself and your team the best chances for success.
Yes, a pretty obvious one, and I’m sure you've heard it before. But make sure it’s effective communication with your team. As a tank on the front line, you’re usually the first one to see an enemy player when their team is ready to engage. Call out enemy locations and also let your team know where exactly you’re defending.
Depending on what comp. you’re running, this can give your team that extra time they need to rotate and get into proper position when poking. When attacking, it’s essentially the same thing. Make sure you let your team know where you want to hold the offense at on the map. You should also usually be taking the most damage, so if you get low on health, make sure you tell your team that you’re making a retreat and to let your healers know you need their attention.
9 Watch The Objective
Amidst all the chaos, it can be pretty easy to forget you’re playing an objective-based game. When playing the tank role, you give your team the space and capability to bully your opposition off the objective. So, make sure you always keep an eye on it, especially when you’re in control of it.
Tanks provide staying power on the assault point or on the payload. If it becomes a tough grind for your opponent to move you off the objective, then it makes it easier for your teammates to go off. You’re in one of the best positions as a tank when you have control of the objective. So, if no one else on your team is watching it, make sure you are at least.
8 Make Smart Use of Your Tools
Tanks provide tons of protective utilities. Using them effectively can keep things from going awry very quickly for your squad. If you’re a static shield tank such as Orisa or Winston, make sure you place your shields down in positions that benefit your team as well as yourself. Open areas with long sightlines or directed toward choke points are always good places.
If you have more mobile defensive tools like D.Va or Zarya, look for opportunities to block heavy burst damage like most DPS utilities or unique projectiles like Ana’s bio grenade or Moira’s bio orbs. Use crowd control tools in ways that give your team a good advantage, but don’t expect to automatically get kills from them.
Tanks are designed to take the brunt of your opponent’s damage. With that said, tanks also have a health pool just like every other character and since some have limited mobility, it pays to pick good points on the map that provide you with some cover, especially on payload maps. Always try to play around corners when you can or get a foothold on some high ground.
When making advances out of poking situations, make sure you pick a visible and accessible spot to advance toward or you’ll run the risk of moving too far out of position. If you are a more mobile tank, use your mobile abilities to execute quick hit-and-run tactics without leaving your team defenseless for too long. It could be as simple as just knocking opposing players off high ground or discouraging them from posting up at certain points on the map. Again, never expect to receive kills from these plays.
In any composition, especially ones that require players to spread out around the map, peeling is a responsibility that every player has to take. If you’re playing a mobile tank though, your responsibilities shoot up a bit more. A character like D.Va who can virtually be anywhere she wants to be on the map has to be vigilant about where the rest of her teammates are.
If your backline is getting pressured, you’re probably the most capable of responding at that moment. If you’re a slower tank like Reinhardt, it’s more up to your healers to stick closer to you or for your damage heroes to step in. Who peels for who in any given moment is highly dependent on your comp., but it’s an invaluable skill if you want to be an effective tank.
5 Keep Things Simple
You don’t have to be the most mechanically gifted to play most tanks. On top of that, your toolset is mostly geared toward giving your team better opportunities to succeed. Going for the hero plays are nice but ultimately mean nothing if your team isn't able to follow up. Bad Reinhardt charges, Gravitons into Transcendences or Whole Hogs with no real advantage do more to hurt your team than help it.
Just because you think you see a good play doesn't mean your team does. Your tools as a tank reap rewards from good, solid play or set-ups. It’s always better to aim for good, simple consistent play as a tank instead of long-shot plays that will only work a handful of the time.
4 Compliment Your Composition
Some heroes are easier to play in certain comps. than others. When picking a tank, take into consideration what others picked, specifically your healers and secondary tank if there is one. If there’s only one healer, it might be good to jump on Roadhog just to alleviate some of the load they’ll have. If you have an off-tank like Zarya, Reinhardt may be good to get them some easy bubble charge in poking situations.
More mobile tanks can work well with mobile healers like Mercy and Lúcio while you’ll probably want more grounded tanks when you have healers with less vertical freedom. Worry about the map and the other team’s composition afterward and adjust accordingly. Tanks that compliment the toolsets of whom your teammates like to play is always a good option.
3 Manage Opposing Ultimates
Most tanks have tools to deal with and even negate most other tank ultimates in the game. Keeping track of this and being in the right position to deny or make them less effective can be big. D.Va can eat graviton surges with her defense matrix, shields can block earthshatters and D.Va bombs. Orisa can use fortify to counter a whole hog and pepper in extra damage on the defenseless Roadhog.
Some tank tools can even manage ultimates outside of their opposing roles, but it’s much better to just keep an eye on your opposite role. They’re the ones that you’ll probably be trading with the most so it’ll be beneficial to keep the most tabs on them.
2 Don’t Chase Kills
Your first and most important duty as a tank is to protect your team. It becomes harder to do this, and possibly even detrimental to your team if you’re constantly looking for eliminations. Eliminations are nice, but as a tank, you have to think about Overwatch as a zoning game to you. As long as you can move the opposing team off of the object with the tools you have at your disposal then you've done your job.
The kills that come afterward are a bonus. If you move in too deep, too eager to finish off a low health target then there’s a good chance you’ll be punished for it, especially if you’re a low mobility tank. Leave that to your DPS heroes and always keep your teammates well-being at the forefront of your mind.
1 Don’t Get Frustrated
Playing as a tank in Overwatch can sometimes be maddening. With all of the ways other characters have to silence you or make you less effective, it can be pretty easy to get tilted or salty really fast. That’s just the way things go sometimes though, even with a good team behind you. The best thing you can do is focus on the things you’re doing well and try to identify and correct the things that you aren't.
It’s easy to blame your teammates for this and that in a team game. Instead of screaming at them, try to give them information on what you’re trying to accomplish as the tank. You’re the anchor that allows everyone else to do their jobs well. If you aren't doing that well, then small mistakes and mishaps become bigger issues than what they really are.