Overwatch Team Roles and Communications Structure Guide
With Overwatch being such a team centric game, good communication has always been a pillar of a successful competitive team. This guide is meant to focus on defining the roles on a team and the typical comm they are assigned to. Now, I would like to note that this has been based on mostly my experience as a coach and a player and watching other pros play. This is not set in stone as comm structures and roles can always change depending on the team’s needs, the level of experience of players, as well as, meta shifts. Like my previous guide about shotcalling this post is meant for organized competitive teams who are looking to improve their team play. A lot of the terms I’ve defined are in my shotcalling guide and this post is meant to further that so if you are confused about some things reference yourself with the previous guide. Some of this might be applied to ranked but I would not recommend it as majority of players who play ranked play casually or for self-improvement.
These terms or positions can either be split among the team evenly, or set for maybe just 1 or 2 players. This all depends on what the team wants as a whole.
- Shotcaller: This person controls the engagement, meaning they decide when the team should engage, where the team should engage, what routes to take, deciding what ultimates to use, recognizing the win conditions of the team and the enemy team, and deciding when to switch comp. For an analogy, think of this person as the Point Guard or the Quarterback of a team.
- Scout: This person is in charge of relaying to the team the enemy team comp, where they are taking their routes, or where they are positioned.
- Ult Tracker: This person generally has the most experience on tracking the ultimates of the enemies. They should have knowledge on how fast heroes charge their ultimates and then applying that in actual gameplay.
- In-Game-Leader(IGL): This person usually has the final say on what should and shouldn’t be done. I don’t recommend the IGL to constantly be saying, “don’t do this” or “we should do this” as that would flood comms and not allow for his/her team mates to make decisions. Instead the IGL should say something if there is a significant change that needs to be done that nobody else on the team sees. Think of this person as the Captain of a team and have the most trust in the coach to make the right decisions to support the team.
- Target Caller: This person calls the target that needs to be focused down based on enemy cool downs, positioning, or level of importance. Once a target is called all members of the team that can follow up on that call should follow it until that hero is dead before moving onto the next hero.
- Roles: The main roles for the Main Tank is to make space, control space, protecting the team, setting up the DPS to make plays, while minimizing the amount of damage they take. The common misconception is that main tanks are supposed to take a lot of damage, while this is somewhat true as it’s sometimes inevitable for main tanks to take a lot of damage, they want their supports to invest resources on enabling the DPS, not the main tank. There are some exceptions(I won’t list all of them) like Goats comp where the team has to play around the Reinhardt, but for the most part, whether it’s dive, triple DPS or standard 2/2/2 the main tank should be looking to set up plays for his team.
- Heroes: Winston, Reinhardt, Orisa, Wrecking Ball
- Communication: The team typically wants their main tank to be the main shot caller, as well as, the target caller.The reason for that is the the main tank is usually the first one in the fight, so that person typically has the best view of the enemy team to make decisions about the engagement. In terms of target calling, the main tank is usually plays the slowest heroes so whatever he sees and is in reach the rest of the team should be able to follow up on it.
- Roles: Off-tanks have various roles from enabling their main tank to peeling for their backline. In my opinion, the Off0tank position is the most undervalued role on a team as they do most of the dirty work that doesn’t show up on the kill feed. If you’re playing Dva then you want to either dive with your Winston or peel for your supports/DPS, while finding the moments to do your own damage. With Zarya, you want to focus on doing damage, as well as, enabling your Reinhardt as much as you can. With Roadhog, think of yourself as the enforcer, with the ability to one shot combo heroes and warding off enemy flankers like Tracer, Genji, Doomfist, etc. You also want to be sort of the secondary ult tracker as you have the best utility, especially as Dva, to shut down enemy ultimates.
- Heroes: D.va, Zarya, Roadhog, Soldier 76
- Communication: If you’re playing Dva, one of your primary roles is to scout. You also want to communicate the cool downs you have like Dva Boosters, Dva Defense Matrix, Zarya Bubble, and Roadhog Hooks, as these are important cool downs for your team, and especially for your main tank to know. You also want to communicate when you are peeling to let your main tank know if you’re with him or not. Peeling happens instinctually, that there are times where your tanks build so much synergy that this doesn’t have to be communicated as much.
MAIN DPS (Hitscan DPS)
- Roles: The job of the main DPS is to be the carry of the team. This is achieved in 2 ways: Opening picks and cleaning up team fights quickly. Now I’m not saying the Flex DPS role can’t fulfill that as well, but as the Main DPS this is your primary job. These heroes don’t rely on big value ultimates but rather use their ultimates to help get opening picks or in the flow of team fights. I will go more into this when I talk about the flex DPS role.
- Heroes: Widowmaker, Tracer, Mcree, Doomfist, Sombra, Bastion, Soldier 76, Zarya
- Communication: Not a lot of communication from the DPS roles. The few times the DPS should be communicating is when there are low targets, and scouting, if they are playing a hero that does a better job of scouting like Sombra and Tracer. If you’re playing Sombra then you want to call the targets you hacked and if you’re playing Brigitte you also want to communicate the stuns for your Reinhardt.
FLEX DPS (Projectile DPS)
- Roles: The main job of the flex DPS is: Enabling the team with their utility and comboing ultimates. This can also be done by the Main DPS like being able to combo pulse bomb with grav (not as impactful anymore) or Mcree with shatter. However, the flex DPS has the more reliable ultimates to fulfill these roles. Dragon + Grav, Blade + Nano, EMP + Shatter, etc. These ultimates are typically channeling ultimates, meaning that the hero enters a new state during the duration of the team ultimate(Visor, Blade, Death Blossom, Barrage) and need to be set up by the team to win team fights. Not only that, but these heroes provide more utility to make up for their inconsistent damage. Hacks from Sombra, Sonar arrow from Hanzo, Mei’s wall, all very good utility that you don’t typically see from the main DPS heroes. Would also like to add that these heroes become very useful in 2CP maps as their ultimates provide a team wiping capability.
- Heroes: Genji, Pharah, Sombra, Hanzo, Soldier 76, Junkrat, Reaper, Mei, Wrecking Ball, Brigitte
- Communication: Not a lot of communication from the DPS roles. The few times the DPS should be communicating is when there are low targets, and scouting, if they are playing a hero that does a batter job of scouting like Sombra and Tracer. If you’re playing Sombra then you want to call the targets you hacked and if you’re playing Brigitte you also want to communicate the stuns for your Reinhardt.
MAIN SUPPORT (Non-Aim Support)
- Roles: Contrary to popular belief, the main support, at least in the pro level has never been about the hero the could output the most amount of heals. Instead, the main support always played the must pick support during the different metas. I won’t go into that now, but with the recent changes to all of the supports, different support duos are more prevalent now as compared to previous metas. The main support usually acts as a secondary shotcaller, because they can control the tempo of the team fight. They also get to see the map, the entire team and the enemy team so they have one of the best views of the status of team fights. It is also the main supports job to peel for the other support as they are most likely the first one to be focused by the enemy team.
- Heroes: Lucio, Mercy
- Communication: Like I mentioned, the main support dictates the tempo or pacing of the fight. Meaning they can tell their team to play aggressive, to disengage from fights, or play to live. The main support can also call for rotations during a team fight, especially if you’re running Lucio. It is also important for them to monitor the kill feed to relay to the team if team fights are winnable, won, or lost. This doesn’t mean that the rest of the team shouldn’t monitor the kill feed but as a main support, with them playing heroes that don’t require as much mechanics (I’m not here to argue that Lucio and Mercy are mechanically demanding heroes) as compared to the other roles they have one the best views of the team fight as a whole. A lot of teams have the main support as the IGL due to that reason as they can see the statuses of team fights and make adjustments accordingly.
FLEX SUPPORT (Aim Support)
- Roles: Most teams have their flex supports as the primary ult tracker. The flex support can also perform a secondary target caller if they’re playing Zenyatta to call discords. Just find a balance between your primary target caller and your secondary target caller.
- Heroes: Ana, Zenyatta, Moira, Roadhog, Bastion
- Communication: The Flex Support is usually the farthest back from the team when playing Zenyatta, Ana, and Moira. This makes them the best role to be selected as the ult tracker as they can see who does damage, how much damage they do, and how much healing the enemy supports do as well. If the ult tracker is unsure or was not alive during the team fight, then it’s his/her job to ask the team what ultimates are used. Keep in mind that it’s part of the team’s job as well to help the ult tracker, with predicting ults being one of the hardest jobs in the game. They also do very well in calling out enemy flankers as they are usually the ones to be targeted first in a team fight. If the primary target caller dies during the team fight then the flex support can step up as the other target caller during the team fight, especially if he’s playing Zenyatta. Just be careful finding the balance as your team doesn’t want to be calling two different targets.
Remember, roles and the communication structure can always change due to the team’s needs, meta shifts, and experience of players. These are just the general roles and comms that I personally find effective and combining that with what the pros like to do. If you feel that your team can’t follow this exactly, then don’t be afraid to do something completely different. I hope this guide helps some teams improve their communication structure as well as define the roles set for their team. I’m still learning as well, so I probably have gotten something wrong but making mistakes is all part of the learning experience.