Overwatch Tank Picking Guide
This is a guide for picking tanks in Overwatch, focusing on low ranks (gold and below), solo, competitive games. Some of it might be applicable in other situations, but especially in higher ranks the recommendations here are just plain wrong. Further, this is not written from a point of view of a higher ranking player smurfing, but instead by someone who has recently gone through those ranks. I have only played Overwatch for some six months, but had a lot of competitive experience before from games such as TF2 and LoL. I have solid experience of all tanks currently in game except DVa, but I’m a bit biased on main tanks (MT) over off tanks (OT).
Main Tanks: Orisa, Reinhardt, Winston, Hammond
Off Tanks: DVa, Roadhog, Zarya, (Hammond)
Shield Tanks: Orisa, Reinhardt
Dive Tanks: DVa, Winston, Hammond
Part 1. Choosing your stable
So, the first question to ask is what heroes should you play? The often repeated advice to improve is to not have too many mains. I agree with that, but it’s also useful to have some minor characters you are not as strong with, but can still fulfill. If you want to be relevant in MT or OT role, you should aim to play all of the respective heros, with the exception of maybe Hammond who is a bit more mechanically intensive. In addition to your main role, you should pick at least one hero from the other tank role, and from the MT role it must be Rein or Orisa, from OT can be any. Lastly you need to pick a main healer (Ana, Mercy, Moira, I chose Moira) and possibly off-healer (Brig, Lucio, Zen, I play Brig+Lucio). My suggestions are Moira and Brigitte as they are quite safe picks with staying power and able to be constantly useful even if their ults are lacking compared to other options. You don’t need to be proficient with any DPS heros, though Mei is often useful to pick up in specific situations.
So here as an example would my hero pool: all main tanks, Hog, Zarya, Moira, Brigitte, Lucio, Junkrat. This could be trimmed to just all main tanks (with Hammond doubling as OT), Moira, Brigitte.
Part 2. Team Comps
In low ranks people are chasing the 2-2-2 comp. It functions well here, and many players want to play DPS and other options usually have less DPS than 2-2-2. So what to do when you have too many DPS picks? My picking priority is here:
- 0 healer? Pick main healer.
- 1+ healer, 0 tank? Pick tank. Usually shield tank, with slight preference to Orisa.
- 1 healer, 1 tank? If defense, pick 2nd healer (must have 1 main healer). If offense, pick whichever role has worse player, with slight preference to tank.
- 2 healer, 1 tank? Congrats, you have 2-2-2. More on which tank to pick later.
- 2 healer, 2 tank? Go 3rd tank or DPS.
Part 3. Rein vs Orisa
Picking between Rein and Orisa is your most common choice. This is because low ranked players use shield as crutch and perform very badly without one. The main difference between Rein and Orisa is shield mobility. This often leads to Orisa being preferred in defense. However the main difference in choosing which to pick is self-sustainability. Rein needs a lot more support from the team. If you don’t have that support, Orisa is often the better pick.
Friends of Reinhardt are Zarya, great healers (except Zen maybe), chokes and solid, consistent damage. Enemies of Rein are good dominant, mobile DPS on other team: eg. Doom, Genji, Hanzo, Mei, Pharah, Reaper.
Further situation in which to pick Orisa is when you are outmatched by enemy tanks. This could be due to you tanking 1v2, or your OT being bad. Don’t play solo Rein against Rein+Zarya or if you are otherwise shut down. Remember that you can play aggressive on Orisa too.
So if you are enabled to play Rein by your team and have some friends of Rein, go for it. Remember that you have to be active and set the pace. Often it’s not so rosy and you are better off with Orisa.
Part 4. When to go without a shield?
As discussed previously low ranked players often rely on a shield. Situations where going without a shield might make sense:
- Many control maps. Fights usually break out fast enough without the poke phase. Exceptions which benefit more from shield are Lijiang Night Market, all of Ilios, Nepal Shrine, Oasis University.
- 2 CP or Hybrid maps on attack without a strong choke. Examples include Hanamura B, Paris B, Numbani A, Horizon A+B.
- Dive DPS on your team (eg. Doom, Genji, Sombra, Tracer).
- Your team is split and you can’t get them to group up.
- You need to contest vertically and nobody else can do it.
In other situations you should most often go for a shield if your team doesn’t have one already.
Part 5. Monkey (and Hammond as MT)
Winston is a great Main Tank and fills the traditional trinity with Rein and Orisa. Friends of Winston include: enemy Ana, enemy Zen, enemy Lucio, enemy Genji, enemy Widow, friendly DVa, friendly dive DPS, (enemy Sombra). I often pick Winston when I have at least two friends. A big aspect is if my teammates can handle themselves without a big shield. I quite often pick Monkey as OT when we already have a shield in situations where some of Friends of Winston need urgent care.
Since I quite like Hammond, I try to pick him often. So when to pick him as Main Tank? Whenever I can, this would mean situations in Part 4. combined with not needing a Winston as described above. Even though he’s often my first thought to pick, it’s not very often that the stars align.
Part 6. Off Tanks
Zarya is easiest to pick. She has such a great synergy with Rein that you often don’t want to pick her without. Sometimes she works nicely with Orisa too, but often that’s due to inability of enemy. Further if you need a big ult, go for Zarya. Needing a big ult often happens in overtime rounds of CP’s where you have time to farm ults and then take the point.
Hog is the most self-sufficient OT. He’s great when healing is lacking. He’s also great when there is a long poke phase where you can fish for a pick. This is a common situation in low ranks where nobody really wants to initiate a fight. He’s also good in peeling for healers. Hog is great for stalling a point. Lastly Hog is great when enemy can’t group up and staggers or trickles. Hog can keep it that way.
DVa is great at contesting high ground. She’s great at peeling and brawling. Her defense matrix makes aggressively pushing chokes or Bastions easy.
Hammond is great at disrupting enemies. He can really keep enemy back line busy. He’s great to push enemies through a choke to the wrong side on both attack and defense when long stand-offs happen. Hammond is also great at stalling. He can contest high ground, but can’t hold it as well as DVa or Winston.
Part 7. Who to pick when X is popping?
On enemy team there is often one or two persons carrying. If you can identify them, you can deal with shutting them down and win the game. Here’s who I would pick to shut down specific heroes.
DVa: Hog, Zarya.
Orisa: Mirror is often good if MT. Zarya.
Rein: Orisa. Don’t be the lesser Rein ever. Hog.
Winston: Hog, Orisa.
Ashe: Shield. Hammond as OT.
Bastion: DVa if your team can focus. Otherwise you are quite helpless. Rein and Hog can charge/shatter/hook, but often I pick Mei if others can’t do anything and wall him off and farm ult to overwhelm the defense. If you have strong DPS (eg. mirror Bastion), go Orisa to give cover and add damage.
DF: Zarya to save asses. Orisa to CC.
Junk: Zarya for free charge. Orisa.
Mei: Orisa, Zarya.
Pharah: You can’t do much as main tank to kill a Pharah or keep her shut. Go Rein and aggro. DVa can block her damage to an extent, including negating the ult. If you are truly 100% losing to Pharah, go Sombra and hack her.
Reaper: Zarya, Orisa.
Soldier: Hammond, shield.
Sombra: Winston, Hog.
Symmetra: Orisa, Zarya.
Torb: DVa, Orisa.
Tracer: Depends a lot on your comp. If you need to kill her, Hog can do it but she can farm ult. Winston and Zarya bubble can protect against her but not kill really. Brigitte is great pick if you are OT. Orisa is hard to kill as Tracer if you are shield tank.
Widow: Winston. DVa.
Brigitte: Zarya. Rein if she’s frontline in your face without enough support.
Mercy: Very hard to kill. Often with Pharah.
Moira: Hog, DVa to eat orbs if she’s damage happy.
Zen: Monkey, Hammond.
How about friendly team DPS popping? You should always try to enable whoever is doing great.
Ashe, Mcree, Soldier: shields to safely shoot from behind. Peeling from OT’s.
Bastion: Orisa to shield. DVa to kill enemy divers. Hog is great if defending choke to hook enemies and Bastion kills (especially tanks).
Doom, Genji, Tracer: Dive tanks to contribute damage. Especially Winston for giving a bubble.
Hanzo: Solid frontline so he can flank (Orisa, Rein, Hog). Zarya for ulti combo.
Junk: Good static frontline so he can spam.
Mei: Rein and Orisa do stupid amounts of damage to frozen enemies. Great synergy. Good Mei can easily function as OT in low ranks.
Reaper: Zarya for bubble. Rein.
Symmetra: Rein. Hog to hook to turret.
Torb: Orisa, Hog.
Widow: Ability to either hold enemy static in defense or on Payload attack (shield tank), or preferably disruption so they can’t focus on Widow (dive tanks).
Brigitte: Rein, Hog.
Part 8. Maps
Quick notes on maps. Maps are less rank dependant, so you can find better advice from more experienced sources. Remember that high ground doesn’t need to be contested if enemy is not causing problems there, or if your DPS or other tank is taking care of it.
Hanamura A: Big choke, shield. Hammond good on both sides to push through choke. B: Staying power on point is great. Hammond is good on attack.
Horizon A: Very flexible. B: High ground should be contested if enemy is using it.
Paris A: Static defense. B: Staying power on point, big flanks for Hammond both attack and defense.
Anubis A: Great for (vertical) mobility for attackers. Dive tanks work well in addition to Rein. Defense likes a shield. B: Flexible. Rein is good on attack.
Volskaya A: Big choke, shield. Hammond good on both sides to push through choke. B: High ground should be contested if enemy is using it.
Dorado A, B: Must contest high ground. C: Quite hard to push, big brawls often.
Junkertown A: Very open. Flexible. Rein not so good. B: Verticality must be contested. C: Turtling works well.
Rialto: Environmental kills are nice (Orisa, Hog, Hammond). Turtling works on all points quite well. C: No high ground.
Route 66 A: Flexible. B: Must contest high ground. C: Big brawl.
Gibraltar A: Flexible, either contest high or go past with cart on attack. B: Must contest high ground. C: Big teamfights.
Blizzard World A: Flexible. B: Very open, Rein not so hot. C: Shield is great. Rein is hot.
Eichenwalde A: Big choke .Hammond good on both sides to push through choke. B: Must contest high ground if needed. C: No verticality, quite cramped.
Hollywood A: Big choke, shield must for defense. B: High ground must be contested. C: Again a choke.
King’s Row A: Flexible. B: Very cramped, Rein+Zarya is great. C: High ground must be contested. Flexible.
Numbani A: Very flexible. Everything works. Good for dive tanks on defense too. B: Open. Flexible. C: Shields are great. Big brawls.
Busan Downtown: Rein sucks. Monkey is great.
Ilios Well: Orisa is king. Hog is queen.
Lijiang Garden: Great for Hammond.
Extra: Getting countered as Hammond
Hammond is the tank which has the hardest counters. If the enemy team counters you too hard, you should switch. To be profitable, enemy team should not be able to kill you when you roll through them. List of counters:
- Sombra. Enemy number one. Usually worth switching immediately.
- Hog. Getting hooked is a death sentence. Though he’s nice to farm ult with.
- Mei. Getting caught by her without swing up you gonna die. Though her short range means she can be avoided often.
- Mcree. Easy to hit stun and stupid high follow up damage.
- Ana, Brigitte. Easy to hit stuns.
- Symmetra. Turrest stop you and she has high damage to follow up.
- Doom, Junk. Only if they save CC to specifically stop you which is very rare. Even then need to be comboed with someone above usually.
One of these is definitely OK, except Sombra or a good Hog/Mei. Two of the later ones as well. But too many and you’ll have a bad time.