Overwatch Ultimate Winston Guide
“The more you play monkey, the more you become monkey.”
Winston is a 400 pound blue electric space gorilla that, in the wrong hands, will absolutely be the most embarrassing thing to witness in a game of Overwatch. In the right hands, however, Winston is a terrifying menace that will reward dedicated players with endless possibilities for jaw-dropping playmaking and the ability to drive the enemy team out of their minds as your game sense, positioning, and decision-making skills grow along with your mastery of the monkey. Only a few players are committed enough to becoming true Winston mains, but those that are, find this hero transforms from a vanilla dive tank / counter pick choice to a Swiss Army Knife of a hero that can sow virtually unlimited chaos and destruction in the enemy ranks while providing invaluable utility and peel to your own team. Winston is honestly not for everyone and the difference between an average Winston and a master Winston comes down to a few key traits you must possess as an Overwatch player.
THE MONKEY LIFE CHOOSES YOU
All heroes in Overwatch require game-sense, positioning, and mechanical skill to be played effectively. Some heroes require more of one of these traits and less of another, and while Winston is famously known for being mechanically lenient but demanding on game sense and positioning, there is more to the equation than just recommending Winston to players that can’t aim. Winston is a tank that rewards very specific, innate traits in first-person shooter players, and players that have these traits will find that their ability to get the most out of Winston will far surpass the average Overwatch player, and may find themselves chosen to walk the path of monkey.
#1 – SPATIAL AWARENESS
The ability to mentally inhabit the 3D space your character occupies in a video game while also intuitively keeping track of the virtual environment around your character (player positions, enemy line of sight, cover, and everything that is NOT on your screen) is crucial component to playing Winston properly, and is the difference between a Winston that gets quickly eviscerated and a Winston that is literally uncatchable. Winston spends the majority of his time fighting battles where he is surrounded on all sides and deep in enemy-controlled territory. What usually kills a Winston is the thing the Winston didn’t see coming. Playing Winston will require you to either have or develop a keen “monkey sense” of exactly where each enemy hero is or could be, where your teammates (and especially healers) are, the ability to keep track of enemy projectiles and abilities that could be headed towards the back of your head (such as Firestrikes, Shadowsteps, Halts, Hooks, Darts, Hacks and boops, not to mention bullets), an awareness of enemy respawn timers and resurrection souls, as well as a sense of all the available cover and healthpacks around you that you can use to mitigate as much damage as possible. Mentally calculating exactly how many seconds you have left until that Roadhog behind you comes around the corner is an example of a typical monkey thought. Winstons must be aware of everything in a 360-degree radius around their location, whether they can see it or not. In short, you need eyes in the back of your digital head.
#2 – TIMING
Many players with otherwise excellent spatial awareness experience crushing failures as Winston due to mis-timed engagements. Overwatch matches have a flow, and Winston players must be able to sense any shift in match momentum as well as intuit where the enemy team’s attention is at any given time. Failing to do so will result in jumping in too early or too late, which is almost always fatal to the Winston player – every monkey knows the “caught-with-your-pants-down” feeling of jumping in just a little too early, and suddenly becoming a bonus track on Tupac’s album “All Eyez On Me.” The rhythm of a match is something Winston players must be keenly attuned to, as they are completely dependent on their own judgement to keep them alive when deciding to press Shift and commit to an engagement. A constant awareness of the state of your cooldown timers is a must, and Winston players must ration the seconds if planning to survive to a proper disengagement. The beginner’s rule of thumb is to never let yourself become the sole focus of attention, but as you slowly master Winston, you will find ways to bend and even ignore this rule – exploiting off-beat timings, deliberately drawing enemy attention, and pulling off deranged 1v6 plays as you learn to walk the razor’s edge.
#3 – MIND READING
Playing monkey well will etch deep grooves of hatred into the minds of your enemies. There aren’t many heroes in Overwatch that develop such a strangely personal relationship with the enemy team during the course of a match, and if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of great Winston play, you know that it definitely feels personal. Playing Winston is almost like playing on the enemy team, except you’re there to kill them. Most of your time is spent either directly in their face or dancing the bubble tango of death with them. You will quickly learn about how good each enemy player is at their hero, how fast they are adapting to what you are doing, and the amount of personal resentment they harbor towards you. Managing aggro is key to pushing the envelope as Winston. The ability to make predictions on enemy behavior and even coerce and bait out reactions from enemies is a constant theme in Winston’s gameplay, and one of the most rewarding parts of playing Winston. Predicting and blocking Roadhog hooks and Ana sleep darts with your bubble requires the ability to make an excellent read on your opponent. The more psychic you can be, the better. The best Winston players are able to make blind predictions as to where an enemy player is and what they are doing at any given time. Playing against a Winston that can do this is terrifying as they will literally come out of nowhere and kill you before disappearing into the sky again. If you enjoy or excel at playing mind games, Winston is for you.
WHAT IT TAKES TO PLAY WINSTON
Bad Winston play is marked by frequent deaths, irrelevant damage, and the providing of massive ult charge to the enemy team on a silver platter. Great Winston play is marked by savage assassinations, clever space making, and the spreading of pure havoc. Winston is for players who understand how Overwatch is played at the fundamental level and suits players with a deep knowledge of the game or broad experience across many heroes, as they can leverage and exploit this knowledge endlessly against the enemy team under their own initiative. Great Winston players are aware of what’s going to help their team the most – whether it’s dealing with that Torbjorn turret or frying the Mercy that’s about to get Valkyrie – monkey must know all and stay one step ahead of the game, and a smart Winston can provide their team with exactly the help they need, when they need it.
It’s worth mentioning the things that Winston does not require out of a player. Winston does not require any sort of mouse jockey talent or Korean ability to see the code and is probably the farthest thing from Widowmaker you can play, mechanically speaking. However, Winston does have his own mechanics which are unique to Winston and thus can be quite time consuming to learn – players who have mastered them are immediately identifiable as Winston experts as they require lots of practice. These mechanics are: Primal Juggling, Jump Control, and Bubble Spacing.
#1. “Winston is easy to play.”
Winston is easy to use – NOT easy to play. If you just want to counter the enemy Widowmaker or go in with D.Va, Winston will not require much out of you as a player, and will not do much besides make your team composition work. Taking Winston’s kit to the limit requires tremendous game knowledge, intuition, and decision-making skills.
#2. “Winston is easily countered.”
Winston’s true strength lies in the fact that he can pick his battles, which is what makes him so miserably bad in the hands of the hands of a player that does not know which battles to pick. Jump Pack’s incredible map-crossing ability allows a Winston to cover huge amounts of ground in an instant, flying over rooftops and generally being wherever he wants to be, as long as he can properly manage enemy aggro and his own cooldown timers. Winston can pick his fights, and great Winstons can leverage this fact to play into a counter comp successfully. Playing Winston into hard counters requires care, but any video game character designed with the ability to choose their engagements will always have a natural immunity to their counters. A good monkey is everywhere and nowhere.
#3. “Winston requires a pocket healer.”
Winstons that do not know how to use their bubble and available cover properly will require massive healing to be effective, or even relevant, during the course of a match. While pocket healing can enable some insane Winston play, it is not required to play Winston, and Winston players can easily manage their own health through proper bubble use, cover, mega healthpacks, Primal Rage, and jumping back to their team for heals, without requiring any sort of special attention from their supports.
Winston is a Dive Tank, a role shared with D.Va and Wrecking Ball. Dive Tanks use their high mobility, high health, and damage-nullifying abilities to aggressively create space in the enemy team’s territory. Dive Tanks excel at hit-and-run gameplay and disrupting the enemy team’s positioning. Winston is also a Hybrid tank, meaning that his role overlaps between Main Tank and Off Tank. In a dive composition, Winston functions as the main “barrier” tank, using his bubble shield to create space for high mobility dive DPS to mount an attack. In a standard composition with an “anchor tank” such as Reinhardt or Orisa, Winston functions as a Off Tank bruiser that can use his dive and peel ability to make short work of flankers in your backline, supports in the enemy backline, and any DPS that find themselves out of position. Winston struggles to kill characters with large health pools such as other tanks, but due to the unique nature of his Tesla Cannon, Winston can apply damage to tanks that are relying on their barriers or damage-negating abilities to keep them alive. For this reason, Winston can be highly effective against Reinhardts, Orisas, D.Vas, and especially Sigmas in the right circumstances. Winston’s biggest weakness is killing targets that are being healed and fighting armored targets. However, a smart Winston that can deftly manage their Jump Pack, bubble, and available cover (as well as health packs) can engage targets for a ridiculously long time and win tough fights through sheer attrition.
Winston’s weapon is the Tesla Cannon, an electric area-of-effect gun that applies steady damage to all enemies in a cone in front of it. Aiming it doesn’t take much work – getting enemies in range of it, keeping enemies in range of it, and killing enemies with it before it runs out of ammunition – this takes a lot of work from the Winston player. It runs out of ammunition quickly and is extremely bad against armor. Punching an enemy does the exact same DPS as Tesla Cannon and should done whenever possible or practical as it saves you ammo and is more efficient against armor. For heroes that rely on their mobility or abilities to stay alive (Genji, Tracer, Lucio) this weapon is their worst nightmare. It will make short work of most 200 HP heroes if they don’t get healed. It also passes through barriers and damage-deleting defensive abilities such as D.Va’s Defense Matrix and Sigma’s Kinetic Grasp – the ability to apply damage through shields and defensive abilities can be extremely deadly and infuriating. Winston’s huge mobility combined with his weapon that cannot miss makes him excellent at finishing off low-health heroes attempting escape. The multi-target nature of the weapon means that its low damage can scale massively when applied to multiple targets, from 60 DPS to a staggering 360 DPS against six targets – which can be impossible for supports to outheal during a teamfight and can quickly charge your ultimate.
This ability defines Winston. Jump Pack used wrongly spells instant death for Winston, but used rightly, strikes fear into the hearts of the enemy team. Winston can jump farther by looking up before he jumps, by moving forward before he jumps, and by jumping just as he lands to “bounce” along the ground. If you combine all of these, Winston can jump 60% farther than just performing a flat standing jump. Jump Pack deals up to 50 damage when landing (at the epicenter) which is a large part of Winston’s damage potential, and it applies a small knockback effect.
Known as the “bubble,” this shield is Winston’s only means of damage mitigation during his engagements except for the use of environmental cover. Skilled Winstons are proficient at maximizing the amount of damage the bubble absorbs for them through “Bubble Dancing” – moving in and out of the edge of the bubble to keep enemies on the other side of it while engaging with the Tesla Cannon. Winston players can also body block damage for their bubble to make their bubble last longer if it is needed to block something deadly such as an exploding D.Va bomb or incoming enemy ability such as Hook or Hack. Engaging with bubble on cooldown (jumping in “naked”) takes excellent game sense and skill but is definitely required learning to make the most of Winston. Without natural cover, however, Winston’s massive hitbox makes him extremely vulnerable to enemy fire. The barrier is not a strong shield and is not meant to provide extended protection for your team like Reinhardt’s or Orisa’s shield does.
Bar-none the hardest Ultimate in the game to use, Primal Rage instantly increases your health to 1000 HP, instantly resets the cooldown on Jump Pack, decreases Jump Pack cooldown to 2 seconds, and trades the use of your Tesla Cannon for high knockback melee swipes. Using Primal Rage effectively takes a lot of practice and control from the Winston player – familiarity with Jump Control, knockback distance and direction, and health pool management are all crucial in making the most of this Ult. Primal Rage can be used very creatively, either to stall or contest objectives, juggle and kill enemies, cover huge distances, save yourself from a fall, heal yourself, protect yourself from dying to an ability such as Flashbang or Mei freeze, bait out abilities, knock enemies away from or into your team, knock enemies into environmental deaths, chase down fleeing enemies, draw attention, absorb damage or ults for your team, extend the duration of your dives – the possibilities for playmaking are staggering. Winstons that are not careful can easily die despite the huge health pool – feeding massive ult charge to the enemy team in the process.
Winston has three ways to modify his jump. The first is to press a directional key before jumping. Holding Forward before jumping will propel you 4 meters farther. Holding Forward after you jump does nothing. Holding Backwards before you jump will make you perform a Back Jump which is the shortest jump Winston can make (10m). Learning to use Back Jumps is very important as you can maximize Jump Pack damage on nearby enemies and prevent overshooting targets and landing locations (especially during Primal Rage). Holding Backwards after you jump will make you perform a Short Jump which will reduce your total jump distance by 4 meters. Holding Left or Right before you jump will make you perform a diagonal jump which is at a 45 degree angle to the left or right. Holding Left or Right after you jump will gently curve your jump left or right. Note that every directional key (except Forward) can be used midair to make adjustments to your landing location. The second way Winston can modify his jump is by looking up. Winston’s default jump distance is 18m if standing still and looking at the horizon. Looking down below the horizon does NOT make your jump shorter. Looking up past the horizon increases Winston’s jump distance by a maximum of 4 meters if looking up at a 45 degree angle. Looking higher than 45 degrees will begin to shorten Winston’s overall jump distance again. Looking straight up and jumping will propel you the same distance as jumping while looking at the horizon – the sweet spot is 45 degrees for maximum distance. However, jumps made while looking higher than 45 degrees have a slow, arcing trajectory and a lot of air time – this can be useful to avoid damage or to leap over tall obstacles. You can hold Back before looking straight up and jumping to launch yourself straight into the air. The third way Winston can modify his jump is by hitting the Jump key (spacebar) as he lands. If timed properly, Winston will maintain his momentum and bounce along the ground an additional 4 meters after landing. Combining the above methods, Winston can increase his maximum jump distance from 18m to 30m (18m+4m+4m+4m) by holding Forward, looking up at a 45 degree angle, and jumping as he lands. Learning to master Jump Control so you know exactly how far your jump will take you, and learning how to use combinations of Jump Modifiers to land you precisely where you want, is required learning take your Winston play to the next level.
Mastering Primal Juggling is the Holy Grail of Winston play and one of the hardest mechanics in the game to learn. Winstons that learn to master Primal Rage’s knockback mechanic can pull off amazing feats. The melee swipes from Primal Rage will apply a large knockback to anyone hit by the swipe. The range of the melee swipe’s hitbox can be slightly extended by making sure the extending arm is turned toward the enemy (look right when your left arm is swiping and vice versa) in a manner similar to Reinhardt’s hammer hitbox mechanic. This “screen swiping” can be useful to hit backpedaling enemies that are just beyond normal reach. The easiest way to secure an environmental kill with Primal Rage is to position yourself correctly first and THEN activate Primal Rage and hit the enemy off the map. The element of surprise is often the deciding factor in securing an environmental kill. With proper Jump Control, you can jump, land exactly on the spot you want to knock back an enemy from, immediately activate Primal Rage, and quickly knock an enemy to their death. Winston’s mechanics have a lot of interplay and mastering all of them is required to fully enable your Winston play. Even a tiny error in positioning will often prevent an enemy from being knocked in the direction you want them to go. After activating Primal Rage, enemy players will immediately start doing everything they can to protect themselves from a deadly knockback, including using abilities like Particle Barrier and Wraith Form. Winston can kill full health enemies with Primal melee swipes alone, but doing so either requires a perfect juggle (keeping the enemy in front of you with proper Jump Control) or trapping the enemy against a wall or corner, which is the more common method. When doing this, it is highly advised to use Back Jumps to add your Jump Pack damage to your melee damage. Be careful to not let the enemy free from the corner trap in the attempt. Jump Pack damage is a huge part of your overall damage in Primal Rage and you should always be using proper Jump Control to inflict maximum combined damage on the enemy if attempting a kill. Primal Rage has a combo you can learn to quickly kill 200 HP heroes – use Jump Pack to land directly on an enemy (using Tesla Cannon on the way in), melee immediately when you deal your Jump Pack damage, then animation cancel that melee animation with Primal Rage for another melee. This will deal your Jump Pack damage, basic melee damage, and Primal Rage swipe damage almost instantaneously and send the enemy hero flying back. Follow this up with a Back Jump and the resulting swipe juggle should kill the hero. You can drop your bubble just before your first melee for additional protection. Deploying your barrier before activating Primal Rage is advised if there are any nearby team members that could use the shield or if it will absorb meaningful damage during your Ultimate. Note that if you use your bubble just before Ulting, you will have to wait 3 seconds after your Ult finishes before your bubble cooldown refreshes, which can be deadly in some circumstances. Plan your escape accordingly.
Barrier Projector has a 5 meter radius – the edge of the barrier will always be exactly 5 meters in front of you when you set it down. Winston’s barrier deploys immediately and NOT when the animation ends – pressing the ability key instantly creates the barrier, which will fall straight down to the ground regardless of Winston’s momentum when he used the ability. Familiarizing yourself with these facts will allow you to place the edge of your bubble exactly where you want it, every time, which can be the difference between life and death in many, many situations. Winston’s barrier is often the only thing protecting him from the enemy team’s revenge fantasy, and can be used to completely negate Roadhog hooks, D.Va bombs, Ana sleep darts and grenades, Reaper and Roadhog shotgun blasts, Widowmaker headshots, Reinhardt shatters, Sigma boulders, Wrecking Ball piledrives, Doomfist Meteor Strikes, Reaper Death Blossoms, boops from Lucio, Ashe, and Brigitte, Sombra hacks, McCree flashbangs and High Noon, Junkrat Rip-Tires, and more. This can save more than just the Winston player – this can save a teammate or even Winston’s entire team. Bubble also will deny Transcendence healing from going through and block all shields from Lucio’s sound barrier if they are on the other side of the bubble. Learning to slice your teammates off from certain death (like bubble shielding a hooked teammate) or cutting enemies off from clutch heals (like Ana shots, grenades, and Nanos) with proper Bubble Spacing can make for huge plays. Skilful bubble placement can ensure an enemy team dies in a Grav despite Transcendence or can prevent a Lucio ult from applying any shields to his team at all. Winston can also force an enemy to kill themselves with splash damage – leaping up and dropping a bubble over an ulting Pharah can kill her instantly, and midair “sky bubbles” dropped at the right moment can completely shut down a High Noon or airborne self-destructing mech. Sky bubbles are an advanced Winston play but can prevent a teamwipe, and getting a feel for exactly where your bubble is going to drop and how long it will take to fall to the desired point can enable more Winston heroics. A clutch bubble dropped while flying over an ult can save the match. When playing Winston, it’s vitally important to always play with the edge of your next bubble in mind, as bubbling a dangerous enemy in with you can be completely useless in many situations. Keeping an enemy within Tesla Cannon range but far enough away that you can immediately bubble out their damage or abilities if needed is a big part of learning Winston. When engaging with Jump Pack, dropping your bubble just before you land will make you land on the edge of your bubble radius and in a position to play the edge for maximum protection. Midair bubbles are also often the only way to prevent getting slept in midair or stunned and killed before you touch the ground. Bubbles can also be dropped in midair as you’re falling straight onto an enemy – the bubble will land on top of you a few moments after you hit the ground and can surprise an enemy during an engagement.
The biggest Winston killer is simply choosing the wrong engagement to jump into. Jumping in at the wrong time, onto the wrong target, or from the wrong angle can put yourself in a position that even an Overwatch League level Winston could not salvage. The success of your engagement is largely determined by your own pre-jump judgment. Once you’re in, you’re in – for better or worse. Winstons that find that they stirred up the wrong hornet’s nest can realize just how long 5 seconds is as they desperately wait for their Jump Pack cooldown to refresh. Jump risk calculation is something that you must continually refine as Winston. Things to think about are: …basically everything, which is why players that have a lot of Overwatch knowledge in their heads can get so much mileage out of Winston, but the most important things to consider are: Jump Pack cooldown state, Barrier Projector cooldown state, type of enemy, number of enemy, enemy HP levels, state of enemy cooldowns, available cover, enemy access to midfight heals, your own access to midfight heals, and any ults the enemy players might use against you.
The state of your own cooldowns is the most important thing to factor in when engaging as Winston. Jumping straight into an engagement is a “hot” engagement and a hard commitment from the Winston player. If anything happens within those 5 seconds that the Winston can’t handle with his bubble, the Winston is dead – this includes any surprises that the Winston did not see coming. Using Jump Pack to get into a position close to your target (such as behind cover or on a ledge), then walking up to your target, or dropping down on your target, will give your Jump Pack precious seconds of refresh time. Engaging with your Jump Pack fully charged or “cold” engaging is incredibly safe and you can escape almost anything you run into if your reaction time and monkey sense is strong enough. Expert Winstons are not shy about taking their sweet time to walk up to an enemy from the side or rear before engaging and this is by far the best way to prevent your own death as Winston. Cold engaging is also the best way to engage hard counters, but just letting your Jump Pack timer have a few seconds to charge up before starting to electrocute your targets is often enough to ensure you can survive until your escape.
Winstons that have mastered Bubble Dancing can win fights that no monkey should ever win. The most important thing to remember is that you should always be playing Winston with the edge of your next bubble in mind – the edge of your next bubble determines exactly how far you can follow your enemy before you have to turn around and get back in your safezone. Dropping your bubble as late as possible (for example, after having chased enemies with your Tesla Cannon for a while) can ensure you apply maximum damage and ensure kills. Do not be hasty to drop your bubble until you are actually in danger or taking relevant damage. If you drop your bubble too early, you will find yourself having having to choose between chasing an enemy out of your safe zone or staying inside your bubble and letting the enemy slip away. Winston players can get a lot more out of their bubble if they wait for real damage to start coming in before placing it down, and when monkey-mincing abilities like Hook, Hack, and Sleep Dart are on the table, you want that bubble in your pocket and ready to deploy, not where the enemy can choose to just walk past it.
Jumping in without your bubble is the sternest test of your pre-jump decision making skills, as Winston without a bubble is, to put it delicately, a walking bullet sponge. Ducking, bobbing, and weaving your massive gorilla body around is all you can do to prevent damage to yourself if you can’t find a way to put some cover between you and an enemy. Headshots do a lot of damage to you – having to hide your huge gorilla head in the dirt as you wait for cooldowns to refresh is not a graceful sight but playing monkey is not an exercise in dignity and a Winston should do whatever it takes to minimize damage to his health pool if he has no other options left. With enough practice, sleep darts and hooks can be dodged without the use of a bubble, but the closer your enemy is to you, the less likely they are to miss your giant hitbox. Pillar dancing and crouching behind cover are going to be your only options for damage mitigation as your juking skills are put to the test. Naked jumping into more than one enemy will test your Winston skills to the max. Your own judgement of how your HP bar will fare against an enemy’s available damage output (remember ability cooldowns) will make this, again, largely a test of judgement – Winston’s gun decreases HP at a predictable rate (barring heals) so as you improve at Winston, your judgement of the engagements you can take on naked and live through will improve.
As soon as you find yourself zapping people with your Tesla Cannon, you should be planning your escape route in case anything goes wrong – because a lot can go wrong. Being able to instantly flick and jump out to a pre-selected escape point is crucial as Winston engagements often come down to the wire – having heals on the other end can prevent dying to follow-up damage from other enemies as well. Hooks, Hacks, and stuns can all prevent a safe jump out and should be accounted for as smart players will save them to trap you when your health is low. Be warned that better players will watch where you’re looking and use it to determine your escape plans. Smart Winstons can abuse this by looking skyward in one direction while waiting for their cooldown refreshes, then quickly jumping the other direction to juke a Roadhog hook or Widow shot. Winstons can also feign a retreat to bait an enemy back into their bubble for the kill.
ADVANCED WINSTON TACTICS
Jumping straight up into the air to give yourself time to reassess the fight, choose your new target, and re-engage, if done properly, is brutally effective and can enable you to take on many enemies simultaneously. It can be very hard to track and apply damage to a Winston in a vertical jump – it can also trick enemies into thinking you disengaged. Remember that after you land you are hard committed for 5 seconds, so a bubble should usually be used or already in play if you’re in a tough fight (unless you have Primal Rage). The additional Jump Pack damage applied can be maximized as you can easily land directly on an enemy’s head. Jump stalling in Primal (repeatedly jumping on the objective in Primal Rage) can stall an objective for ages and ages as the enemy team struggles to shoot a giant gorilla out of the sky.
THE DOUBLE LEAP
Jumping, using Primal Rage to refresh your Jump Pack, the immediately jumping again in midair will enable you to cover massive ground in a heartbeat. Even more useful is jumping just before your Primal Rage ends and then immediately jumping again in midair as soon as your ult expires. It’s almost impossible to catch a Winston that does this and it can secure an escape even when you’re deeply committed (such as fighting outside the enemy spawn).
THE AMMO PUNCH
Punching to save yourself ammunition (melee does the exact same DPS as Tesla Cannon, if you can land it) can be the difference between a target escaping or finishing that target off. It is also more effective than Tesla Cannon for getting through armor and you should always punch your way through armor unless you need Tesla Cannon’s added range for safety. Tesla Cannon can apply damage from range and to multiple targets so getting directly in an enemy’s face may not always be the best option. In general, if the enemy is ever in your face, just punch them and save yourself some ammo.
Winston can use rooftops to hang for serious airtime on certain maps. Ilios Lighthouse, King’s Row, Dorado, and Eichenwalde have rooftops that you can lodge yourself in or slow your descent with, which can be useful for escaping a vengeful team while your cooldowns refresh or just generally confusing the hell out of your enemy.
Winston can bait out abilities and ults by using Primal Rage at the right time. The better you get at monkey, the more likely it is that enemies will solo ult you to prevent a teamwipe. Reinhardt Earthshatters, Junkrat Rip-Tires, and Zarya Graviton Surges are just some of the things that will come your way if you’re doing your job, in addition to every stun ability in the game. Primal Rage is essentially an extra life for Winston, and if a Winston has Primal Rage, he can commit to dives that would otherwise be suicidal, assassinate highly protected targets, and use Primal to survive the ensuing onslaught.
Only the best Winstons understand the value of simply hiding and letting an enemy team walk past you. This is basically a free stealth leap into the enemy backline and enemy supports (not to mention your hard counters) will often be completely unprepared for this and unable to prevent massive damage to their team before you safely jump out. Listening for abilities being used is a large part of making these type of flanks work, and patience in this regard can result in a complete teamwipe in many situations as the retreating enemy team is suddenly sandwiched between your team and your Tesla Cannon.
SPAWN KILLINGWinston is the best spawn killer in the game and you can leverage a strong monkey sense to quickly jump into enemy territory (or hide by their spawn), ambush and kill the spawning enemy, then jump back to the real fighting – this is doubly important if the enemy has an Ultimate ready that could sway the upcoming teamfight. This also will earn you the everlasting resentment of the enemy player you spawnkilled so watch for counter swaps and irrationally aggressive play from this player in the future.
The better you get at Winston, the more your enemies will simply hate your simian guts. Being repeatedly assassinated by a giant sky monkey while being completely helpless to stop it will take its toll on your enemy’s psyche, and if you are pushing the limits of Winston play, they will start pulling out all the stops to deal with you. Learning to account for this and adjusting your play accordingly is essential to prevent being plain countered. Winston has huge flexiblility in choosing the terms of his engagements, and knowing when to rein it in (as well as go for broke) is what will make you a top Winston in the long run. Oftentimes a Winston can get so deep in people’s heads that just jumping straight past them will be enough to get the entire enemy team chasing you back to their spawn as your team moves forward and secures space, payloads, and objectives. Managing aggro is key to not biting off more than you can chew when you decide to jump in and you have to be aware of how the enemy team is feeling about you. You will quickly learn which players are determined to shut you down, and getting main tanks to turn around and chase after you is a victory in its own right. The longer you fight your enemy, the more they will start devising ways of dealing with you. Switching up your own tactics is the best way to prevent being outplayed. Take note of who is trying to deal with you. Checking the enemy hero roster periodically is essential to avoid suddenly jumping into one of your counters. Winston can inflict “team comp damage” simply by doing his job and forcing the enemy to run strange comps. If the enemy team suddenly starts trying to hammer Bastions and Reapers into their comp, you are already throwing the enemy off their game.
Life as Winston is a life of solitude. Playing away from your team, sailing through the air, and landing amidst people that want to send you to hell can make players question why they should learn a hero that spends the match walking a fine line between life and death. Repeatedly leaping into an enemy team only to be instantly vaporized into blue mist discourages many players learning Winston, but the payoff for mastering the monkey is big. Winston rewards players that like to operate on their own, making their own decisions, forming their own plans, and pushing the other team’s buttons. Playing Winston is playing as the leverage – and a master Winston can swing game after game for your team. With the knowledge in this guide, you can push your Winston skills to the limit, and put the fear of Monkey into your enemies.
Reaper is the easiest counter for good Winstons to play around, but bad Winston players will be absolutely demolished by Reaper, as their fledgling monkey sense is not yet developed enough to maintain a constant awareness of Reaper’s position. This results in jumps that land directly near or even on top of a Reaper. Coupled with poor Bubble Spacing and sloppy Bubble Dancing, most of Reaper’s shotgun blasts will connect, healing the Reaper of any Tesla Cannon damage and quickly turning the Winston into gorilla glue. The better your bubble skills are, the easier Reaper is to deal with, as he is completely dependent on making his shotgun blasts connect in order to counter you in any way and has few practical ways to quickly close the gap with you. If outplayed with Bubble Spacing, deft Bubble Dancing, use of cover and teammates, or simply engaging when he is unprepared for you (after he used Wraith, when anti-naded, from ledges above his head, or when otherwise distracted) Reaper will die to Winston as easily as most other DPS heroes. Angry Reapers will often chase a monkey with Shadowstep, and this ability can be easily baited by smart Winstons (for example, pretending to hide on a ledge where you know a Reaper saw you hide). If a Reaper uses Shadowstep to get to you, leaping away to engage the other side of his team will leave a Reaper in the dust and on another long trek back to hunt you down. Reapers are slow, and players who swap to Reaper to counter a rampaging Winston are often predictable in their behavior, like a black beetle that’s always slowly walking towards your last landing spot. Usually you can simply continue playing as normal, taking care to keep Reaper on the other side of your bubble and on a mental timer as you finish with your prey and leap back to safety. Reapers that constantly chase you often make themselves completely useless to their team and will struggle to catch you as long as you have strong monkey sense. The most dangerous Reapers are ones that take care to conceal their location from you while they wait for you to dive your desired targets. Reapers that focus on staying with and supporting their team instead of beelining you or going on elaborate flanks are the trickiest to handle. If you spot a Reaper before he is inside your bubble’s placement radius you can usually escape or even kill him, but if he gets too close, no bubble will save you from the grave.
Arguably Winston’s hardest counter, Roadhog’s hook is very dangerous to Winston as it can pull him out of midair and burn his Jump Pack cooldown. Roadhog’s massive health pool and self heal means that he is almost impossible to solo as Winston, and you should usually only engage him when he is below half health, when he is anti-naded, or if he just used his heal and you have help. Usually it’s not your job to deal with him and you should simply leave him to your teammates – like Reaper, Roadhog is slow and often predictable. Unlike Reaper however, he is much better at peeling for supports as his hook has huge reach. Roadhog’s ultimate, Whole Hog, is also a Winston shredder, chewing through even a Primal Raging Winston easily, and a Roadhog with a grudge will often save it just for you. Predicting and blocking hooks is 80% of dealing with Roadhog and monkeys with the magic eye will absolutely infuriate Roadhogs as their hook smacks your bubble again and again. Smart Winstons will wait to deploy their bubble until they sense Roadhog is going to commit to a hook – playing dumb and looking at something else, feigning escape, or acting like your bubble is on cooldown is an easy way to make a Roadhog blow his hook. Listening out for when Hog uses hook and timing your dives accordingly is a HUGE part of playing against Roadhog. Never hang around a Roadhog in a confined area if you suspect he has Whole Hog as he will often happily solo ult you with it through your bubble and into a corner. Take great care to not get hooked out of the sky as it is usually certain death for Winston. Using sky bubbles to block midair hooks can often save your skin, as good Roadhog players will often be lining up a hook along your jump route out of your bubble or watching the skies for your leap in. Strong monkey sense is required to save you from being hooked from behind, in midair, or simply hooked by a Roadhog walking back from spawn.
In theory, no hero is countered harder by another hero than Winston is countered by Bastion. There is almost nothing a Winston can do to kill Bastion in Sentry Mode, but the question is, does Winston have to fight a Bastion in Sentry Mode? The answer is no – Bastions in Sentry Mode are immobile and must content themselves in simply denying you access to an area. If the enemy team is bunkering around Bastion and defending a point or payload, it is not Winston’s job to initiate a teamfight. Proper use of available cover and good monkey sense will keep you out of a Bastion’s line of sight – you can even hide behind the payload the Bastion is on in some cases. Take care to not get trapped in a situation where a Bastion can deploy from Recon mode into Sentry mode before you can make it to cover. Bastion’s armor and self-heal is hard for Winston to deal with but his brick-like immobility makes it easy for monkey to simply fight somewhere else. Fighting full pirate ships will require your team’s help and in this case Winston’s job is usually cleanup after the initial defenses are broken and the defenders scatter. Bastions are horrible at chasing Winstons, and dying to a Bastion is usually due to weak monkey sense and getting caught off-guard. The situations where Bastion does legitimately counter Winston are situations where Winston is forced to fight on Bastion’s terms, such as Junkertown pirate ships or bunker comps on Numbani Point A. Enemies that stray from Bastions all-seeing gaze are once again easy pickings for an attentive Winston, including any heroes coming back from spawn.
Brigitte can throw a big wrench into your monkey plans. The armor provided by her heals is tough to deal with, her Bash can burn your Jump Pack cooldown just as you use it, and her Whip Shot can knock you away from your targets. However, a Brigitte without armor is very vulnerable to a Winston’s Tesla Cannon as her shield will do nothing to stop it. It’s your job to kill Brigitte when she is low on health as her shield gives her excellent protection from projectiles when wounded. Do not engage a Brigitte’s team if Brigitte is using Rally. Playing Winston into Brigitte requires more patience and care, but dive opportunities are present in every match and you can easily wait until her teammates are softened up before jumping in and spreading your signature brand of chaos.
FIGHTING YOUR NATURAL PREY
The Egyptian grandma is your mind game chess opponent as a smart Ana can often deal with you as easily as you can deal with her, but Winstons that are walking the path of monkey will find Ana to be among the easiest targets to kill as Winston. Ana’s Sleep Dart is very dangerous to Winston as his hitbox is huge and the enemy team will often gladly give you a summary execution before you wake up. The best way to deal with Sleep Dart is to simply predict it and block it with your bubble. This can take borderline psychic ability against a clever Ana but with enough practice on monkey you will develop a strong intuition for when an Ana is going to reach for her sleep dart, and if your reaction time is fast enough (and the Ana is keeping her distance) you can train yourself to react to the animation. Bad Anas will attempt to back up from you while immediately using Sleep Dart on you, but smarter Anas will try to immediately close the distance with you, get under your bubble, and sleep you point-blank. Always hold your bubble for Sleep Dart to bait it out if you can. If an Ana has Sleep Dart, always fight her at maximum range. If an Ana blows her Sleep Dart, she will throw her grenade at her feet and attempt to anti-heal you in the process. This extra health can be tough to get through with your Tesla Cannon and it can buy an Ana enough time to get healed by her second support or saved by a teammate (this is why ammo punches are important). Listening out for an Ana using one of her two cooldowns can ensure the kill. Take care not to get slept in midair as the best Anas will be prepared for your dives – sky bubbling may be the only option here, but just curving your jump may be enough. Sleep Darts can be dodged at medium to long distance and this can allow you to save your bubble for later. Ana is completely reliant on her cooldowns to deal with you and if she makes a habit of blowing them on your team you can exploit this for easy kills throughout the match.
Fighting Mercy can be either as simple as zapping a fly at its easiest, or a journey to cross heaven and hell to end the demon-moth’s life at its hardest. Bad Mercy players are predictable and will Guardian Angel to the target they are currently healing. This can be abused to body block the Mercy while moving into position to intercept her with your Tesla Cannon. Making sure to time your engagements so that Mercy that has no available options for a distant Guardian Angel will result in easy kills, even amid the thickest bunker comps. Good Mercy players will Guardian Angel jump into the sky to avoid you, juke you, and save Valkyrie for when you have her cornered. Learning to finish her HP bar with a punch can be the difference between her escape or killing the moth. Cold engaging is the best way to kill heroes with movement abilities like Genji and Mercy as you can follow them with Jump Pack the moment they try to escape you.
Lucio without his Amp It Up is easy pickings for Winston. His boop can push you out of your bubble and into an enemy Roadhog or Reaper, so beware. If you’re diving a lone Lucio, predict and block his boop with your bubble or else he will knock you out of Tesla Cannon range and escape. The ability to deny his Sound Barrier with your bubble can be a godsend to your team. If a Lucio is stalling an objective, killing him is your solemn monkey duty.
Zenyatta is one of your easiest kills if you can catch him isolated, but his Discord Orb is very dangerous to you if caught outside of your bubble and in the enemy team’s gunsights. Discord Orb and his primary fire can also make very short work of a Primal Raging Winston. Forcing him to use Transcendence at inopportune times should be your main focus, and a Zenyatta with Transcendence should be your number one target even if you can’t secure the kill – it takes a very disciplined Zenyatta to let a Winston whittle him down to nothing and send him back to spawn, and the temptation to press Q can be too much too resist for even veteran Zenyatta players. If all else fails, throwing a bubble down in Transcendence can result in kills for your team as you deny the heals. Zenyatta is also incredibly easy to spawn kill as Winston.
ADVANCED WINSTON TIPS
– Punching enemies to finish them off will lower your overall Time To Kill and is often essential to prevent outhealing.
– Bubbles can be dropped on Minefields to clear them.
– Orisa Superchargers are easy to kill with Tesla Cannon as it goes through shields and body-block attempts.
– If both enemy supports have Ult, farming your Ult by using your Tesla Cannon on large groups is a smart play.
– Your Tesla Cannon will be outhealed by Moira, Ana, and Valkyrie Mercy primary healing.
– Jumping into a pit can save your life if you use Jump Pack to leap back out.
– You can chain-hit multiple enemies with your basic and Primal melee if you swipe your screen while doing it.
– Primal Rage will replenish your armor but you will not regain any armor lost during Ult when transforming back.
– Bubble can completely absorb all damage from a Death Blossom.
– Primal Rage can be used to chase down and kill airborne Pharahs.
– Jumping under a low ceiling can be used to instantly damage an enemy with Jump Pack.
– The best way to deal with supports healing your damage is to chain your Tesla Cannon to multiple targets.
– Jumping behind a Soldier is necessary to kill him as landing in front of him will boop him into his Sprint direction.
– Primal Rage will save you if you are stuck with a Pulse Bomb below half health.
– Forcing Moira to Fade early is a big part of ensuring her eventual demise – you should do this at the beginning of a teamfight.
– Winston pairs best with long-ranged healers like Ana and Zenyatta.
– Crouch sneaking while flanking as Winston is very useful to prevent detection.