Overwatch Winston Strategy Guide
If you prefer to learn things in a video format over text, here’s a link to Everything Below In Under 15 Minutes: https://youtu.be/eI7jzu4W6UM Time stamps are also embedded throughout the scroll bar so you can skip to which bit(s) are important to you!
WINSTON TESLA CANNON
Winston’s Primary Weapon makes him fire an 8 meter ranged tesla cannon, with an area of effect of 6 meters, being able to cleave multiple targets. The cannon deals 60 DPS (Damage Per Second), consuming 20 rounds per second, with a full ammo capacity of 100 rounds.
WINSTON TESLA CANNON TECH USAGE
Utilise 8 Meter Range
- The futher you are away from a certain target, the wider your FOV (Field of view) is. This means that you can make use of your cleave damage much easier the further away you are, whereas if you are up and close to a target, you will often miss any targets to the left and right of you
- You can test this out yourself in the training range by the two bots to your left when you spawn. If you stand in the middle of them then shoot at your max range, you will hit both of the bots. However, if you move closer to them (Still staying the middle) you will eventually not be able to hit either of the bots.
- This is actually why you may feel in game that aiming Winston’s tesla cannon up close and personal is actually harder than you think, because you’re not making use of the 6 meter AoE cleave.
- Not to mention that the closer you are to the enemy, the typically closer you are to danger, and the further you are away from escape. Whilst in close range, you can have benefits such as weaving in and out of more Reaper shots without your shield (Since the closer you are, the more exaggerated your movements are) when attempting to cleave multiple enemies, and especially when posturing around tanks, you want to keep at your maximum range
Maximising 100 Ammo Capacity
- Especially against armoured targets, you want to weave in your melee with your tesla cannon as the armour decreases the damage from tesla’s cannon by 20% (Hence he does 48 DPS now instead of 60).
- Note that this DOES NOT increase DPS, but it INCREASES Damage over time (Since you need to reload less often, you will deal more damage over a set period of time, but the damage per second dealt does not increase)
Focusing Squishies Vs Focusing Tanks
- Generally, the higher you climb, the more you want to focus tanks over squishy targets
- There’s a few reasons for this: In lower ranks, there is worse positioning hence you can easily punish that with decent cooldown management from your jump pack. Secondly, the enemy team will actually be more coordinated (Atleast subconsciously) to focus down whatever threat is causing them from winning the game OR swap off to characters that allow them to do that. And lastly, the whole point of focusing tanks is to gain primal ASAP, and as you climb, the more emphasis will be placed upon how to use primal well that will separate Good to Great to Amazing Winstons (Mainly due to mechanical execution which is very hard to pull off consistently)
- I’ll elaborate on this more in the ‘POSITIONING/PLAYSTYLE‘ section of the guide due to your team composition influencing how you play.
WINSTON JUMP PACK
This launches Winston at an initial speed of 30 m/s, dealing 1 damage when you jump (Alongside a bit of knockback as well) and up to 50 damage when you land (Despite people like Jayne having constantly said in past VOD reviews that it deals 45 damage, it deals 50, you just need to be within the 1 meter range which is very tough to pull off).
WINSTON JUMP PACK USAGE
Jump Pack + Melee Combo
- This is probably the most known piece of Winston tech that’s been in the game from the very start. If you still don’t know this, simply melee before you land as the landing animation cancels your melee animation, dealing up to 80 damage (30 from the melee, 50 from the jump pack)
- However, due to the severe fall off from Winston’s jump pack landing damage, unless you goomba stomp someone, you’ll most likely be doing 60-70 damage
- In order to help you practice these jumps, just go into a custom game with a bunch of Ana or McCree bots at 35% HP (Workshop Expanse May be the best map for this) to practice your combo, which should oneshot 70HP Squishies. You can also attempt this on Tracer/Genji who have a slightly faster standard speed of 6m/s instead of 5.5m/s
- Also note that this is to increase to damage over time but DPS – I say this because there’s actually a small delay before you can start shooting after you perform this tech (The delay coming from the melee animation)
Knockback + Mobility
- You can increase the distance you travel by simply pressing your jump key after you land, performing a little skip
- The distance you travel during this skip is directly proportional to the horizontal velocity you are travelling (IE If you do a mid jump or low jump forward and simultaneously Press W, you will travel further than just jumping up in the air vertically, then performing the skip)
- You can also utilise the knockback when you land to block off route of retreats, which is done by jumping behind a target who is trying to escape. This is particularly useful against Solider and McCree, who’s natural instinct will be to run the other way; In which you can easily knock them back a bit.
- There is also a little bit of knockback when you jump (it also deals 1 damage for some reason…)
Minimum Take Off Angle
- If you look downwards, no matter if you look downwards, you will always take off from the ground at a low angle (IE There is guaranteed vertical velocity, you won’t just travel in a straight line, and the minimum take off angle is roughly 20 degrees)
- This also means that you can’t jump through doorways (Keys places being Eichenwalde 2nd Point Attack castle, Kings Row Hotel First Point Attack, and on other Hybrid/Escort Maps in general
- This also means that when you are going against a Dive Comp, you want to place your supports on the other side of doorways to prevent their monkey from jumping through the doorway. Here’s a realistic example of this: You’re running a Brawl Comp against a Dive Comp on Nepal Shrine, and the dive Comp have control of the point. There’s three main ways you can path: By the Elephant, Straight through main, or by the left side by the Mega (Underneath the Highground). You ideally want to path left side, as you can place your supports on the other side of the small arch/doorway or by the back side doorway
- Whilst niche, you can jump to slide yourself across slanted Surfaces and roofs to decrease your jump cooldown when landing
- The most prime examples would be on Dorado 3rd Point Defense/Offense, Hollywood First Point Defense, and Busan Sanctuary (Sliding across edged roofs in the middle of the point)
- I advise doing this if you are unscouted as the extra two or even three seconds you save on your jump pack, is spent in the air, defenseless – Hence if you are scouted, the enemy can easily focus you if you’re just sliding down slowly across slanted roofs.
- 1.5 Years Ago, KarQ Made a Great Video explaining the mechanical principles of Winston’s Primal Rage alongside how to control your jump pack. He noted of ‘Late’ and ‘Early’ Inputs.
- Late Inputs is where you use your directional keys mid-air when you jump, and an ‘Early Input,’ is using your directional keys before you use your jump pack. Early inputs have a much more significant effect upon your movement compared to late inputs, and there is a bunch of combinations (in terms of directional keys) you can do to make sure you land as close to the enemy as possible to gain the maximum landing damage possible
- The most important directional key is your ‘S’ Key or downwards on your thumbstick for controller players. Using this information and the above, doing an early input ‘S’ jump whilst looking downwards will yield a very small jump of around 6-8 meters (Which is possibly the most important jump to get down especially in primal when attempting to juggle a singular target)
- However, Winston can jump as far as 25 to 30 meters – In a VOD Review of a Master Main Tank Player, Jayne advised Winston Players to go into the courtyard of Lijang Night Market, to then practice your jumps to land on your spray.
Vertical Vs Horizontal Jumps
- These are the two main types of jumps (With Low and Mid Jumps as subcategories to Horizontal Jumps)
- Vertical Jumps are essentially jumping as high as you can to then aim your jump to land on people’s heads to get a burst of 70/80 damage, which is much easier to do than any type of Horizontal Jump because you have less time to air strafe in the air to accurately land on an enemy
- I urge you to practice the horizontal jumps as mentioned prior instead of jumping as high as you can to then land on someone since it takes longer, meaning that you’ll do less damage over time, the vertical jump is more telegraphed hence an enemy can save a cooldown to dodge or stun your jump
Engaging Vs Escaping
- A basic but vital principle that many Winston’s still violate is using their jump to engage on an enemy instead of sneaking, walking or dropping (From Highground) to that target (E.G. Dropping from Highground on Hollywood 2nd Point Defense)
- This is simply because it can be very easy to burst down/stun a Winston before he gets the jump pack again, and just by doing the above, you can save your jump to escape
- There are however some exceptions to this rule. For example, if you have a guaranteed route of retreat such as dropping off highground (Mainly on Numbani 1st Point Attack; It is often worth using your jump down main on the backline top right by point, as you can easily drop off to point, and apply objective pressure from there on whilst simultaneously in cover).
- You can also save your jump to not escape, but pursue a kill. A common example would be dropping on a Mercy on Genji, then you wait for them to use their Guardian Angel/Dash respectively, then you use your jump to pursue after them. With mercy in this case, I’d try and stand in between the target she’s beaming as you know roughly where she will guardian angel to, then track her midway through her G.A. animation, then jump after her if needed
- Another exception would be setting up a crossfire. For example, when running Hackfist Winston D.Va dive, you will have a kill box set up, with your Sombra calling WHEN to dive, your Doom set up on highground, and you and D.Va set adjacent/opposite to your Doomfist, alongside your main support on point, applying a potential 3 or 4 way crossfire on a single target.
- A perfect example of this would be on Nepal Shrine where you have control of point, and the kill box is set up just in front of the statue in main.
- A (Somewhat) exception would be running counter dive, which I’ll get into latter sections
TLDR; Use Jump Mainly For Mobility with two subcategories => Escape and Pursuit. You can also use it for damage which can be done with the ‘Jump Melee’ Animation Cancel, and occasionally utilise your knockback to block off route of retreats for the enemy. (I don’t often to TLDR’s but I feel that it’s appropriate in this case)
WINSTON PROJECTED BARRIER
This makes Winston project a shield dome with a 5 meter radius, 700 health, lasting 9 seconds with a 13 second cooldown.
WINSTON PROJECTED BARRIER + TECH USAGE
- You can animation cancel placing your dome with your melee (Slower to melee after you dome is deployed rather than before)
- You can also cancel your reload animation although the delay still goes through so you’ll just be standing there being unable to fire for a second or so (Hence I hedge against doing this)
Blocking Cooldowns > Damage
- This is the most important piece of general playstyle advice; Winston’s bubble is not designed to block large sums of damage so don’t place it on payload or in a choke (Despite it having more HP than an Orisa shield)
- Instead, you ideally want to block Ana’s Sleep, Nade, Hog’s Hook, Brig’s Bash, McCree’s Flashbang, which can then all make space for your DPS to have their damage stick to their enemies (When I say ‘stick,’ I essentially mean that Winston’s Tesla Cannon denies/breaks even any healing applied, from Brig’s Repair Pack or Mercy’s Beam, hence any damage from your DPS can’t be healed by the enemy as long as you are using your tesla cannon)
- You also want to try and bubble as late as possible against enemies who have their stuns on cooldown, or don’t have a stun at all. This will allow you to chase further without being punished as harshly since you don’t have to walk out of bubble earlier than you’d normally would. In combination with your jump skip, you can go quite the extra distance without This can be punished by heroes w/ stuns since they can easily stun you mid air, or when you land
- As an exception/side note, there are times where you may want to use your bubble to block both cooldowns and damage. For example, if your Genji engages with Nanoblade (or even with just the regular blade) you can jump in as aggressively as possible to absorb as many cooldowns, stuns, CC, even ultimates (where their Sigma may want to Solo Flux you) as possible; (This may be controversial) But even if you die, that shouldn’t matter because your win condition is Nanoblade; Not keeping the Winston alive.
- It’s a similar line of reasoning to why back in the 2019 Stage 3 OWL Finals, Shanghai Dragons’ mercy always flew in front of their Pharah during barrage to almost tank 100 HP worth of damage because the win condition is getting the barrage voiceline to finish rather than keeping the Mercy alive. Overwatch has changed a lot since then (Especially with damage creep and discussion revolving around why Face tanking simply isn’t viable anymore) but I still feel that the principle can still apply in situations where your win condition is extremely powerful.
- This is simply weaving on either side/the opposite side that the enemy is on from any edge of your bubble
- There’s almost no reason to not do this especially when drop engaging on the backline
Map Control/Holding Space
- Take a look at this image here – In essence, it is showing the difference in map control if you decide to take and hold the highground on Ilios Ruins (The Highground with the Mega Healthpack Below it, as is on the coast of the map)
- This highground not only allows you to freely drop on the enemy team when they path through main or coast, but can also deny any push/make it risky through the right side.
- What does this have to do with your bubble? Well, some Winstons would actually give that space up when contested by a D.Va or even against a pocketed DPS; Without using their bubble or any cooldown.
- Whilst it may sound ideal to save your cooldowns for later on, the space is more important than your bubble, which can deny D.Va’s Micro Missles or Fusion Cannons which shred through your health pool. There is also a gap at the back end of the highground to retreat if needed, but can actually provide L.O.S. (line of sight) for your Ana or Bap to Heal you from relative safety (Or to even pocket you).
- With this, you can force whoever contests you to retreat and escape, which means that they can’t push in since they have to wait for their own resources before engaging; And by the time your bubble is coming back online, you can drop engage on their backline, and jump out if in danger.
Bubbling In-Between Fights
- If you’re familiar with my Zarya guide, you’ll know that bubbling between the end of a teamfight and the start of the next one (Specifically 10 seconds before the next one starts) is key to retaining energy
- In a similar way, you can use your barrier 13 seconds before the teamfight to chase down any kills (For example, a High Charged Zarya retreating on Nepal Sanctum) as you don’t have to travel very far, and your bubble will be back up off cooldown before the next fight begins
Blocking Off Healing
- Whilst niche, you can use your bubble in a Grav to cut off healing from a Transcendence or prevent a teammate from getting beat
- The Shock (Specifically Smurf) Did this against the Vancouver Titans (The New Record For the Fastest Game in OWL) on Hanamura 1st Point Defense.
- In order to do this, the zen/lucio must be on the other side of the bubble to block L.O.S.
WINSTON PRIMAL RAGE
This makes Winston refresh his health pool to 1000 (900 Health, 100 Armour) with a 30% increase in movement speed, dealing out melee attacks that do 40 damage a piece, with a 4 meter hit box, being able to swing every 0.66 seconds, with a duration of 10 seconds. Note that the jump pack cooldown goes down from 6 seconds to 2, and if you finish primal rage with more than 400 health, your normal health goes to 400. If you also finish primal rage with some armour left over, that will also be transferred (IE 950 Health in Primal, will turn into 450 Health after as you 50 armour left over from primal).
WINSTON PRIMAL RAGE TECH + USAGE
Whilst this isn’t a conceptually difficult piece of kit to get your head around, the execution to pull off some of the key combos consistently is not only amazing game design, but one of the highest skill cap trade marks in the game.
Hitbox x Interactions
- Your jump cooldown is refreshed when you use primal, meaning that you can travel as far as a Reinhardt’s pin but in the fraction of the time.
- Your jump cooldown is refreshed when exiting primal. Keep an Eye on Winston’s in OWL; You’ll see a bunch of them engage at the very end of their primal because they know that they have a guaranteed escape as their jump is refreshed.
- Considering the hitbox, similar to Reinhardt’s Hammer, turn your camera in the direction that Winston swings his fists to extend the size of the hitbox to make it larger than it already is. On console, this can be hard to do whilst simultaneously landing your jump perfectly, and adding ontop of this, you need to time the swings so that you don’t boop them away from your landing damage – Hence I’d increase sensitivity drastically unless you don’t find this as a major problem.
- You can also easily jump over your enemy (Due to the 30% increased movement speed) so in order to fix this, just simply look downwards when you swing to smack the enemy in front of you.
- JUMP then TESLA enemy (15-20 Damage)
- LAND + MELEE Animation Cancel (50-70 Damage)
- PRIMAL + SCHMACK (40 Damage)
- JUMP then SCHMACK Mid-Air (40 Damage)
- LAND (30-40 Damage)
- SCHMACK (40 Damage)
- REPEAT Steps 4 Through 6 If Not Dead
Total Estimate: 215 – 250 Damage (If You really are accurate, you could land the full 80 Damage in the Land + Melee Cancel, and oneshot a Mei)
N.B. For Step 4. note that I’m NOT saying to START the smack animation mid air, but you need to HIT that smack mid air. The reason why is because if you smack too late, by the time you land, you won’t be in range to land your 3rd Smack; The Landing damage may also not even apply as well. Of course, look down whilst smacking as well for the hitbox tip for the 2nd smack.
Triple Melee Combo
- START Smack Animation
- JUMP then SCHMACK Mid Air/Close to Landing
- LAND then SCHMACK
N.B. This is mainly used to displace enemies rather than to one shot them
When focusing down a single target, you’ll often want them in a corner as they’re easier to hit and focus, as well as you spending less time worried about movement.
- Continuously Swing to utilise the knockback from your fists
- Swing In Front of them so you don’t accidentally boop them out of the corner if you jump into them
- You ideally want to use your jump off cooldown to gain the extra damage
- Building on the above, you want to short jump in front of them as this is the least amount of distance you can travel whilst still keeping your distance, alongside holding down your ‘S’ key every time you jump to maintain the distance
Jeopardising Backline L.O.S.
- In terms of Primal’s Usage, directing healing resources away from the frontline and into the supports themselves is certainly viable; With the goal of distraction rather than lethality (Especially considering how many abilities such as Sleep, Nade, Lamp, Harmony, Amp, Mercy Beam, Bash, Repair Pack etc. that can peel a teammate to prevent you doing damage)
- However, you’d want to communicate this to your team to push up and focus tanks as they shouldn’t be receiving healing for some time
- Similar with jumping in then bubbling aggressively to absorb any sort of damage or stun that can prevent your win condition, you can force out lengthy cooldowns such as Lamp, Sleep, Nade, or even Resurrect in some cases (Alongside Forcing out Zen Transcendence) that could prevent your win condition (Commonly Nanoblade, but not exclusive to Shatter, Grav, Amp Matrix etc.)
- You could then call out which cooldowns have been used, then your Genji can make an informed decision whether to call for the nano or not (If he’s indecisive, use Imperatives/Orders and make the decision for him)
- Primal can be used to stall as long as possible to either force out enemy utility for the next fight, to buy time for your team to get the extra 10-30% in ult charge to swing the fight, or both
- Key Places to do this would be on Kings Row 2nd Point Defense at the very end, or instead of Kings Row, Gibraltar. If you haven’t got primal (20-30 off) I’d definitely call for your Ana/Moira/Mercy to just pocket you, then use primal as a set up to get ultimates such as Grav online to then use that as your win condition – It’s why Nanoboosting Winston when he’s 20/30 off Primal is extremely powerful because of how many resources the enemy have to pour into just killing 1 target with crazy high amounts of knockback
Bubble Before Primal
- While niche (Niche since you would have used your bubble to engage, then if you get low, you could always primal to get the refresh of 1000 HP) if you are planning to go aggressive, you could drop your bubble as deep as possible, to then primal to block any stuns that could stop your combo
- I would typically hedge against doing this since you’re not making use of the refreshed HP pool, and you may have killed that target by just your Tesla cannon anyway, but if you’re planning to use primal, there’s no harm in dropping a bubble before you primal
N.B. When you actually press Q/Triangle/Y to go Primal, it doesn’t activate Primal immediately. What I mean by this is that the audio queue of Winston shouting plays before you actually get the HP refresh, so what ends up happening is: You use your ultimate at 10HP, but because of the slight delay in HP Refresh, you still get the audio queue but you die anyway. You don’t lose the ultimate, but this delay can be annoying, hence I recommend using Primal a slight bit earlier than normal for this not to happen.
This mainly depends upon your team composition unlike some other characters, as this will be determining whether your target priority, your win condition, and how fast you play.
- When running long range, high damage DPS characters such as Pharah, Hanzo or Widowmaker (This’ll be in the context of both teams running Winston D.Va mirrors) you want to be playing much slower, posturing around the tanks to gain primal as fast as possible, because their tanks simply can’t exist with the high amount of damage you have.
- This is a key component in counterdive, where as Winston, you want to be poking down their tanks (WITHOUT using cooldowns) to prevent them from being able to dive your backline. If they do, you can then use your abilities (Jump Pack, Bubble) to prevent as much follow up as possible
- Whilst it may sound difficult to not use cooldowns, you ideally want to run Ana Mercy (Mercy for the Pharah/To Enable DPS) as the Ana gives a clear target for the opponent to dive, whilst providing a high amount of healing in the Poke Phase Against Lucio Mercy or even Brig Mercy in some cases
- However, when running a dive DPS duo, you want to stage your dive with as little poke phase as possible. I’ve already mentioned setting up killboxes with Hack Fist but specifically in that case, you’ll be wanting to utilise your cleave burst damage to kill any squishy target.
- For further details on the ins and outs of Hackfist, I recommend taking a look at Jayne coach Contenders Trials Team ‘Incipience’ at Hanamura and Nepal
WINSTON TANK SYNERGIES
Winston Zarya: This is definitely an underrated combo, as Winston is guaranteed to take damage during a dive. Make sure to call for your Zarya to push up when you create space to be able to retain it over time. Both of your weapons are also beam damage, meaning that this is on paper, a good duo against Diva (Especially an overtly aggressive one taking too much unnecessary damage).
Winston Sigma: Whilst this duo has no direct synergy in terms of ultimates and abilities, you have good coverage of the high and low ground. However, perhaps Reinhardt is a better pick than Sigma in order to be more aggressive whenever you dive in on the backline, and Sigma may be left vulnerable if you decide to posture around tanks.
Winston Reinhardt: This has a slightly better synergy than the previous combo due to the Winston barrier being used to block important cooldowns such as Nade, which can prevent your Reinhardt from being aggressive, although target priority and playstyle pace may differ.
Winston Orisa: Whilst you can combo your jump pack with Orissa’s halt, there are much more efficient combos, alongside your inability to dive the backline without feeding due to Orissa’s static nature. Soft flanks and soft engages are by far your best bet, but if you are forced to poke down tanks, Sigma may be the better pick.
Winston Hog: This is the worst duo for Winston due to the little synergy that both of them have. Ball Hog would be much better due to each tank being able to survive on their own, whereas you’d be constantly stuck in the poke phase as Winston as your hardly have any frontline support.
Winston Ball: This is the most aggressive dive due to Ball’s pile driver burst alongside your jump pack melee burst. However, there is nothing to stop you from taking damage, and if the enemy team have many stuns alongside the ability to kite on a wide map such as Junkertown, you will most likely feed.
Winston Diva: Best for last. This way, you have some safety during your dive, alongside the versatility to posture and poke against both tanks better than Winston ball in case you want to play a slow dive.