Overwatch Competitive Play: 25 Things You Must Know To Play Like A Pro

overwatch competitive
Are you the Tracer your team needs?

Have you ever wondered what the Pros do to excel at Overwatch Competitive? 

Have you ever wanted to belong to the holy grail of high level players? I’ll tell you exactly what you need to know to play like a pro.

So you’ve been playing Overwatch for a while now and, finally, you’ve reached level 25. Now is where the real fight begins.

Competitive play is no joke (although sometimes it might feel like it). Whether you’re an experienced player or someone that just got their feet into Overwatch waters for the first time, I’m going to tell you 25 things you need to know if you want to play like a pro. 

How Overwatch Competitive Works


The first step to playing competitive is understanding and getting the placement matches done. Now, as we all know, the Overwatch matching system is done by Meta, not by the player’s level.

What this means, in short, is that you’ll be teamed up with players that play as good as you and not with the ones that are on the same Experience (XP) level as you. For example, you may not be teamed up with a person that is level 25, instead, you might be teamed up with someone who is level 140, simply based on their meta. The Experience level (XP) is not important in this case.

This is why playing two or three casual games before competitive is very important, especially in the placement period. By playing these casual games, your meta will be defined, making the game set the matches with people that are playing as well as you are.

  • Play 2 to 3 casual matches before going to the placement matches

Also, it’s good to know that the placement matches are what’s going to determine your rank level and your Skill Rating (SR). Each season you will get to play 10 placement matches, with these determining your SR, taking in consideration the victories and the individual performance, amongst other parameters.

The SR levels go from 1 to 5000, meaning the higher the number, the better you are. 

  • Bronze:  1-1499
  • Silver: 1500-1999
  • Gold: 2000-2499
  • Platinum: 2500-2999
  • Diamond: 3000-3499            
  • Master: 3500-3999
  • Grandmaster: 4000+
  • Top 500: Amongst the 500 best of the region (Regardless of tier) 

2. Seasons 

It’s important to understand how competitive works and when it happens. Competitive mode is divided into segments, called seasons.

Seasons happen every three months, mirroring earth’s seasons (think winter, summer, etc). When a season ends, your rank will be reset and you won’t be able to play competitive with a rank (this is called off-season).

Once the newest season starts, you’ll have to do the placement matches again.

3. Requirements 

The only requirement the competitive mode has is that you need to reach level 25 in order to play competitive.

However, if you want to play competitive with a friend or in a group, there are some restrictions that you need to be aware of:

  • Players that are doing their placement matches cannot group up with other players that are already in Diamond tier (3000 SR-3499 SR) or above.
  • Players who are in Diamond tier and below cannot group up with other players that have a rating difference of more than 1000.
  • Players who are in Master and Grandmaster tiers cannot group up with other players that have a rating difference of more than 500. 

4. Rating Decay

The rating decay is based on losses, so, if you lose a match, your rating will decay, however, it’s not exactly the same for Diamond, Masters or Grandmasters tiers.

Here’s how the rating decay works for those three tiers:

  • Those players are asked to play a minimum of 7 matches within 168 hours (which is 7 days).
  • There is a timer for the rating decay to occur, however, after finishing one match within those 168 hours, the timer will be pushed up 24 hours.
  • Players can only raise a maximum of 168 hours into the timer, meaning that their rating won’t decay, unless the 168 hours is depleted.
  • The timer is displayed in the competitive information menu and, the initial time that is banked in the timer depends on the previous matches played.
  • The timer can range from 24 hours to 168 hours.
  • If the hours in the timer are depleted, the player will suffer the rating decay immediately, losing 50 SR. This means that every 24 hours (until the player raises more hours into the timer) they will lose another 50 SR and so on.
  • As soon as the player completes a competitive match, the timer will be pushed up 24 hours.
  • The decay stops as soon as the player completes a competitive match, raising 24 hours into the timer or if the skill rating drops to 3000 SR (Diamond tier). This means that as long as you are in Master or Grandmaster and, considering you are in the Top 500 players of your region, you will only be eliminated from the Top 500 if you drop back to 3000 SR.

5. The top 500 “Gods”

These players are the best of the best in their region and, if you are reading this, then you want to be in this place too. Here’s how the top 500 works: 

  • These regions are Global (The Top 500 players in the world), United States (Top 500 players of the United States), Europe (Top 500 players of Europe), Korea (Top 500 players of Korea) and China (Top 500 players of China)
  • Once the player reaches the Top 500 tier, they get a special icon that will instantly replace their older icon


  • In order to get to the Top 500 tier, the player will need to win at least 50 competitive matches
  • If the player gets a skill rating decay, bringing the player to 3000 SR or below, they will immediately be eliminated from that tier

6. Rewards 

What would be the point of playing competitive (besides the glory) if there wasn’t any juicy rewards waiting for us? Here’s the rewards and how they work. 

  • Match: These are the rewards you get with each match. For each match won you get 10 competitive points (which can be used to purchase golden guns) and, for each match drawn you get 3 competitive points.
  • Final Rewards: These are the rewards that you get at the end of the season. Whether you’re stuck on bronze or you’re high up in grandmaster, just for completing your placement matches you get a Player Icon and a Spray that matches that said season.  

7. Penalties 

It’s good to notice that the penalties are a lot more severe than in casual mode (as they should be) so, if you’re a frequent leaver, be warned!

Here’s how it works: 

  • Players that leave the match will receive a loss from that match, having their skill rating decreased and receiving a 10 minute penalty (meaning they cannot join another competitive match until those 10 minutes have passed).
  • If the player continuously leaves matches, they will get more restrictions in the future, meaning they won’t be able to join competitive matches for a bigger amount of time or, it can also ultimately, result in competitive match ban for that particular season.
  • When the player becomes inactive or leaves the match, the spot will not be filled by someone else, leaving the team with an empty spot which, by itself, is a very big disadvantage.
  • Contrary to the previous point, however, if a player becomes inactive (which will lead to be removed from the match) or leaves the game within the first two minutes of the start of the match, that said match will be cancelled. 

Moral of the story, don’t be a leaver, you’re leaving your teammates to die.

8. Graphics Optimization 

Now that you know the insides of the competitive system, it’s time to actually start doing what you can to be the best at it and, as the title suggests, to play competitive like the pros do.

Let’s start with game optimization.

Overwatch is a graphically beautiful game, with breathtaking scenery and stunningly crafted textures, however, it’s still a First Person Shooter and, therefore, you need the best performance you can get, especially when it comes to competitive.

It may seem like this is not important but, effectively, it is. Having great FPS (frames per second) will give you an advantage over the enemy (the higher your FPS, the better). Here’s what you can do to get the best performance out of your hardware. 

  • Lower the video settings (this can be found in Options > Video)
  • Play your game in Fullscreen and not Windowed mode
  • Choose the right resolution for your screen and the highest refresh rate your monitor can handle
  • Field Of View: Always set it up to a point where you can see the most on your screen (set it to 103)
  • Lower the advanced graphical quality settings (as much as you practically can)

9. PING & Connection Stability

This is one of the points that we (players) don’t have much control over, however, if we can counter it, we can have a significant advantage over the enemy team.

PING is the amount of time it takes for your computer to communicate with the host server, meaning that if your PING is high, you will get lag and, sometimes, you may not even hit the enemy even though you thought you did.

This all depends on your internet connection, so, here are some of the things you can do to boost up your internet performance:

  • Use an Ethernet Cable: having a cable connecting your Computer directly to your Router can significantly boost the speed and stability of your connection.
  • Play around with your router options (always, however, consider the optimal settings from your internet service provider), specifying DNS servers to your computer for example. 
  • Switch to a different internet service: this, of course, is the ultimate step. If there’s a better internet service in your area, then you should try it 

10. Mouse

The mouse is one of the most important things when it comes to playing competitive. It’s good to have the right mouse for you and the one that feels right in your hand. 

  • Play with your favourite mouse or get one that you can handle better
  • Change your mouse sensitivity levels: make it so you can do a 360 turn without having to break your hand.
  • Turn off mouse acceleration: It only makes your mouse movements inconsistent.

11. Headset 

Having a good headset is key to a great performance because, in Overwatch, paying careful attention to the sound can make for great predictions. For example, hearing enemy footsteps can determine where they are and how close they are from you.

  • Get 2.1 Headphones
  • Get Headphones or Headsets that support surround and 3d sound

12. Keyboard

The keyboard is also a very important feature in gaming, being the king that controls movement. In this department it really all depends on what feels good to you and most comfortable. It’s all on you, if you feel more comfortable with a mechanical keyboard or a rubber dome one.

13. Mindset

Now that we have all of the gear ready and optimized to go, we need to work on our mindset.

It may not seem like it does much but, it does a lot. Having a good mindset and setting your mind to win and believing in your skills will do you great.

Just try and think positive. Thinking that you will win will always make you (subconsciously) work harder and better for that said goal. Also, don’t be discouraged if you lose, because the next game can always go better. 

14. Developing Your Aim and Accuracy 

The accuracy of your aim is, obviously, a key factor to winning.

When it comes to competitive, it’s always good to have a good aim skill, in order to lead the team to victory. This, unfortunately, is one of the things that can only be achieved by practice, a lot of it!

You need to build some muscle memory in order to develop a habit for aiming quickly and precisely on the enemy. Here are some tips on how to do so:

  • Use the Practice Range: The practice range has all kinds of targets. It has targets that are sitting still and targets that move. Practicing your aim on those can help develop your accuracy
  • Start with the still targets: Try to first shoot the targets that are not moving, until you reach the point where you can successfully shoot them. Then, once that step is done, start moving around and try to shoot those same targets. Keep doing this until you can go for the moving targets.
  • Shoot the moving targets: After you mastered shooting still targets, you should go for the moving ones. Start by shooting them while you’re not moving and, then, once that is successful, start moving with those targets and master that as well.
  • Develop a standard mouse position: create a mouse position that will enable you to always go back to. For example, my standard mouse position would be where the enemy’s head normally is, so it’s a bit higher up than normal so I can get headshots easily.
  • Develop a hand movement pattern: This is the most commonly technique you will see in all pro players. They all have some sort of hand movement pattern that connects directly to the standard mouse position. In a simple way to describe this would be to shoot the enemy and then go back to your standard mouse position, creating this pattern that will loop each time there’s a kill, almost like resetting your hand.  

15. Your Class

So, we all know it is terrible, for someone that is playing a team based game, to have a main. It’s not good to only have one hero that you’re good at. Having that said, however, it is good to master a hero in each class. I say this because, later on I will tell you about the importance of sacrifice and, if you already mastered a hero in each class, everything will go a lot smoother. 

  • Your Best Heroes: Know what your best heroes are and always go for those (unless something else is needed). Competitive is not the time to experiment with heroes that you have no experience with.
  • Master a hero for every class: Most likely, there will come a time where you won’t be able to play your favourite hero, where you will need to play a class that is required more than the one you like playing, to avoid any disasters, master a hero in every class (tank, offence, defence, support).

16. Communication 

This is one of those things that (unfortunately) a lot of people playing in competitive don’t do, which is effective communication. It is fundamental that you communicate with your team.

Here’s a few things communication can help you with: 

  • Combining ultimate abilities: Communicating when your ultimate is ready can open possibilities to combine that said ultimate with the teammate’s ultimate, which would make for a very deadly strike
  • Strategy Points: Talking to each other as to where everyone is going is a great strategy, to disperse your team in the right spots
  • Warnings: Say, maybe you were killed by someone and you know your teammate is close to that place, warning your teammate may spare his life
  • I need healing: It’s always better to hear it from a real human voice than from Genji

17. Team Formation

Let’s start with the basics, team formation. It is crucial that you have certain classes in your team in order to counter the enemy. What you will see (that a lot of pros do) is the “2-2-2” scheme. What does the 2-2-2 scheme mean?

I remember the first time I saw it in the chat, I had no idea what the hell they were talking about, until someone explained that it means two players for each class. With this I mean 2 tanks, 2 healers and 2 offense or defence heroes.

The reason why this scheme is so important is because the enemy team, most likely, will follow the same exact scheme so, if you didn’t follow that as well, you’d most likely be underpowered. Here’s an example of a good team composition:

  • Reinhardt, Winston (2 Tanks)
  • Pharah, Reaper (2 Offense)/ Junkrat, Mei (2 Defence)
  • Mercy, Lucio (2 Support)

18. Sacrifice

No, I’m not talking about sacrificing a creature to an almighty god, I’m talking about sacrificing yourself! Ok, all jokes aside, I just mean picking someone that may not be your main. 

  • If the team has excess heroes in one class, take initiative and switch to one that is lacking. 

19. Strategy

This is also where the communication comes in. While waiting to go out to battle, it is always nice to talk to your teammates and discuss a strategy. You can:

  • Discuss with your teammates what you plan on doing.
  • Discuss with your teammates what one of the teammates should be doing.
  • Discuss with your teammates who should focus on who. 

20. Positioning

Positioning does not necessarily need to be planned with your team, however, there are some instances when it needs to. It can really save a match if all the heroes are positioned correctly and strategically considering their roles, the map and the enemies themselves. Here’s what you should do:

  • Plan your position ahead: Considering that you probably already had played in the map you’re playing in, as soon as you see the loading screen for that match, start thinking of the best position places that will get you an advantage over the enemy team.
  • Plan your position considering your hero’s class: Here’s something that is very important, you should always consider your hero’s class when you position yourself in the battleground. For example, Widowmaker being a sniper, should never be in the middle of the battle. She should always stay behind, hidden or on the top levels. This serves as an example.
  • Ask your teammates for advice: If this is the season you chose to master a class or hero that you’ve never mastered before and you have no idea where you should be positioned, don’t be afraid to ask. Communicating your doubts will surely help the team achieve victory.
  • Ask your teammates for their position: In order to get a better understanding on how the battleground will play out, ask your teammates where they plan to position or go to beforehand. This will not only help you with forming a more cohesive strategy but, it will also help you decide where you should position yourself. 

21. Protect Your Support

This is often an overlooked strategy. Supports are very important for the team, whether they heal or not. Being that they may not be able to defend themselves because they are so focused on healing you or placing turrets, you should protect them, otherwise, your healing or turrets will be gone in no time. 

  • If you see someone directly targeting your support, go to their aid.
  • Always be mindful of where your support is and where she is going.
  • If they ask you for help, help them.
  • Acknowledge that they are there to help you (or better yet, support you) and that they play a very important role in the match. 

22. Use The Map Strategically 

This has a hint of what I said in the placement point, however, in this one, I talk about the movement. Using the map strategically, to your advantage will help you and your team a lot!

  • Use shortcuts whenever you can: Most likely the other team will be using the main ways to get to the point or they’ll be too focused on your main ways to get to the point, which means that they’ll forget to check the shortcuts, which is where you come in. Use as much of the shortcuts as you can, not only are they a faster way to get to the point but, also, a more discreet way.
  • Know the objects and the places you can hide behind: This is particularly helpful if D.VA drops her ultimate in the middle of the point or if you hear Junkrat’s RIP tire.
  • Know the least common spots that players use in each map, leading you to drop a surprise on the enemy team, when they least expect it. 

23. Be Aware Of The Hitboxes

The hitboxes in Overwatch are fairly big compared to other First Person Shooters so, having that in mind, it can really help you out in timing your aim for kills. 

  • Know the sizes: Some heroes’ hitboxes are bigger than others, however, all of them are fairly big. Having an idea of the size of each heroes’ hitboxes can really help you out and, even better, calm your aiming anxiety down, boosting your confidence and performance.
  • Know that your aiming doesn’t have to be perfect: Of course, having a good aim will grant you a lot of advantage points but, it’s also good to know that, since the hitboxes are so big, you can aim a little bit to the right or a little bit to the left and you can still hit the enemy. Don’t feel too pressured to aim perfectly on the enemy. 

24. Sacrifice Yourself To The Enemy Team

Yes, I know how this sounds. Aren’t you supposed to be killing and not letting yourself be killed? Yes, that is the main purpose but, there are some situations where giving yourself to the enemy team might give your team an advantage. 

  • Distract them: Maybe your team is trying really hard to get the point and you notice that two or three of your enemies are focusing solely on you. You can use this to your team’s advantage! Try and make those enemies (that are focusing only on you) to run after you. Make them follow you and desire your blood, which will give time and an advantage for your team.
  • Let your blood be spilled for the sake of time: Here’s the one most people don’t remember and should – Dying in a videogame is ok. With that said, obviously, it’s not always the best, most of the time it’s not the best, however, when you’re the only teammate left alive in the point, you should stay there, even though, eventually, it will lead to your blood being scattered around the point. This will buy your teammates some time to respawn and get back to the point, creating winning opportunities.


This is one of the most important points of all. In order to not only play like a pro, but also to win like a pro. Don’t be toxic. I’m sure there might be someone that is playing horribly in your team but, in no circumstance, should you throw hate on that person or rage because of them. Always remain calm and always try to boost your teammates’ confidence, praising them for the good they are doing.

What toxic people don’t understand (or maybe they do and they’re just trolling) is that, when they’re toxic, they will decrease their teammates morale, which can cause disaster. Those affected teammates may give up on trying to win the game, they may even throw the game(term used to describe someone that purposely tries to lose), when they become discouraged, angry, etc…

The most important thing to have in mind here is, no matter how mad you are at your Mercy or how annoyed you are at your Genji’s cry for healing, you should never become a toxic player.

Talk to your team members with respect and maturity, and work towards winning.

There you go! Now you’re ready to play in competitive Overwatch like a pro and, hopefully win like a pro!

If there are any tips you think I missed or that you would like to add to this list, please feel free to do so in the comment section, we’d love to hear from you.

I wish you lots of luck and may your newfound knowledge bring a bloodbath to the enemy team. 


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Being from the exotic medieval lands of Portugal, Ergosi is known as the magician of words and the enchanter of laughter! Ergosi also has a thirst for blood and emotional story driven games.
Gamer Since: 1999
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Overwatch
Top 3 Favorite Games:Tomb Raider, Mass Effect, Dragon Age: Origins

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