The Overwatch Solo Queue Survival Guide



Mon 14th Nov 2016 - 12:07pm

For one reason or another, you've decided to brave the ladder solo. Grinding out ranks can be a challenge even with a party, so doing it alone undoubtedly adds a whole new level of difficulty. This means you're going to have to step up your game to win. Here are some of the many things you can do to survive the climb.


Warm Up 

Warming up beforehand is a simple way to make sure your session starts off strong. Fortunately, there are many different ways to do so.

Quick Play: You can't control the map you get or what heroes you'll face, but you can still pick certain heroes that will help warm up your aim. I find that these five are generally the best: McCree/Widowmaker for single-shot hitscan, Pharah for projectiles, and Zarya/Soldier for tracking.

Practice Range: Playing single-shot hitscan heroes (such as McCree or Widowmaker) in the practice range is another good way to ready your aim. If you move deep into the range, you'll be greeted by multiple moving targets, surrounded by a few stationary ones. Headshotting them down until you get a sextuple kill is a great way to get warmed up. There's a very small margin for error here, so if you miss just one shot you'll have to wait for the bots to reset. This isn't overly challenging, but it will require you to aim perfectly and manage your abilities. Do this for 10-30 minutes to help sharpen up your mind and aim before you queue. Here's an example of another good hitscan warm up. If you generally prefer heroes such as Tracer, Soldier, or Zarya try this one instead.

Custom Games: Another way to shape up your aim is by creating a headshot-only custom game and filling the enemy team with Ana bots. She can't headshot, so you can safely practice landing shots on a less predictable target. The bots move more depending on their difficulty, so keep that in mind when setting up the game. This'll help you focus on landing headshots, and requires you to be able to flick. You can do this on whatever map you want, but this is a great baseline for how to set up the game.


Pick the right hero

If you're playing solo you need to make sure you have as much individual impact on the game as possible. While you can't exactly "carry" in Overwatch, there are certain heroes that don't require a good team in order to be effective. Most people have a dominant role, but sometimes you'll have to play alternate ones to fill out the comp. Here are some heroes from each role that excel in solo queue.

- Mei (Defense): While attack Mei isn't always ideal, she works wonders on defense, excelling on the second point of capture maps. Her ultimate covers almost the entire point, and acts like the old McCree ult by forcing enemies to either retreat or die. Combined with her Cryo-Freeze and Ice Wall, she can continuously stall enemies by herself making her an amazing pick.

-Soldier (Both): The healing from Biotic Field allows you to stay independent for most of the game. Furthermore, none of his abilities combo amazingly with other heroes, so you can still play Soldier to full effect without coordinating too much with the rest of your team. Since you're completely self-reliant, you can adapt to any situation with relative ease.

- Reaper (Both): Reaper is one of the best damage dealers when it comes to solo queue. He takes care of himself with Wraith Form and passive healing, and he has an ultimate which can completely change the course of a team fight. He fits into almost every composition and works well on most maps, making him a safe choice in any situation.

- McCree (Both): McCree has held a top spot in the Overwatch meta for quite a while now. His extremely consistent high base damage makes him great choice for anyone trying to carry. Flashbang assures you'll be able to stand head to head with almost any hero. McCree is a nice hero to grow with since his viability scales with your skill.

- Ana (Both): Having self-heals and moderate damage as a support makes Ana an ideal pick. The impact of a well-placed Nano Boost or Sleep Dart is immense, giving you a lot of control over how the game plays out. If you're used to playing a damage dealer Ana is an easy transition into support. You don't need to rely on the rest of your team to protect you, which is why she is such a top tier pick for solo.

Lucio (Attack): Lucio might not be the best choice if you want to "carry", but he's great for anyone forced into a support slot. Well-timed Sound Barriers and Speed Boosts can make or break certain team fights so you still have a fair amount of control.

- Zarya (Attack): Being a tank with huge damage potential is already amazing, and when you combine that with the rest of Zarya's loaded kit she becomes a powerhouse. Similar to Reaper and Ana, Zarya's ultimate can be the deciding factor in a teamfight. Her self-shield is a great way to mitigate some damage, and shielding allies correctly will help ensure your team stays safe.

- Roadhog (Both): Roadhog's one-shot mechanic and self-healing makes him an extremely potent solo queue hero. Picking an enemy before each fight will help you snowball to victory. These picks will keep your team advantaged, making it much easier to win even if they're lackluster.

Depending on your rank you might get queued with people that are much higher than you. In these situations, it usually best to let them have whatever they role they want. If they're playing correctly, then you won't have to carry your team as much.


Since you usually aren't going to have perfect synergy when playing with strangers, you need to be able to communicate well. Being in voice chat is a simple way to increase your team's chances of winning, and these are some tips on how to make it an even more effective tool.

- Chat before the game starts: Try to at least greet the rest of your team in the beginning just to get the ball rolling. Most of the time people don't want to be the first person to talk, so you should try to break the ice. Get to know what everyone usually plays, if anyone mains a specific hero etc. If you have any problem with your starting composition this is the time to fix it. People tend to believe that everyone in ranked is super stubborn, but if you ask nicely there's a lot of people out there willing to swap. 

- Inform your team/Stay informed: This is the main bulk of communication you'll be doing with your team. Listening to their calls and making some of your own will make sure they know what to be doing. Keep the information flowing so everyone can keep tabs on both enemy ultimate status and position. Knowing these things, as well as being able to coordinate ultimates, is what makes voice chat such an amazing tool.

- Be a shotcaller: You might not be an amazing leader, but it's better than nothing. Everyone on your team is going to be calling out enemy positions and ultimates, but you need to take charge and inform everyone on the game plan. Simply telling your team when to push and where to go can make a world of a difference. If you've treated your team with respect and are making proper calls, then they have no reason not to listen. One of the problems with solo queue is getting teams that don't play together, so you need to step up and try to make your team play as a single unit. Not everyone is going to listen to your calls, and they might not always be amazing, but at least you're taking the initiative.

- Don't blame/BM: The quickest way to make teammates tilt is by blaming them for something that went wrong, even if it's their fault. If someone feels like they're being accused of something they probably aren't going to take it well. Don't dwell on the mistakes that were made, just try to communicate what you think needs to be done to solve the problem.  

- Use the mute feature: On the flip side, if you're the one being BM'd feel free to take full advantage of the mute button. People in ranked get upset sometimes, it understandable, but the whole point of voice chat is to share information. If they choose to be negative rather than adding something useful to the conversation, just whack 'em with the mute hammer. Trolls/BM'ers are aiming to tick people off, so it's better to distance yourself from them.


 Review to Improve

Reflecting on the mistakes you made is one of the best ways to improve. If you can pinpoint the flaws in your play, you can eventually fix them. Since you can't always rely on an amazing team in solo queue, it's even more important to determine your individual weaknesses. There's multiple ways to do this, and they can help you refine various area of your play.

- Evaluate how you died: While it might not always be your fault, there's always a reason you died. Sometimes, however, deaths are caused by minor mistakes. It could be simply be missing shots or maybe playing too far up, but once you notice the mistakes you can fix them. You have to wait to respawn anyway, so try to take that time to think about what went wrong. If you're constantly making the same mistakes then you'll eventually realize that's a problem area and be able to patch it up.

- Realize what factors led to the loss: Just like spotting out your own mistakes, try to figure out the determining factors in a loss. Other games you play could have similar situations, and this'll help you notice them before it's too late. Instead of just saying the enemy team was better, try to determine what they did better. Maybe they combo'd ultimates more or just played a better comp. Either way it's valuable to know what led to your team's demise.

- Record your gameplay: Thinking about what went wrong is great, but being able to watch it back is even better. There's many free recording programs you can use to replay the key moments in a game. You'd be surprised at how many small mistakes you'll spot out when you look hard enough. To go even further, you could post your video on Reddit, where a more experienced player could review it and give you feedback.

Avoid Tilt

- Take a breather: Solo queue (and regular ranked for that matter) can be stressful, so you should break frequently to clear your head. Queuing comp all day is fine, just make sure you take a bit of time to relax. Walk around for a few minutes every hour and stay well nourished. This'll help keep your reflexes sharp, and give you some much needed energy for the long climb ahead.

- Avoid losing streaks: If you needed any more of a reason to take break, here it is. If you're constantly winning, there's a sort of momentum you have which helps you continue to do well. When losing, this effect reverses. Losing games can lead to lowered confidence, a worse attitude, and more mistakes. If you see yourself beginning to feel like this, just step back for a while. The game isn't going anywhere, but your skill rating might if you continue to queue.

- Accept the losses: Losses definitely aren't an enjoyable experience, but they're a natural part of any game. Once you can view losses as a way to improve they become much less demoralizing. Losing teaches you much more than winning does, and the few points you'll drop along the way will seem insignificant.



Solo queue is a unique experience. You'll have terrible teams and terrific ones. You'll fight your way through hordes of trolls and ragers, but wind up being a much better player in the end. Thanks for reading this guide, and I hope it's helped you survive your journey into the Overwatch ranked system.

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