Anyone who watches competitive Overwatch knows that the game has been dominated by six particular heroes for some time now—but times are changing thanks to the introduction of patch 1.34.

With new hero Baptiste and significant changes to most heroes in the game, the landscape is far more flexible. Here’s a look at what you can expect May 10–12 when the final eight teams battle it out at the Collegiate Esports Championship in Houston.

Know Your Roles

In Overwatch, heroes are separated into three categories that define their general role on a team: tank, damage, and support. Knowing how each works is an important first step in understanding a team’s composition.

Tanks are heavily armored, hard-to-kill heroes that soak up damage from the opposing team with various shielding abilities on the front lines of a teamfight.

Damage heroes are a diverse group focused on getting kills, pure and simple.

Support heroes are designed to keep the team alive through healing, but many also can enable their teammates to succeed by boosting damage or restricting enemy movement.

Finally, while flex isn’t an official role in-game, players with a flex designation tend to fill any gaps on a team’s composition because of their ability to play heroes from any of the three roles.

Where Are We?

In Overwatch, there are four map objectives: control, assault, escort, and assault/escort (often referred to as hybrid). Teams match up against each other in a best-of-five map set. The first team to three wins wins the match. Each team also gets a chance to attack and defend on a map.

In control maps, two teams fight to hold a single objective at a time. These are sometimes referred to as “King of the Hill” maps. The control meter ticks up slowly from zero to 100 percent once a team has staked their claim on the objective. The opponents then have to take it back by clearing the enemy off the point. The first team to win two rounds wins the map.

The second map type is called assault. Here, attackers must capture a series of two objectives while the defenders try to hold them off. If both teams manage to capture both points during their attack, teams use the remaining time play the map again. The team with the most points after time runs out wins.

The third map type is called escort, where attackers must move a payload by standing near it from one end of the map to the other before time runs out. Defenders, meanwhile, halt the payload’s progress when they are near it. Their goal is to run out the clock and keep the attackers from moving the payload. The team that pushes the payload furthest wins the round.

The final map type, hybrid, is a mix of assault and escort. The first part requires attackers to capture a point, which unlocks a payload they then must push through two checkpoints. The defenders attempt to thwart their progress. Whichever team makes the most progress wins.

Team Up for Special Attack!

Since Overwatch has 30 heroes, there are a huge number of potential team comps—nearly 600,000, in fact! However, players have figured out a handful of combinations that tend to work best. Their effectiveness changes with time and with the addition of new heroes, but here’s where some of the best strategies stand at this time.

Triple-Tank, Triple-Support

The most common strategy (AKA 3-3) at present relies on the synergy created when Reinhardt, D.Va, Zarya, Brigette, Lúcio, and Zenyatta ball up into a single unit and crash through objectives. The tanks protect the support heroes while the support heroes sustain the tanks with consistent healing. The rest of their abilities, especially combinations of the tanks’ ultimates, enable the composition to wipe out entire teams in a single fight.

Triple/Quadruple Damage

Whereas the 3-3 composition is all about tanks and support heroes, this one is all about damage. This composition still uses Wrecking Ball as a tank and Mercy as a support hero, but the real stars of the show are damage dealers like Genji, Tracer, Soldier: 76, McCree, Pharah and Widowmaker. This composition relies on damage heroes eliminating opponents quickly and effectively. While this comp allows individuals to be deadly in certain situations, it is fragile.

Bunker

When a team needs to hold down the fort, this is often the go-to option. It relies on Orisa providing cover for damage heroes like Bastion and Junkrat, which overwhelm enemies with their heavy damage output. Baptiste, Ana, or Mercy provide reliable healing as the enemy tries to crack the bunker, and tanks like D.Va or Roadhog provide cover for allies in a pinch. Since this composition isn’t very mobile, it’s best utilized on defense, or on maps with a payload. With the latter, players can create a mobile turret platform by setting up on top of the moving payload (AKA the “Pirate Ship” strategy). Once “the bunker” is broken for the first time, it’s very hard to set back up, so teams usually switch off to another composition upon respawn.

Dive

Dive compositions once were the meta, but their popularity has declined with the rise of tank-heavy compositions. Dive works by utilizing super-mobile tanks like Winston and D.Va alongside damage dealers like Genji and Tracer, who all leap over the enemy tanks to where the squishy support heroes are waiting to be picked off. Mercy then flies after her teammates to keep her team alive, while Zenyatta provides cover fire and healing from a distance. Even though dive struggles against the 3-3 composition, it is still handy against the other two compositions.

Playing to Their Strengths

While there are many established compositions, not every team will stick to them. Players have pocket picks, and the collegiate environment is more conducive to creativity. Even if a hero isn’t mentioned in this article, don’t be surprised if a player pulls him or her out to catch an opponent off-guard. Those tradition-defying moments are what high-level competitions are all about.

To make sure you don’t miss any of the action, tune in to www.twitch.tv/blizzard May 10 - 12. 

About the CEC

Tespa and ESPN are excited to team up for the Collegiate Esports Championship! Schools from across the U.S. and Canada will compete live in Overwatch, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and StarCraft II at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas, from May 10–12.

Tickets to the event for Tespa Members can be purchased here.

As our exclusive PC and monitor partner for the year, ROG’s Strix GL12CX  and ROG Strix XG258Q will be powering all of the on-stage action at the event. In addition, teams will have access to more ROG products in the official player practice area.