A Filthy Casual’s Guide to Overwatch Duelling

So Overwatch’s 1v1 mode is a thing and one of two ways you can earn your weekly chests. It’s a great way of being able to determine exactly how good you are using a certain hero on equal footing with a single opponent without having teammates to carry you/weigh you down. Having said that, I’ve had a few friends complain about a fairly woeful string of losses and while I can’t claim to be the best player by any means, there’s a few fundamental basics that should help you scrape in the occasional victory.


The first thing to take note of is the complete lack of health kits. This means that for heroes without any self-healing or shields, all damage taken is permanent. As a result, it’s generally in your favour to play safe and take every opportunity to ambush your opponent from a distance so that when your locations are revealed, you at least have a slight health advantage.


The second thing to take note of is map awareness. There’s a hollow box building close to each spawn and a pair of two-storey buildings with stairwells and a drop-down hole flanking the central exposed courtyard where the column is. You’ll find that inexperienced players will immediately run into either building or up onto the walkway for visibility. Of course, there’s no way of knowing this for sure until it happens, but I’ve found that playing defensively is largely the better option. Pick a spot with decent visibility near cover and if you’re feeling exceptionally cocky, use your taunt to peek around corners (just don’t use one that makes noise).

Hero Strategies

overwatch-all-highlight-intros-release-_-4k-60fps-mp4_snapshot_00-53_2016-11-27_14-59-21I’m actually a very weak Genji, so there’s very little I can tell you about winning. Having said that, I can tell you all about the Genjis that beat me. Genji’s strength is in his extremely high mobility and unpredictable movements. Double jump, wall climbing and dashing means that a good Genji can stay out of your crosshairs long enough to slice your face off. Don’t depend on the accuracy of your stars at extreme range unless you’re exceptionally good at predicting opponent movement patterns – the long travel time makes hitting anything except a stationary target a matter of luck. Genji confrontations come down to damage trades and honestly as far as I can tell, a brawl is settled by who can dodge best while firing the most accurately and capitalising on dashes to displace and decapitate.

overwatch-all-highlight-intros-release-_-4k-60fps-mp4_snapshot_02-17_2016-11-27_15-00-04McCree’s excellent accuracy and damage at extreme range makes him the perfect example for the harassment tactic I mentioned earlier. Don’t spend too much time running around the map – his heavy footsteps will easily give away your position. If you hear your opponent’s footsteps getting closer, be ready to do the ol’ Flashbang Doublefan – just be sure that you’re not the first person to be stunned or things can get very unpleasant.  As always, headshots will settle the fight faster, so if you’ve caught someone off-guard, punish them for it.

overwatch-all-highlight-intros-release-_-4k-60fps-mp4_snapshot_03-25_2016-11-27_15-00-38I have never lost a match as Pharah and what I’m about to tell you is going to ruin my strat if I come up against you. See, most people will boost into the air fairly early to get visibility on the map, don’t do that. The central chunk of the map is full of high objects I can drop rockets on to hit you with splash damage and leaving my boost for about two seconds after you’ve used yours means I get to stay in the air longer, from which I can hammer you with near-misses on the ground. That’s assuming I don’t land two direct hits as soon as I jump into your face. Avoid predictable movements in the air – you fall faster than you strafe, so killing the jump-jets can save your life – and likewise, avoid hanging around any surfaces that your opponent can splash from. Don’t waste rocks blind-firing and track your own rocket usage as well as your opponents. You can get up close while they’re reloading and get two easy shots to the face if you’re clever.

overwatch-all-highlight-intros-release-_-4k-60fps-mp4_snapshot_03-39_2016-11-27_15-00-45Reaper follows roughly the same strat as McCree, even if his long-range damage is trash. Wraith is good for displacing after harassing but shadow step will just get you killed because you’re vulnerable while repositioning and Doofus McEdgelord announces himself when he arrives. Ambushes are also critical, but unlike McCree you can’t depend on a stun to give you an easy win and being able to pull off headshots at close quarters is critical to victory.

overwatch-all-highlight-intros-release-_-4k-60fps-mp4_snapshot_04-41_2016-11-27_15-01-27I haven’t actually nailed down my S.76 strat yet and my win rate is about 50/50. Ideally you want the element of surprise in an area where your opponent has minimal room to dodge incoming rockets while you’ve got plenty of space to do the same. It’s entirely possible to burn a soldier down faster than he can heal if you’re accurate. Alternatively you can flank and bully your opponent into kicking off their heals early by harassing – just don’t waste your rockets because they’re the critical damage burst you need to win in a direct confrontation.


Winning with Sombra is a little like winning with Pharah; the trick is not to burn your stealth too soon. Again, most Sombras will kick off their stealth as soon as the match begins for the movement bonus, but in a duel the first person to lose stealth is likely the first to die. Once you get the drop on them, you can shoot on sight or hack to prevent their escape – it’s up to you. There’s very little to be gained by teleporting if you’re losing damage trades, so I prefer to play offensively and use my TP to flank when I can. Be aware that once you’re at low health, your position is permanently revealed, so whoever gets the other to critical health first has a massive advantage.

overwatch-all-highlight-intros-release-_-4k-60fps-mp4_snapshot_05-51_2016-11-27_15-02-13With Tracer, aim to do little bits of damage from flanking positions. There’s no way for opponents to heal except through recall, and nobody’s going to waste a three-second rewind on twenty health. On the other hand, you could drop them to 50% and see all your hard work wasted with the press of a button. If you do have to use recall, disengage until you get your parachute back. Use dashes sparingly, as you’ll need them to displace and escape in a pinch while using them to scout gives away your position.

overwatch-all-highlight-intros-release-_-4k-60fps-mp4_snapshot_00-23_2016-11-27_14-58-52Most Bastion matches end in a draw, but those that don’t are always because someone made a stupid mistake. It is simply not possible for a Recon Bastion to out-damage a Sentry Bastion, so your strat boils down to either being the first to enter sentry mode during a duel or catching your opponent when they’re fully exposed. Honestly, it might feel cheap to scum your way through a Bastion match but the only way to win by playing offensively is if your opponent is dumber than you are.

overwatch-all-highlight-intros-release-_-4k-60fps-mp4_snapshot_01-15_2016-11-27_14-59-35I am a terrible Hanzo. TERRIBLE. I simply do not have the accuracy to play a sniper (more on that in a moment). The traditional rules of map awareness and scatter-shotting opponents in enclosed spaces apply and beyond that I can’t really help you. The only advice I can give is that Hanzo will typically sonic-arrow one of the two central buildings at the beginning of the game, so if you wait for the sonar to end you can hug the wall and stay low to flank. It works, but because of my trash accuracy, I almost always give away my position and lose the duel.

overwatch-all-highlight-intros-release-_-4k-60fps-mp4_snapshot_01-46_2016-11-27_14-59-53I’m sure there’s a science to bouncing Junkrat’s grenades. Or maybe there isn’t. Either way, I’ve won an awful lot of matches by firing randomly into enclosed spaces where I know my opponent is hiding. The lesson to be learned there is to avoid enclosed spaces in a Junkrat duel. It is extremely rare for opponents to step into a steel trap under these circumstances and if they do, just be glad for the damage and don’t double back – given that two grenades is enough to kill you, predictable movements are a death sentence. Try not to get stuck on the lower levels, as it’s generally easier to spam grenades down rather than up, however I’ve had more than a couple of instances where my opponent is directly above me but unaware of my presence (I’m not moving but he is), so winning is a matter of chucking my landmine up and detonating it in his face.

overwatch-all-highlight-intros-release-_-4k-60fps-mp4_snapshot_02-49_2016-11-27_15-00-23Mei is a real pain because of her sustain and map control and honestly duels usually just come down to who can freeze + icicle the other one first. As a result, ambushes can mean that critical half a second advantage when freezing enemies. Be aware that even after being frozen, an icicle to the head might not be enough and your opponent can still freeze themselves to block the second one. When going into stasis with an opponent in your face, be prepared to break the freeze early to mess with the timing of their headshot and immediately drop an ice-wall to protect yourself. Just be careful not to wall yourself into a corner.

overwatch-all-highlight-intros-release-_-4k-60fps-mp4_snapshot_05-25_2016-11-27_15-01-57Torbjorn is another character where matches tend to end in draws for me. There is no good reason to run into an enemy Torb’s zone of control and the accuracy and speed of his turrets (on PC at any rate) means that getting into a sniping match against a turret is just a waste of time. Add to that the minor sustain he gets from his own armour packs and you’re faced with a very similar proposition as Bastion. Charging in is a stupid thing to do, except the turrets aren’t stupid.

overwatch-all-highlight-intros-release-_-4k-60fps-mp4_snapshot_06-18_2016-11-27_15-02-28Much like Hanzo, I’m a God-awful Widowmaker, but that’s okay because you don’t have to play Widowmaker as Widowmaker. Her landmines take off more than a third of her health and her rifle in SMG mode can deal a fair amount of damage at close quarters, so the trick for me is to get close to the patient players and punish the impatient ones. Flanking a camping Widow isn’t hard – stick to the lower levels of the buildings (most Widows camp the rooftops of their respective spawn buildings and have no visibility on these routes) and use your grappling hook to dash between cover. A sniping Widow caught from behind is a dead Widow. On your route, be sure to plant a spider mine ABOVE one of the doorways leading away from your opponent’s spawn – there’s literally no way of them knowing it’s there until they walk into it, or around the entire map and approach from the other direction.

overwatch-all-highlight-intros-release-_-4k-60fps-mp4_snapshot_00-39_2016-11-27_14-59-14D.Va is a tough one because there’s not a great amount of strategy involved. Boosting in does minimal DPS compared to her cannons and deflecting is pointless because her Meka doesn’t reload, so it really comes down to who can do the most damage from range, and them who can land the most consistent headshots toe-to-toe. It’s very rare that the winner’s Meka will have much health remaining, so at that point it becomes a D.Va duel, but here’s the rub; the first person to lose their Meka is also likely the first person to get it back, so if you’re “in the lead,” don’t muck around. D.Va duels come down to consistent accuracy and headshots, which is fine because of her limited mobility.  Me and my opponent have burned through as many as four Mekas before we finally won, and it was literally because one of us kicked off a self-destruct as the other was bailing out.

overwatch-all-highlight-intros-release-_-4k-60fps-mp4_snapshot_04-01_2016-11-27_15-00-55Reinhardt is a lot of fun to duel with, if only because your only long-range damage option is firestrike. Dodging firestrike isn’t hard as long as your movements aren’t predictable and playing a fighting retreat allows you to predict the unwary opponent’s approach. Getting the health advantage is absolutely critical here because once you start swinging at each other, it’s a matter of who swung first and had the most health. Charging is worse than useless – it’s dangerous and baiting your opponent into charging is a great way to land some free hits while setting them up for a charge of your own.

overwatch-all-highlight-intros-release-_-4k-60fps-mp4_snapshot_04-33_2016-11-27_15-01-17I haven’t quite gotten the hang of Roadhog duelling yet, so I can’t tell you much. Alt-fire at medium range, get headshots when you can and heal at every opportunity. Honestly, Roadhog’s massive health pool, DPS, sustain and the speed of his ult charge make him objectively overpowered, so it’s nice that it’s just the two of you here. An ult isn’t necessarily an easy victory, either – a good hook can interrupt it and a headshot or two beyond that will finish the match.

overwatch-all-highlight-intros-release-_-4k-60fps-mp4_snapshot_06-22_2016-11-27_15-02-37Winston is the other character I have a lot of fun duelling with, as the harassment strategy is really the only strategy. Be the first to drop your lightning, then dash away when you need to reload. Come out of trades better off and you’ll win – just stay out of melee range (mostly because I’m not sure what the comparative DPS is so I don’t want to say anything definitive) and watch out for offensive jumps, because the damage from those can make all the difference. Also, spam voice emotes. It’s not as if you’ve got anything better to do.

overwatch-all-highlight-intros-release-_-4k-60fps-mp4_snapshot_06-58_2016-11-27_15-02-49I’ve had some bad luck with Zarya and I couldn’t tell you if it’s purely a matter of accuracy or just badly timed shields or what. Zarya’s total DPS potential on her particle beam is more than twice as high as that on her alt fire, but you lose a lot of that power when you fire and miss while the alt-fire is generally easier to hit with. Naturally you want to avoid amping your opponent’s damage, but it’s entirely possible that by amping their damage earlier, you can get an even bigger amp when you shield yourself, but it’s an incredibly risky play and it’s generally much safer to use your opponent’s bubble to reload.

overwatch-all-highlight-intros-release-_-4k-60fps-mp4_snapshot_05-09_2016-11-27_15-01-45I love Symmetra duels. Love them. So much. If only because by rights, they SHOULD end in draws, but they never do and it’s only ever because one of us makes a stupid mistake. A duel between just two Symmetra comes down to who locked on with their primary fire first, or who was able to ambush the other one with a charged alt-fire before locking on – that’s simple enough – but her turrets turn the duel into a zoning game. The best trick I’ve found is to find a cramped area with blind corners (the three stairwells around the central structures) and place turrets that cannot be destroyed without exposing yourself to fire – the turret’s first beam gives me the damage advantage and my opponent’s attack against my turret makes them just that tiny bit tardy in locking onto me. The only caveat here is to avoid being baited into a death trap – never, EVER chase a fleeing Symmetra in duel mode. It’s just a really bad idea.

overwatch-all-highlight-intros-release-_-4k-60fps-mp4_snapshot_07-14_2016-11-27_15-02-56Zenyatta is the only character who doesn’t make noise when he walks, so keep that in mind as you’re whizzing around the map. Orb of discord is good for helping you track an enemy, but be aware that inflicting minor damage doesn’t do you much good because the shields recharge quite quickly. And alt-fire ambush can get you the health advantage if you’re clever, but the majority of my Zenyatta games have come down to discord primary fire duels, so I can’t tell you much beyond that.

Anyway, that’s about all I can tell you. It’s not fantastic information, but hopefully it’ll make all the difference when matches are close. Now get out there and prove everything I’ve said redundant by thinking of something better.

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