Overwatch Hero Counters Explained #1 — Tank Role

Steffy Lo
Steffy Lo
Mar 27 · 9 min read

While there are many lists of hero counters you can find online, as a newer player, you might not understand why a certain hero is stronger/weaker against another hero. In this 3-part series article, I’ll try my best to make up my list of hero counters and explain why I think so. However, more so than focusing on the list itself, thinking about why a hero counters another hero is more important. I’m by no means a high-ranked player and this is simply based on my knowledge and analysis I’ve gathered. After all, hero counters just give an advantage but the better player would often win in end. Ok, so without further ado, let’s get started.

First up, we have the Tank role.

D.Va

Strengths

I think D.Va is easily one of the most misunderstood heroes where people often play her like a big DPS, but that’s not actually not how to play her effectively. Her main kit is her Boosters and Defense Matrix, which gives her good mobility while allowing her to nullify almost everything including Reinhardt’s Fire Strike, Ana’s Biotic Grenade, and even Zarya’s Graviton Surge and Hanzo’s Dragonstrike, when timed correctly. This makes her a natural hero who peels for her teammates, going well against Ana, Ashe, Widowmaker, Pharah who are usually positioned far away and hard to kill going up to them and kill them or at least make them give up their good high-ground positioning — or Bastion and Torbjörn to briefly block a significant amount of damage before coming close to kill the turrets off with her close-ranged Fusion Cannons. She is also strong against Winston due to Winston’s playstyle of diving into the backline to kill off a squishy. Because Winston doesn’t have a high damage output, she can easily 1v1 him off and peel the backline.

Weaknesses

Her biggest hero counter is most definitely Zarya. Playing D.Va against Zarya, especially one with a high charge, will make your life miserable as you can’t Defense Matrix her beam and lose to her in damage output. To make things worse, D.Va’ Micro Missiles and Self-Destruct cannot be cancelled once casted and this makes it an easy charge for Zarya by bubbling off the damage. Obviously, you could try tracking the enemy Zarya’s bubble usage and wait till she uses it before launching your two abilities but this restricts your gameplay a lot and more often that not, you’ll just have to use them knowing that the Zarya will feed off your damage. Another big hero counter is Reaper, although he is more of a soft counter in my opinion. I think it’s quite straightforward why. As both heroes’ effective range is short, they are going to brawl in close-range and as a DPS, Reaper is obviously going to win the matchup assuming both players are equally good. The result might be different if the D.Va is better, however as she can probably outplay the Reaper with a bad aim.

Orisa

Strengths

Unfortunately, other than her Protective Barrier and Fortify, I don’t see much value in Orisa. That doesn’t mean that she’s a bad pick, it just means that she is a very defensive character, holds well, and relies on her team to follow up on damage. Good Orisa’s could probably make cheeky plays with her Halt and get environmental kills in certain maps like Illios:Well, or pull targets above enemy’s shields so that the team can follow up with damage but this does require good team coordination. Picking Orisa means the opposite of a Dive Strategy, which is great against Torbjörn who is a hero known to punish clumsy Dives with his turrets. With Orisa, your team can safely take out his turrets behind your shield, essentially rendering his turrets useless.

Weaknesses

Because Orisa’s role is similar to Reinhardt by providing cover for your team and leading as the main tank, her role is quite important in determining the space your team gets to take. Comparing her to Reinhardt, I find one of her weakness being the time it takes for her to regroup with her team when she dies. This means, surviving as Orisa is key and a generally undesirable pick if the spawn base is far from the current payload or capture point. Orisa will therefore be hindered if there’s not enough heals or high damage output on the opposing team and is easily deleted from the game. This results in high damage output heroes like Junkrat, Pharah, and Symmetra to be counters as they can melt through Orisa’s shield and can kill her easily even through her Fortify.

Reinhardt

Strengths

I think Reinhardt’s biggest strength is obvious: he holds a massive shield that allows his team to shoot at the enemy while keeping his team safe. This creates a lot of space for the DPS to get eliminations while pushing forward and closing the gap between the enemy team. Earthshatter is also a great ultimate for engaging a team fight and if it hits onto 2–3 people, that’s almost a guaranteed winning team fight for your team.

Weaknesses

Basically any hero that would get rid of his shield. This would include Bastion, Junkrat, Pharah because of their high damage output, Sombra’s Hack, and Symmetra as she gains charge through Reinhardt’s shield (the same reason why she counters Orisa).

Roadhog

Strengths

As quoted by Roadhog himself, “I’m a one-man Apocalypse” truly describes what this hero is all about. He is a hero that goes off getting off picks and healing all by himself. This makes him always an OK pick in any scenario. Chain Hook allows him to catch enemies who are out of position and is surprisingly good against Bastion to hook him out of turret form, or Pharah while Take a Breather enables him to become the self-sufficient hero that he is, healing him 300 health as well as taking 50% reduced damage.

Weaknesses

Ironically, it is Roadhog’s strength that is also his weakness. Because he usually goes off on his own, unlike other Tanks, he doesn’t peel for his teammates as well and doesn’t have synergy with his other tank. The classic tank combo Reinhardt and Zarya, for example, would have a stronger synergy than Reinhardt and Roadhog. In terms of heroes, Roadhog is weak against Reaper and Echo — like most tanks, especially because of his huge hitbox. Reaper’s high damage output close-range with his Hellfire Shotguns and Echo’s Focusing Beam that deals 200 damage per second on targets with less than 50% of their health would melt him easily.

Sigma

Strengths

Sigma feels like the result if Reinhardt and Zarya had a baby. He can deal a good amount of damage with his right-clicks, absorb an infinite amount of damage with his Kinetic Grasp like Zarya’s bubble, has an Experimental Barrier which acts as a shield like Reinhardt’s, albeit not as powerful, and last but not least, his crowd control ability, Accretion. This makes him a good all-rounder tank that pairs well with any other tank. A classic hero to counter with Sigma is Bastion as he is able to absorb Bastion’s bullets with his Kinetic Grasp and follow up with his Accretion, although this only works with Bastions stupid enough to shoot at Sigma casting Kinetic Grasp. Even so, this gives time for your team to kill the Bastion regardless if he stops shooting or not. Noting that his Accretion goes through D.Va’s Defense Matrix and Genji’s Deflect, this makes Sigma a pretty good choice against these heroes as well.

Weaknesses

Tough matchups for Sigma include Sombra: her Hack makes Sigma basically useless, Symmetra: her beam goes through Kinetic Grasp and charges up through Sigma’s shield, and Zarya: her beam also goes through Kinetic Grasp and her bubble cancels Accretion).

Winston

Strengths

Winston’s strength is similar to D.Va in a sense that his mobility allows him to pick off heroes who are out of position to kill them. However, unlike D.Va, he is mainly “jump and engage” into the enemy backline type of hero and then returning to his team for heals. This means he is strong against squishies that don’t have much survivability such as Zenyatta, Genji, Widowmaker, and Hanzo.

Weaknesses

However, his strengths is are what makes Winston quite predictable and inflexible in terms of play style, which makes him considered a weak pick as he often forces your teammates to play a dive-oriented strategy and can be easily countered with anti-dive strategy (e.g., D.Va as she peels for her teammates and Torbjörn whose turrets hinders Winston’s teammates to follow-up on his dive). He is also especially weak against Bastion’s or Reaper’s high damage output, even more so than other Tanks since he was no ways of reducing that damage output other than his Barrier Projector.

Wrecking Ball

Strengths

Wrecking Ball’s strength also lies in his mobility, but with a somewhat different application from Winston’s and D.Va’s. Combined with his Pile Driver, he is effective at disrupting the enemy team either by actually getting picks, forcing them out of position, or putting pressure and distracting them. A good Wrecking Ball knows how to take space and create opportunities for his teammates to engage a winning team fight.

Weaknesses

If stripped out of his mobility, Wrecking Ball would easily feed his brains out to the enemy team. This is why heroes like McCree (Flash Bang), Sombra (Hack), Mei (freeze effect from her primary weapon), Ana (Sleep Dart), and Brigitte (Shield Bash) are strong counters against him. Because of his large hitbox, Wrecking Ball also suffers the same problem as most Tanks do, which is the huge damage output from Bastion and Reaper. Additionally, because he is similar to Winston’s play style of diving into the backline to disrupt the support and DPS, he is also weak to Torbjörn turrets which will just get free Ultimate Charge whenever Wrecking Ball engages.

Zarya

Strengths

Zarya’s potential damage output matches equally if not greater than DPS heroes and is therefore a great pick if your team lack damage. Her play style is definitely that of a Tank though as she peels well for her fellow squishies while gaining charge (i.e., damage) with her “friendly bubble” as the OW community calls it, or Projected Barrier formally. While the bubble is deployed either onto herself or her allies, the target is immune to all damage and crowd control effects. It is therefore optimal to use her bubbles immediately after Zarya herself or another teammate is taking damage (instead of predicting or pre-use it) to ensure damage is being blocked and charge is actually gained. Her ultimate, Graviton Surge is also very tank-like as it creates opportunities for engagement, disengagement, or creating space. As a new OW player, I underestimated it at first as it does no damage and only clumps people together, it is only now that I realize how powerful it is as damage are often splash damage or area of effect that affects multiple units (e.g., Zarya’s own secondary fire has splash damage).

In terms of hero counters, as with any beam-type of hero, she is strong against D.Va, Genji, and Sigma whose abilities (i.e., Defense Matrix, Missiles, Deflect, Kinetic Grasp and Accretion) become useless against her. She is also quite good against Junkrat who just spams damage as she can easily charge her beam by applying bubbles onto herself and allies.

Weaknesses

I don’t think Zarya necessarily has a hard counter (hence why she is so strong in my opinion) other than supports who can completely negate her ultimate such as Baptiste (Immortality Field) and Zenyatta (Transcendence).

And that’s all for the Tank role. I think I might have been assuming some prerequisite knowledge of general hero abilities and roles but that’s because I’m aiming more towards newer players. If you’re a completely new player, I’d suggest reading up about the roles first before hero counters since that’s more important to know. Hopefully, this guide has been helpful and stay tuned to the next part of this series which is on the DPS role. Thanks for reading and happy Overwatch-ing!

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