99% of Players Don't Understand This
There have been posts recently about wanting more quality discussion content. This is a T500/GM perspective on the meta-game, and hopefully someone gains from this.
What is the fundamental thing that makes Overwatch different from Call of Duty, Fortnite, or any FPS game? I posed this question to some of my gold/plat friends and their responses were: Abilities, cooldowns, teamwork, objectives etc... Not terrible guesses, but it demonstrates my point. What makes Overwatch different to play and win is tanks. Tanks differentiate Overwatch from every other FPS game.
First of all, tanks aren't very FPS in the first place. All rein can really do is shield, swing or charge. He can't shoot. Orisa is one of the few tanks who can shoot, but it's not common. Winston is the easiest example of what a tank is and what it does for the team. He has a steady TTK (time to kill), and can win mostly any 1v1 with a squishy. After the 1v1, he needs healing probably. He could initiate the "1v1" with some help from a DPS to get some initial damage, like a helix rocket, to work with his team. However, the central role here is not the soldier or the healer-- it's the tank. Tanks are overwatch. Tanks are knowing what 1v1 matchups you can win and how to win them. Tanks are dominating squishies and teams and rolling them.
99% of players don't know what a tank does, or how to play one effectively. This is huge problem, and leads to plat people who say "Why are we losing?" Most players are blind to the effects. Tanks are so central to the ult economy for one. They have huge health pools, and are safe to take damage with to help charge your team's support ults. They also can be fucking batteries for other team ults. Ever wonder why the junkrat has tire every fight? Ask your roadhog. You can't even approach the choke without getting melted? Sounds like you have no tanking being done.
Tanks are good for a few things. As mentioned, they are central to the ult economy. All supports can do is heal or dps. A support can effect the ult economy only by healing quicker or getting out some bonus damage. DPS heros can influence ult economy by carrying and destroying the enemy team-- but there has to be a skill gap. Tanks can control engagements and use their abilities to mitigate up to 100% of incoming damage. Or 0%, depending on your tanks....
Tanks are also needed to actually capture the objective. A zen shouldn't be the one capping a 2CP point alone-- he could die very quickly. Tanks are needed to actually capture the point-- to actually win the game. I could be carrying as tracer on Volskya first point attack, and destroying the enemy dps, but unable to actually capture the point because the moira is pocketing an orisa while my tanks are feeding.
Most players approach overwatch as an FPS. They get incredibly negative value out of tanks too. They don't realize that by taking so much damage, that they are also charging enemy ults. When they aren't feeding, they are shooting people from across the map with DVA shotguns doing 0.5 dps. No value to feeding is the normal range of value for a tank below ~~3700-4000. Yes, that high. Only around GM have I noticed that people are actually tanking.
One thing I notice about lower ranks is that they also have a lot more tank diversity. Reins, zaryas, dvas-- not just double shield. This is because lower ranks tend to base their OW opinions based on twitter or reddit. They see a patch and think "ok goats/dbl sheild is dead". They don't actually tank well so they don't realize how much value they can get and have no method to come to their own conclusions. The tank diversity in lower ranks central to my hypothesis that 99% of overwatch players don't understand how to tank, and thus don't understand how to play overwatch.
My last point about the importance and centrality of tanks is the metagames. They are always defined by tanks. Goats was 3-3, with more tanks than the traditional 2-2-2. There were just so many good abilities, ults, and combos with goats. Next meta? Double shield. It's all about the tanks. The tanks define the meta, and the support/dps get in where they can fit in.
Finally, it's OK to be bad at overwatch. I've been rude at times as I rank my 5th account up to GM/T500. But it can frustrate me how amazingly oblivious the winston jumping on the reaper can be. That loses the entire game due to ult economy and other factors. It's OK to be bad at tanking, to be bad at overwatch. It's just a videogame. But people need to understand that tanking is what makes Overwatch itself, and that 99% of the playerbase doesn't understand why.
EDIT: One last point I forgot to include: Queue times. Why are they instant for tanks, but medium for supports and long for DPS? It's because role queue has highlighted the problem that existed for its inception: Not many people even attempt to play tank. That's one of the reasons we would get all support and DPS quickplay games. Now it manifests in 10 minute versus 2 minute queue times. The playerbase has a massive dearth of tank players.183 Read the full article on Reddit