5 Hidden Reasons Why You Can't Win Ranked in Overwatch Revealed

5 Hidden Reasons Why You Can't Win Ranked in Overwatch Revealed

There was 1 minute left on the clock. We were losing 1 to 2, which meant that we had time for one last push onto the point B of Temple of Anubis. "Don't worry lads, we got this", I said to my team, hoping they wouldn't sense my oncoming tilt. "Our Rein just has to hold the shield, we will approach slowly, try to get a pick and when it breaks I will Nanoboost him. Genji, you take care of their Mercy, Zarya you shield him. Everybody ready? Let's go!"

Everything went according to plan. Mercy was dead, Reinhardt SMASHED through the defense and I felt as like we've already won. It was too late when I head heavy footsteps above my head. 

"DIE DIE DIE!" echoed through my headphones and all that was left of my team in 3 seconds were 6 red boxes on the killfeed. I muted my mic and smashed my fist against the desk repeatedly until it hurt, furious. It was a fucking fourth loss in a row and I lost almost 120 SR in the last hour. "I got enough," I told my team and immediately logged off, seething with anger and frustration.

Does the story above remind you of anything? I imagine that every one of us went through something similar. Some of us explode and rage violently. Some of us rage on the inside, with simmering white anger. Some of us just laugh through tears of disbelief. Doesn't matter how we rage after experiencing the frustration of losing at Overwatch ranked, we all want to prevent it from happening again - when we finally cool down and decide to dip in the game once more. 

During my climb from Gold to Diamond I have experienced each and every frustration, tried solo-queueing, tried every number of stack, tried being a leader, tried carrying myself and yet, something prevented me from climbing. After serious weeks of contemplation and introspection, research on forums and Reddit I found the biggest reasons that prevented me from winning. 

Bad news: they are so well-hidden and intricate that many people will immediately reject the idea of having these problems.

Good news: majority of them can be fixed.

I will list them from the most easily-fixable to the hardest.

1. Bad hardware and settings

For the first 3 months I was playing with a mouse that had come with my notebook and without a mousepad. Because I haven't played any FPS before I thought it really wouldn't make a difference if I had a better mouse. You just point and click, don't you? How can a better mouse help you there?

But one day I fell in love with McCree (not literally, even if I wouldn't be surprised if I did, he IS a charmer) and after reading through Reddit, I decided to try a better mouse. In just 2 days, my average aim went from 30% to 45%. That means 15% of shots that I previously missed - which could mean my death and many times they did - I didn't miss anymore.

I also swapped my notebook to a PC, where I bought a 1650 x 1050 monitor (only 60Hz at the time) and upgraded my GPU. Suddenly, I started seeing enemies where I couldn't before, I aimed more smoothly and overall got better at the game. Poof, just like that.

Low FPS and high input lag

FPS means "frames per second" and it's basically the rate your monitor shows you the visual frames of what's happening in the game. There is a general consensus that the bare minimum you should be getting is 60 FPS and should aim for 120 FPS for optimal gameplay. 

Check what FPS you are getting by pressing CTRL + SHIFT + R while in the game. If you're not getting at least 60 FPS, you have some settings to tweak. 

Why do FPS matter? Because even if you have a monitor that can only output 60Hz refresh rate, FPS directly impacts your input lag (higher FPS = lower input lag). Input lag is the situation where you move your mouse or click to shoot and the game does it only after some time. It doesn't need saying that that's very bad for you!

I will be crafting a complete guide on how to get optimal FPS an input lag numbers later, but the rule of thumb is to tweak the graphic settings like this:

  1. Set Battle.net client to "turn off after game launch", run Overwatch and with Windows Task Manager (CTRL + SHIFT + ESC) go into "details", right-click on Overwatch and give it high priority.
  2. Go into advanced video settings and set everything to LOW and render scale at 100%.
  3. Test your FPS in the game. If you are getting 60 - 120 FPS, you can try upping some options and play around.
  4. If you're not getting at least 60 FPS, lower render scale to 75%
  5. If you're still not getting 60 FPS, you need a better PC, because anything below 75% render scale is borderline awful to look at. But feel free if you're out of money and have a strong stomach.
  6. Test again until you're satisfied.

Bad monitor and bad mouse

There is a reason why competitive pro gamers play on the best gaming monitors. It's not about vanity, it's about performance. Simply put a 144Hz monitor can output much more precise graphical representation of what's happening in the game than a 60Hz - which means that a player playing on a better monitor will always have an upper hand. Buying a new monitor is an easy fix, but can be a bit expensive.

The same applies to gaming mice. If you're looking at a quick competitive edge to be gained, just buy a good gaming mouse and you might realize you're out-aiming the golden gun McCrees that destroyed your life before.

If you're thinking about doing research on what options are there to gaming monitors and gaming mice, check out this guide with both the best pieces and the best affordable ones.

Not utilizing sound

One day, I was playing Reaper on Nepal and got into a 1v1 with an enemy Reaper who had around 75 HP more than I had. I started running of course - wraithed away, around the corner. I could hear the enemy Reaper booming behind me, but he couldn't hear me - since I've stopped. A milisecond before he turned that corner I blasted him point-blank in the face. Gotcha!

If I didn't have my sound on, if I was listening to music or if I had bad headphones, I would have died. And that applies to the game generally - you NEED TO USE THE SOUND TO YOUR ADVANTAGE.

You can hear McCrees flanking for High Noon, Tracers blinking, Roadhogs trying to Scorpion you and if you're not using this info, you are putting yourself - and your team - at a big disadvantage.

What helped me personally is enabling Dolby Atmos in Overwatch sound settings (when using headphones, which you should) and getting a few days to use to it. It's a good function, try it.

2. Bad decision making

Have you ever jumped as Winston into the enemy team alone and just suddenly died?

Have you ever tried to flank the enemy with Tracer when they were not preoccupied with your team?

Have you ever tried outsniping McCree and Widow with Pharah?

You get the gist - the decisions you make are almost 90% of what decides the outcome of the match. Funnily enough, everyone thinks his decisions are perfect and it only very rarely happens that somebody can analyze his bad play after he makes it. Good news? It's easily fixed - just try to study up a bit.

Here are some most common mistakes you're probably making that cost you your games.

Bad aggression management

Sometimes it's perfectly OK to be aggressive. Like when you got a pick and now you have to kill them all. But until that happens, many many players think of themselves as players in a Team Deathmatch mode in Unreal Tournament. Too many of us try to solo 3 enemies at once. 

Stop doing that. Most times you will have problems winning a 1v1, why would you think you'd win a 1v2? As Genji, stop jumping into the enemy team if they are ready for you, you will not make it out alive and even if you take 1 with you, it's still not worth it.

As McCree, stop trying to get that perfect High Noon from somewhere you can get hooked, sniped or just seen, you have no mobility and you WILL die. 

The other extreme - as pointed out by Redditor Yxoque - is being too timid. "I've had games as Lucio where pretty much everyone had their ult on, say, first point Hollywood and the enemy team had just wasted two or three big ults. And still my team was poking around a corner and even getting Reinhardt's shield down or getting an important pick would make my team engage," he says.

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Getting too close

The game is about killing your opponents, I'll admit that, but why the hell do you need to get so close in their faces you can count Ana's face wrinkles? I get it, you're playing Mei - but your primary attack doesn't have range of 1 centimeter, you don't have to get mauled by their melee attacks! Baby D.VA and Zen, your projectiles don't have falloff damage, you can shoot from a good distance! Don't go all REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE and try to Bruce Lee them, you have ammo for a reason.

Not understanding and anticipating enemy abilities

The rule is: "If you didn't see / hear Roadhog using the Hook, he has it". Same for McCree's Flashbang and Genji's Deflect. If you play with the mindset "he sucks, he won't use it", you're already dead, you just don't know it yet.

Just watch the gif above. All it would have taken for NOT getting wiped was for the Bastion to anticipate Deflect or just stop shooting.

Not understanding the ult economy

Ultimates are your strongest skills. Ultimates are game changers. The whole games revolves around ultimates and yet I commonly see people just wasting them, not countering them, sometimes not even knowing what they exactly do!

Here are some quick rules about ultimates:

  1. When you have an ultimate, hit TAB and see what enemy can counter it. Use it only when you're sure he won't.
  2. When you have an ultimate, hit TAB and see if you can combo your ult with a teammate. Communicate accordingly.
  3. When you have an ultimate, don't use it if it's not going to accomplish anything! If your team is dead, your ult is wasted, 'cause you won't be taking that point by yourself.
  4. When you have an ultimate, don't use it if it's just to kill the last remaining enemy. Waste not, want not!
  5. That being said - DON'T WASTE ULTS!!! You don't need Graviton, Barrage, Rip-Tire and Dragonblade at once!
  6. This applies to defensive ults too - USE ONLY 1 AT A TIME!
  7. Hit TAB and think about what enemy can destroy you with his ultimate and if by any chance he doesn't have it already. Chances are, if you don't see the Reaper anywhere, he is planning to jump on your heads with a pumpkin PIE PIE PIE!

Not willing to switch a hero

One of the most annoying types of Overwatch players are those who aren't willing to switch from a clearly not effective hero. If the sole reason for playing competitive mode is to win, why do you think you "will get the groove" or that you just "need to wait, this hero will be effective"?

If you even start thinking about switching, JUST DO IT. Take care of the problem! 

Also, please don't tell your team you're going to switch "if this hero doesn't work". Why would you waste 2 minutes of their match time and give the enemy team ultimates? If you're sure you can make that Widow work, say it. If you're not sure, don't pick her.

Here are some quick tips on who should you be switching to:

  • Enemy has 2 tanks and / or a Roadhog - Reaper
  • Enemy has a lot of squishies and / or a Genji - Winston
  • You don't have a Reinhardt - Reinhardt
  • You don't have a second healer - second healer
  • You are on King of the Hill map - Lucio / Zarya / Reaper
  • Enemy has a Junkrat - Zarya / Pharah
  • Enemy Pharah giving you hell - McCree / Soldier / Ana
  • Enemy Ana giving you hell - Ana (because sleep dart and Nanaboost of your own)

Being a generalist

(thanks to Redditor a7an)

While filling in a needed team position is important - when you don't have a single healer for instance - don't be the guy who plays everything. Jack of all trades, master of none. 

Being a flex player is very very hard because you will spend so much time getting proficient with many heroes while one-trick ponies will climb with their Genjis and McCrees thanks to the practice they've put in.

I would recommend focusing on 3 heroes - tank, DPS, healer and always try to pick one of them, even if it means compromising the team composition a little - it's much easier to win if you play your godly Zarya than your shitty Ana. In one memorable game we even won with a team with no healers and 1 tank, just because we were all so good at DPS. But that was a lucky one :)

Not having a clue about team compositions

There are some basic compositions that are being used at the time of writing. If you want to avoid playing in a bad composition, try to choose one from the following blueprints:

Deathball (2/2/2): a balanced force of big HP and sustained DPS that stays grouped and kills everything in its path. Core members: Reinhardt, Reaper / McCree, Zarya

Dive: fast composition with high mobility and burst damage, blitzkrieg. Core members: Winston, Zarya, Genji / Tracer, Lucio

Beyblade: combo composition based on boosting Reaper while he kills everybody with his ult. Core members: Reaper, Zarya, Ana, Reinhardt

Pick: modified version of 3x3 strat based on picks with Hanzo and Roadhog thanks to sonic arrows. Core members: 2 tanks, Roadhog, Hanzo, Ana

And try to have 2 healers please. 

3. Bad positioning

Do you ever wonder what's the difference between a Diamond and a Grandmaster player? It's not the aim if you were thinking that. These players have comparable aim, but what's really different is how the play the game. It's about where do you position yourself, where do you shoot at the enemy, where do you break line of sight, where do you try to reload.

It's much much more important than you think it is and you probably aren't even aware of your mistakes. So let's illuminate the biggest fuckups in positioning - maybe you'll recognize yourself.

Not understanding what high ground is for

I imagine you've already heard that high ground is important. People have harder time shooting at you, you have a better time shooting at them, you can decide when to drop on them, etc etc.

But for some reason this high ground thing isn't working for you! Most of the time you just drop down and fight there. What is the reason why all PRO players always fight so hard about the high ground advantage?

It's actually pretty simple. Players below high Diamond levels don't understand that when the high ground is won they should stay there and shoot until the fight becomes lopsided for the enemy or there isn't another choice but to engage in close quarters combat. For example, Numbani point A. When you push to the high ground after the stairs, most low Diamond (and below) teams will just drop down if there is nobody to kill on the high ground itself. 

They willingly sacrifice the hard won position and lose all advantages instead of killing some enemies first and then dropping down on them. The same happens on Route 66. You can contest the cart from the top of the gas station and yet almost every time half of your team drops down because they feel the need to kill everything in sight, best while being completely in their faces.

And don't let me started about McCrees who drop down from a vantage point just because they want to flashbang someone below them. Why would you compromise your position for just 1 kill that will be back soon anyways? Sigh.

High ground is the place you shoot from and drop when you absolutely have to contest or when you have the advantage.

Walking in straight lines, predictable patterns

There's nothing easier than to shoot an enemy who moves in the same direction for 3 seconds. Okay, enraging a Russian Overwatch player is mayber easier, but still. Don't move in predictable patterns! Always stutter, do a quick A D A D spam and run again, otherwise that McCree or Widow is just gonna headshot you.

This also applies to when engaged in 1v1. Don't strafe to just left or right, move unpredictably, ALWAYS. Throw a crouch in that strafe for good measure. 

One warning: jumping puts you on a predictable pattern of movement and a good hitscan player will exploit that. It's good against projectiles though.

Not breaking the line of sight

If you are in a firefight and don't wanna be, the only way to get to safety is to run away. Or is it?

Safety is much closer than you think. If you watch some PRO player footage, you'll see that they are always close to a wall or an ingame object of sorts. Do you know why? Because when the enemy can't see you, he can' kill you. Of course neither can you, but if he doesn't manage to kill you he cannot win.

Always think about what piece of terrain you can use to break LoS (line of sight). Doorway, stairs, wall, payload, there is always something. And if there isn't, it's your fault for getting dragged into an open space.

Not being at good places to shoot from

A good place to shoot from is a one that makes it hard for the enemy to shoot at you. Think about how good Reaper players do it - they always teleport somewhere unexpected and surprise enemies with their ultimate, wiping almost all of them. That's what you should do with almost every hero actually.

Be at places enemies don't know you're at. Surprise them with an opening kill. Make them look around while you laugh and drink their blood from the freshly - harvested skulls!

What I mean to say, stop engaging your enemies at predictable spots. This doesn't mean you should be flanking all the time, just position yourself with your team in a way that's advantageous for you and not for them. Attack them from sides, from above, from behind if you're a Genji / Tracer.

Getting to and running away from lost fights

I can't believe that I have to repeat it over and over again, but here we go. Please, don't start fighting the enemy team when you're at a disadvantage. Don't peek, don't trade shots, don't even be close to them! WAIT AT THE SPAWN. I can't count how many times we had to wait 40 seconds more because some geniuses thought it would be a good idea to have a peeking contest with Mei and eat a popsicle in the face while we were respawning.

This also applies when the fight is clearly lost - break the line of sight and run away! Or jump off a cliff. Literally, just suicide* and don't give them ultimate charges. If you die 20 seconds later when the team is ready to attack again, they will have to wait another 20 seconds for you. And they'll be angry.

*Don't suicide in real life please, it's not worth it.

4. Bad mechanical skills

Maybe you know and maybe you think you're good. Maybe you are and maybe you aren't, I don't know. The thing is, bad mechanical skills play a role. Even if not so big as decision making and positioning, you still won't win if you can't point at the enemy (or an ally if you're a healer) and click the mouse button. Mechanical skill is harder to fix than decision making and positioning because it takes time spent practicing, so while I certainly recommend training mechanical skills, focus first on the former. Aaaanyways, let's check the common mistakes.

Playing heroes you have no right to play

We are talking about competitive mode here. Ranked is NOT A PLACE FOR PRACTICE. If you feel tilted or you want to have fun, kindly relocate your egoistical ass to Quick Play and have fun there. We are not interested in dealing with your sub-par skills on a hero you've played 1 hour but suddenly decided to "give a try".

If you know you are bad at flickshots, don't pick McCree or Widow. If you know you are bad at tracking, don't play Tracer. If you have no experience with D.VA or Junkrat, don't pick them.

When you start picking heroes you don't play in competitive, you sabotage your team's winning chances. And if you belong to those of you who don't care about losing when on tilt and don't care about dragging other people down, let me say something to you: FUCK. YOU.

Not practicing flicking and tracking as DPS player

As mentioned before, maybe you think you're good. But let me tell you something - if you were so good, you would have been in TOP 500 already. So clearly, you aren't.

That means you still have room for improvement and if you like to play DPS (as 80% of players do), you need to hone your skills.

Practice flicking with Ana training or on bots.

Practice tracking in OSU! or on bots. 

Deliberately invest 15 minutes each day in improvement at any of these areas and your winrate will skyrocket.

If you're not interested in investing time, you'll have to invest money. Check out what equipment pro Overwatch players use and get better in true "pay to win" style.

Flicking and other aim practice by Taimou

Ana headshot practice

5. Bad mentality

Mentality has the last place on this list because it's unbelievably hard to change someone's personality. During my time with the game I met some really nice people, some clearly deranged, some were full-fledged psychopats and other were just Russian.

The thing with mentality is that even if it's the hardest to fix, it's probably most important in Overwatch as it's a team game. Your mentality will decide if you're going to win, or if you're going to lose most of the time. Why? Because it impacts 3 other reasons you can't win ranked mentioned above: decision making, positioning and mechanical skills.

But sometimes, talking and recognizing the problem is all it takes to fix it, so let's have a look.

Being an overall asshole

A few days ago we met a Russian player in a game. I was on a McCree and Carl was on Genji. We didn't play our best game the first 30 seconds and got picked. In a milisecond the voice chat exploded with him demanding that we switch from our heroes, insults and a complete rage. It was like he was a real life Winston, only being all the time in ultimate - play my impression of him, it's fun.

We all have met a player like this. He's raging, he's easily triggered, he always blames his teammates for everything that goes wrong, he knows everything best and he's an all round unpleasant person. My mathematical skills which I have almost none tell me that having such a player in your team lowers the chances of winning by whopping 40%. 

This problem only exacerbates if the asshole is you, so here's a quick checklist to see if by any chance you're the real problem:

  • Do you get triggered easily by the smallest of slights?
  • Do you vent your frustrations vocally on your teammates?
  • Do you regularly blame others for losing vocally or in chat?
  • Do you have no problem in being rude, aggressive and loud to your teammates?
  • Do you believe that you're entitled to a perfect gameplay experience with a win?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, congratulations! You, sir, are an asshole (and part of the reason why you can't win ranked) and should try focusing on improving your attitude and resolving your emotional problems.

Blaming others constantly

The biggest problem with blaming others for everything bad that happens in the game isn't that you're tilting them and they have no real reason to help you win other than that they want to win too. The biggest problem is that when the game ends, you'd learned nothing and the next game you will be the same shitty player as you have always been.

When you blame others for your losses, you are effectively blinding yourself to the areas YOU need to improve at. You won't be able to see them if you honestly think everything is someone else's fault. 

Result? Those players you blame will improve and place higher and higher. You, on the other hand, will NOT IMPROVE and will stay in the shitty leagues for ever, because that's where you belong. MWAHAHAHAAAAA!

Not dropping the ego

I could talk about this for days and nights, because this was MY biggest reason for not improving and not winning. I was studying r/overwatchuniversity every night, I practiced for hours, I knew strategies, I lead my team, I shotcalled - and yet, my teammates went beyond Diamond and I got left right before the gates. I fell down to 2700, then back to 2960, then back again. Like 7 times. 

And I only broke the curse when I accepted one simple fact: that I don't know everything best. I started letting my teammates suggest ideas. I stopped taking offence when somebody told me to switch - instead I asked myself if I'm being effective or not and made a conscious choice. I started asking for critique and accepted that I was blind to my mistakes.

Suddenly, win streaks are back. Fun is back, too. And the game feels completely new to me. So many options in positioning, decision making, team compositions that I thought I knew and implemented...and yet I didn't.

Guys and gals, drop the ego. If you're not in TOP 500, you're not THAT good.

Playing indisposed and not taking breaks

Sorry for repeating myself again, but it needs to be said. 


If you feel the slightest pang of tilt, take a break.

If you don't feel good, if you're tired, if you're sick - don't play competitive. 

You're going against yourself and you will probably lose your rank. Whose fault will it be, then? Only yours.

A quick primer to get you started

So, how do you start with all of this? Let me give you a quick-start guide.

  1. Check the best gaming equipment used by pro players and see if you can upgrade.
  2. Check your game settings and make sure you're getting as much FPS as you can.
  3. Start using headphones and Dolby Atmos setting.
  4. Start surprising the enemy with your position, movement and picks.
  5. Study a bit on ultimate economy and use it in the game.
  6. Start running from bad fights and group at the spawn.
  7. Start practicing your aim.
  8. Stop being an asshole, drop your ego and accept you're not hot shit.
  9. Take breaks, have fun and IMPROVE.
  10. SHARE this guide NOW so we have more players like you - and a better community.
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