Hardstuck Platinum to Top 500 – My Ranked experience and the lessons I learnt.

Hello fellow gamers! Before I go into the subject, a little bit about myself: I go by the name of Falcon and I am a dedicated Overwatch player with my main role being Tank.
I stream at https://www.Twitch.tv/MrFalconLive if you want to have a discussion or share your ranked experience.
I came back to Overwatch after a few years away from it due to school, and I started playing around January 2021. I was a Platinum tank that would occasionally hit Diamond and then drop back down to Platinum, and recently I reached the Top 500 ladder and I can confidently say that I am a much better player now than I was back in January.

I have dedicated over 800 hours and over 1500 games over the last 7 months so I feel like my experience on the ranked journey would perhaps be better than very high ranked/pro players. The reason for this statement is that the elite players see a game through a different lens where they can see holes in a game and they capitalise on it, or they are simply better mechanically with good game sense. The players who do unranked to GM maybe spend less than 5 games in platinum and less than 30 games in Diamond. Whereas I have spent 100s of games in those ranks, therefore I see regular patterns/trends that tend to take place in ranked games.

I believe that because of the amount of time I put into the game in the ranks where a lot of the player base say they are hardstuck (which would include platinum and diamond), I feel that as a former hardstuck player, I can help identify what I changed, what I see were common issues in the ranked games during my climb and what was successful for me.

I would like to preface this post by saying that this is 100% from my ranked journey, so if some comments I say are not matching with your experience of ranked or if you do not agree with my statements, that is fair, however, this is what I learnt and used to help me with my climb.

Lesson 1: Your teammates may not be competent. What I mean by this statement is that at most ranks, your teammates may not be able to do the role that they are supposed to do, whether that is playing tank/dps/support successfully, where tanks create space, DPS output damage and supports heal their teammates (this is a very general statement, I am aware the game is more complicated than that). The second layer to this statement is that to add onto their role, they may not be competent with the hero they choose, therefore not utilising their advantages.

Example: Zarya is a tank who has a personal bubble (particle barrier) and a friendly bubble (projected barrier) which can cause the hero who has the bubble to be immune to crowd control effects, damage as well as cleansing the hero such as removing the purple effect from Ana's biotic grenade which blocks healing for a short period of time. During the use of Zarya's bubble, if the bubble takes damage, Zarya will get charge to her weapon, thus dealing more damage.

Some players, including myself, would use the Zarya's friendly bubble to gain charge to her weapon to deal more damage, but when a team-mate is in danger and the bubble is unavailable, the team-mate dies due to not having the bubble available to protect them. This is an example of not utilising the hero to it's potential, where a great strength of Zarya is to negate threats from the opposing team.

To continue with lesson 1, the lesson I learnt is that your team-mates may not be using their hero's abilities well enough to maximise the team's potential. Another form of lack of competence is mechanical issues such support players using heroes which require aim like Ana, and not being able to heal team-mates sufficiently due to the mechanical skill that is required to do so. This would also apply to the DPS role.

As a tank player, some tanks from my experience require more assistance than others, Reinhardt is tank who has a very short range besides his firestrike and can be very effective if his team-mates are able to utilise him. I noticed that in platinum/diamond I was not able to get as much as value from him as opposed to playing Reinhardt with Masters/Grandmasters/Top500 players where my main purpose was to hold shield so my DPS can dish out the damage.

In other words, I found myself needing to do more than just playing the “tank” role. I had to be the damage dealer, and have enough self sustain or ways to heal myself if my supports were busy healing other team-mates. So I then switched to playing Roadhog and Zarya as opposed to playing Reinhardt.

I understand many people call Roadhog an ult battery, however for me he was a great pick because: he can kill 1 opponent at a time very quickly, he can heal himself, therfore not relying on healers much, and he is tanky so he can create space and play frontline if he has to.

I picked Zarya because Zarya's abilities allows her to reduce the number of mistakes that occur by your team-mates and in-fact, you as Zarya get rewarded by some mistakes due to the charge granted if the enemy damage your bubbles. Furthermore, Zarya regenerates her blue health if she is not attacked after a few seconds, thus her having some self-sustain.

TL;DR: play heroes where you don't need to depend on your team-mates as much, therefore you having more control of the game's result.

By playing these 2 heroes, I was able to get one or the other irrespective of what my 2nd tank would play, and therefore knowing that I will feel comfortable with my hero choice in each game which brings me to my 2nd lesson.

Lesson 2: Understand your hero's purpose and how to maximise them. In order for you to play well with your hero is to understand what your abilities do, what threat does it bring to the enemy team, and how can your team-mates capitalise with your hero.

Example: Ana's biotic grenade temporarily does not allow enemies hit to be healed, resulting in their health bars to be purple. Perhaps in some scenarios it is better to use the biotic grenade to cause the enemy team to be purple as opposed to throwing it at your team-mates who are not at the risk of dying, but you do it because it is a faster way to heal them.

Learn your heroes, their abilities, their range, and in what scenarios they can be used.

Example: Zarya's ultimate can be used offensively and defensively, it can be used to get a team-kill with a combo ultimate from another hero, or it can be used defensively to stop the enemy attack.
2 examples are Zarya & Hanzo's ultimate for a team-kill, or Zarya's ultimate to isolate a nano-bladed Genji.

I learnt from my experience that sometimes not using my Roadhog hook was more effective than actually using it, because the threat of the hook landing was more dangerous than me getting a kill. Another example is a Reinhardt not using shatter but the enemy team understands that you have it. By the enemy Reinhardt knowing you have your ultimate, they are forced to play defensively otherwise they can be punished with a shatter.

How to learn this: watching players in higher ranks, watch your replays and evaluating your ability usage.

TL;DR: Learn your heroes, how to use your abilities well, your weapon/abilities range and ways to use it offensively and defensively.

Lesson 3: Mechanical competence. This lesson is a bit harsh but it has to be said in order for you to evaluate your gameplay. I define mechanical skill with aim, so if you are playing an aim-intensive hero such as Widowmaker, and you are unable to get kills, then you are not getting value from the hero. One of the reasons why I love Overwatch is that it has heroes which are not aim-intensive. This provides opportunities for players to climb the ranks by playing other heroes and using their game sense.

If you enjoy playing hitscan heroes and you want to climb with those heroes, then perhaps dedicating time to improving aim, and considering sensitivity, mouse grip style, mouse, mousepad and other variables when wanting to improve aim.

Just keep in mind, you can climb the ranked ladder playing any hero, you just have to play it well. I'm sure you can YouTube any “Unranked to GM” series and type any hero in the search bar and you'll find it. So if you feel that you have to play hitscan to climb, or you have to play an aim-intensive hero to climb, the answer is you don't need to despite the META. Playing META only becomes very important in high masters/GM and even then you will still see one-tricks. Check now in the Overwatch leaderboards, you will see Symmetra one-tricks, Winston, Roadhog, Brigitte etc.

TL;DR: If you feel that you are not climbing due to lack of mechanical skill, then perhaps pick a less aim-intensive hero and see how that goes.

Lesson 4: Cooldown/Ultimate Tracking It is very important to have an idea of all the cooldowns for all enemies, so you can play around the cooldowns and capitalise the time they do not have their abilities/ultimate available.

Example: If your Zarya & Hanzo have ultimates ready, and the Zen has just used transcendence, you can confidently use Zarya & Hanzo's ultimate knowing that they do not have a counter to your combo. Learn the cooldowns of all hero abilities, and how fast they build ultimates so you can anticipate enemy team ultimate combos and other abilities.

How to learn this: Google all the heroes and list the cooldown times. Play the game with the intention of tracking and see if you can predict correctly. If you don't want to play, then watch streams/full matches and see if you can predict ultimates correctly.

TL;DR: learn the cooldowns and ultimate cooldown for all heroes and use the information to your advantage for counter-play or calculated aggression.

Lesson 5: Positioning is key. Positioning is very important, it is the most important part of the game, to the point that even in professional level, players are punished for their positioning. This is the hardest to learn and it can be very complicated and very situational. This will be difficult to cover, but for now, the general rule of thumb I would recommend is to ask yourself: am I in a safe position? Will I die if I continue to stay here? Am I able to maximise my advantages and minimise theirs? Do I have an exit route if this area gets dangerous where I can return to my team safely or not die? Positioning is a very difficult topic to cover but I can share what I learnt during my ranked climb.

I noticed that almost every game, teams would move together as a unit of 6 and play together. It would be rare to see off-angles where heroes would attack an enemy from multiple angles thus making it difficult for the enemy to stay protected. The reason why I loved playing Roadhog was that if I landed one hook and get a kill, it is just a 6v5 brawl and if we are all equally skilled then the 6v5 would favour my team. However, this leads to my next lesson.

TL;DR: Positioning is very complicated but in general, ask yourself if you are safe, are you in an advantageous position, and if you will die if you continue to stay in your current position.

Lesson 6: Target priority Following from Lesson 5, I learnt that target priority can win or lose a team fight. You need to ask yourself who is the biggest threat and what hero of theirs would give their team the biggest disadvantage? Is it their main healer? Is it their DPS who is getting majority of the picks? Is it their hero who has an ultimate that can counter your next ultimate combo?

Example: Killing the Mercy when they have a pocket Pharah, once the Mercy is killed, the second support will have a difficult time healing the Pharah as the remaining support has to heal the entire team. Once you identify this, and eliminate priority targets, you shift the team-fight to your favour.

TL;DR: Identify who is the biggest threat and what kill would result to your team having the largest advantage/is the team-fight winning play.

Lesson 7: Communicate with your team-mates. I play on EU Server and I understand not everyone likes to communicate, however, it is a large part of the game. I'm sure you have won games due to your team-mates calling out a key cooldown that the enemy used and you have lost games because your team-mates didn't coordinate an attack correctly due to nobody communicating.

If you do not want to communicate with voice chat, then at least join voice chat so you can hear call-outs for team members. If voice chat is quiet, then maybe use text chat to call out cooldowns, however, that is more difficult to do during a team-fight.

For those who watch my streams they see me call out almost everything in most games, and I have won plenty of games just because of better coordination even if the enemy team had more skilled players. Overwatch is a team-game, and communicating allows your team to know what is going on.

TL;DR: Use voice chat to call out strategies/cooldowns, where the enemy is, if you don't want to communicate then at least join voice to hear team-mates call out information which could help you and the rest of the team.

Lesson 8: Team Synergies. I understand in Lesson 1, I said to play heroes which are more independent, however if you recognise that your team-mates are competent enough to where you can trust each team-mate to do their role, then you should consider thinking about synergies.

By synergies I mean what heroes work well together, such as Reinhardt + Zarya, Winston + Zarya, Mercy + Pharah, Genji + Ana etc. If you are confident in a hero which would compliment your team-mates choice of hero, then you may have more success as hero synergies maximise their potential together. Playing Reinhardt and Zarya will allow Reinhardt to play more aggressive, Genji with Ana's ultimate could lead to a team-kill. Ask your team-mates who are their best heroes and try to synergise with them.

TL;DR: Ask yourself what heroes would work best together to maximise their potential, play if you are competent with the hero.

Lesson 9: Toxicity/Avoid list. If you have a game where your team-mates or the enemy was throwing on purpose, being toxic and bringing the team morale down, avoid that player. If you decide to re-queue straight away, there is a chance that you play with or against them, and you would probably want to play against them.

If they are being toxic during the game, mute them and tell your team-mates to mute them, it is only a distraction and you already have enough to focus on which is the game, you don't want to be distracted by a team-mate who is getting angry at a team-mate or yourself.

TL;DR: Avoid toxic players/players who throw/negative attitude, mute them to free yourself from their distraction, focus on the game.

Lesson 10: Knowing when to take a break. This follows from Lesson 9 which is that if you have a bad game and you feel frustrated, angry or upset, take a break. Give yourself 5-10 minutes to relax, watch a video, play your favourite song, do something to take your mind off the game. Once you feel better and you feel that you are no longer thinking about the previous game, then start your next game.
Once I learnt to do this, I was able to focus better and have a more positive attitude with my team-mates, resulting to a better outcome of my games.

TL;DR: If you get tilted, take a break, do something else to take a step away from the game, then go back to it when you feel better.

Conclusion: All of these lessons I have learnt from my own experience of playing ranked, I hope I have helped someone from this post, if you have any questions or want to talk about your experience, you can find me at https://www.Twitch.tv/MrFalconLive

If I have anything else to add, I will edit this post or make a new post another time.
Hope you all have a great day! <3


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