An Open Letter To My Jerk Overwatch Teammate

Dear person whose name I already forgot (but it was probably something like xxShadowK1ller or BradTheMadDogBongster), we need to talk. Last night, we were on the same Overwatch team. You may not have noticed me. You seemed pretty preoccupied typing, "YOU GUYS SUCK," "PUSH HARDER AARGH FUCK" and "THIS IS BULLSHIT" in chat. I imagine all that straining and grunting and failing to stop playing McCree even once was very hard on you. I hope you're well.

I feel like we got off on the wrong foot. It's just that, when I tried my best to politely (and I do mean that; I keep my passive-aggressive rage in my brain and articles) suggest that perhaps we were losing because we didn't have a formation, I was the only support, nobody was tanking or flanking and it seemed like everyone assumed that our seventh teammate, Casper The Friendly Ghost, would push the payload, you didn't offer much in the way of constructive feedback. Or anything, for that matter. You just kept running back into the fray and yelling at everyone when, MYSTERIOUSLY, we didn't make any progress.

But I don't think it was entirely your fault. Let me clarify: I think it was disproportionately your fault, and I don't like you as a person, but I don't feel like you were wholly to blame. See, Overwatch matches have a way of falling apart if you're not playing with friends or one of those instantly well-oiled machine teams where, for a couple precious games, everyone just clicks. Increasingly, I've come to believe that this is a result of Overwatch's own systems fraying at the seams just as much as it is toxic player behaviour.

Allow me to explain: Overwatch bills itself as a game that's all about teamwork and strategy. Both of these goals are supposed to be accomplished through frequent hero switching and plays that benefit the team as a unit — even if they sometimes come at the expense of your personal elimination count, damage dealt, objective time and so on. Then the game's lightning-quick matches conclude, and the game contradicts the hell out of itself.

Video courtesy of OneAmongstMany.

I don't mean to beat a dead horse, but it all starts with Play Of The Game, which heavily favours individual kill streaks over teamwork, tanking, support or the myriad of other things you can and should be doing in Overwatch. People can win POTG for saving lives or denying ults, but it's a rarer occurrence. Regardless, POTG doesn't tell the story of the match. There's little context, nothing to learn from beyond DO THE COOL KILLS.

I can't count the number of matches I've been in where the real Play Of The Game — the pivotal moment that decided the outcome of the match, whether it was smart use of a hero pick, great team play, or something else — went totally unappreciated. I've posted about a fan mock-up of a POTG system that zeroes in on moments of great team play, and I really do believe the game needs something like that. Without it, the subtle lesson is, "Be a lone wolf. That will get you instant gratification." It's a lesson already embedded in FPS mechanics, and reinforcing it flies in the face of everything Overwatch tries to accomplish.

Post-match commendations and medals, meanwhile, focus on your accomplishments with individual heroes as opposed to providing a more complete picture of your overall impact on a match. Both systems track various numbers (damage output, healing, objective time, eliminations and so on) with each hero you played. Again, the lack of context kills. If you want to get on the commendation board or win medals, it simply makes more sense to stick with one hero for a whole match (ensuring your numbers are better) rather than switching, even if the moment calls for it. Granted, you're missing out on that nice XP boost for, you know, winning the match, but there's not too huge of an XP disparity between a win and a loss in Overwatch.

Both of these systems also favour DPS-driven offensive heroes or cavalier plays (a crazy Reinhardt charge and so on) over more subtle roles, further discouraging people from switching to a character that might be able to turn the tide or save the day.

None of these systems alone push Overwatch in a direction that leads to dickhead rage-fests and salt avalanches, but taken together and lumped atop a first-person shooter — a genre notorious for facilitating lone wolf play styles because instant gratification is baked into the very act of playing one — it adds up. When a game is at odds with itself, there's bound to be friction.

Maybe things will be better once competitive mode (now in beta) properly launches. It will naturally attract a crowd more focused on winning and skill over playing Overwatch like it's any other shooter. Granted, competitive modes have a tendency to create their own sorts of toxicity.

Still though, a lot of players are put off by the pressure that comes with a competitive mode, and I think it's kinda ludicrous that they might have to look there for players who'll prioritise even the game's most basic objectives and team dynamics.

All that is to say, Blizzard has work to do. So I get it, xxShadowK1ller or BradTheMadDogBongster. I understand why Overwatch can be especially frustrating. It often feels like you're doing the right things — because the game is telling you that you are — but matches still aren't going your way. In that light, a nuclear meltdown over the fact that your team doesn't exist simply to carry your shit-spewing arse is almost forgivable.

You're still a dick, though.


    Love it. Almost everyday there is always one of these people on. I think they just love hearing their voice or their own opinions spread out across the team. What do they expect if you are in a pug group. If it pains you so much, get some of your friends otherwise just have fun.

      Yup. What do people expect when they play pug? Reasonable people? Ha. I just focus on healing my team mates as much as possible and switching to whatever role the team needs, but I sure as shit dont expect others to do it, let alone thanks for my efforts especially thanks given to me by the game (potg or commendations).

        I see a fair bit of switching in solo queue, although there are some players who never switch even from game to game, offensive to defensive etc.

        On PS4 at least the medals are awarded for overall performances and then individual hero performances are shown afterwards in green if you improved on your PB with that hero.

          Yeah I know, im talking about the voting bit after POTG.
          Pretty happy as long as I get near or above my averages and PBs.

    Amen, brother, I feels ya. I've lost count of the games I've played where I'm the only player pushing the objective while everyone else is off "lone wolfing" usually as mcree or Mr DieDieDie. The number of times I've cleared the first point of stupid turrets with Winton only to see the rest of my team hanging back waiting for the magical capture fairy to take the objective... Running past my Reinhardt shield .... Running away from my Lucio trying to heal them (and don't even get me started on trying to play mercy)

    It's made up for by the games where it does click though... And to be fair I've had more of those overall I think. the ones where people actually change their pick if someone picks their toon at the same time, people who wait for their teammates to catch up before jumping into the fray, who actually read what their teammates are doing and act accordingly. Who protect their healer and appreciate their tanks. Those are the games worth playing.

    Totally agree that POTG has a lot to do with it; personally I think certain characters need to have their kills "weighted" by how difficult it is to achieve with their character, as a start at least. Personally, getting POTD as Toblerone where the highlight is me running back from the spawn as my turrets finish off a few kills off screen is just embarrassing...

      I really dislike the people spamming the "i need healing" emote when running away from the objective AND my Lucio/Mercy.

      But that's exactly what I get for playing pug.

        Or the 'I need armor' before the match even starts, I mean don't people understand you needs 'scrap' to make armor ....

      Do you play on PS4? I ran into someone with a very similar user name to you.

      People are just far too unaware in this game. They possesses no positional awareness, and just do things on their own. It's so frustrating.

      Reinhardts that drop their shield or charge straight in leaving the teammates (and healer) they were protecting to die, and in turn die themselves because they're not as invincible as they thought.

      People let the enemy walk right in half the time and kill Mercy. "Oh look a tracer/gengi just ran behind our team - better not do anything about that."
      "Did I just hear someone say 'Death comes..'? Hmm.. probs best to ignore it."

      People that run past Reinhardts shield - like why... you have a fucking shield protecting you, why go off on your own, unprotected and die?

      Healers that don't preference the tank

      And people that refuse to pick an appropriate class or switch during the game. Nothing is more annoying when youre the healer and you tell your team we need a tank, and the second gengi will reply with "Why don't you" - cause im the fucking healer, that's why.

      I'm hoping that as the game get's older, it's players will become better. People need to wake up and realise this isn't COD.

    I actually quit a match because of this. The team refused to work together and just kept running out and dying. The enemy team should not be capable of capturing your defense point within 10 seconds of the match starting.. Cost me 75% of my XP for some time, but it just wasn't worth the effort.

      It's totally awesome though when within a minute of the game starting you are 100% sure you are going to lose, but then your team somehow scrapes out a win, particularly on a payload defence where the offensive team is within 10m of the final objective with 7 minutes to go.

        Yeah often times I'll be on a pretty crap team at the start but more often than not we find our feet and at least put up a fight.

        Agreed that's a great feeling. But when you know that the team is just gonna keep running in and getting slaughtered, there's no point.

    You don't even need to be part of a group or need to play with friends. So long as you understand that switching heroes and countering specific playstyles is not only easy but required. I can't believe how often I see people just flat out fail to kill turrets. I'll even switch to Reinhartd and take their shots but, hey, friendly McCree and friendly Pharah, why aren't you standing behind my shield and lining up a shot? Oh, you're dead now.

    Last night I lost a match against a team that had 4 Pharahs, I was the only person who was directly countering her. I can't blame the support, who was doing his job, or the tanks, who were taking the focus. But lone Junkrat player, what chance do you think you have with your ground based traps and slow grenades?

    Suck up your pride, you're not as good maining one hero as you think you are and your K/D ratio isn't as important as MLG makes you think it is.

      Honestly, if people realised they should swap team comps/heroes regularly they would win more games. The only time I don't swap off a hero is when I'm making a lot of work with it.

    the people who i cant stand are those who spam "we need a healer", I wish I wasnt on console so I can type "well be one already and shut up"... especially when the person in question is just a second Hanzo. And we already have a Reinhardt, Mei, Tracer, Hanzo x2, D.Va (PS we ended up crushing them, it make it even funnier)

    I used to be Jerk Overwatch Teammate, getting frustrated when 5 people pick offensive heroes and I'm the lone tank, trying to work an objective that no one seems interested in coordinating around, turning on my mic to vent my frustration and suggest (usually profanely) that people switch characters and try thinking about team composition. But I decided to change myself by using those trash games full of clueless team mates to spend time practicing with heroes I'm not as strong with or trying different tactics and playstyles. I figure, if I'm going to get stomped, I might as well spend that time doing something productive.

      the problem is some people seem to think you have to play defensive heroes on defence maps and vice versa. and the teams have to be balanced in a logical way. and you have to have a healer. No to all that. But skill goes beyond that (and so does team work) I play tracer often on both defence and attack and I am pretty ruthless. I think its way less about their choices or the fact they just dont know what they are doing.

      I would rather play on a map with people playing the characters they want to and are comfortable with, than forcing them to change what I think is the ideal... this whole character switching is a tad overrated.

      that said I was playing my first few games as Reinhardt (and I HATE tanks in every game ever, except D.VA <3 ) but the only way we could win was if we had one, spent the whole game either being charged and killed by the other one or by this Hanzo set up behind our lines, killing everyone because no one saw him, so no other player wouldnt kill him. had to change characters just to do it myself until he moved, then went back to Reinhardt.

        I'd somewhat agree that every successful team doesn't require every archetype such as tank, healer, DPS. For me it's more about countering or playing against the other team's composition/strategy. Sometimes 3 offensive heroes is perfect, other times no offensive heroes is more optimal.

        I just get frustrated when we are throwing ourselves against the enemy with zero success and people have that "maybe if I keep doing the same thing over and over, something will magically change" attitude. It's like, the enemy has a Mei and a Bastion that are tearing us apart and two of our guys are Reapers who are just feeding them kills, that frustrates me because there are such obvious counters to every hero but instead of playing around the enemy choices, some people just wanna play the character they want no matter how ineffective it is. I love playing as Winston, Hanzo, Reinhart and Reaper for example but making sure I'm always ready to change to a character I enjoy less in order to compliment our team or counter the opponents. Lucio is probably my least favourite character but sometimes we're in a situation where I know he'd be perfect for giving our team that edge over the opponents. Some people don't share that team spirit, some people play in a more self centred manner and they like "nope, this is my guy I play, no exceptions."

        Edit: re playing defensive heroes on defensive maps etc. I'm totally with you there. Yesterday I was blown away by a guy on our team I don't normally play with who was playing offensive Symmetra and it was really something! I also enjoy a good defensive Reinheart.

        Last edited 23/06/16 11:12 am

          oh gosh yeah, so many of my games are like that lately. I have got very good at taking out turrets with Tracer simply because I got so sick of people killing everything else around the area but leaving them to last. Or killing the healer last. WTF? Which is pretty much always gaming 101, get rid of the people saving others. hehe

          I've thought that occasionally an Offensive Symmetra would be excellent. Putting up an Offensive teleporter makes so much sense, yet, never happens. I guess because she's not DPS enough for most people, and she's also a bit lacking in support that nobody considers her alongside or instead of the other supports.

            I played with a Symmetra who was clever enough to put her laser turrets under the payload and smash the Tracers and Genjis who came to pick off the payload pushers. Won POTG for killing 5 people. Well deserved. And yes offensive portals need to be a thing. Defending team didn't know what the hell was going on.

              Wow, didn't even think of putting them under the payload. That's a great idea. Mind you people will probably cry because you put them in a hard to hit spot :P

              The problem a lot of teams forget on Offense is if you all trickle in one at a time, there is no pressure on the defense. If you put an offensive teleporter down the team can at least get to where they need to be quicker and keep the pressure on. It would also offset the lack of proper heals, as survivability wouldnt be as critical if you can just jump straight back into the fray.

                Next time you play Junkrat try popping your grenades under the payload to hit the players behind it taking cover or hurt Reinheart behind his shield. There are some pretty brilliant ideas I have seen some people have come up with. I love coming up from the underneath part of the kings row finish point as Farah and ultimate spamming a team that is completely unaware that you are even there. Planting the a pulse bomb under the payload as tracer and zipping out and getting a quad kill instead of a single Reinheart kill is a thing I like doing. Same thing with bouncing hanzos scatter shot under the payload is another nice trick.

            I played offensive Symmetra on Illios last night and had top eliminations. We won. Playing Symmetra pushing a payload is a bit more dicey, and attacking a control point as Symmetra is pretty crazy, but KOTH games can be won by a good Symmetra allowing fallen team mates to get back on point to sustain the attack. The no-aiming-required gun she carries is legitimately scary if you can stay connected for a few seconds. Works best on Tracer and Genji (unless they blink away), Widowmaker, Lucio, Mercy, Torbjorn (if not Molten) and D.Va - doesn't work that well on Mei, Bastion, Winston or Reinhardt. Jumping around helps.

            I do it all the time. I commonly get a 2 kdr playing her offensive. She is awesome at close range and I have some good hidey spots for teles.

            I find her the most useful support personally. Mercy is a powerhouse of a healer but I just can't get used to not being able to defend myself efficiently as her.

        You should definitely try and play as someone you're comfortable with, but you also have to align your methodology with the teams. Tracer is a good all round character because she has good survivability and can be extremely effective in the right hands and isn't really let down by any map/mode, so she's a bit of a bad example. Really though, irrespective of if you're boss at Tracer, you need to be able to play other characters to make sure you can switch out if required.

        I think the most glaring example of when switching is required is the capture the point maps like Nepal and Ilios. I was in this pug game where I was Lucio, and everyone else decided to go a mix of Offense/Defense. What happened? We could occasionally take the point, but couldnt hold it because we had no Tank. It was so painfully obvious, and yet everyone was merrily running around doing what they felt like. As soon as I changed to Reinhardt we actually had a presence on the point and could keep the pressure up long enough to get back in the game. But we then lost because our team was robbed of a healer.

        Then you get those games where you end up with 3 Widows or 3 Hanzos (or 3 anything for that matter but some are worse than others). This happens way too often. I have not seen a game where more than 1 (maybe 2 in some occasional circumstances) is warranted. Because snipers sit back and hit from afar, they are by nature not progressing the objective, and you end up with a situation where it's 3 or 4 vs 6. Yes Widow or Hanzo #4786, you might be racking up the Eliminations, but the PAYLOADS NOT MOVING.

          yeah I have had things like that similar as Mercy. I have been really wanting to play her a lot but between not being fast enough in choosing her first, the other teams were full of of Hanzos and tracers and junkrant types who on mass act on the extremes on the maps. tried a few games as Mercy trying to heal those type of combos but it was next to useless (well in those particular groups), then get abused when I change to something else better suited.

          Bahahaha about the payload stuff. Yep. Had games like that with tracer where I ended up with most adjective team of the whole team?!!! not exactly the best use of her time but no one else was doing it. To say nothing of the fact people dont realise just because you have defeat the team, dont stand around, get on the payload together and reverse it. (personally I think that should reward flame points as well) Thats my main bugbear. And watching widowmakers not running for the square in the dying seconds of a capture.

    We had an opponent complain about their teammates, so I asked them, if you don't like it, why don't you just leave? Which they promptly did. Had it not occurred to them sooner?

    I just turn side chat off, or in games where it can't be, I stick a piece of cardboard over the chat box (another advantage of a 21:9 monitor). Games are 100x more enjoyable now.

    I don't agree with this at all, and people probably need to get over it a bit.

    Look at MOBAs. I used to play DotA a lot. In that team composition is more important than in OW, and you can't change after you pick. Did this deter people from last picking Slark into a lineup with no support? Hell no. Everyone thinks they're the hero in some way or the other, look at the guy writing this article. There's this horrible condescending tone and an assumption that if he just played with more people who want to take the objective (i.e people like him) then his games will be more enjoyable, or that if people did as he said then they'd win more.

    In your game with this terrible person, did the following things occur to you?

    1. Perhaps the McCree has healed/tanked the last 8 games and he's sick of having to do it too?

    2. Perhaps he looks at his medals and sees he's gold on everything but healing. Perhaps he's nailed the Phara that keeps killing everyone quite a few times and feels that if he switches to Rheinhardt then the team will suffer more.

    3. Are you actually getting anything done as the support? People think they're immune to criticism because they picked Mercy. If you're not keeping anyone alive and there's no tank to cover you then perhaps you should switch. I know this sounds counter intuitive, but I've won many games with no healer where I pick up the hog and ruin faces and heal myself. I got the dream 5 gold medals in a game last night where we held them at the second checkpoint on road 66.

    I play pretty much all the heroes (except D.VA... I don't get it), I like healing, tanking and ruining the game as Mei. I understand other people enjoy the game differently. If I don't like what they say, I mute them. If I don't like their picks, I'll suggest once what we need and otherwise try to play around it. None of the stuff you complain about here is unique to OW, it's far worse in any of the MOBAs. It has nothing to do with the PoTG or the cards. This is purely how people interact when something has gone wrong and they're the hero of the story so it must be another person's fault. McCree's the easy mark in this story because he broke rank and acted like a dick first, he's also playing McCree which is one rung above Genji.

      Totally agree, was saying this to someone before. They were playing Mercy but struggling to heal because there team was too spread out. Then stop playing Mercy! Pick someone who will be helpful. Maybe you will still lose but better than banging your head against the wall.

        The abuse I've received for switching from support has scarred me so bad I just stick with it.

          What do you play on. I have only had one obnoxious guy on my team and that was launch day. I'm on Ps4

            PC. It's pretty bad sometimes gotta brace for the abuse if you are trying a new character or when you fuck up an ulti

              Ah that sucks. Like I say it's pretty friendly on PS4

    It's jerks like this who totally put me off playing multiplayer games with strangers.

    I've found I enjoy Lucio quite a lot these days, as I get zip around and heal as needed. Getting alt-fire POTG off of ledges is really fun as well (but I don't seem to EVER get a POTG for popping my Shield ult to finishing capping the point / delivering the payload...)

    What is less fun is when you're the lone tank, on the objective and the rest of your team assumes it's handled. I can't do much when my Rhine shield is up, but I can soak damage! YOU guys need to do the shooting!

    I was called a noob tank the othernight by a zay player because he was annoyed that I kept pushing the objective - making an dumb assumption that the other players would actually follow me in. It was very, very frustrating.

    Had some salty player the other day call me the worst tracer because I was flanking keeping a bastion and torb occupied so they could push into the capture point without the fear of getting mowed down instantly. Did it get me kills? No. Did I get glory? No. But it's just a shame that this team didn't know what I was playing at and got destroyed by a semi solid defence without 2 heavy hitters because they focusing on me.

    Rage ensued and ramdon bro-hero x decided to cuss me out in post match.

    Dear player callofdudebroherox1337 learn to recognise the potential other players are giving the team sacrificing their own personal glory.

    After a long day at work last night I decided to chill out on Overwatch for a bit. After a few average rounds my team started to seem more interested in hello emotes and comments on Widowmaker's rear end then any sort of cooperation I found myself on the defence side with 2:30 to defend the payload.

    Which by this stage was a mere 10m from the last objective. A shameful effort I thought!

    Our team after seeing we were about to be humiliated, woke up. Everyone stopped going solo, looked up from our virtual arse-cheeks and we all switched classes ending up with a good mix. We finally got into position.

    Reinhart was on the enemy side of the payload with a sneaky bastion behind his sheild, a hanzo skulked on the ledge above, keeping them from flanking.

    A Mercy zipped between him and myself on the ground as Soldier 76 as I was hopping from side to side of the payload spamming 76's rockets. A Mei also kept delaying the enemy advance a few meters infront with the ice walls.

    For just under two and a half minutes we held the payload from moving the last 2m but then we had some bad luck with a well timed ult or two and we had full team wipe :-(

    Suddenly someone jumped in a mic that had been silent all match. He asked everyone if there alts were ready, which three of us were. We rushed ahead as one group, 20 seconds remaining and 2m left before the enemy won.

    Our Reinhart hit the jets and his ultimate, knocking down most of the team, Mei froze them all and I hit 76's visor and unleased. Full team wipe. Winning the match with less then a meter to spare. Much celebration was had!

    Then came PoTG, we waited in great anticipation to see a replay of our game winning play, to rub salt in the wounds of our enemies!

    Then the Play of the Game came..... it was an enemy bastion from the first minute of the match who cut down three of us as we ran past his corner.....

    I left and played The Witcher for the rest of the night.

    TLDR: Play of the Game doesn't mean shit.

    Last edited 23/06/16 4:13 pm

    Amen to this. A little bit of communication goes a lot way - easy on PC for sure, but even on consoles throwing out a quick status update on your ultimate can pay off.
    Check out this Reinhardt and I nabbing victory with a little bit of communication (he deserved POTG if you ask me).

    Overwatch is incredibly fun and intensely frustrating at the same time if you're playing PUGs. I've found that even with a loosely co-ordinated and capable team you will win at least some matches but most of the time the reason you lose is because everyone just runs around trying to kill people instead of focusing on the objective.

    Play of the Game and a kudos system that seems to prioritise kill streaks and eliminations over support and skill are both incredibly detrimental to educating people about how to play smartly and as a team. Blizzard really needs to redesign both of the systems so people start seeing that teamwork gets the rewards.

    What still baffles me is that there are still players, even players who have prestiged, who have absolutely no idea how to deal with turrets.

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