The Triple Tank Strategy Is Taking Over Competitive Overwatch

The Triple Tank Strategy Is Taking Over Competitive Overwatch

The meta of a competitive game is a curious thing. As balance and tactics evolve, so do the prescribed best practices for coming out on top no matter what your foes (and the greatest foe of all, life) throw at you. That's natural. It keeps the game interesting. When one strategy becomes too dominant, however, you've got a problem. Is Overwatch's "triple tank" — AKA "triple tank-triple support" or "double triple" — strategy unfairly devastating? For now, that's the big debate among Overwatch's more strategically minded players, especially those in the pro scene. Regardless, pros and players alike level two main criticisms against it: 1) It doesn't take a ton of skill to pull off, and 2) it's boring to watch. If you're trying to brew up a tasty esports stew, those are the last ingredients you want on your list.

Remember when everyone was complaining about Genji? This is what they're complaining about now.

As it currently exists, the triple tank strategy revolves around a few central pillars. Team composition is made up of three tanks and three supports. One of the tanks is usually Reinhardt, and one of the supports pretty much must be Ana. As you'd expect, having three supports provides plenty of cushion for tanks' pushin', allowing the big boys and girls to be more liberal with their offence. Once Ana's ult charges — which doesn't take much time given that she has three giant, easy-to-hit targets for her healing shots — she uses it on Reinhardt, transforming him into a roaring engine of pure destruction.

Often credited to pro team NiP, the strategy has become especially prevalent in pro matches and the mid-to-upper echelons of Overwatch's competitive mode. It's reliant on the fact that tanks are hella survivable, anti-tank characters aren't doing so hot these days (see: Zenyatta's nerf; Pharah's lack of viability against D.Va's revamped defence matrix; Zarya just as, you know, a concept and so on), and Ana's ult is a fantastic stalemate breaker.

As I said earlier, the arguments against the strategy generally congeal into something along the lines of, "It's boring and takes no skill." For example, here's Team Dignitas player Artur "art1er" Bischof saying basically that exact thing in an interview:

We call the triple-tank Meta cancer Meta. Until now that was Genji Winston, but not anymore. The Meta doesn't really make much sense in our eyes. The tank just goes to the front, takes damage and Ana heals until she has her Ultimate and can Nano-Boost. To me that kind of play has nothing to do with skill. After that it's just a couple of swings with the Hammer and you get mauled by Reinhardt. It's really just an abuse of the mechanic.

Bischof argued that Ana needs to be nerfed, and something needs to be done to non-tank DPS heroes. It's not that they're weak, he said, but they hit a (sort of literal) wall against three tanks.

Of course, nerfing Ana and buffing DPS heroes might just slam the see-saw in the other direction — especially in regard to anyone playing Ana basically ever — so that might not be the most elegant solution.

Many players have also pointed out that triple tank violates Overwatch's holy trinity of twos: Two tanks/two offence/two healers. It's not, in other words, a "standard" team composition. Why put multiple roles into the game, after all, if players are only gonna use two of them to fill out a full six-person team?

Others, however, consider that a plus. For the first time, a non-standard, more creative composition is the de facto Overwatch strat. It might not be the most exciting strategy to watch, but it shows that the game's roles have versatility, that the meta can evolve in unexpected directions. In some ways, that bodes well for the game's pro scene, which is still trying to find its legs.

As a result, some argue that calls for nerfs, buffs and the many other moves of the razor's edge balance tango are premature. Competitive season two hasn't been running for long, they say, and the pro scene is still in its infancy. The mark of a good competitive game is a meta that evolves organically, not because a developer decided to cudgel it into a different shape.

Case in point: Here's an instance of the triple tank strat failing, as pointed out by fandingo:

Tempo Storm started strong, but Kongdoo managed to find repeated success. Predictably, pressure on Ana seems to be key. It's not easy to dislodge her from a sardine tin of tanks, but it is possible.

I tend to fall on the side of letting these things play out, but I can see why people are frustrated in the meantime. Have you encountered/tried the triple tank strategy? What do you think of it?


    It may be boring but it's viable and acceptable. The same as being a complete turtle in fighting games. It's boring to watch and probably play against but it's a viable strategy that must be overcome.

    Give it time and the stale meta will change to something else stale once others try something that catches people off guard.

    Isn't this just an invitation to run 3-2-1 with a reaper?

      I feel like a 2tank+Lucio+Reaper/Pharah/Junkrat could be effective. Just gotta be careful of those discord orbs.

      This actually is countered very easy with the 5-1 Korean setup. 5 high damage characters and usually a Lucio or Zen. You have to be very careful when engaging. It it's generally a hit and run strategy that prioritises threats. 1. Ana 2. Mercy 3. Lucio/zen 4. Mop up. You will output far more damage than can be healed by 3 healers and if you run zen and you discord ana while tracer / Pharah combo will crush her.

      We ran this combo last night on Dorado: Hanzo Tracer Mcree Reaper Pharah Zenyatta. Dominated. Mind you this is only in 2300-2400 but the 3-3 meta is effective in almost all 6 stacks unless properly countered.

      The best thing with the 5-1 counter is that the majority of you damage is ranged and those that are in close to wreck ana have great escape mechanisms. And the one big problem with the 3-3 combo is that it lacks good range offence. The only real threats you have to look out for are Roadhogs hooks and Anas sleep darts. However being that Ana is usually in the middle of a tank sandwich it is hard for her to effective damage or sleep anyone who is not in close range.

      If they have a Winston trying to break the lines you have enough damage to basically melt him before he can land. If reinheart charges you now have an opening to destroy the backline. Zarya melts under pressure and Roadhog is basically a giant ultimate piñata.

      For those who are having real issues with 3-3 I would try the 5-1 damage comp. I know after last nights success that is what I will be doing. But do not attempt it in solo queue. Only with a full six stack. Unless you happen to get the jackpot of solo queue player who are competent (I have yet to see this).

    Been rolling a 4 DVA, 1 Lucio & 1 Zenyatta combo lately in casual... to troll-tastic results

      That is pure cancer. If I or my friends go up against a combo like that we Just leave and let it drop everyone out of game.

      D.VA is just kinda busted in how good she can be. She's my most played heroes for sure

    Watched about 10 minutes of Overwatch Esports and got bored never watched it since. There isn't enough variety to make it very interesting. Look at dota for example, yes some matches use alot of the same heroes but there is more freedom on the map and alot of different picks to counter line ups.

    I really just dont feel as though Overwatch takes as much skill compared to different games.(Certain heroes maybe).

    For PC for sure the hit boxes are still kinda crap and skills are still based around console ones for the most part of it. When it comes to PC i want skill to show through but i doubt it will unless they drastically fix skills etc. (I would watch PC Esports if it was fixed). Unreal tournament 2k4 was Pure skill same with CSG which was amazing to watch.

    as someone who uses Ana on the reg I will agree her Ult charges very quickly, if you nerf that charging speed it would probably be enough to make this play style less viable maybe?

    I play with a Team of 4 and have wondered why in my last few Competitive matches I've received message from other players telling me who to choose (either Tank or Healer) and why we've had so many people leave mid match when going against the combo. Never seen it as a cancer as we have definately overcome it a few times.

      Nerf to her ult charge is already on the ptr. She is getting a buff to her grenade radius though, increased by 1m.

        That grenade buff will be handy but I wouldn't say necessary

    I have a hard enough time convincing my team to go a second healer, so it's certainly not an issue in mid-lower level play

    great examples of how a video would emphasize the problem.. i can think of a few ways to break this 'holy tank trinity'

    FYI they've already nerfed ana's ult charge rate in the new PTR.

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