Relative Positioning - Roles in a Team Composition (Fundamentals)

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Post by Kine² on 2018-04-25, 04:31


1. Relative positioning means relative to everyone else on YOUR team.
- frontline heroes function up front where the clash happens
- backline heroes work better when there are others in-front of them
- a few heroes are best placed in the middle of everyone else
- flankers typically operate opposite your team or off at an angle if that's the only viable option

2. Majority of heroes are multi role.
- There is the default positioning that most people expect out of a hero
- But they can still place themselves in alternate positions when the situation calls for it
- 99% when a hero plays out of their natural position, their role on the team CHANGES
- 99% of the time, playing out of your natural position is the WRONG thing to do
- That 1% of the time when it is the right thing to do, it is because:

your shot caller made the call, your ult needs you to go out of position OR you are trying to counter something specific. Being the special one who plays out of position constantly is not the thing to do.


- Reinhart
- Zarya
- Brigitte
- Orisa

Brigitte needs to hit enemies in order to produce sustain aura. Orisa and Rein are your anchor shield tanks. Zarya needs to farm and maintain energy.

- McCree
- Ana
- Zen
- Widowmaker

Backline heroes are ones who will immediately evaporate should they ever step up.
In order to operate, they need others on their team to draw aggro away from them.

- DVa
- Moira
- Lucio
- Roadhog

There are numerous different reasons why mid heroes stay in the middle of the pack.
Moira deals piercing AoE heals so staying in the middle and wiggling his mouse around works best
Being in the middle also maximizes his right click which is both her recharge mechanic and a zoning tool against flankers.
Lucio pumps out AoE beats around him.
DVa blocking for team-mates is arguably more important than blocking for self preservation.
Roadhog is by all means a frontliner but is best starting off in the middle due to meta.
He is an ult battery for the enemy thus staying behind shields and letting a main tank soak aggro is efficient
Hog's hook benefit from more value the further you displace your target. Being behind frontline does that.

- Tracer
- Genji
- Sombra
- Pharah

This needs to be said because too many flankers do not grasp the concept yet.
FLANKERS have relative positioning to their own team but it isn't just geographical but also TIMING.
It's a long topic but I'll give one case study to illustrate the point because it is important.

Lets say there is a choke your team decides to push thru.
Without a flanker, 100% of all enemy resources will be dumped on you as soon as your team moves in.
You may or may not survive that push but by principle this isn't something you want happen.

If you had a flanker however (say a Tracer) who jumps the enemy backline a few seconds before your team calls to push out there is a large probability that the enemy will NOT dump 100% of their resources on your main formation as you walk through choke because they were distracted by the Tracer.

Note the 'a few seconds before' statement.

It is a timing component.

What I tend to see happen in soloQ ranked and QP are flankers going either too late or too early. Usually too late. When they go in too late, the enemy is already dumping 100% of their resources on the friendly team. 3 blues would have died about the same time as the Tracer getting 2 picks on the side and then the Tracer shouting at his team "WTF happened I got picks guys! Push up! You scrubs are trash!"

Too early also happens now and again. Usually with the flanker dying going 1v5 and blaming the team for not following up or not creating space etc.

So flankers have relative positioning.
You want to initiate from a different angle than where your main formation is coming from to pull aggro the best you can. AND you want to time it with your team so that your actions can actually benefit the team as a whole.
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Post by Kine² on 2018-04-25, 04:41

ROLES dictated by Relative Positioning

Where you are on your team positioning ADDS additional duties ON TOP of your natural hero roles.
Understand this and you will jump ahead of the QP curve by miles.

1. Chooses WHERE fights happen
2. Decides WHAT type of fight it's going to be

1. Number one job as backline is to NOT DIE
2. Support all decisions made by Frontline
3. Give feedback to Frontline (including Tempo calls)

1. Keep backline alive
2. Add value to frontline
3. Manage tempo of the team


1. Enforce and Support team tempo
2. Reduce enemy efficiency
3. Punish positional mistakes

WHAT IS TEMPO in Overwatch ?

Fights can and often do happen in phases.
Pre-Fight > Rotation and/or Poke > Initial clash or Feints > Full engage > Cleanup or Resets

Stages can be skipped. eg. A team can decide to hard commit after a quick reset sans foreplay

Tempo is the pace of transition between phases. Or the decision to skip a phase or even back up and redo a previous phase.


The number one application when understanding the different jobs on a team is in TROUBLE SHOOTING and TWEAKING.

When things don't work out as expected you first go through a quick TROUBLESHOOTING phase on comms. The thing you want to clarify first is where on the chain of events or responsibility did things break. Then you TWEAK to fix it.

Biggest hurdle all teams suffer from is incorrect shot calling and assesment of events. And most often because players or whoever is talking out of his ass does not understand team roles.

Lets do practical examples:

Scenario One wrote:Reinhart screams "3-2-1 GO!" Charges in, some people on your team dies while he was charging, half the team follows Reinhart in, the other half didn't. Reinhart player dies and shits on his team while waiting to respawn. Team gets wiped in the meantime.

This one is easy. Reinhart is frontline. He decides where to go, whether or not to rotate or is current angle of attack is fine, what kind of fight it's going to be. etc.
What Reinhart IS NOT in charge of is tempo.

Backline and or Mid does.

There is a simple reason for this. Frontline has no vision of his own team and cannot accurately gauge readiness. Backline has the best view of his entire team. Not Reinhart.
Reinhart or any Frontliner for that matter have time nor head space to spare tabbing at ult %

Backline are usually not under time or any kind of pressure. Backline are in a position to make better calls.

Mid MANAGES tempo because they are the link between Front and Back. If Front has engaged but Back is being dove on, backline may not have the mental resources to make any sort of call other than scream "HELP ME Peel Peel Peel!" Mid controls how long a phase last and if the team is ready to take things to the next level.

Once a phase is set, flankers must support that decision.

In this case if I was a mid or back player all I will tell the Reinhart is
"Dude pick where to go, I TELL YOU WHEN TO GO"

Game fixed.

Scenario Two wrote:KotH. 1st Round. Red Tracer keeps killing our Zen and (noob) Moira. Frontline keeps pushing for first half of the match. Gets frustrated not getting heals, starts baby sitting Zen to make sure he stays alive. As a consequence blue team hardly ever pushes for point. DPS gets bored throughout all this, randomly shoots at random targets. Common thing to see.


Healers keep dying.
1. Zen is backline it is his job not to die
2. Moira is mid it is his job to keep Zen alive
Both things are not happening.
This is SoloQ Ranked, people will not swap heroes. You are playing Zarya.

Here you have options:

1. Pick Mercy in round 2 draft phase and pressure either Moira or Zen to play tank.
If Moira swaps out, you re-pick Moira and do a better job as Zen peel and anti-flanker zoning
If Zen swaps out, stay Mercy and play a mid role. Things should be fixed.

2. If neither wants to swap, you need to switch out from Frontline tank Zarya and go Mid tank
DVa / Winston / Hog. Whichever complements your 1st tank. Here you pay extra attention to your healers rather than tanking but try to fulfil tank role whenever possible. Not the best but enough to change the status quo.

3. Tweak your DPS.
McCree is backline. Soldier is mid or backline depending on comp. If you are running twin flankers you could get one of them to switch out and pick McCree / Soldier for bodyguard duty. If you already have a McCree or Soldier then that means they are out of relative position. Fuck them hard for not playing with their backline OR get them to go twin flankers while you play Nanny Mid tank  to make up for the lost pressure on the frontline (as in option 2 above).


In the ideal world, all players on your team understand team roles on top of just class roles.
That utopia does not exist below a certain SR threshold.

The upside is, only one player needs to know it and the rest cooperative enough to listen.


Here's the other thing and the reason behind my motto "Make Any Comp Work"

The more you play Overwatch with relative positioning in mind the more you realize there's usually multiple fixes for any single break in the chain of events.

Take Scenario 2 for example. DPS don't wanna swap. Healers don't wanna swap. But your SINGLE swap from frontline tank to mid tank fixes 50% of the problem. Tweaking the other 50% isn't such a huge deal.

Any obstacle in Overwatch can often be tweaked multiple ways. All it takes is experience, an unbiased mind and creativity in problem solving. If you've got charm and an assertive voice to top all that off, that's even better.


Alt F4

All three troll heroes are mids with good sustain. Go solo healer and make sure all three mids protect that medic. Frontline has to be super strong and play hyper aggro to keep your mids relevant and within optimal range. Your mids are also great anti flankers but fail against Pharah and hitscan. Choose your solo medic and tank duo appropriately to counter enemy composition that can punish your meme team.

Last edited by Kine² on 2018-04-25, 05:53; edited 2 times in total
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Post by Kine² on 2018-04-25, 05:13

Mid when shielded / Backline without shields
Shield tanks aren't the best for peeling. When shielded, Soldier takes on nanny duty over sustain dmg role.
Without shields Soldier will have to play to terrain and dominate sight lines. Requires peeling when enemy contest him.

Alt = Flanker. Only on Tac Visor for whatever application. Combo, zoning, tempo, initiation, whatever.

TIP: Tac Visor 24/7
Best advice I saw anywhere on the internet for Soldier was this;
Shoot like you're on Tac Visor 24/7
I went one whole season one tricking Soldier with this in mind. Provided you have the accuracy, this kind of mentality FORCES the enemy to play around you. It's not about accuracy and more about downtime. You want to constantly be shooting at something and hit it every second of a match. That's high impact. Just be mindful of feeding enemy's defensive ult charge. Shoot something you can realistically threaten and keep everyone low on health.

Super vulnerable to dive, needs protection, surviving takes precedence over dominating sight lines.

Alt = Mid
Full-time Nanny duty is perfectly viable when you have a strong Frontline, impactful healers and absolutely need the backline peels for eg. when enemy likes diving into the middle of your team. Mid McCree is staple in Anti-Dive comps. (Right click / Shift / Right Click) combo melts dive tanks.

COMMON MISTAKE: 'The Flanking McCree'
Whenever someone says flanking McCree they actually mean a Frontline role by attempting to dictate borders and engagement type. Rarely does a McCree flank to influence tempo, punish positional mistakes or draw effective aggro.

NO DPS heroes other than Reaper and Junkrat are viable at Frontline. DPS players who constantly brawl at the clashing point is playing Overwatch wrong.

Mid when shielded / Flanker without shields
Hanzo is the only other Mid DPS that isn't picked specifically for backline peels. His contribution is in adding value to your Frontline dominance thru an unmatched ability to pile on forward pressure. Vision round corners, off angles to poke past enemy shields, incredible poke damage, threaten midline supports with insta-picks all from the safety of your own shields, punishing anti-tank dmg on enemy divers, the list goes on. BUT only when playing behind shields or a strong non shield Zarya frontline combo (Zarya + Hog or Winston)

In all other tank combos Hanzo's best contribution is in a flankers role. But at very high risk for limited application. He is not a well rounded Flanker. Depending on map / side / enemy composition Hanzo's flanking duties vary. Some places he is there to punish. Some others to influence tempo. Others, just simply to threaten enemy backline with insta-pick headshots without necessarily diving them (very useful option). That said - his alternate flanker role is considered niche because full on flankers just do the same job way better.

COMMON MISTAKE: 'Sniper Hanzo'
Backline Hanzo is useless both in practice and in principle. Peeling for a hero with wall climb just sounds retarded. But when you position your Hanzo for sniper angles it usually means you are vulnerable to dive and away from your team which calls for support either in peels or heals. An agile hero that requires peeling by principle just destroys the laws of physics. Waste of team resources. So if you get flanked or dove on and died you are positioning wrong relative to your team.

Frontline and Mid
I hesitate to call either as natural positions because Junkrat is a Utility pick hero. His role is very specific, borderline niche.
- Frontline Junkrat is used specifically to solo defend Junkrat favored chokes. He is there to establish dominance over a border. These locations are typically characterized by the presence of a mega pack behind tight chokes where Junkrat can operate almost independently. In so doing it frees up man power for the rest of the team to go be somewhere else. Anubis first point megapacks on defense are examples. Lunar colony first point megapack. Volskaya first point megapack. Nepal Sanctum megapacks on either side. Anywhere megapacks overlook significant geography Junkrat can be utilized there provided team play off him appropriately.
- Midline Junkrat is the utility pick but because it happens more often I don't consider this his alternate but rather an equal natural role. He is there for his spam. There are 2 reasons why you want spam from Mid. Shield breaking or frontline zoning. Shield breaks is pretty straight forward. Zoning is the more interesting application. Whenever you are stuck in a frontline vs frontline dominance duel, Junkrat is often the one that tips the scale. If Frontline is stalled and enemy has a Junkrat but you don't, that enemy Junkrat is the difference maker. Go deal with him and you should win the Frontline tug of war. If teams are locking horns and neither has a Junkrat, get one on your team and you should gain dominance. Zoning from Midline also have strategic purpose specifically on checkpoints and overtime with and without Ult (RIP Tire).

TIP: Use all your cooldowns as Mid Junk to add value to frontline. Displace people creatively with Shift. Rocket jump and drop traps on enemy frontlines etc. Don't forget to peel as Mid! Junkrat is mobile and can relocate quickly to his backline when they are in trouble.

This is due to the combination of his short range weapon, high spread and the fact that the best targets to put that weapon to use also happens to be right up front. Minor self sustain and Fade in his kit actually makes operating in Frontline not a suicidal prospect. Reaper can actually walk around enemy Reinhart, kill the off tank behind him and fade back to safety surprisingly consistently.

Alt = Flanker
Flanker role is specifically to be used as a punish tool but susceptible to punish itself. Personally I view his alternate role as opportunistic and not something you pick Reaper for and play it the whole match. By default you play Frontline and whenever you spot the enemy stretch too far apart and not readjusting fast enough, teleport in and get a pick. That said, at low SR I see flanking Reapers get away with alot.

COMMON MISTAKE: Not Punishing Mid Reaper Counter Picks
In low SR ranked and QP I see alot of people spawning Reaper to counter a diving Winston / DVa. And be successful with it. These Reapers are playing a nanny Mid role outside the safety of his Frontline and SO MANY TEAMS are not punishing it. Reaper is a DPS that is weak versus ALL other DPS heroes. Whenever you see a Reaper on the enemy side who isn't fighting with his tanks, that Reaper is out of position and is a considered a free kill. Too many DPS players let this one easy pick go for free. Honestly if you commit to killing a Reaper and get that pick, that's a free pass for your Frontline and Mid to walk right into the middle of the enemy team and go ham.

Flanker - Archetype of the Flanker role
Read posts above.

Strong suit is punishing people out of position. Reason why Genji is better at this than Tracer is because he can left click poke. If you connect 1 headshot + 1 body shot from left click on a squishy, that target is immediately within lethal range of your dash combo. That's as good as an insta-kill. If you do secure that pick, Dash resets. Couple this with Deflect and Wall Climb, Genji is the ultimate single target hit-n-run assassin.

In a team setting this is a huge deal because a single pick can potentially end team fights and force a hard reset. It's similar to a Widowmaker landing a headshot on Zen who has Trans which his team needs to win. Pogchamp Genji is one who can correctly identify high value targets every pre-fight and set himself up to get that pick. If you can also do this during the middle of a hard engage it can be super clutch and has the potential to reverse a losing battle into a winnable one.

There is one major problem with Flanker Genji. He is pure 1v1 for the average player. Any interference be it heals or peels and the odds of getting a pick plummets. As you go up in SR, positioning errors become less common and pick offs are harder to get. So your Genji SR has to be much higher than the match's average SR for flanking Genji to be a better pick than Tracer on this role.

Alt = Backline Blade Genji. Your sole reason for existing as Backline Genji is to farm up Ult for the team to use in whatever way they need it to be used. This is viable because Genji can charge up ult super fast. Specifically faster than any defensive and tempo ults. If your team can trade an easier to get Genji Ult for harder to get team fighting enemy ults you will pull ahead on the Macro game. This game style just requires you to land as many left click headshots as possible when deflect is down and then go bait big Deflect damage when its' off cooldown. Rinse repeat until you get Blade. This is a Backline instead of Mid because the need to survive. If Genji dies at any point, your team loses the ult race and the Genji pick becomes useless. It is your job to stay alive. Survive precedes pressuring the enemy. In this rare instance, it is ok for Genji to insist on heavy medic support.

Backline and Flanker
Backline is Pharmercy. You get pocketed, you poke. Don't die.
Flanker is the soloQ QP hero playstyle. You float (pun intended) between farming ult charge by applying off angle pressure on enemy Frontline which disrupts them thus drawing aggro and identifying high value targets you can flank and get picks on. 2 direct hits kill squishies (1 rocket if Discorded). Rocket rate of fire is ~1 shot per second. You can theoretically kill one target every 2 seconds x 3 targets per clip. Similar to Flanking Reaper, Pharah both punishes out of position heroes but vulnerable to punish herself. Game gets disproportionately harder the higher up you go (pun intended) in SR.


Backline: Support all decisions made by Frontline
(this means the WHERE fights happen and WHAT type of fights)
Flanker: Reduce enemy efficiency
(this means drawing aggro, disrupt, anything to reduce enemy dumping resources on your frontline)

I don't know why this happens to Pharah players more than other DPS heroes but random target selection, random positioning and whatever other bullshit occurs way too often.

If you are backline Pharmercy, you support your frontline clashes from the air. Simple. Right click has a purpose there. So does left click. You can even use your Ult from the ground behind your Rein to break enemy Rein shields so your team can Earthshatter. Point is, as Backline you do not choose your targets or clashing points. You support that decision made by others. Position relative to your team accordingly.

Flanker Pharandoms typically play a Frontline role. Similar how people mistake Frontline McCree being a Flanker. Acid test is this. If you can solo 2 enemy backlines in one clip then survive the retreat consistently you are probably flanking correctly in terms of relative positioning. But remember the timing aspect for Flankers. Those picks has to happen when your team can capitalize on it.

Backline - Archetype of backline squishy.
Dominating if pocketed and require peels because people will try to contest him.

Drop teleport near health pack, go flank, go invis to avoid premature detection, walk up to backline, empty your clip neck height on someone important point blank range, teleport back to safety. Rinse repeat. Remember flanker rules on timing and you should be high impact. Combo your ult. Hack is used mainly to counter something specific when Flanking. Usually to cancel or deny enemy counter Ults. In current meta, Flanker Sombra is responsible for solo DVa deMechs (Hack, One Clip Face, Blink out).

Alt = Mid
This mainly revolves around your Hack (Right click) and how it can fuck people up massively both when peeling for backline or when adding value to your Frontline when they are jostling for dominance.

When peeling, Hack utterly destroys ALL Dive heroes. Winston, DVa, Tracer, Genji. If they ever jump your Backline, one of them instantly dies.

When adding value to Frontline, Hack is simply broken. Enemy Rein cannot shield, Zarya cannot bubble, Orisa cannot refresh nor Fort, Hog cannot vape, DVa cannot block, Reaper and Moira cannot Fade, Pharah drops to the ground, pocket Mercy cannot run etc.

DISCLAIMER: I don't know enough about Sombra to definitely say this is how she is played. OWL uses her differently.

BASTION / MEI / SOMBRA ~ maybe someday I might know enough about them and how they relate to the team. Right now I know their niche roles but can't say anything definitive how they fit bigger picture.

DOOMFIST ~ no fucking idea how he works.

:SUMMARY on DPS Relative Positioning:

- Backline DPS is there to dominate sightlines and force enemies to contest that dominance once you have it.
- Dominating sightlines mean you deny your enemy the ability to function over areas you have vision over. ie they have to hide from you. This wins you territory and makes your Frontline's job easier because they no longer have to contest for space as hard coz you won it for them by yourself as Backline.
- Exception is Backline McCree. Staying alive and showing up when the clash happens is more important than contesting sight lines due to falloff nerf. If you feel this downtime is rather pointless then that answers why he's fallen out of meta right now. This is also why McCree comps favor rushing tanks and fast team fights skipping poke or even rotations sometimes. It is an attempt to reduce downtime.
- Backline benefits from pocketing and have the right to ask for it.
- Backline dominance can force out enemies to contest you. Peeling required.
- Forcing out backline contest is a benefit to your team. If enemy invest in contesting your backline, they are not spending as much resources to enforce their Frontline. This means your Frontline gets an easy time. In practical terms, if you established dominance in backline that overlooks a capture point or payload, enemy needs to invest resources to dislodge you from the backline instead of playing the map objective.
- Next time you play Mid tank or healer in QP and recognize your backlining DPS receiving high amounts of attention from the enemy, be a pal and heal or peel. He is playing his position correctly and contributing.
- Difference between a Backline DPS and a rando Frontliner is that Backline respects his Frontline's decisions on where to engage and what type of engagement it is. Main tanks cannot poke for example. So if a DPS is off doing his own thing while main tanks were expecting poke, your team is just basically waiting for nothing to happen lol.
- Reaper and Junkrat are the only ones who can Frontline effectively. They are the only ones who can say this is where I want to fight and enforce it. If you spot other DPS heroes trying to do this in your games ANYONE on the team has the right to tell them to get the fuck back in line and respect their Frontline.

- Mid DPS typically plays the BODYGUARD role.
- Constantly looking back at your healers and protecting them can be a full time job that wins games.
- Nanny McCree or Nanny 76 is an actual thing.
- If your team isn't getting nearly enough heals, 99% of the time it isn't because your healers are shit. It is because they are under pressure. This is why Mid DPS exists.
- It is astounding to hear DPS players complain about healers when all it takes is a mental shift from backlining to going mid which solves everything.
- When playing DPS that have alternate or natural Mid roles and you whine about healers, uninstall Overwatch.
- Mid Hanzo is the exception for nanny duty. It is an unrealistic expectation given his kit. Utility mid heroes are more concerned about helping out Frontline to dominate.
- To make matters clear, correct relative positioning for mid players mean you do not take incoming damage. Frontline typically take poke and forward pressure. Backline typically take dive damage. Mid is often the position that receives the least of any kind. If you do while taking up a mid role, your positioning is off.

- There is a difference between going behind the enemy doing random shit and FLANKING EFFECTIVELY
- Effective flanking takes TIMING into consideration as well as making picks that matters WHEN it matters the most.
- Simply going around the back and getting kills don't help the team all that much all the time. Yes sometimes it helps but that is entirely by chance. You need to make the right picks at the right time and respecting your Frontline's decisions on the where and what.

- Frontline Reaper fights with his frontline. Ideal positioning is where enemies need to kill one of your tanks in order to kill you. If you die while the rest of your Frontline is alive and well, then you have just fucked up.
- Frontline Junkrat is independently taking care of one attack route on his own. He is able to do this because of his kit and megapack geography. This allows a Junk comp the ability to apply Frontline pressure on two separate locations while a typical enemy comp can only man one attack route.
- ANY OTHER DPS PLAYERS trying to dictate where fights happen and what kind of engagement it's going to be is just trash waiting for verbal sex from you asking them to back the fuck down and respect the frontline.

- The singular best thing you can do as a DPS in ranked games is to ask first your Tanks and then other Frontliners how they plan to engage.
- Let them come up with the plan and you playing off that.
- Keep asking for plan updates whenever you feel the status quo has changed and see if you need to switch between natural or alternate roles.
- DO NOT over-react by counter picking as first resort when things are not going well.
- Alot of times simply switching around relative positioning between players is good enough to fix things whilst maintaining ult economy.
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