What Did He Say? An Overwatch League Jargon Primer

I have a habit of attending Overwatch League matches on my own; it tends to be a good way to get a great seat, get to know other fans, and make new memories. One of those in particular has stuck with me, and not for the reasons most League memories stick around.

Towards the end of one particular evening, I switched seats before the last matchup and wound up sitting next to a man, probably my dad’s age, wearing a San Francisco Shock jersey and sitting with three teenagers, presumably his kids. As the kids went to get food, I leaned in and asked him if he was having a good time. He looked me dead in the eye and said, “I’ve been sitting here for five hours and I still have no idea what’s going on.”


I explained the objective of the current map (as this was before Overwatch League put together their quick map tutorials) and helped answer his questions, but it still rattled me a bit. Overwatch League has the potential to cross into the mainstream, especially with broadcasting contracts with ESPN 3 and Disney XD. If the public at large still finds the game unintelligible, how can the community build a bridge to help welcome them to the esport we know and love?

Overwatch League has already taken steps towards that with their map tutorial videos; recently, Heather Newman’s Overwatch League article in Forbes recommended a guide for newcomers to the game. There are multiple tutorials on how Overwatch as a game works, and I highly recommend trawling YouTube for one that appeals to your tastes; I’m here to provide a guide to the jargon that you’ll hear in the Overwatch League, so the next time a caster says that a team’s triple tank/triple support comp was the reason for their successful reverse sweep, you’ll know exactly what they’re talking about.

Character Types

DPS, Tank, DPS, Support

  • DPS: Short for Damage Per Second, DPS characters tend to have high mobility and do a lot of damage but have lower hit points. Speed and accuracy are what DPS characters are known for; they’re best at getting in, doing damage, and getting out.

  • Tank: Characters with high defense and high amounts of hit points. Very good when you need a character to absorb a lot of damage and stay put. Most Overwatch tanks have a shield – the better to defend teammates with – and lower mobility.

  • Support: Healers and status effects. Support characters have unique and varied abilities (reviving a downed teammate, boosting teammates’ mobility, preventing the enemy from healing, etc), but all of them have the ability to heal their teammates, and a good support can be the difference between a win and a loss.

Map Types

Welcome to Hollywood. Stay on the payload.

Assault: The attacking team must capture two objectives, or “points,” on the map while the defending team attempts to stop them. The round ends when both points are captured or time runs out. Overwatch League’s assault map tutorial video is here.

Control: Both teams attempt to hold a single map objective, or “point,” for a certain amount of time. The round ends when one team reaches 100%. Overwatch League’s control map tutorial video is here.

Escort: The attacking team attempts to escort a vehicle, or “payload,” to the other end of the map, while the defending team attempts to stop them. The round ends when the payload reaches its destination or when time runs out. Overwatch League’s escort map tutorial video is here.

Hybrid: A combination of assault and escort maps, in which the attacking team must capture a point and then escort the payload to the other end of the map. The round ends when the payload reaches its destination or when time runs out. Overwatch League’s hybrid map tutorial video is here.

Assorted Vocabulary

  • Point: A stationary objective on a map, usually denoted by a glowing outline on the map floor.

  • Payload: A vehicle on escort maps that must be moved from one end of the map to the other. The payload only moves when a character is in its vicinity, known as being “on the payload.”

  • C9: When the entire attacking team leaves the payload in order to pick a fight with the defending team, usually resulting in the attacking team losing the round. A rare and careless way for the attacking team to engineer their own defeat.

  • Ultimate (Ult): A character’s biggest unique ability. It must be charged to 100% before it can be used. DPS and tanks tend to build up ult percentage by doing damage; support characters tend to build ult percentage by healing teammates. Ults can often change the flow of the game when used.

My ultimate is ready. Fire at will!

  • Wasted Ult: A poorly used/deployed ultimate ability. An ult that misses, fails to affect any of the opposing team, or is interrupted by the opposing team is considered wasted.

  • Ultimate Economy: The number of ults a team has available at any given point in time, and how well they use them.

  • Popping Off: Playing especially well.

  • Overextending: Playing too aggressively, to the point of becoming separated from one’s team. Players who overextend tend to get picked off.

  • Reverse Sweep: A 3-2 come from behind victory. If Team A wins the first two maps and Team B wins the next three, Team B has executed a reverse sweep.

The Reverse Sweep: also known as the Los Angeles Gladiators’ preferred win technique.

  • Patch: The version of Overwatch currently being played. Characters are often tweaked between patches, which affects gameplay.

  • Comp: Team composition, referring to which characters are being played on a team at the time.

  • Meta: The current set of strategies/comps popular in professional play. If a character is “in the meta,” they’re being played quite a bit.

  • (Character) Battle: When the same character on opposite teams face off against each other. For example, if Team A’s Widowmaker and Team B’s Widowmaker focus on defeating each other, it’s considered a Widowmaker Battle.

Those are the jargon basics for Overwatch League – has it helped you follow the hosts? Is there anything you still want to know? Let us know on Twitter & Instagram @FAN_VERSATION

— Katie Cullen

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