Although Overwatch players may complain about certain heroes being too strong or not easily countered, the developers have generally been great at responding to player concerns, stiff metas, and overtuned characters.
Damage dealers, often referred to as DPSes, are varied in their means and methods of attack. Some are precision fighters who excel at landing individual shots, while others specialize in the chaos of area-of-effect attacks. The standard Overwatch 2-2-2 meta calls for two damage-dealers on each team, which means players have a lot of choices in how they face the enemy team. Like tanks, these characters are not without weaknesses, but they differ from tanks in that their weaknesses aren’t quite so similar.
With that in mind, here are the best counters for each Overwatch damage hero.
Ashe is best described as a pseudo-sniper. While not quite as sniper-focused as Widowmaker, Ashe is best at mid to long range and benefits from good aim and a steady hand. She has a little more self-defense potential than Widowmaker and can be a great addition to a team, but she also shares some weaknesses with the spider-themed sniper.
A good Ashe player can hit their shots quickly enough to take out an oncoming Soldier: 76, but for the rest of us, 76’s autofire will usually win out over Ashe’s single shots, particularly in close range. Fast, mobile heroes that fight in close range, like Genji, Tracer, and Echo, can also pose a threat to Ashe, mostly because they’re difficult to hit. While Ashe’s B.O.B. ultimate is powerful, it can be hacked by Sombra or slept by Ana, reducing its effectiveness.
Contrary to most of the heroes on this list, Bastion is fairly easy to counter. The development team wanted to curb his extremely high damage potential with several weaknesses to make him feel fair to play against. Bastion is strongest when in turret form and when given protection by healers and tanks on his team.
If your team finds itself under siege by a Bastion, the best strategy is to swap to burst damage heroes with high AOE and try to attack him from several angles. Bastion has incredibly strong sustained single-target damage, but he can’t counter threats from multiple directions at once and he can’t move while in turret form, which means that AOE burst like Pharah’s rockets and Junkrat’s bombs are very good against him. Stuns from heroes like Cassidy, Ana, and Mei can shut him down for a brief period of time, allowing the team to focus him.
The recently-renamed Cole Cassidy has a lot going for him in terms of attacks. His high-damage precision attacks are deadly in the hands of anyone with decent or better aim, and his stun can shut down many dive heroes’ backline attacks. In a world of cybernetic enhancements and futuristic weapons, it turns out that the classic gunslinger still holds his own.
If you jump into a match as Cassidy, watch out for long-distance damage dealers that are out of range of his stun: heroes like Widowmaker, Pharah, Bastion, and Ashe can take him out before he has a chance to get to them. (Be careful: Cassidy also counters Pharah thanks to his hitscan shots.) Genji can also deflect his ultimate, High Noon, which results in an instant kill if Cassidy can lock on to a target in line-of-sight. If he tries to headshot a deflecting Genji, the reversal will kill Cassidy instead.
Doomfist made a splash in Overwatch as one of the most anticipated post-launch characters. His theft of the titular mechanical fist at Numbani gave him lore importance; he brings that same fist into battle as a highly mobile close-combat fighter. He’s capable of giving chase to fleeing heroes and tormenting long-ranged attackers to keep his own team safe from snipers.
At the same time, those same long-ranged attackers can be his downfall. As a hero who does best at very close range, Doomfist struggles against heroes like Widowmaker, Ashe, Bastion, and even Soldier: 76, depending on the range. Doomfist also isn’t great against flying heroes like Pharah and Echo, who can simply breeze out of his reach. If his mobility is an issue, the usual suite of stuns from Brigitte, Ana, Cassidy, Mei, and even Roadhog can stop him from diving in and out of the backline.
Echo joins Pharah as one of the few heroes who can truly fly. Soaring high above the battlefield means she avoids many of the projectile and AOE-based attacks of other characters, and her fast, powerful attacks make it easy for her to take out lower-health heroes.
But her airborne status means she has a glaring weakness to hitscan weapons, or those that land exactly (and instantly) where the crosshairs are on a player’s screen. Precision fighters like Ashe, Widowmaker, and Cassidy will have no problem sniping her out of the air. Even Soldier: 76’s hitscan pulse rifle is a good way to knock her out. Sombra’s Hack can also prevent her from taking flight, leaving her far more vulnerable than usual on the ground.
Along with Tracer, Genji can be one of Overwatch‘s most annoying fighters. His fast, high-damage attacks and extreme mobility make it easy for him to dive in and out of the enemy team, taking out backline players before they even know what hit them. When dive compositions were popular in the Overwatch League, Genji ruled the roost as one of the most popular heroes.
Instead of trying to attack Genji with precision weapons, the best way to take him down is to employ auto-locking beam-based weapons. Characters like Symmetra, Moira, and Winston have beams that automatically lock on to the nearest hero as their primary fire, which make it easier to keep up with the cyborg samurai. Zarya is also somewhat helpful, but her beam doesn’t auto-lock, which can make it harder to target a fast-moving Genji. He also can’t deflect these weapons, making them doubly effective. Characters like Brigitte and Mei can slow down his mobility, making it that much easier for a backline of DPSes to finish him off.
Like Genji, Hanzo is also characterized by his high mobility. Instead of dealing in slices and dices like his brother, though, Hanzo attacks with precision-based bow-and-arrow shots. He’s a sniper like Widowmaker and Ashe, but in a slightly different way: his arrows are not hitscan, meaning that they’re subject to distance falloff and other factors. To compensate for this, his headshots deal a significant amount of damage if they land.
Some heroes are simply harder for Hanzo to hit. Because of the non-hitscan nature of the arrows, highly mobile heroes like Tracer, Pharah, Lucio, Wrecking Ball, Genji, and Echo can usually escape his line of sight easily unless he lands a lucky shot. While powerful, his ultimate can also be tampered with in a variety of ways: it can be deflected by Genji, which turns it into a weapon for the enemy team, and it can be eaten by D.Va’s Defense Matrix, preventing all damage and effects.
Overwatch‘s resident master of chaos is excellent at making life hard for everyone else. His bombs deal a lot of damage if they hit a hero head-on, but they’re really not designed for precision fighting. Instead, Junkrat is at his best when he’s using his bombs to displace and disrupt enemies, causing a lot of AOE damage in the process. His arsenal is great for wearing down tank shields and keeping enemies out of narrow areas.
At the same time, Junkrat’s extremely slow rate of fire means that characters that shoot faster, like Soldier: 76, Cassidy, Reaper, and Tracer, can finish him before he has a chance to fire very many bombs. Junkrat’s bombs also lose most of their effectiveness in the air, so he’s weak against flight-based heroes like Pharah and Echo. Finally, while his AOE is usually a boon, Zarya’s shield will eat up that peripheral damage, giving her more power in a very short period of time.
When Overwatch was first released, Mei was the subject of many memes. Her combination of a close-range slow-to-stun and her one-shot headshot potential to helpless targets made many joke that she was the game’s resident demon. She was designed as something of a counter to the game’s many high-mobility heroes, with the hope that playing against them would feel less frustrating. To compensate for the necessity of close combat, she has slightly more health than the average damage hero.
There are still ways to get around her tough abilities. Heroes that deal long-distance damage, like Widowmaker and Ashe, can take Mei out without ever getting close enough to feel the chill of her gun. Characters with knockback, like Junkrat and Pharah, can knock her away before she can get to them, granting some time to run away. Airborne heroes, including Echo and Pharah, can stay away from her ice altogether and make it more difficult for her to focus on one ground target. Finally, Sombra’s hack blocks her invulnerability ability, making it easier to subject her to focus fire.
While Echo is Overwatch‘s flying precision fighter, Pharah is more akin to an airborne Junkrat. Her rockets fly true and deal AOE splash damage to those on the ground, keeping her high above the fight in most cases. While her flight potential is not infinite, it’s long enough to get decent mileage out of a teamfight, and good Pharah players know where to touch down to avoid being attacked in the interim.
The best way to deal with a Pharah is to use a hitscan character. The usual choices are Soldier: 76 and Cassidy, but heroes like Widowmaker and Ashe can also be used, depending on personal preference. A careful Sombra can also hack Pharah while she’s on the ground, preventing her from getting back into the sky and rendering her rockets mostly useless. Finally, Ana can more easily Sleep Dart Pharah while she’s standing still during her Barrage ultimate, disabling the rest of the ability.
Alongside Roadhog, Reaper is the game’s classic tank buster. While tanks are designed to absorb more damage than your average character and deflect that damage away from DPSes and healers, Reaper can easily shred through their high health thanks to his extremely close-range shotguns. His teleport allows him to get to high ground and strategic vantage points more easily, and he can move swiftly in and out of team fights and individual skirmishes.
Reaper is locked into close combat. Because of this, any heroes that can do significant damage at long range, like Widowmaker, Pharah, Echo, Ana, and even Junkrat, can neutralize him without putting themselves in much danger. Echo and Pharah’s flight helps even more, as there’s no way Reaper can reach them while they’re in the air. Beware, though—Reaper can quickly teleport to a faraway fighter’s location (as long as they’re on the ground), which twists the fight in his favor.
Soldier: 76 is great for players who may have played other FPS games before but are new to Overwatch. His abilities, while useful, are fairly basic: he can provide limited healing to allies in a small AOE, and he can dash to get in and out of fights fairly quickly. He deals mostly in sustained damage thanks to his autofire heavy pulse rifle.
While Soldier: 76’s rifle can be strong if he hits all of his shots, it loses to burst fire that can defeat him faster than his sustain. Burst fire can also knock him out of his AOE heal and essentially render its restore useless. Characters that are helpful in this regard include Pharah, Junkrat, Roadhog, and Cassidy (specifically Cassidy’s Fan The Hammer alt fire).
Sombra is a unique combination of damage and support. While she’s classed as a damage-dealer and can’t outright heal her allies, her ability to hack enemies to turn off their abilities makes it easier for her teammates to land the final blow. She can also hack health packs and ultimate abilities, making it easier for her team to defend or make a push for victory. The usual flow of her play is to place a teleport, run in and hack an enemy, then teleport back before she gets killed.
While Sombra counters a lot of other characters because of her hack, she’s not invulnerable herself. Stuns turn off her ability to teleport back to her original location, leaving her open to focus fire. While her invisibility is a great tool that can be used to sneak into a backline, heroes who deal AOE damage can reveal her prematurely, alerting others to her position. Hanzo’s Sonic Arrow can also reveal her while she’s invisible, which disrupts the flow of her play.
Symmetra has gone through a lot of changes since Overwatch‘s initial release. As it stands now, she’s a damage hero whose beam auto-locks onto nearby enemies, dealing steady sustained damage as long as they remain in range. Her teleporter, which was once her ultimate ability, has now been relegated to a regular ability. In its place is a map-wide shield that blocks damage that attempts to pass through (but not heroes).
Symmetra is another one of Overwatch‘s most annoying characters, simply because she’s easy to play and deals a fairly high amount of damage. To deal with her, choose burst fire that can out-damage her beam: Junkrat, Pharah, and Echo make great counter choices. Pharah and Echo are especially good against Symmetra because it’s more difficult for her to reach them with her beam. AOE-based burst can also destroy her turrets, which makes it harder to her to control narrow hallways and catwalks.
Like Symmetra, Torbjörn has also gone through a lot of changes since the inception of Overwatch. He’s the master of controlling areas of terrain. His turret is still a deadly force to be reckoned with, even though it’s lost most of the power of the turbocharge that previously came with his ultimate ability. His newer ultimate covers an area of the ground in molten scrap, damaging any heroes that walk on it.
Though Torbjörn has his place in teamfights, mostly in defensive positions, his turret is his main source of power and he has to stay near it to be most effective. He’s not meant for direct combat and will lose to most heroes if engaged directly. His turret is also vulnerable to a variety of attacks: it can be hacked by Sombra, which disables it, and it can be destroyed fairly easily by AOE burst fire from heroes like Junkrat and Pharah. The turret will auto-lock onto Pharah while she’s in the air, though, so take caution.
Overwatch‘s most iconic character is also one of its most unique. In terms of positioning, Tracer rules the roost with the rest of the mobility crowd, flying across the battlefield at a breakneck pace. She can quickly jump in and out of fights and has a lot of chase potential, continuously tormenting slower and less mobile heroes. Because of her speed, she’s also got less health than the average damage character, which can be taken advantage of.
Tracer’s low base health means that any damage-dealer who’s lucky enough to land a hit can take her out quickly. To increase your odds, you can stun her with Cassidy. While other heroes work too, she’s often too fast for the likes of Mei and Ana. Auto-locking weapons, like those used by Symmetra, Moira, Winston, and Torbjörn’s turret, are the best weapons against this orange blur.
Widowmaker is Overwatch‘s classic sniper, doling out high damage from far away. Her hitscan status means players don’t have to account for bullet drop or any other negative effects, so she’s purely aim-based. Many of her abilities are based around knowing where enemies are, like her Venom Mine and her Infra-Sight ultimate ability.
Widowmaker suffers from the affliction that all sniping characters have: she has to stand still. If an enemy Widowmaker, Cassidy, or Ashe can get a clear sight on her, she’s an easy target. Genji and Tracer are great flaking heroes that can get behind her and cause trouble, as Widowmaker is mostly useless in short range. Genji can also deflect her shots, killing her instantly if she would have landed a headshot on him.
Overwatch is a varied and complex game, but as seen here, its characters still follow some of the same conventions from other FPS games. Thanks to the game’s hero swap mechanic, players can mix and match team setups until they find the right way to take on the enemy, making knowledge of each character’s strengths and weaknesses more important than ever.