How to play Winston: Overwatch strategy, tips, and tricks

Imagination is the essence of discovery.

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He’s not just a gorilla who was born and raised on the moon. He’s not just a primate that gets angry and pushes everyone around. He’s a scientist.

Winston is a key component of Overwatch’s roster of heroes and he’s especially prevalent in certain team compositions that would basically fail to work without his presence. In the right hands, he can be an absolute game-changer.

Here are some general tips and strategies to maximize your potential as a giant, angry, super-smart gorilla in Overwatch.

The power of science

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Winston is a tank through and through, and survivability is his bread and butter—or bread and peanut butter. With 500 HP, Winston has the standard health pool for a tank and a large headshot hitbox. But his maneuverability is what makes him so survivable, along with his Barrier Projector. Like all tanks, he works best with a healer helping him along the way.

Winston’s main source of attack damage is his Tesla Cannon, a giant gun that fires short-range electricity as long as he holds down the trigger. The upside to his gun is that it has decent range at eight meters with a six-meter width and the electricity auto-attaches itself to any target in its radius, so having good aim isn’t a necessity.

The gun’s damage, however, is negligible in certain situations. Tesla Cannon does 60 damage per second, meaning it will take longer than three seconds of constant damage to take down a majority of the cast at 200 HP. This makes Winston decently strong against certain squishier heroes, but his damage makes him a tough draw against other tanks.

Let’s coordinate our efforts

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Winston’s main usage is as a backline disruptor, using his Jump Pack ability to launch himself into the air and land on isolated squishy targets, usually support heroes and snipers like Widowmaker or Hanzo. Winston does 50 damage upon landing directly on top of a target, with some damage falloff depending on distance. Once he’s in, he’s able to start doing damage with his Tesla Cannon.

It’s here where his Barrier Projector ability comes into play. Winston places down a bubble-shield with 700 HP that he can use to protect himself from incoming damage. His Tesla Cannon shoots through the shield, meaning he can use the Barrier as a buffer between himself and his targets, using this to buy time to jump back out with Jump Pack once the six-second cooldown is over.

The best way for Winston to defend himself when he’s alone is to place down his Barrier Projector and strafe in and out of it to maximize its blockage of incoming fire.

Winston works especially well in a dive composition—when a team plays aggressively and quickly to jump prioritized targets to begin thinning the enemy team’s ranks. Winston’s ability to jump into a backline and protect fellow dive comp teammates like Genji and Tracer while also doing damage makes him a must-pick in this sort of lineup.

Winston doesn’t fare well as a traditional frontline tank, but his Barrier Projector is decent enough at covering a chokepoint if his team moves quickly. With just 700 HP, it doesn’t compare to Reinhardt’s shield.

Winston is also squishier than he may seem since his giant hitbox makes him an easy target to be focused down. He works best with teammates, and if he pushes into a team by himself, he’ll most likely be taken down quickly.

Don’t make me angry

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None of Winston’s abilities are more disruptive than his ultimate, Primal Rage. Activating this ability transforms Winston from a respectful intelligent scientist into a hulking raging beast capable of tossing anyone around the map.

Triggering this ability immediately boosts his max health by 500, giving him the largest health pool in the game. Primal Rage also increases his movement speed and decreases his Jump Pack cooldown to two seconds. While raging, Winston swings his fists angrily, dealing 40 damage per punch and sending enemies flying.

All things considered, Primal Rage doesn’t necessarily do a ton of damage. He’ll need to hit a 200 HP hero five times to kill them—and that’s without them receiving any healing. His ultimate is yet another amazing tool of disruption.

The best way to use Primal Rage is just to cause mayhem. It’s an amazing tool for forcing the enemy team away from a position, such as a capture point objective. Since the ability heals him and adds to his health pool as well, it’s a great tool for staying alive and contesting an objective. Use it just before you’re about to die to turn the tide in a battle or boop some enemies flying off the map.

The matchups

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Strong against


When an enemy Genji is running amok on your team, switch to Winston. His Tesla Cannon is able to track Genji with ease as he flips around the map. Jump Pack is a great way to close the distance on him when he tries to evade you.

Widowmaker and Hanzo

The same can be said for Widowmaker. Winston is one of the sniper’s best counters in the game. If an enemy Widowmaker is wreaking havoc from a distance, use Winston to pounce on her and DPS her down. If nothing else, he can disrupt her movement and prevent her from getting comfortable while aiming across the map.


Winston is fantastic at taking down supports since all of their health pools are generally small. Zenyatta is one hero who can be a problem, though. His Orb of Discord will buff incoming damage, making Winston feel even squishier.

Weak against


Winston’s worst nightmare is Reaper. The tank-shredder will especially dominate Winston with his shotguns up close. If you’re having too much success as Winston, don’t be surprised if the enemy team shows up with a Reaper just to counter you.


One hook and it’s all over for Winston. Roadhog’s primary attack will shred Winston’s headshot hitbox up close and do massive damage. And if your Jump Pack is on cooldown, there will be no chance for escape.


Winston isn’t capable of dealing the damage to take down Bastion and Bastion’s damage will melt both Winston and his Barrier Projector swiftly.

Winston might seem easy to play but he’s difficult to master—and he only works to his best ability in certain team compositions. Surround Winston with the right supporting cast and master his abilities to their best usage and he can be one of the game’s top heroes.