The Triple Tank Strategy Is Taking Over Competitive Overwatch

Illustration for article titled 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 offense. 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 defense matrix, Zarya just as, you know, a concept, etc), 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. Plus, DPS heroes have a history of being annoyingly powerful. McCree and Genji immediately spring to mind.


Many players have also pointed out that triple tank violates Overwatch’s holy trinity of twos: two tanks/two offense/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?

Kotaku senior reporter. Beats: Twitch, streaming, PC gaming. Writing a book about streamers tentatively titled "STREAMERS" to be published by Atria/Simon & Schuster in the future.



This is partially related, but more than anything else just venting - I really, really wish that Blizzard would put some sort of limit on using duplicates of the same character in quick play. I don’t know what it’s like on PC or XB1, but on PS4 it seems like practically every other time I jump into a quick play match, almost all of my teammates are one or two single characters. I do have some friends that play Overwatch, but we all tend to have differing schedules so partying up is somewhat difficult, and I’l usually solo.

Most of the time I’ll get thrown into a match where it’s me and 5 other Genjis or Hanzos, but Soldier 76 also tends to be another common choice. I understand that quick play is obviously just for fun and that putting some sort of rule would most likely get a lot of hate, but having 3 or more of the same character on the same team is not only silly but is basically forfeiting from the beginning.

Like I said, I completely get that quick play is obviously for fun, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when I get thrown into a match where there are five other Reapers, and no one is even trying take the match seriously. Or when I’m in a Reinhardt in a team of all DPS and am the only one trying to move the payload, while everyone is across the match playing Call of Duty.
And I think there has got to be some way to create incentives/encouraging solo queue players to actually work in their team for real, without just going all Roger Goodell and creating a million different rules.