Targeting: Where do pros put their damage

August 10th
written by Barroi

targetingA difficult question in Overwatch is: “Who should I focus?”. If you have the option to shoot 2, 3 or all 6 enemy heroes, who should you shoot first.

In an effort to explain who pros generally target when playing certain heroes, how different strategies affect their priority targets and how the 2 main DPS players on teams usually focus on different opponents, I want to introduce you to how to use Winston’s Lab’s “Heroes Killed” data tool.

The Metrics

picksThe data tool itself works similar to other WL tools: Select the filters (especially players) you want to see stats for and run the query. The metrics are a bit harder to understand than your normal K, D, Ult numbers, though. You can choose between total kills and kills/10 against that hero. But most importantly you can choose to display a percentage value.

That percentage put in words could mean “when playing against hero X, Y% of this player’s kills are on X”. A bit simplified: It is a value that describes how much the player focuses hero X. So if the percentage against Zen is greater than the one against Ana, it basically means he prefers to target Zen over Ana.

This metric is extremely useful, especially because it allows comparing different players. Even if one player gets 10 Kills/10min and another one only 8 Kills/10min, the percentage still tells you who likes to target Ana more.

Note: The percentages normally don’t add up to exactly 100%, since each player has different playtimes against each hero.

Widowmaker’s Crosshair

As a first example let’s look at who Widowmaker usually has in her sights when pulling the trigger. In this query, we compare the six Widowmakers of the Overwatch League Season 1 playoffs, during those playoffs. The displayed targets are the 8 most played heroes during playoffs.

If you click on the link to the query you can see some more info, like playtime against each hero, by hovering over a cell in the table (try it below).
If you click on the link to the query you can see some more info, like playtime against each hero, by hovering over each cell in the table (try it below).

As we can see, the killing habits of the two finalists (Birdring and Carpe) are quite similar, but overall the targeting varies quite a bit.

Marked in red, we immediately figure out that Surefour’s main goal when playing Widow is to take out the opposing French sniper. Meanwhile, in blue, Pine and SoOn also tried to focus on the second sniper in the double sniper meta.

Further down in this article we will take a closer look at London and conclude that Profit and Birdring each have different primary targets. Thus Profit is the one trying to kill Hanzo, while Birdring zooms in on Widow. In this sense different team strategies also affect individual’s killing behavior, which helps explain the colored outliers.

Similarly most players’ absence of focus on Winston, compared to SoOn‘s, can be explained with other teammates having to complete that task in those players’ teams.

London’s DPS Split

While you can use that data tool to compare players from different teams, playing the same hero as shown above, you can also use it to analyze how a specific team splits their attention. For example, if you look at London’s DPS players during the full OWL season you will note some intriguing characteristics.

Ana 17.76% 23.29%
Lucio 18.97% 22.11%
Reinhardt 17.02% 21.92%
Zenyatta 17.86% 21.67%
Mccree 24.58% 21.13%
Zarya 13.08% 20.70%
Doomfist 41.29% 20.20%
Hanzo 15.19% 20.01%
Winston 15.95% 19.50%
Brigitte 16.70% 19.36%
Moira 18.33% 19.15%
Genji 17.42% 19.12%
Soldier: 76 20.86% 18.23%
Junkrat 14.84% 16.61%
Sombra 18.00% 16.54%
Orisa 12.31% 15.94%
Mercy 13.45% 15.27%
Widowmaker 27.74% 14.04%
Bastion 8.89% 13.95%
Roadhog 12.33% 13.74%
Pharah 23.82% 13.28%
Tracer 20.67% 12.38%
D.Va 10.12% 11.74%
Hammond 0 0
Mei 0 0
Reaper 0 0
Symmetra 0 0
Torbjörn 0 0

This query shows all heroes that have been played at least 10% of the time during all of OWL. And to make it easier to note the differences the full interactive table is included on the right.

Now, the table right now should be sorted by Profit’s column in a descending order. Check out which heroes are on top, then sort it by Birdring’s top targets. What you should note is that Birdring is mainly focused on killing enemy DPS heroes, his top four targets are all DPS. Meanwhile Profit is mostly killing Supports and Tanks, his percentages for Widow, Tracer, Pharah are about half as much as Birdring’s.

It is nothing usual for DPS players of the same team to somehow split their attention, you will find this in all of the top OWL teams. What is unusual, though, is Profit’s great success at focusing supports. The percentage of his kills that are on Supports is the highest of all Overwatch League DPS players. If you are interested in checking for yourself, you can use this query. Only 15 player are shown at a time, but you can use the “Next 15”, “Prev 15” buttons in the options on the right to navigate.

Whether this helped London win the title or not is up for debate, but spending a lot of time using this data tool you will realize that partially splitting your DPS’s focus is a part of all of OWL’s top teams. And having someone who can successfully focus down supports could be a crucial factor against some opponents in certain metas.


Barroi is the founder of Winston's Lab. He is coder, journalist and statistician at once.