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Saturday, May 14, 2016

How to Counter and play against Symmetra

Satya "Symmetra" Vaswani is one of the most frustating defensive heroes to deal with. Being a support, she naturally assists her teammates more than traditional defensive heroes. She comes equipped with the most deadly weapon in close quarters combat, Sentries to fortify herself and teammates, additional shields for all her friends, and of course the dreaded Teleporter. When given proper time to setup, Symmetra will completely shut down the side lanes of the map. She will do this through sentry placement, and combo'ing her sentries with her Photon Projector. Do not let Symmetra's setup persist, much like Torbjorn and Bastion shutting down her setup consistently is the key.
Numbers matter, lets take a look at Symmetra's. She has 200 HP, 100 being normal health and 100 being Shields. Shields take the same damage as health, but will automatically regenerate after 3 seconds of not taking damage. Her Photon Projector's primary fire is a short-ranged beam that both follows the target (note it will "stick" to a target for 1 second, even if they run 180 degrees behind you) and ramps from 30 damage per second to 120 DPS. Symmetra's secondary fire also features a charging effect that create an orb of slow traveling energy, starting at 25 damage and ending at 125 damage (based on time charging the orb). Symmetra is able to fire 5 fully charged orbs before reloading, and more disgustingly can use her primary fire for 20 seconds before reloading. The range on her primary fire is 5 meters, giving her quite the distance to work with. The orbs however will travel forever until they collide with a surface or Hero. Remember both of Symmetra's weapons methods of firing pierce and ignore barriers.
Sentries will give new players hell, and in the hands of a skilled Symmetra, leave any player wishing they were on the other side of the map. Having 3 charges of this ability, Symmetra is able to have 6 total Sentries active at any time. A sentry charge will be regained every 10 seconds. Each Sentry only has 1 health, but will deal 25 damage per second, and stacks with Symmetra and other sentries additively. Meaning if Symmetra finds you in the wrong room with her Sentries, and 3 are focusing you with her, you will take a base of 105 DPS and up to 195 DPS if Symmetra is at full charge. Note that each sentry does apply a minor slow that is also additive with each other sentry. At 4+ sentries focusing 1 hero it will psuedo-immobilize them. This is explicitly why the two ways to counter and hamper Symmetra are to avoid her using the other sides of the map, or take your time and destroy her nest.

The ability for Symmetra to augment her teams HP is a massive factor to her success. The game is naturally balanced around the base HP's of heroes; for instance a Widowmaker will full charge on Widow's Kiss will kill Tracer no matter where she is shot. However, if Tracer has Symmetra on her team the 25 shields will allow Tracer to live if it is not a headhshot. Small breaking points like this is why Photon Shield can be so quiet in game, but massive when exploited properly. Again Symmetra combo'd on the defense with Torbjorn will give every member of their team an additional 100 HP as long as they have an Armor Pack up. Its important to note that shields will always take priority on damage, meaning shields will always drain before Armor or Health.
Teleporter is what completes Symmetra's tool-kit, and can be the deciding factor on a close hold or push. Because of Symmetra's Sentries and her DPS from Photon Projector, Teleporter can be charged up quickly, and deployed only a minute into the game. Holding 6 charges, one Teleporter can transport an entire team that has been wiped directly near the key point of the map. While the Teleporter does have 200 HP, Symmetra cannot charge a second one until the first Teleporter is used up or dead. This is why Teleporter placement is an important factor to good Symmetra play. It is always worth it to out of your way to find and kill the Teleporter - taking a fight when one is up will allow the enemy team to reinforce as fast as they die. Denying Symmetra this ability consistently can not be stated enough; find the Teleporter and destroy it!

Remember no matter what heroes we choose to counter Symmetra, we have to give respect to what she does. All static defensive heroes exploit irrational aggression, and quickly turn frustation into out-right anger. Systematically and precisely destroy Symmetra's nest, working with teammates. If the enemy team is hunkering down in and around her nest, actively seak to avoid it and flank the enemy team using the other paths of each map. Symmetra is static in nature, while she counters mobility in her nest, using mobility to by-pass her setup can be just as devastating as destroying it.

Hard Counters for Symmetra

Junkrat (Low-Medium Difficulty)

Here is one the strongest spam heroes in Overwatch, and spamming down Symmetra's setup is key. Junkrat's Grenades are ideal for getting to a Symmetra without risking your own life. Add the benefit of being able to use Concussive mine to change your verticality, and Junkrat becomes a top teir counter to Symmetra.

Junkrat's Frag Launcher is both a strong defensive asset, but also amazing at breaking defenses. Each Grenade, in a 2 meter explosion radius, does 120 damage. Every Grenade will bounce up to 3 times before shortly exploding, unless they come contact with a Hero or Barrier and will then instantly explode. Having 5 Grenades per clip, and firing 1.6 Grenades per Second, Junkrat is a terrifying hero for Symmetra to deal with. In most cases Symmetra will setup on the sides of the map, controlling rooms or enclosures to get maximum value out of her Projector and Sentries. This inherently works out great for Junkrat, as he will have many angles and avenues to lob Grenades into Symmetra's setup, ideally killing her and the Sentries.  As Junkrat we should always take an extra responsibility to shut down Symmetra, and other defensive heroes. Junkrat is equipped with the ideal tool-kit to shut down static defenses. Learn to master the geometry of each map with your Frag Launcher, and Symmetra will be hard pressed to sustainably setup her defenses.

Important to keep in mind when spamming: 1. Pros and top Junkrats only use 4 of the 5 grenades to ensure they have 1 left to answer incoming threats. 2. Vary angle and distance to vary the ending location, this allows you to catch heroes as they run like crazy from the grenades that are incoming; it also make it hard to predict what is actually a safe area to stand.
Concussive mine is the key reason good Junkrat's are extremely annoying and terrifying to play against. Concussive mine has no duration (meaning it will last until another one is placed) and does 120 damage in a 3 meter explosion radius. It has a major knock back element, which is the reason it propels you into the air, but can be destroyed by enemy abilities or gun fire. However against Symmetra this shouldn't be a concern. Primarily Junkrat will use concussive mine to gain verticality and find new perches to rain his Grenades from, or to detonate in an enemies face in conjunction with a normal Grenade. Executing the latter combo correctly will deal 240 damage in less than a second, leaving heroes like Symmetra watching the Kill Cam. So again against Symmetra this ability she be prioritized to navigate the map for better angles, or should be used in conjunction with a well aimed grenade for devastating damage. Remember that this abilities cooldown is relatively short at 8 seconds, and should be used consistently to re-position and maximize the effect of your Grenades.

As outlined before, Junkrat is one of the best answers to static defensive strategies. Symmetra may be able to have 6 Sentries at any time, and can hold up to 3 charges, but Junkrat simply does not care. No matter where Symmetra is a top Junkrat will bring the mayhem to her, and crush her static position. Spam with Junkrat, pressure with him, and never let your foot off the gas. If you are consistently doing this, re-positioning, and pressing - Symmetra will have to swap because of the inability to setup. Add the benefit that playing Junkrat against styles of defense like this will charge your ultimate very quickly!

Pharah (Low-Medium Difficulty)

The hardest counter to strategies that rely on setting up static positions is Pharah. Her rockets are prefect for long range harassment, and close range killing. She comes equipped with Hover and Jump Jets to give her a deceptively high mobility factor. Pharah gets even better because of Concussive Rocket being able to re-position herself and enemies. Ultimately Pharah is a strong choice when cracking fortified positions.

Pharah's Rocket Launcher is built to punish slow moving targets, and can still be effective against more mobile threats. Dealing 120 damage per rocket in a 3 meter explosion radius, these rockets hurt and are hard to avoid when aimed predicatively. Although the Rocket Launcher only fires 1 rocket per second, it has a minor knock-back element to compensate (it is possible to rocket juggle like quake, but is extremely hard). When playing against a strong Pharah, Symmetra will find it almost impossible to properly setup. Between Symmetra's out-right inability to kill Pharah, coupled with Pharah's ease of excution against a tactic like this, Pharah will remain a top answer to Symmetra for some time. Properly aiming rockets into an enclosed area is much easier than predicting heroes movement in open areas. Much like Junkrat, spam rockets as Pharah into/around Symmetra and her setup. This will slowly chip down her setup and allow your team regain access to the side of the map she was constricting.

Arrows Represent sniping angles and avenues to exploit jets
Pharah is built around the Rocket Launcher, having both Jump Jets to cover a large vertical distance, and Hover Jets to maintain/gain minor verticality. This is the key to playing Pharah well. Because she can so easily traverse the vertical portions of the map, she should never be bogged down by Static defenses. Simply Jump Jet to the side and use alternative paths throughout the map. Remember that your Jump Jets have a 10 second cooldown that begins as soon as the Jets stop propelling you vertically. Exploit this ability in fights/duels to make hitting you much harder or simply clear the distance of the energy based weapons. Combine Pharah's strengths with rockets and her ability to move very freely through the map; you get a Hero that can easily find static defenses and dispense of them from many different angles. Naturally being very Mobile with Pharah will open up the map for your team because Pharah acts, by herself or with a Mercy, as a pincer effect. Forcing an enemy team to account for Pharah being around the peripheries raining justice makes it increasingly difficult to sustain any position that is also pressured from the front.

Concussive Rocket is like having Concussive Mine that explodes on contact, but does no damage (except to barriers) and has a major Knock-Back element. Used effectively, Concussive Rocket can manipulate the enemies positions and isolate targets for easy pick-offs. Against Symmetra specifically, we can use this to knock her out of the enclosure and into our team. If we are ever in a sticky situation on the ground, using this between Pharah and the target pursuing her will create double the distance between them. Remember because this Ability can knock heroes off of cliffs, and into horrible positions, timing our usage of it is critical. Having a 12 second cooldown, this ability will only be able to be used once or twice per major engagement; or at max, 5 times a minute.

Pharah is a staple choice for the attacking side (or defending side if Symmetra is using her Sentries on the pay-load). Rocket spam, Vertical mobility, Knock-back potential, Pharah comes excellently equipped to disrupt and destory Symmetra's feeble creations. Remember to always save one rocket in your clip while spamming, similar to Junkrat. Exploit vertical aspects of each map to maximize your punishing effects on static defenses. Plan usage of your Concussive Rocket to isolate targets, or escape near death situations. Lastly exploit the effect of being able to pressure from multiple sides at once, accounting for 2 angles of pressure will always be harder than accounting for just 1!

Reinhardt (Medium-High Difficulty)

Not an intuitive counter to Symmetra, Reinhardt is the foundation a team needs to actually push into a Symmetra. Providing his team with a large Barrier that blocks Sentry beams, allows Reinhardt to assist his team in systematically destorying the defensive setup. Add that he also comes with a ranged ability that does moderately high damage, Reinhardt will force Symmetra to consolidate her defenses very close to her teammates.
Barrier Field is what truely allows a strong Reinhardt to shine. Providing himself, and nearby teammates with a large shield to stand behind with 2000 HP worth of damage absorption. It is critical to remember that if we let our Barrier get destoryed we have to wait ~3 seconds to use it again, and it comes up with a minor 500 HP. However when Reinhardts sheathes his barrier, after 1 second it begins to heal 225 HP per second, until it is either completely healed or is used again. Although Symmetra's Photon Projector does go through this barrier, allowing her to potentially kill Reinhardt if he is solo, Symmetra should never find a good Reinhardt without a buddy or two behind the Barrier. Because the Sentries are actually blocked by the Barrier, Reinhardt provides his team with a window to quickly dispense of the Sentries and regain control of that area. Factor in that because the Sentries only do 25 damage per second, Reinhardt provides his team with more than enough time to even kill a room of 6 stacked Sentries.
Fire Strike is an ability that is often over looked when first playing Reinhardt. Because Reinhardt moves naturally slower than other heroes, players tend to fall towards using Reinhardt solely to protect and push with Barrier, and swing away with his hamer at close range. However, Reinhard comes equipped with an infinite ranged projectile, that travels through heroes and barriers, and does 100 damage. Fire Strike can help turn the tides of any engagement, and against Symmetra will destroy multiple Sentries and do half her HP in one strike. If Symmetra and her team are dug in deep and using your Barrier Field to push with your team is not working, spam like everyone else. Fire Strike only has a 6 Second cooldown, and again will pierce everything except surfaces. Use this to poke at Symmetra and her teammates alike, so that when you do push up with Barrier Field there is not much resistance to begin with.
Charge can be very useful against a multitude of situations. However against Heroes like Symmetra, Bastion and Torbjörn it can be a liability. Remember that it has a 10 second cooldown, that only starts at the end of the charge, doing 50 damage on the impact and 300 upon pinning a target. While this will instantly kill Symmetra, it can also be a quick way to get killed and leave your team Vulnerable. Actively be aware of the enemies capabilities and positions when using charge; if done properly, Charge can open up a window of tempo to capitalize on, and cement into actual map gains.

Reinhardt is the strongest supplemental counters you will find against Symmetra. His naturally large presence in the game gives your team room to advance and destory Symmetra defenses. Strong usage of Barrier Field will buy your team the space and time to destroy said setup, or push directly onto the objective. When the defenses are too strong, Fire Strike is an ideal ability to help soften up targets for Pharah, Junkrat, Zarya, or other heroes that can finish the job with their spam. Remember, Reinhardt is weak and feeble alone and isolated, but strong and terrifying when augmenting his teams advances.

Soft Counters for Symmetra

Roadhog (Medium-High Difficulty)

The one man apocolypes is just that for for Symmetra. Roadhog loves getting up close and personal with his pray, by hooking them to him and filling their face full of scrap. When encountering heavy static resistance, his Scrap gun makes quick work of Sentries being able to kill multiple at a time with its shotgun firing pattern. If Roadhog exhausted a large amount of his HP pool to get these sentries or Symmetra killed, he simply steps away for a breather and returns gassed up and ready to terrorize the defense.

Hook is game breaking to deal with for heroes like Symmetra. Because Roadhog has such a high HP pool, there is no way Symmetra could kill him after being hooked. Factor in that all 200 HP heroes die in one primary fire and quick melee, Symmetra will be forced to actively avoid where Roadhog goes. Chain Hook is much better than most realize at first, having an almost 22 meter distance and 6 second cooldown, it is both spammable and effective at medium range. Add in the minor 30 damage it deals when it connects, and Roadhog is a pick generating machine. Hunt Symmetra down, find her defenses and hook her out of them for easy kills. Use Roadhog to generate power-plays with hook (where its 5v6 or 4v6 because of picks) and cement that tempo into objective time.

ScrapGun hurts, a lot. Shooting 25 pellets that do 4 - 9 damage per pellet gives Roadhog a close range burst of 225 damage if all pellets connect. His Alternate fire, only doing 50 damage before splitting into pellets, allows him to more accurately damage heroes at medium range. His primary fire also fires 1 blast per second, making Roadhog almost impossible to out DPS in close quarters. Landing a Chain Hook into primary fire should always kill Symmetra, making Roadhog an ideal choice to be consistently killing her. Remember when using your alternate fire that the large pellet does less damage than all the normal pellets combined, time the expansion to be right in front of targets and at ~5 meters you can still be one shotting 200 HP heroes. If executed perfectly, the expansion can occur right in front of a targets face dealing 450 damage.

Roadhog being a tank naturally has a very high HP pool. Sitting on the higher side with 600, he has no armor and no shields. This makes it so Roadhog takes 1 to 1 damage from all heroes (except when head-shot, or damage amplified), and cannot regenerate any health out of combat (like Zarya can). However Roadhog loves gasoline to the point where inhaling it heals him. Having a 8 second cooldown, Take a Breather will heal Roadhog 300 HP in 1 second time. Making it only have a 7 second down time, Roadhog can consistently poke out for hooks and harassment, then step back and Take a Breather. When pushing extremely aggressively, Roadhog can use this mid-fight to negate already incoming damage and focus. All of this gives Roadhog a strong tool-kit for picking, pushing, generating heaps of tempo.

Roadhog is the strongest pick generator in the game. Being able to hook Symmetra and her teammates ~22 meters away, directly into Roadhog and his teammates makes positioning a difficult task. Add that Roadhog does 225 Damage at close range with Scrapgun, very few heroes can even survive a Hook + Primary fire + Melee combo. If Roadhog needs to push, or is getting pushed, he simply step away for a Breather and comes back healed up ready to level any defensive setup.

Zarya (Medium Difficulty)

Zarya is a personal favorite when dealing with strategies that contain Symmetra. Because Zarya has a naturally high HP pool, self-barrier and projected barrier, she is well equipped to push into a Symmetra's setup. Add that her Particle Cannon comes with a lobbed alternate fire, that explodes similar to grenades, and she can quickly dispense of any number of Sentries.

Zarya's Particle Cannon is an amazing weapon, dealing a base of 80 DPS with her primary fire and 46 damage per grenade with her alternate fire. Combine this with her Hero Passive that she gains 1% damage per energy charge gained from barriers, Zarya can deal up to double; and once Zarya gets over 90 energy, she can reliably stay there. Although irrelevant in the persepctive of killing Sentries, maintaining a high charge will make killing Symmetra an easy feat. When near max charge Zarya can be doing an average of 150 DPS with her primary fire, killing Symmetra in less than 2 seconds. If Zarya feels unable to get in close and utilize this damage out-put, well aimed and predicted lobs can kill Symmetra, her sentries, and Teammates. Again when at full charged the damage out-put from Zarya becomes horrifying, allowing her energy grenades to deal up to 92 damage in a 2 meter explosion radius.
Zarya's Barriers are the crux of Zarya's tool-kit, and when used properly will negate entire ultimates, or stuns such as Flashbang or Earthshatter. Each barrier, wether self-cast or projected, will absorb 200 damage over 2 seconds in instances (meaning if its 200 damage per second dealt in smaller instances, the barrier will absorb exactly the 200 damage in 1 second, however if its 600 damage in one instance, the Barrier will absorb all 600). Although the self-projected barrier has a longer cooldown of 10 seconds, your Barrier for allies only has a 8 second cooldown. Properly timing this ability when your teammates poke out will not only give them more time and safety to harass, but will augment your damage. When pushing into Symmetra, Barriers will stop her Sentry and Photon Projector for 2 seconds, giving Zarya or a Teammate plenty of time to destroy her nest. Remember your Barriers will remove the slow effect from Sentries and this will assist foolish teammates from escaping said nest.

Zarya has AoE damage with her alternate fire, barriers to protect her self and teammates, and therefore makes an ideal supplemental counter to Symmetra. Zarya's ability to deal with Symmetra her self, or make teammates dispense of her that much more safely gives Zarya a huge leg up when pushing into static defenses. Remember to consistently spam your opponents, especially Symmetra and her setup. Focus your attention on your enemies and when they are doing damaging your allies, this will assist you in timing your barriers for maximum absorption. When at full charge, press your advantage with aggressive pushes and barrier usage. Lastly in the game deciding fights, never forget to use every barrier off cooldown - it can and will turn the tide of those fights.

Winston (High Difficulty)

Tanky, mobile, and Tesla Cannon being able to cleave up to 4 targets for 100% of the damage; is why Winston is well suited to help push into enclosures where Symmetra is setup, and even clean up the Sentries himself . The primary reason why Winston is a soft counter instead of a hard counter like Reinhardt is his limited range. Although ideal for jumping into/around enemy setups, barrier kiting, and then leaving -- against Symmetra the risk becomes greater when you have no crowd-control and her weapon pierces your barrier and sticks to a target longer. Because you naturally separate from teammates when Jump Packing, Winston requires a high game sense to execute properly.

Tesla Cannon deals 54 damage per second, slightly follows targets in Winstons vision for 5 meters, and will hit up to 4 targets at once. This gives Winston a naturally powerful weapon at clearing out multiple Sentries at once while killing Symmetra. Only needing 4 seconds to actually kill Symmetra, timing your Barrier well as Winston will give that precious time to destroy Symmetra and her Nest. 

Barrier Projector acts very similar to Reinhardt's Barrier field when dealing with Symmetra. Lasting for 5 seconds, or until is has absorbed 600 damage, it becomes situationally weak when used imporperly.  Remember to always time Barrier Projection a second or two after you leap in, to make the duration of the barrier equal to the remaining cooldown on Jumpack (which has a 6 second cooldown). This allows Winston to quickly get into position shredding Symmetra and her Sentries with Tesla Cannon, while absorbing the Sentries damage into the Barrier. Winston is always subject to be focused down when he leaps in with his Barrier. Pay mind to barriers status (as it becomes more cracked the health pool wanes), and be ready to leap away when the pressure is too high.

Winston naturally seperates himself from his teammates when played to his potential. Jump packing into as many squishy targets with his Tesla Cannon as possible, Winston will be hard to follow into this situations. This is why being aware of the conditions of the skirmish around you are so critically important as Winston. Unlike heroes like Reinhardt, you will not be able to rely as much on the presence of your teammates around you. So know the limits of Winston himself, his barrier, and your abilities to properly barrier kite. However, when executed properly, Winston is a menace to deal with and almost impossible to catch.

Thank you for reading this! I will be editing all guides after launch with relevant details and fixes! If you have any thoughts/feedback feel free to comment or Email me!


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