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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How to Counter and play against Widowmaker

Amélie "Widowmaker" Lacroix is an incredible sniper; when played by a skilled player she is able to quickly depense of pushes by picking key heroes, or open up a push through the same picks on defensive heroes. Because Widowmakers Widow's Kiss uses Hitscan, it is easier for a strong player to shine on this hero than say Hanzo. Windowmaker also has a strong a tool-kit to exploit the verticality of maps, and gain a lot of information for her team. The keys to shutting down Widowmaker are pressuring her via flanks or harassment - or by dismantling the setup around her so she is vulnerable.

Let us cover Widowmaker stats so we can better understand how she works. Having 200 Hp, Widowmaker is sitting right in the middle of HP pools. This makes her vulnerable to other snipers, as well as flankers. Getting up close to Widowmaker is key if you are flanking her. If you do not kill her quickly; grapple,  with 12 second cooldown and 20 meter range, will allow Widow to quickly escape vertically or horizontally. Because of this, it is imperative we are patient for our moment, to ensure we finish Widow before she can escape. Venommine having 15 second cooldown and dealing 75 damage over 5 seconds, makes the flanking job much harder. Good Widowmakers will be consistently positioning their mine to cover their flanks, and give advanced warning of incoming threats. This makes our map awareness that much more important.  

https://youtu.be/HNwtVvOXHj8
Infra-Sight, 15.5 seconds of "wall-hacks" is Widowmakers claim to fame. Infra-Sight is among the fastest recharging ultimates; at 1% every two seconds (resulting in only 100 seconds needed to passively gain 50% charge). Add that its 10 damage per %, good Widowmakers will have Infra-Sight up as soon as its down. Providing her team with consistent "wall-hacks" makes pushes, defenses, or any fight that much harder. Again, to deal with Widowmaker, especially one with "wall-hacks" active, you must be patience and precise. Because she can see where we are, where we are going, and whose with us;  it is imperative we know what we are doing and execute it as cleanly as we can.

Strong Widowmakers are never going to stay in the same spot (unless its explicitly advantageous to do so), so being mobile and aware is incredibly important. Much like when we deal with Bastion, precision and coordination are key to dealing with good snipers. If we rush out movements, or are careless with our awareness our team and us become easy pickings for a Widowmaker. Communicate with your team on pushes. Work with at least one or two other heroes to pick at Widow from a distance and open up windows to get on her flank and kill her. If we are on the defense, again communicate with one or two other heroes and synchronize your harassment so she cannot pick off any one of you. 

Widowmaker is a much easier hero to counter; especially compared with McCree or Tracer. The key to stopping Widowmaker is making her feel pressured, and never giving her free angles. If a Widowmaker is able to get setup behind her team with a good field of view, killing her requires flanking or moving into her setup. This is why mobility will be a critical factor against Widow. Constantly look to disrupt her, harass her, and kill her. Even if you are unsuccessful on kill attempts, if she is forced to moved and setup in a weaker position her over all effect is diminished greatly. I can not stress enough that Widowmakers need to be pressured if you want to have any success shutting them down. If Widow get's the setup she wants, the above gif demonstrates her impact. Do not let her setup freely.

Hard Counters for Widowmaker


Tracer (Hard Difficulty)


Being the epitome of mobility, Tracer is a very strong choice to create havoc around the Widowmaker and constantly force her to move setups. I will say this many times for Tracer: You will die to Widowmaker if you are not constantly moving, or anticipating her aim. Widow does an incredible amount of damage at full charge (150), and is a major risk to you. However because Tracer is not forced to use only the ground paths of the map, you must as Tracer be consistently out thinking the Widowmaker.

Tracer's Pulse Pistols are ideal against targets like Widowmaker. They deal 1.5 damage at max distance, or 6 damage up close where good Tracers like to be. Add that they unload the clip in 1 second, and reload in 1 second, tracer puts out disgusting damage. If all 40 of your bullets are headshots, you will kill her before you get half way through your clip. This is important to remember, as letting Widowmaker escape our grasps is not good for our life expectancy. Take your time, move and use blink with precision, and pounce on Widowmaker as close as you can get, with as many headshots as you can get.

Blink is amazing ability against Widowmaker. If you are needing to cross her field of view, no other hero can clear all of it in less than two seconds. Because blink has a 7 meter distance and 3 second recharge, you can use this in many ways.  When crossing her field of view we can always mash blink and get through; we can blink to a corner run around it, blink to another, and vary where we will end up. This confuses the enemy, and distracts the Widow that much more. You can always dodge abilities as well, such as Reinhardt charge or past a Venommine in Widows case. The most deadly use being blinking back and forth through the target you are dueling forcing them to constantly spin 180 degrees. When executed properly, blink kiting/dueling could even allow you to get a kill while be shot at by the Widowmaker. Again the theme here is that we are either using blink to get kills, or to clear distance to get kills. We are never standing still. We will die when we do.

Recall is critical when dealing with defensive positions, or safely harassing an offensive push. Recall will move Tracer back in time 3 seconds to where she was and the health she had, having a 12 second cooldown (note you can't lose health from this, so picking up a health-pack at 30 hp going up say 100hp, recalling will add the hp gained rather than revert to where it was; i.e. 100 3 seconds ago is now 150 because of the health pack).  Recall also removes all negative status effects, which for Venommines dot counts as one. So with Recall we are able to reset our HP in duels, remove the mines dot, and even fake our movements. When being pursued as a Tracer, Recalling and moving an entirely different route will waste valuable time for the enemy. Better yet, against a Widowmaker, if she is actively looking for you, can waste even more of her time when she is unsure where you recalled too and where you are now going.



Reaper (Very Hard Difficulty)



Similar to Tracer, Reaper is amazing at flanking and directly pressuring the Widowmaker. Be aware of your weaknesses when uses Shadow-Step, and your lower HP pool. If you can out-think and have better movement than the Widow has awareness, you can consistently dispatch of her. Our Hellfire shotguns are designed to shred targets like Widowmaker - doing 2 - 7 per pellet (20 pellets per shot), one none critical shotgun blast at point blank range will deal 140 damage to Widowmaker; needing only two to kill her. Because there are two shotguns, we can also get out two blasts in 1 second, giving Widow no time to react if we pounce with precision. 

With Reaper the biggest threat to us is when we are using Shadow-Step. Because Widowmaker can freely land a headshot as we are channeling it, or arriving at the teleport point, usage of this ability requires a good sense of Widowmakers angles and teammates positions. Learn the maps, and learn the angles. Part of mastering Reaper is understanding the game flow and when/where the enemy is looking at a given time. This is used to great effect if you can flank below the Widowmaker and Shadow-Step directly behind her. If you find a strong sense of the game, you easily maneuver around the enemy, consistently flanking Widow and teammates and creating havoc and death in your wake. 

Wraith-Form is an amazing ability, and can sometimes be the only way you are able cross certain fields of view, especially when those fields are covered by Widowmaker. Having a 3 second duration with 8 second cooldown gives Wraith-form a low 5 second downtime. Again using this ability to safely manuever around the map can give you a huge presence advantage. This ability also trumps Venommine because it does not attempt to detonate on a Wraith-form'd Reaper. Silently, quickly, and precisely, Reaper is designed to control the periphery of the map and shut down sniping positions. Always be wary when using this ability, it is Reapers only escape.

Playing Reaper against Widowmaker is again very similar to Tracer. Never stop moving; finding new angles and new picks is key to constantly forcing the enemy team to react to you. If Widowmaker is able successfully predict your picks, you are in grave danger.


Genji (Hard Difficulty)



If you can play him to a very high level, he is the hardest counter to Widowmaker in the game. His double jump and wall-climb allow Genji to move around the map like no other hero. Couple this with his Swift Strike, and Genji will have no problem sneaking up on a Widowmaker. Add the benefit that his Shurkiens are silent, and he can deflect Widow's Kiss, Genji is a monster size issue for Widow.

Starting with Shurikens, it is important to note they have no damage drop or distance drop, and are audibly quite until they fly close by or connect with the target. This naturally gives Genji the element of Surprise versus Widowmaker. Quickly moving around the map Widows peripheries and throwing one volley of Shurikens will force her to move as soon as the first of the 3 Skurikens connects. Dealing 28 damage per Shuriken, aimed well one volley could do over 150 damage in headshot damage. So as Genji move around the map and harass the snipers when you are not directly trying to kill them.

When it is time for them to die, Genji's same mechanisms to move around and harass the sniper allow Genji to get up close without Widowmaker noticing. Genji can climb in front of, beside, or behind Widowmaker and pounce on her at any angle of his choosing. When pouncing, Genji's alternate fire being a fan of shurikens gives him the ability to quickly fan, melee, swift strike for ~150 damage. Note that your Fan and melee do not have an internal CD between each-other, so Fan and melee can be done in less than 1 second. If Widowmaker is already softened up this will kill her, and if not she will quickly be cleaned up anyway. Because Genji is able to manipulate the elements of the map more effectively than other heroes, the key with Genji is never using standard routes to your target. When executed properly the Widowmaker will have to account for your unique pathing and your teams standard pathing. 

Deflect is amazing, against snipers it can make cleaning them up risk free. Like the above mentioned combo, Genji can simply add a deflect to the end as he is running away to reset and kill Widowmaker as she unloads at him trying to fend off the assault. When forced to move through standard routes, or angles covered by Widowmaker you can strafe across while using deflect and make killing you impossible. If Widowmaker doesn't realize this, or is just greedy, aiming deflect well will just kill Widowmaker with her own shot. 

Deflect is the most finesse based ability in the game, it can change the tide of any fight or duel - but when countering a Widowmaker as Genji, we should primarily focus on precision, thought-out, and patient map movements that will flank and pick the Widowmaker.


Winston (Medium Difficulty)



Naturally a softer hard counter, Winstons leaping and barrier kiting can force a Widowmaker to move consistently. Factor in his 75 armor and 500 HP pool, Widowmaker will have a very hard time shaking this Gorilla off without some assistance from her team.

Winston does not play like other tanks, with the exception of D.Va. While Winston is still decently suited for the role Reinhardt plays, he is built to be a harassing mobile tank. Winston's Jump Pack only has a 6 second cooldown, which starts immediately after using it. Because Winston can angle the Jump pack to push him vertically or horizontally, he can manipulate the downtime of Jump Pack and how high/long he stays in the air. This is what allows Winston to shine against snipers. He can move along the sides of the map, or with his team if necessary, then leap directly onto the sniper and begin shocking them to a crisp.

When leaping in Winston leaves himself isolated, but with good timing on his Barrier he can survive longer, do more damage, and escape alive. The mark of good Winston play is the ability to Barrier kite. Winston is a large easy to shoot target, but his barrier allows him to duck in and out absorbing some of the damage being thrown out. Learning to barrier kite and escape successful can be challenging and result in dieing - so be aware of the numbers to better execute this kind of maneuver; Barrier has a 5 Second duration with a 13 second cooldown (its downtime is = cooldown because it doesn't start cooling down till its dead). The barrier will cover a 5 meter radius, and absorb 600 damage before shattering to damage. The 10 meter diameter of Barrier is more than enough for Winston's large body to safely use, and will block damage from both sides (there are some exceptions and will be play-testing at launch).

Tesla cannon is disgusting against slow moving, weaker targets like Widowmaker. It does about 54 DPS, will follow the target within your field of view, and has 8 meter distance. Without using Grapple, there is no way for a Widowmaker to escape your shocking presence alive; if you can time your Jump Pack after her grapple is a guaranteed kill, or if you can Jump pack to follow Widow its the same case. Also note that Tesla's lightning will go through barriers and hit up to 4 targets simultaneously. Winston is built to be in the enemies face, and leap away when under threat.

Even though Winston is more erractic in nature, creating chaos by leaping in and fighting possible two to three heroes at once while barrier kiting - patience and precision matter more than ever. Watch your health, watch the enemy heroes, and watch where your team is. This kind of play either controls the game and will steal heaps of tempo, or will result in feeding life after life.

Soft Counters for Widowmaker



Hanzo (Medium Difficulty)



Sniping Widowmaker is sometimes the only way to take care of her. Hanzo is more of a utility counter to Widowmaker, because of his more quite projectiles and consistent information gathering.

Hanzo will always lose open angled aim duels, because Hanzo does not use Hitscan; rather using arrows that are "slower" traveling Projectiles. However, this gives Hanzo the means to fire an arrow and then move behind cover, gaining a major advantage in aim duels with environmental factors. The Widow has very little counter play to this expect for timing their peak between arrows. Obviously Widowmaker can just move and get another angle, but this is a win for Hanzo because she has bowed to our presence on the map.

Sonic Arrow can be particularly useful in our aim duels vs Widowmaker. Although she does have Infra-Sight, and more often than not it will be up, Sonic arrow can be a means for gaining back some of the vision disadvantage. If we do not need this to help against Widowmaker, do not forget part of countering any hero is dealing with their teammates as well. This is uniquely true with snipers, as they are inherently weak and fragile without a setup around them.

Scatter Arrow is amazing at helping shut down Widowmaker, especially when she is setup in room, alley, or any enclosure. Even if she is not, exploiting the spread of scatter arrow can easily win you the aim duel. If Scatter arrow is a critical shot, being a fully drawn arrow of course, it will outright kill Widow. However if that is too much of challenge, Scatter arrows first split is predictable and can be used to our advantage. In the image to the left, you can see that if you land Scatter arrow at the right angle and proximity to Widowmaker 3 of the 5 Scatters are guaranteed to hit. Because each does 75, this is enough to kill her even with Symmetra Shields.

McCree (Medium Difficulty)



Much slower than other counters, McCree will help control the sides of the map and flank Widowmaker. Although never ideal, his primary fire on Peacekeeper being 100% accurate allows him to poke at Widowmaker and potentially harass her away from her sniping nest. If you are choosing McCree to counter Widowmaker and you are unable to use the sides of the map to flank and pick her, he is not the hero for the occasion.

McCree has a very hard time with snipers when he is limited to the center portions of the map. Because of serious damage drop on his Peacekeeper (falling down to 35 damage), he only shines when he can get in close and fan down the Widowmaker. Part of an effective McCree versus a Widowmaker is controlling the sides of the map, picking Widow's teammates, opening up avenues to flank and kill her. If you find yourself unable to do this because of any reason related to mobility, strongly consider switching to one of the hard counters. 

McCree's Flashbang is amazing in 1 v 1 duels; however against snipers it is less of a flashy ability. Because we should be flanking and picking anyway, most the time we should be able to get up close and personal before they have a meaningful amount of time to respond. However if they notice our approach, or at all are seeming to react to us, Flashbang will seal any deal. Any hero, let alone Widowmaker, is left completely harmless when flashed - so do not be afraid to use it anyway when going in for the kill to guarantee the attempts success.


Mei (Low-Medium Difficulty) (Might be removed after discussions)



Mei does not die to one bodyshot even if it is full charge with damage amplification, because she has 250 HP. This sets the tone for what kind of counter we are looking for in her. Mei is map manipulating and position fortifying hero, that offers crowd-control and some long range poke. Against snipers, Mei can completely shut out their angle for a few seconds, or harass them out of said angle. Even if Mei makes mistakes, she has Cyro-Freeze to reset the situation which can be cancelled at any point.

When playing Mei be consistently aware you will not die to 1 shot, and use this to your advantage. If the Widowmaker only has a Mei to shoot at, chances are slim she is going to get that pick. So use Mei to harass and pressure Widowmaker. With your bonus 50 Hp over Widow and your Icicle behaving similar to sniper shots (It has no lob or distance drop, and has no damage drop [I have heard conflicting data on this, will change when confirmed]); Mei is uniquely comfortable in this role. 

Bridging the wall of the shop, and the market stands gives Mei's team
a safe place to hide from the standard Sniper position on Dorado.
Ice-Wall is an incredible flex ability, that gives Mei conditional responses to the way the game is developing. Having a 10 second cooldown, with 4.5 seconds of up time, leaves Mei with only a ~6 second downtime between uses; it also has a 35 meter range. Specifically when dealing with snipers like Widowmaker, Mei can use her Ice-Wall to close out the angle and protect her team amdist the chaos of a teamfight. Beacuse Mei can also use it gain vertical ground for herself and teammates; Mei can assist heroes flanking Widowmaker by opening up new paths to do so. 

Cyro-Freeze is the get-out-of-jail-free card every other hero wishes they had against a sniper. Cyro-freeze has a 4 second duration, which heals for 150 over that duration - can be cancelled at any time, and has only a 12 second cooldown. This is explicitly why Mei is able to safely poke and harass snipers - she can't die to one shot and she has block to reset her HP. Cancelling block early also gives Mei the ability to not be a sitting duck to a Widowmaker with good timing skills.

With Mei you are not a one and down counter to Widow like other heroes here, rather you are a supplemental counter. Your utility will diminish the impact of Widowmaker, while also giving your team added tools to win the actual teammfights that decide key objective time.


Widowmaker (Medium-High Difficulty)



Sniping Widowmaker is sometimes the only way to take care of her. Only Widowmaker is truly soft-countered by herself - however the counter comes from difference in skill. If you are a better Widowmaker, you can shut down another Widowmaker. 

There isn't much to say for what Widow does to Widow, but I will reiterate here that countering a sniper is sometimes about breaking their setup. Widowmakers thrive in situations where they cannot be harassed and are free to peak where they need to. When Widow is under duress with no assistance nearby she has to cede the angle and find new grounds. When playing Widow to counter Widow, you can manipulate this in two ways. You can use alternative angles to pick her, and then begin to deal with the rest of the team. Or you can use the knowledge of what her angle is, and setup outside it picking off her team. This forces the enemy Widow to adjust her angles and peaks to account for and deal with us. Here, assuming we setup knowing this was going to happen, we can have the peak advantage and take her out as she moves to dispense of us. Patience, Precision, and Forethought are what better snipers use - have them or understand them better than the other Widowmaker and she will be the prey.


D.Va (Low Difficulty)(Considering moving to hard counter)



As a counter D.Va will behave a lot like Winston. Because of the low cooldown on Boosters (2 second duration 5 second cooldown), D.Va can easily navigate the sides of the map to flank and pounce snipers. Add she comes equipped with a psuedo-barrier, which is honestly better than barriers, and she can protect your team from sniper fire as well. 

D.Va's Boosters ability is where you can truly take this hero to the next level. Instead of being an immobile mech with dual shotguns, she becomes a flying mass of metal that is consistently in your face and around your soft spots. D.Va is not played at all like Reinhardt or Roadhog, where they are more static and assist their team directly rather than through external effects. D.Va is like Winston, where you need to be consistently mobile and "tanking" damage by being in the enemies faces. When playing D.Va to her strengths, teams will be force to deal with her by turning their gaze and focus to D.Va. Again much like Winston, Boosters allows us to get in and out. When the pressure is too great, or the sniper has moved or is dead, simply boost back to your team and get topped off by your support.

Defense Matrix trumps more abilities than most realize at first. Because defense matrix blocks All projectiles during its 3 second duration, it blocks Graviton Surge, Dragonstrike, Barrage, Whole Hog, and of course sniper rounds. D.Va is an all purpose tempo hero that when defense matrix and boosters are used properly will have snipers running for the hills. Remember in close heated engagements against Widowmaker, you can use Defense Matrix to retreat backwards and clear a corner. You can also use this block her Venommine if it is being thrown out. Because Defense Matrix only has a 7 second downtime (10 second cooldown), do not be afraid to consistently spam it to get in better positions during fights; but be aware of what heroes there are, what ultimates you can block, and when they should have them. 

D.Va is exceptional at shutting down snipers because of her ability to close gaps, climb veritcally, and thus get into their faces. However she is amazing and creating tempo, wasting enemy ultimates, and dismantling the setup around the sniper. Identify what is the best way to deal with a sniper, and act with precision.


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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