Winston Guide: How to Be the Best Winston in the World

Winston Guide: How to Be the Best Winston in the World
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Although his name is technically Winston, he is often affectionately referred to as “monkey” in the Overwatch chat. But Winston isn’t your average ape; he is a genetically engineered evolutionary masterpiece, who also happens to be a scientist.

Originally a test subject in Dr. Harold Winston’s lab on the Horizon Lunar Colony, Winston (the  gorilla) was involved in testing the effects of prolonged habitation in space. Dr. Harold noticed that Winston displayed far more rapid brain development than the other genetically engineered gorillas in the study, and took the young ape under his wing. The doctor taught Winston everything he knew, and when the other gorillas staged an uprising and took over the moonbase, Winston chose to flee to Earth, and outcast from his primate brethren. There he joined up with Overwatch, and honed his weapons and fighting abilities.

Winston is an excellent hero for beginners to pick up because he is easy to play and fun right from the start. He is also a Hero that is worth putting the time in to master, because Winston has a huge amount of unique playmaking potential when mastered.


Tesla Cannon:

This is a great weapon for new players to use because you barely have to aim it! Just hold down right click! ...While this is somewhat true, it’s not quite that simple. Really, the Tesla Cannon has a lot more potential as you learn to master it.

What the Tesla Cannon does exactly is attack multiple targets at once, at 60 damage per second in a cone shaped range that is 8 meters long and 6 meters wide. It has a sizable amount of ammo, but conserving it can be really important during heated battles because this attack has a moderately long reload time of 1.5 seconds. It cannot headshot.

Jump Pack:

You’ve heard of a monkey on your back right? And you know how nobody wants that? Yeah, that's how you want to play Winston. The enemy team should be constantly having to deal with you flying around the map, diving on their support heroes, disrupting their back lines, etc… And the Jump Pack is perfect for that.

The Jump Pack gives Winston some of the best mobility in the entire game because of how fast it allows that monkey to cover a huge distance. The cooldown time is 6 seconds, and drops down to 2 seconds when Winston’s ultimate ability is activated (more on that later).

It’s really important for beginners to remember the Jump Pack can also inflict up to 45 splash damage on the enemy (in a 5 meter radius) when Winston lands.

Barrier Projector:

This ability extends a dome shaped shield that covers a 5 meter radius, and lasts for 6 seconds or until its 600 health is destroyed.The most notable thing about this barrier is the dome shape-- as it can uniquely protect from overhead attacks. There is a slight delay as Winston places the barrier beneath him. So if your on the move, or are jump packing through the air, be careful not to leave your barrier behind, and yourself in the open!

Primal Rage:

This is Winston’s melee ultimate ability. With this ultimate, Winston gives in to his animal nature and unleashes the beast within; boosting his movement speed, how often Jump Pack can be used, and his health by 500.

Primal Rage lasts for 10 seconds, and during this time Winston swings his arms violently causing 40 damage per swing and a huge amount of knock-back effect. Use this ability for much more than just kills-- more on that later!


Low Damage at Short Range Only:

Most heroes have an attack that is effective at close range, and at least somewhat effective at medium. Winston does not; his Tesla Cannon does literally no damage after a very short range

Also, the cannon’s damage is in a cone shape, so until you get used to that, it can feel a bit unwieldy and hard to direct.

Can Get Hit With a Lot of Damage Really Fast:

Winston is a large Hero, his figure takes up a lot of space on the battlefield. Large Hero means that he is also a large target; and, to top it all off, he has a relatively large headshot hitbox. All this adds up to the possibility of Winston taking a huge amount of damage very quickly-- especially when confronted by other Heroes like McCree or Reaper.

As a Tank, Winston Can’t Actually “Tank” Very Much Damage:

Taking a lot of damage really fast is not ideal for a tank, which is why Winston would fall in the off-tank category. However even among other off-tanks (D.Va, Roadhog, Zarya), Winston is the weakest whenever two of these off-tanks go toe-to-toe. Not only because the big monkey has relatively low health and armor, but because his weapon does so little damage per second and cannot headshot on top of that. Winston does have his bubble barrier, but with 600 health it can be destroyed rather quickly, and it has a relatively long cool down of 13 seconds.

Strategy Overview:

Winston is ideal for engaging in “diving” attacks. Diving, or Heroes that are suited for “dive-comp”, are great for jumping into a firefight right at the feet of the enemy, doing a large amount of damage and disruption, and then escaping quickly to safety. Making good use of Winston’s mobility is crucial to his gameplay strategy. Think of Winston’s tanking role as not just to soak up damage, but also to soak up enemy attention and any plan they might’ve had.

You’ll need to use the following skills to maximise Winston’s potential: positioning, awareness, communication, and combo-ing.


Winston’s positioning evolves over the course of the fight. At first you’ll want to be out of any direct line of fire, waiting for the chance to take control of an enemy or an area with your mobility. Winston is a tank, but he doesn't have enough health or shields to stand in the front the whole time. While at the same time, Winston can damage multiple enemies simultaneously, but only at close range and a small amount at a time.

All this adds up to you wanting to wait until the time is right, and the opportunity has presented itself, to dive on an enemy you know you have an advantage over.

You should always be in a position to go after back-line enemies like supports or long range attackers.


Choosing where and when you dive is crucial to your survival and to your role on the team. Jumping directly in front of (or in the middle) of a crowd of enemies is usually not going to work out very well (unless your entire team is diving along with you) and you’ll end up dying quickly.

Be aware of where the “squishies” are (enemies with low health and no armor), and if they’re vulnerable. Look for damaged enemies. Look for areas with isolated enemies that you can kick out and take control of yourself.


Communicating with your team, whether through voice, or chat, or even using the preset commands is crucial to pulling of any sort of dive attack successfully. Your team needs to know when you are going in so they can either follow suit, support you from a distance, or support you when you jump back out.

Listening to what your team is saying is important too. Listen out for who your team is focusing, or which enemies are low, then jump in and finish them off!


Winston’s abilities can be weak and ineffective when used improperly on their own. Time your abilities to use in conjunction with one another. Dive into action with your jump pack, make sure you land on or near an enemy for splash damage, deploy your shield barrier, and fire away while safe inside your bubble. Add a melee strike to finish off a weakened enemy, and jump back out to safety as your Jump Pack has cooled down by now. Boom! You’ve essentially mastered Winston!

Below are more specifics on when/how to use each attack.

Using Winston’s Abilities to Your Advantage:

Tesla Cannon:

This weapon is excellent against other fast/mobile opponents (Genji, Tracer, Widowmaker) because of its automatic tracking ability; especially Genji as the Tesla Cannon cannot be deflected. Don’t use this attack to chase down Heroes with a lot of health and armor. They’ll kill you first in a toe-to-toe fight and it doesn’t do your team much of a service. What you want to look out for are enemies you have an advantage over, or clusters of damaged enemies.

Jump Pack:

Remember, you have to be in the thick of battle to be at all useful as Winston, but you also can’t take a huge amount of damage. So use your Jump Pack to be fearlessly mobile at all times. When playing Winston, a lot of the “damage” you can do to a team comes from disrupting their plans, distracting them, and making them weaker as a whole.

Barrier Projector:

You should try and find a balance between using Winston’s barrier whenever you can (because the cooldown timer starts immediately after it is deployed), and saving the barrier for crucial moments (like when you dive in to attack an enemy).

The Barrier Projector has excellent potential on control point maps where most of the fighting happens in one small area. The barrier is also great at defending attacks from above. Just remember that the barrier doesn’t deploy instantly, and with Winston’s quick movement speed and large size it’s easy to accidentally leave the safety of the dome.

Primal Rage:

Primal Rage is Winston’s most difficult ability to use, and it can actually benefit the enemy team by building their ultimate charge when you become a large target that can soak up a lot of damage. The most powerful thing about this ultimate ability is not the damage it causes but the health/speed it gives Winston and its knockback effect.

It is best to use Primal Rage for much more than just kills. Use this ability to clear the point, stall the cart, knock enemies off the edge of the map, or pummel a group of enemies trapped in small, confined areas. And because this ultimate fully recharges your original health bar and adds a whopping 500 on top, it’s best to use it right before you're about to die-- for a sort of “extra life”.


Compensating for Winston’s Weaknesses:

Low Damage at Short Range Only:

If you can’t reach the enemy with your damage, bring the damage to the enemy by using your awesome Jump Pack ability. True, the Tesla Cannon does low damage, but to multiple enemies at the same time and without having to aim at them directly! So a cluster of damaged enemies is prime picking for a Winston to dive on.

Can Get Hit With a Lot of Damage Really Fast:

To solve this problem, make sure you stay on the move as much as you can. Jump in, jump out to healers, stay inside your bubble, and most importantly stay away from enemies you don’t have an advantage over.

As a Tank, Winston Can’t Actually “Tank” Very Much Damage:

As I mentioned earlier, Winston can only absorb a small amount of damage with his health and barrier, but he can absorb a huge amount of the enemies’ attention, planning, and patience by using his abilities to their fullest potential. A monkey on your back all game will really mess you up.

Tips and Tricks:

-Never stop moving!

-Use Winston with other dive-comp Heroes to achieve the full potential of diving.

-If Winton’s barrier has any health left, it’ll block 100% of any damage that happens outside of it; even powerful ultimates like D.Va’s bomb.

-Use your Primal Rage to ruin your enemies’ ultimates. Knock Moira out of the way when she tries to use her Coalescence ability!


Between his abilities and his voice lines (“sorry about that!”), Winston can be so much fun to play-- and so annoying for the enemy team to deal with! Try him out! You’ll instantly have fun because he is so easy to play. And then stick with this Hero because his potential can be off-the-charts when mastered. Just check out how many Top 500 players use Winston as one of their main heroes!


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I spent some time living in Morrowind, the Capital Wasteland, and had a brief stint in the Anomalous Materials department at Black Mesa. Now I write features and critical pieces about my experiences,
Gamer Since: 1993
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Overwatch
Top 3 Favorite Games:The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Life is Strange: Episode 4 - Dark Room, Portal

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