Whose Dive is it Anyway?
The queue pops. You load in. In spawn, your team debates what lineup to bring. The most vocal of the group locks in Winston. “Want to go Dive?”, they ask. You mumble a half-hearted agreement as you hover over Zenyatta, as the rest of the party of soloQ-ers pick their heroes. The Mercy main – not in voice but oblivious anyway – waves at you. You survey the lineup: the gung-ho Winston, a Reaper, a Zarya, a Mercy, and a Hanzo. You’re torn between choosing Zenyatta or Lucio.
’“You sure we want a Zarya if we’re going Dive?”’ you supply, only to be reassured that she’ll bubble the Winston. You ask the Hanzo to go Genji, but he replies with “ur mum” in chat. You sigh, queue up Lucio, and get full held on Hanamura.
Such is “Dive” on the ranked ladder. By now, most players have heard the term “Dive” and has their own interpretation of what it means. For most on the ladder, it means grouping up in a deathball, charging in as a blob of bodies, and hoping for the best – team composition be damned. But true dive comps are much deeper and more varied than a brain-dead push. Successful dives require distraction, coordination, space creation, constant probing pressure, and burst damage. It is a mindset that has grown over the past year and spawned several viable lineup offspring that are in use today. There is so much depth and history – and misinformation – and no one has bothered to tease it all out. So I’m going to do that. Whose Dive is it Anyway?
Protodive: Rogue vs Reunited at Gamescom
The concept of dive has existed in professional Overwatch since closed beta days, but the Overwatch Atlantic Showdown at Gamescom gave us an excellent glimpse into the origin of the dive comps we see today. In the finals, Rogue faced off against Reunited with both teams sporting what I call “Proto-Dive Comps”: dive compositions that utilized the core of contemporary dive lineups but with supporting casts that fit the meta of that time. Reunited – now Eunited – has always favored aggressive lineups and are usually on the forefront of dive experimentation. Rogue – with Reinforce and TviQ – favored an all-in style that usually began with a Zarya-bubbled Reinhardt charge. Unfortunately for Reinforce’s public image, these space-creating initiations caused Reinforce to tank a lot of criticism for dying first in fights that his team would ultimately win anyway.
At the time of Gamescom, the meta was much different – and slower – than now. Both Reinhardt and Winston exceeded 50% usage, Zenyatta and Lucio were instant picks, Zarya was near 80% usage, and Reaper and McCree were swapped in and out at will. However, despite the presence of low-mobility heroes these teams were undoubtedly utilizing a dive strategy. The Gamescom meta centered around Discord Orb, which provided 50% increased damage at the time, which enabled heroes like McCree to 1-shot headshot 200hp heroes. However, 50% Discord Orb also made Winston able to dish out more damage than currently, fueling Proto-dive initiations. Let’s look at a particular engagement to see how the dives of old looked:
In this clip, we see Rogue preparing to initiate with a dive onto Reunited:
Winz jumped in a little bit too early, but his intentions were clear: get to Morte in the backline, pop Primal Rage, and draw Reunited’s attention alongside TviQ so that aKm could fire off an uncontested Deadeye. This illustrates one of the key elements of a successful dive: splitting the enemy’s attention between the backline and the frontline. By forcing the opponent to choose between the lesser of two pressures, you can create and exploit lose-lose situations. In this example, winz’s dive prompted Winghaven to drop his shield and turn around and would have lead to a multi-kill aKm Deadye…but Reunited was ready:
At the exact same moment winz jumped in, Kyb, Vallutaja, and Unfixed completed their flank and dropped onto the main Rogue force. Unfixed’s Winston bubble cut off aKm’s Deadeye and his 5-player-cleaving Tesla Cannon enabled Kyb to quickly finish aKm off and continue chaining dashes. This illustrated a second feature of successful dives: constant Winston cleaving pressure lowering enemy healthpools to enable Genji Dash resets. In a game of milliseconds, Reunited’s dive came out on top. Had they counter-dived a second later, TviQ may have been able to catch up and Rogue’s backline would have capitalized on the space and distraction created by the Leap-happy winz.
Next, we see hints of contemporary Rogue’s dive that terrorized NA tournaments for months:
In typical Rogue fashion, they used their ultimate abilities as fight initiators – a valid strategy when your team is confident they are going to win but one that may have led to their early exit from Apex Season 3 as described in my article on Disengaging. There’s something neat about seeing the seeds and tendencies of nu-Rogue bloom nearly a year ago at Gamescom. AKm started off the festivities, invoking Deadeye to force Winghaven to keep his shield up. KnoxXx quickly Sound Barrier-ed, and TviQ followed up with Dragonblade scoring two quick kills with the help of winz, who had jumped in earlier:
UnKOE followed in with an offensive Transcendence, and this is starting to sound like every Rogue dive you’ve watched in the past several months isn’t it? Let’s fast-forward a bit to dive’s revival in the post-Tank meta days with Rogue and Selfless.
Rogue and Selfless’ Dive Revival
Tank meta came and went, and from the ashes rose two titans of NA Overwatch: Selfless and a newly revamped Rogue. They had stumbled two new concepts that would eventually make their way into the dive comps of today, and their ascendance to the top of NA Overwatch was swift as they challenged each other for dominance. For Selfless, it was a complete disrespect for their opponents: they never played cautiously and attempted to take as many fights as possible, believing in their ability to win them all. This irrational confidence – and successful execution – would often lead to the spawn-camping antics that would make them famous. Rogue already had this confidence and after moving KnoxXx to Winston, acquiring a Genji ace in NiCO, and a world-class Tracer in SoOn touched down in Vegas with a new take on their already aggressive style: a triple dps, Tracer/Soldier/Genji dive comp. Both of these teams developed team compositions that made use of their transcendent Soldier 76 and Tracer players, but were in ways hamstrung by their other player’s limited hero pools. While both teams were ostensibly “dive” teams in how they performed, it took a slight buff to Zenyatta for unKOE to start playing him more often, and Kresnik and Michael3D never really broke out of their Reinhardt/Ana cage. But I digress, let’s look at some film:
Here, we see a fairly typical Rogue dive – albeit an unsuccessful one thanks to some clutch plays and timing from Selfless. Despite an early NiCO death in the right-side rooms (perhaps he thought he was going to beat Sinatraa 1v1), Rogue leaps in with KnoxXx, then SoOn, then unKOE trailing with his signature offensive Transcendence.
They nearly kill Dafran, but Dafran acquires and immediately uses his Tactical Visor along with Michael3D’s Nanoboost. UnKOE’s Transcendence fails to support his dps and tank, thanks to Kresnik’s pinpoint charge into the corner.
These two teams had at the time developed their own methods of forcing their opponents to have to pay attention to multiple angles at once. For Rogue, it was done the traditional way: a leaping Winston/Tracer/Genji trio into the backline to make the enemy turn around and expose themselves to the aKm/unKOE duo opposite them. For Selfless, Sinatraa’s ability to seek 1v1s and finish off micro-bursts of damage from Dafran’s incredible aim kept teams on their toes, and opened up windows of opportunity for Emongg’s Roadhog hooks. The concepts practiced by these teams would lay the groundwork for the blooming species of dive comps today.
Optimized Dive Styles
Once Rogue and Selfless provided the blueprint, the rest of NA was soon to follow their lead. However, they were not the first, or the only teams to realize dive’s strength in the post-Tank meta. European teams – like Eunited, one of dives progenitors – and Korean teams were quietly grinding away at their own lineups. They experimented a little here, pruned a hero there, and the result has produced lineups that are efficient, optimized, and designed to kill. Here are just a few:
Movistar Riders and Eunited: the European Genji Divers
If you have been keeping track of the European pro Overwatch scene, you will know that they love Genji. You may recall that Reunited’s Kruise used to play Lucio, but many team reorganizations later has found Kruise on Genji as one of the region’s best. Same goes for Cwoosh, Movistar’s Genji. If you know you have one of your region’s best Genjis, it makes sense to base your lineup around creating chain reaction dives: situations where your Genji can combo backline Dash-resets. Genji dives make use of Winston’s cleaving Tesla Cannon fire, which by damaging several heroes at once puts pressure on the opponent healers to keep up. These newly optimized Genji dives also leverage excellent communication with the Zenyatta player so that Discord Orb targets can be chosen and focused down. These teams seek to combine Winston’s Leap burst damage, his cleaving power to steadily pressure health pools, and Discord Orb to bring heroes to the magical threshold: where a Genji Dash will eliminate them. If that first Dash secures an elimination, the Genji may Dash again, and then he’s off to the races. There’s no better example than Cwoosh and Dante’s two-man team wipe of Cloud 9 in TaKeOver2: watch as every Dash secures a kill, and every sword slash catches a Discorded target:
And here we have a similar situation but from Boombox, Eunited’s newly acquired Zenyatta
Then in this clip, we see that Eunited has adopted the spawn-camping concept piloted by Selfless:
By creating their own take on dive to fit their Genji proclivities and then co-opting the strategies of others, Eunited may have created the strongest dive lineup in Europe – one that steamrolled its way through Season 0 Contenders.
EnVyUs, NA, and the Korean Dive
During the Tank meta, the Korean region cared not for tanks and insisted on playing their triple DPS Genji lineups instead. This primed them for the coming dive meta – however the Koreans now play a 2/2/2, D.Va dive that EnVyUs was more than happy to adopt, given the strength of Mickie’s D.Va. In these lineups, which feature a core of Lucio, Tracer, Genji/Soldier 76, Winston, and Zenyatta/Ana flex on offense/defense, the D.Va functions as the ultimate flex hero. She must be ready to dive in with the Winston and Tracer: bathing them with a protective Defense Matrix to provide them immunity and room to operate. She must also be ready to peel for her supports, either by pressuring counter-diving Tracers and Winstons with her own damage, or by Defense Matrix-ing her backline. Luckily, D.Va has the tools to do this with her low cooldown Boosters and resource-based Defense Matrix. Korean teams realized early on that in a meta without Zarya, the strength of D.Va’s abilities could not be denied. Her ability to go in on dives and also function as a dive deterrent has come to define the current meta both in Korea and in NA as teams bring on Korean players and coaches, or struggle to copycat each other. At the time of this writing, the common consensus is that the D.Va/Soldier 76/Tracer/Lucio/Zenyatta/Winston 2/2/2 dive is the strongest in the current meta. But this could change, because of one question:
Where does Sombra fit in?
Some teams, the previously mentioned EnVyUs among them, have realized the strength of Sombra as an anti-dive hero – even on non-Assault maps. Sombra shines in a meta where you can play with some certainty that the enemy will bring a D.Va, Tracer, Winston, and Zenyatta, because her Hack and EMP abilities throw a wrench in what would otherwise be successful dives. EnVyUs has started playing Taimou on Sombra to abuse her Hack ability, which after several buffs has become quite easy to pull off in the middle of a team fight. Hacking a Tracer leaves her without Blink or Rewind, and she often dies instantly. Hacking a Winston prevents him from leaping to safety after diving in, turning a probing push into a suicidal situation. But the greatest Hacking target must be D.Va, because losing Defense Matrix turns her and her entire team into fish in a barrel. And then EMP does all of the above and more: hacking all targets and deleting all shields and barriers in a single, glorious AOE instant. In this clip, we see Taimou doing it all:
He leads off with an EMP, removing Nosmite’s protective barrier and grounding him.
Then Taimou heads to high ground, Hacking the incoming Choihyobin from deceptively long range:
EnVyUs is not the only team using Sombra though. Eunited (who seems to keep coming up in this article) has begun to play her on maps like Route 66 and Hollywood with some success. These maps contain plenty of payload-adjacent mega health packs and have allowed Eunited to take their spawn-camping dive aggression to the next level. While the main Eunited force pushes forward to the enemy spawn, Unfixed lags behind hacking health packs behind them: securing a sizeable advantage for the rest of their push through the payload leg:
A dive lineup with an offensive Sombra? Strange, but true.
Whose Dive is it Anyway?
So whose dive is it anyway? What is dive, after all? Dive is a state of mind, a set of strategies that create space for your team, draw attention from multiple directions from the enemy team, and tries to use the best heroes in the current meta to do it. Nearly a year ago, Rogue taught us how to dive with a Zarya-bubbled Reinhardt charge; now, we watch Winstons pass by each other in the air trailed by Tracers and D.Vas. We have looked at spawn-camping, compared European and D.Va dives, and even speculated at Sombra’s place in in the future of Overwatch. Looking back at our theoretical ranked play scenario – was it right to be depressed about the state of the lineup? Could it have produced a successful dive? I would argue that with the right communication, you could have created a successful dive. First, you would lock in Lucio. Then, you would tell your team what to do and pray they would listen to you. Here’s what it would sound like:
“Ok here’s what’s going to happen. Winston, you’re going to leap in when you see an opportunity. You’re going call when you’re going to do that, so that when you do, the Zarya will bubble you. As soon as you leap in, I’m going to Speed Boost me, the Zarya, and the Reaper in behind you. Mercy, Hanzo, you’re going to fire damage boosted arrows at our asses while the enemy team is looking our way.”
In an ideal situation, this “dive” would pan out like so: the Winston would jump in, providing charge to the Zarya. The enemy team would turn to focus him, only to be slammed by the incoming wave of Reaper bullets and Zarya beam, sped in by your Lucio. Caught in the midst of an all-out brawl, the enemy team’s attention would be completely consumed – allowing your Hanzo to pick them off one by one.
So if your Winston wants to go dive, but your team composition doesn’t fit your interpretation of a cookie-cutter lineup know that diving is more than just a set of heroes. There are definitely heroes in the current meta that will allow you to execute more successful dives, but with enough creativity you can make almost any composition work. Whose Dive is it Anyway? All the lineups are made up: it’s the strategy that matters.
Until next time,