A guide to the lingo of the league

The Overwatch League (OWL) preseason is over we’re less than two weeks away from the regular season.  We’ve gone into detail about the preseason and if you’re like me the preseason only got you excited for more.  However, if you’re not like me you may have been a bit confused by the preseason.  There’s a great deal of jargon unique to esports and Overwatch that might not be completely clear.  Fear not, this quick guide to some of the most common terms that you’ll hear when watching the OWL is here to help.  

APM-Actios per minute.  Not really an Overwatch term but the character D.Va will occasionally use it.  

Buff– An update that makes a character in the game stronger.  While often a subtle change any buff can have a big effect on the meta.  

Caster– The commentators and hosts of an esports event.  Similar to commentators in professional sports casters also give a sort of play-by-play of the action.  

Comms– Communications.  Refers to a teams communications and their coordination using them.  

Cooldown– The time it takes before you can use a characters ability again.

DPS– Damage per second.  Usually refers to one of several classes in Overwatch and a role in most class based games.  DPS characters focus on dealing damage.  Some DPS characters in Overwatch are: Soldier 76,  Reaper, and Tracer.   

Flex– One of several roles on a team.  In Overwatch esports refers to someone who is proficient with a number of roles.  These kinds of players can take on whatever role their teams needs at a time.   

FPS-First Person Shooter.  Refers to a style of game where the camera is placed so that the player sees what their character sees, emulating the feel of being the character.  Characterized by the view featuring the characters weapons.  Overwatch is a hybrid of FPS and other types of games so many pro OWL players started in FPS games.  

Hitscan– Refers to a damage type where the projectile has no travel time and hits whatever the cursor is pointing at as soon as the attack is initiated.  

Ladder– The competitive system.  Often referred to as a ladder since you use it to climb to the top in rank.

Map– The level that the players are controlling their characters on.  

Meta– Refers to the currently prevailing play-styles, team compositions, and characters in a game. 

MOBA– Multiplayer Online Battle Arena.  The most famous MOBA examples are DOTA2 and League of LegendsOverwatch borrows elements of MOBA’s so there are often similar strategies and techniques.  

Nerf– An update that makes a character in the game weaker.  While often a subtle change and nerf can have a big effect the meta. 

Patch– An update to the game.  Often a patch will fix bugs and/or apply buffs and nerfs.  Major patches can drive meta changes.  

Pop– Synonymous with ‘use’ when referring to a move, typically an ultimate.  ex: “He’ll pop his ultimate here to try and save this push.”

Shot caller– The player on a team who coordinates the actions of the others.  Not necessarily a team captain but certainly a leadership role.  

Skins– Refers to the character model and their outfit.  In the OWL each team has unique skins with their colors and logos on them as a team uniform in the game.

Spray– An icon or image that a player can apply to a surface.

Stream– A live broadcast of something through the internet.  The primary way most esports are viewed.  Streaming is the activity, and a streamer is someone who creates streams.  Many professional gamers are also streamers.  

Support–  A class of hero in Overwatch but also a role in most class based games.  A support functions to heal or buff allies or debuff enemies.  Some support characters in Overwatch are: Mercy, Lucio, and Zenyatta.

Tank– A class of hero in Overwatch but also a role in most class based games.  A tank typically has greater health to allow them to take the brunt of enemy attacks.  Some Tanks in Overwatch are: D.Va, Winston, and Reinhardt.

Team Comp– Team Composition.  Similar to a formation in sports, different team comps are more or less effective in different situations.      

Vods– Video on Demand.   In esports this Originally referred to recorded footage of a game by a player, occasionally with commentary.  Now expanded to refer to any recording of an esports match and available online.  

Ultimate– Also referred to as Ults, A powerful ability, unique to each character, whose use can change the course of a match.  Ult management is central to the meta-game in Overwatch.  

There you have it.  While many of these terms are not unique to Overwatch and this is by no means a comprehensive list, It should help you follow the action in January.  The OWL starts regular season play on January 10th.  

About The Author

James Verzuh was a real corporal once. Now he's an archaeologist and writes about esports.