Play Overwatch Like the Pros: Pirate Ship

how to play Overwatch Pirate Ship composition OWL Overwatch League

We’re going to be bringing you a new weekly feature: “Play Like the Pros,” as part of our Overwatch League coverage. We’ll be diving into one of the compositions played at the highest level of Overwatch each week. For our first topic, we’ll be exploring how to play the notorious “Pirate Ship” comp.

What is it?

In its most basic form, the composition is a Bastion and a shield-tank. The Bastion sits on the payload while the rest of the team essentially plays “protect the president.” As a result, the Bastion is able to output tons of damage, melting through shields, armor, and anything else in its path. The name “Pirate Ship” comes from the shield looking like a sail on the payload.

Composition history

how to play Overwatch Pirate Ship composition OWL Overwatch League / Image result for apac premier 2017
APAC Premier 2017, the first Overwatch tournament featuring Pirate Ship. Image courtesy of Banana Culture

The comp first featured at APAC Premier in October of 2017. Chinese team Vici Gaming ran the Bastion on the Shanghai stage, stunning viewers and competitors alike. However, the composition only really became popular with the 2017 World Cup. As a result of its success in APAC, it became the go-to strategy for Junkertown, featuring extensively in the later Contenders and OWL tournaments. While it eventually fell out of favor, with many teams opting instead for Double Sniper, it remains to be seen if it’ll return when Junkertown enters Stage 2 of the OWL Season 2.

How do I play it?

There are three key aspects to playing a good Pirate Ship:

  1. The Bastion has to get onto the payload before you engage.
  2. The shield has to stay on the Bastion at all times.
  3. A main support (ideally Mercy) should keep Bastion pocketed.

Once you’re set up on the payload, there’s almost no stopping you without significant investment from the defending team. That said, once one fight is lost, you must switch compositions immediately as there won’t be much chance of a retake. While the comp has had the highest pick rate on Junkertown, multiple teams have played it to great success on other escort maps as well.

Variations

The classic Pirate Ship is a Bastion, Widow, Orisa, Reinhardt, Mercy, Zenyatta. Widow provides long-range pressure, Rein wins you the shield war, and Zen has the transcendence for emergencies. However, many teams have opted to change aspects of the comp to better complement their styles of play. A common variant switches out the Widow for Junkrat as a second shield breaker. Others opt for D.va in place of Rein for her defense matrix or Moira in place of Zen for extra healing.

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Counters

how to play Overwatch Pirate Ship composition OWL Overwatch League
Sombra’s EMP is one of the most potent counters to the Pirate Ship. Image courtesy of Blizzard

The Pirate Ship’s vulnerability comes from its lack of mobility, heavy reliance on one player, and its difficulty in retaking the payload after being forced off. Whether it be a hack from a Sombra, a halt from an Orisa, or a charge from a Rein, take the Bastion out of commission and collapse hard on them to win the fight. Zarya’s another great pick. A well-placed Graviton Surge coupled with an appropriate DPS Ult will pretty much win the fight and force a switch.

I hope you’ve picked up some helpful pointers on how to play both as and against the comp. Join us next week as we tackle the controversial GOATS comp. For more Overwatch content, see our coverage of Dafran’s retirement, or to watch some quality Overwatch during the off-season, visit the Contenders homepage.


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