Learn the basics of Ana from an Overwatch pro

When it comes to well-rounded heroes, Ana is at the top of many people’s lists. Even though we’ve seen some tweaks and nerfs, everyone’s favorite sniping grandma still reigns supreme in most compositions. Why shouldn’t she? Ana can single handedly make or break a push, shut down ultimates and keep everyone alive in the process. But with all of that utility comes an awful lot of responsibility and sharp game sense. Denial Esports has one of the most fundamentally sound support players in Gingerpop, and he was gracious enough to impart some of his Ana knowledge with us this week. 

To Boost, or not to Boost? 

There isn’t a skill in the game that gets people fired up quite like Nano Boost. If you’re just learning Ana, chances are you’ve had at least one teammate scream at you for either not using Boost, or using it at the wrong time. Though it’s usually best to ignore that, you should appreciate the fact that Boost is often a game-changer. So when are the best times to power someone up? Gingerpop explains: “Easy answer is to use it to combo with other ulties such as Genji blade or Soldier visor. I advise not to just stick to that, though. Nano Boost builds so fast that you can use it to turn fights by giving it to a high-charged Zarya or a Rein. Those are a couple of ways to use it offensively.”

Indeed, we’ve seen some killer Nano combos that have sent the opposition for some quality time with the respawn screen. Here’s Babybay showing us what that can look like: 

As we discussed with LG Evil’s insane run at Carbon Series, boosting a tank can be a finesse move like Gingerpop suggests. Both Reinhardt and Zarya can open up a lot of space on a capture point or payload, so you’d do well to use your ultimate on them if you need a little extra power to give your team an edge.

Those are the most obvious ways of using Nano Boost. There will be times that you’ll need to use it for self-preservation, though. Remember, you’re one of the most valuable members of your team, so treat yourself like it. Gingerpop says, “If an enemy Genji is swording onto you in the backline, you can Nano a Soldier or McCree next to you, and if they land their shots it renders him useless and the Genji is now out of position.”

A DPS player out of position isn’t doing much DPS. If you pop Nano on a nearby friendly, sometimes those verbal cues and a couple of shots are enough to send a would-be flanker packing.  It’s much better to burn your ultimate and see another fight than to die and let your team down at a critical moment. 

Live longer with Sleep Dart

Darts shouldn’t be thrown around recklessly. If you’re trying to snipe with them, chances are you’re not getting much in return. Gingerpop elaborates: “Well, I see a ton of Ana players waste their sleep darts. They look to sleep people across the map behind Rein shields and silly things like that. It’s really important to hold onto sleep for fights because it is so game changing. If your Rein gets charged and you can sleep the enemy Rein, he is immediately dead.”

Let that sink in. Do not waste darts on pointless targets. Make them count. Ever seen the enemy Rein get a sudden bout of narcolepsy during a charge? It’s a glorious thing, and you should seize every opportunity to make it happen. Denial’s healer went on to say that, “...keeping your sleep and not using it is a mind game for when DPS or jumper tanks get on top of you.” Gingerpop himself gives us an example of that in this play from Overwatch Monthly Melee:  

Good night, Winston. Look at the follow-up on that play, too. He shimmies along that ledge and keeps an eye on the napping gorilla, then goes in for a nice grenade to dish out some healing and purple damage into the fray.

Addressing a Genji that’s in your face can be a much more challenging affair thanks to mind games on both sides. Getting slept by a deflect is the worst, but it happens to the best of us. It’s a 50/50 situation that you have no option but to gamble on in a lot of situations, though Ana fares well against the ninja in a straight up duel thanks to her grenade. Let’s take a look back at Lunatic-Hai vs. KongDoo Uncia from Apex, and how one of the world’s best Anas takes care of business:

Ryujehong is one of the more flashy Anas you’ll come across, as evidenced by this clip. Even though he wasn’t able to land any shots on Birdring, a dart comes out during a spinning jump and puts an end to the pressure in style.

Last, but not least, Sleep Dart is perhaps the most efficient way of shutting down a boosted ultimate from the opposing team. Here’s Gingerpop’s take on it: “Shut downs are the biggest way to maximize a sleep dart. If you can land a sleep on a nano’d Soldier that is visoring, you not only won that fight, but you are able to snowball very hard as they wasted two ults for nothing.”

Next time you’re in neutral positioning with not too much going on, ask yourself, “Should I sleep that guy across the map, or should I make a high-impact play in a minute or two?” The answer should be an easy one.

On the attack 

Yes, it’s perfectly fine to DPS a little bit with Ana. In fact, it’s encouraged depending on the situation. You’re going to get people yelling at you because they died, but that’s every game. It’s always going to be your fault, even if they run off to 3v1 or are way out of position. Don’t sweat it. Keep your wits about you and bring the pain if the enemy is making your life difficult.

Gingerpop’s philosophy is a good one: “You need to utilize your grenade to heal yourself and purple the enemy in trades. These situations are the most optimal times to DPS because you need to recreate space for yourself to start healing again. If there is a hero on the enemy team ulting, it is important to DPS them if they are the focus to try and take them out before they can be effective with the ult. I would say I generally heal 85% and DPS 15%."

That should put any doubts you had right out of your mind. There are times when switching focus to damage-dealing is appropriate. Coordinate with your team and all should be well. Three time Overwatch Monthly Melee champions, Rogue, have very aggressive support players. Watch Unkoe and Winz team up for some kills here:

Ana isn’t the easiest character to learn, but being successful with her is one of the most rewarding experiences in all of Overwatch. Once your confidence develops and you have a good handle of all the maps, you’ll become an invaluable asset to any team you’re a part of. Play smart, take some of these tips with you next time and you should see that SR improve.