It’s Midgame Moves Week for Overwatch, continuing the cross-franchise educational content series that kicked off 2018. This week we’re focusing on everything that can affect the outcome of a game after it begins—and there’s a lot! We’re kicking off the series by introducing the concept of spawn advantage.

Escort maps and escort sections of hybrid maps are incredibly interesting, strategically. Though one team is labelled the “offense” and the other team the “defense,” frequently the roles switch mid-push. As soon as the offensive team gains control of the payload, they are essentially defending that moving objective from the other team’s attacks, flipping the roles entirely. This creates interesting and unique situations with momentum, as the defense can frequently find it difficult to rally until they win a single team fight, at which point they can press ahead and stabilize in a strong position at forward chokepoints.

A major swing component that comes into play is the defensive team’s spawn advantage. The further the offense pushes, the further they are from their spawn and the closer they are to the defenders’ spawn. Since the spawn timers are set at 10 seconds for each player*, distance from spawn affects how quickly a team can get reinforcements back into the fight. In a drawn-out engagement, this can be the difference between winning and losing.

*During overtime, respawn times are extended to 13 seconds. When attackers outnumber defenders while taking a control point on assault, escort, and hybrid maps, the defenders’ respawn time will slowly increase until it hits a maximum value or the defense manages to gain the upper hand.

On an escort map such as Watchpoint: Gibraltar, this means pushing through Point B can be exceptionally difficult at times; if you take an even fight towards the end of each map section—where the defenders have the strongest spawn advantage—you are likely to lose and then find it difficult to re-enter the hangar at all.

We’ve all had these games where it seems impossible to break through the line of defenders charging out from spawn, slowly trickling into the point to block the objective and buy time for teammates to re-spawn. So how do you break it?

The key is to realize that the defending team has an inherent advantage, and only commit to an attack when the odds are in your favor. You could wait for ultimates, like a powerful Graviton Surge and Dragonstrike combo; you could create a positional advantage by taking any high ground; or you could try to take space slowly without using ultimates or key abilities like Resurrect. Essentially, you should try to create the best situation possible for one last Armageddon-esque fight that will define whether you win or not... but rushing into this key fight without an advantage of your own is a disastrous idea when your opponents can get reinforcements so much faster than you can.

Although we’ve used escort maps as the basis of this example, assault maps have these same switches in spawn advantage. On the B point of every assault map, the defenders have a massive advantage due to their proximity to spawn. They can throw people at the point repeatedly, while attackers can barely lose a player before their push is over.

Additionally, one advantage you have on assault offense that counteracts the defending team’s incredibly large spawn advantage is the ability to accrue ticks. One excellent push may not net you the capture, but if it gets you a tick, then you are theoretically only two similar pushes away from victory. A clean entry into the B point of assault maps is usually the key; from there you can use the terrain to establish position and lock off crucial defensive points. If you lose a player when entering the point, just reset; you need every single body to overcome the spawn disadvantage.