This article is part of our Changes to the Meta series.
For this week’s edition of Talk the Meta (yes, we changed the name. Don’t @ us), we’ve got Haunt, a 4600 SR projectile main. He played for Silver Sanction earlier this year and is one of the top 500 DPS players in the world. We got him to sit down with Noah for another talk on the state of the meta in Overwatch, with an emphasis on the DPS role this time around.
Before we jump into the interview, here's a juicy Genji highlight just to set the mood.
How did you get started in OW?
I played Paladins. I don’t use left shift; I use Q, and my ult is on my mouse. I played one of the free weekends and went from 1-25 and really enjoyed the game. I also had a friend who convinced me to play.
First character you mained/liked?
Mostly D.va and Soldier in Season 3, then I branched out into other characters.
How’d you get started in projectile characters?
I had a friend who was really good as Pharah, and I thought it looked like a lot of fun. Months later, I’m the best Pharah. I don’t want to be a one-trick, though, so I practiced my Genji. Junkrat, Torb, etc. I play some off-tank as well, mainly D.va and Zarya. My hitscan is inconsistent. I like to think I can play hitscan, but if I’m being honest with myself, I’m not that good. My tank > my hitscan.
Do you agree with Blizzard’s classification of Symmetra as a support? Why or why not?
No, Symmetra should be taken out of the game. I don’t like the idea that someone can get to top 8 playing Sym only. Especially since Syms on my team don’t do anything, whereas if the other team has a good hitscan, she destroys Genji. I like shield gen, though.
Talk to me about the nature of the relationship between hitscan and projectile players in a team. How do you play around/with hitscan players in ranked/on your team?
Basically, projectile players aren’t that coveted (specialists that are situational). Pharah does a lot of damage, but it’s inconsistent damage, so I call out my directs so my team follows up on my hits. In scrims, as soon as I call a hit, that target is donezo.
As a projectile player, how has Junkrat changed the competitive metagame?
Junkrat is insane. He’s too strong. [On] Hanamura and King’s [Row], I always play Junkrat. The RIP-tire always gets a kill, it’s insane. Genji is more like I’m really caffeinated. Junkrat is when I want to be lazy. Pharah is when I want to win.
Is Junkrat in a healthy state right now? Is he healthy for the game?
He’s in a healthy state, yeah. Projectile is a map kind of thing, or… (thinks) he’s a must on certain maps. Junkrat is great on choke maps. Is he healthy for the game? No, he’s horrible, he’s too strong.
How would you fix him?
The double mine thing is too strong, he can do 200 burst in under a second (mine + shot), everything he has is based off of two-shotting. If you know where to spam and how to abuse your mines - I don’t know - it’s just broken. He’s really strong against deathball (when the is clumped together), dive (trap plus mine). Realistically, he’s insane. I don’t know why people don't play him more often. Example: in King’s, go through hotel and one-shot supports. He can’t have double mines, or [Blizzard should] at least tune down the damage to 80. The mines are too strong, though.
Genji went from a must-have back in the days of dive to a niche pocket pick. What happened to the game that brought his viability down?
Probably just… more Pharah usage [due] to Mercy [being so meta] shuts Genji down. Pharah/Genji is just “meh” now after the changes… Buffs to other heroes also hurt him because he’s basically the same hero for a while. He’s still picked a lot for most teams with a projectile, he’s still pretty nuts.
Blizzard recently announced some changes that might come to the PTR soon, namely Mercy Rez nerfs and Ana damage buffs. Do you think either of these will do enough to change the meta?
I think that we’ll see more Ana and less Pharah/Mercy aka Pharmercy (Ana can 3 shot Pharah in the sky). This ends up as an indirect nerf to Pharah by a lot (since Mercy is worse, Ana is better, making it an obvious Pharah indirect nerf). It’ll just make Ana more viable, I don’t think anything else will change much.
Alright, let’s talk Pharah. Can you talk about her current state right now?
In terms of this season/s6, she’s the strongest DPS. If you have a Mercy to pocket you, you can hard carry. I’ve gone up against 2-3 hitscan + zen I’ve had that much impact, which I then change to Genji and it’s freelo. Pharah’s in a great place right now.
How often to you try to shoot other Pharahs at the start of teamfights?
At the beginning of fights, depending on the map/how I’m feeling/how close I am, I’m mostly just spamming into the enemy team since that’s how I can charge my ult the fastest. Now, if the Pharah is lit and the Mercy is away, I can go and two-tap the Pharah, but that’s more at the middle/end of a fight.
What are your target priorities in teamfights? Are they different based on your team’s composition/enemy comp?
Healers first, MERCY pretty much. Well, unless there’s a Pharmercy, then I won’t bother fighting the Mercy in the air. I’ll Concussive Blast the other team and focus down healers. From there, kill the hitscan, and then I have free reign. So, hitscan if it’s open, then healers if I can, but hitscan is the priority.
How often do you expect your Mercy to be on you during teamfights?
If the Mercy stays on me and I can get aggressive, we win. Maybe until the first kill we pick up, then she can start doing whatever she wants. Until then, though, she should pocket me. Mercy gets free ult charge from my spam, it’s a no-brainer.
How has Zenyatta’s rise in use affected your Pharah play?
Zenyatta is always present, Orb of Discord is annoying, but there aren’t a lot of Zens that are good in competitive. I have to immediately back out if I get Discorded, but it’s not something that affects me too much. There are two ways I play: they either have a good histcan or they dont, I either can die or won’t die.
What are some good DPS characters to pair with Pharah?
Tracer is pretty good, but she’s good with everything. Tracer follows up well on directs, can get in tough spots and has good burst damage. Soldier is good, because you usually take healing away from your team by playing Pharah, so he can help that. Genji can be good, but there has to be really good synergy between the two. It’s not that Genji is bad, but it’s his high skillcap.
Let’s talk map specific circumstances, how do you like Pharah on Junkertown (particularly 1st and last)? Lunar Colony Defense?
Junkertown? I don’t play Pharah that much. The first point is super open, and there’s usually a Bastion or something. Genji is my go-to for Junkertown. As for Lunar Colony, Pharah is great on [that map]. B point has 3 doors ,people don't move around much. It’s really good.
What maps do you feel Pharah does the best on in top-tier play? What about those maps make them Pharah-friendly?
Lijang Tower, specifically the Garden and Night Market points (not so much Control Center, I’ll play Junkrat or Genji there) have huge boop potential and are really wide open. You have to come through small areas to get to the where you need to go, where Pharah shines. King’s is good too, since you can go above buildings on the second point. I would say King’s Row, Lunar Colony, and Lijang Tower [are the best].
Which Pharah players, if any, had an influence on your playstyle? Who are the best Pharahs in the world (other than you)?
Uhh… I watched the Overwatch Central video with someone a while ago, but they’re washed up now. Any projectile player can do well with Pharah. I don’t watch them too much, but they can all do well.
How do you improve?
I don’t really pay attention to competition, I just do my own thing. I don’t generally think anyone is better overall than me, but I’ll recognize when people are good at certain things.
How do you feel about the diversity of DPS characters in the meta right now? Anything you want to see change?
Every DPS is pretty much viable (except for defense heroes) so that's great. Defense heroes can be good, but are very situational. Widow, Hanzo, Junkrat, and even Bastion. Bastion’s a pretty good character.
Talk to me about tank/support diversity right now, particularly in how you interact with them. How do dynamic changes in tanks change your role on a team?
Well, tanks are in a healthy place, we see every single tank. Supports, though, there are only 3 heroes (Mercy/Zen/Lucio). Even after the Ana buffs, though, there are 6 tanks, 20 DPS (exaggeration), but only 4 supports. Especially since you have to play Mercy. It leaves you with two choices- Mercy/Zen or Mercy/Lucio.
Did you have a favorite season/meta as a player? As a viewer? Could you explain why?
Season 6. Most overpowered season for Pharah, Mercy was required every game, Ana can’t kill you. Very straightforward.
What’s one character you think the community is sleeping on and could do well in pro play given a few minor buffs or meta shifts?
Bastion. I would love to see Bastion, I think people don’t play him because of his mobility, so giving him a mobility option (laughs)... I’m imagining Bastion with Soldier Sprint; it would be fun, though. Hypothetical swap between Recon/Tank? It could be cool, that’s interesting.
How often do you theorycraft?
Back when I liked Overwatch more, yeah. But for the most part, it’s just Destiny 2 for now. It feels “ehh” right now. Like, I’m chat banned for 60 days, so I find myself on smurfs (I like talking). It’s too easy on my main because you don’t always get good hitscan to shut you down, so it's too easy. It’s not a good game when you need one hero on your team or you lose.
If you could buff one character to bring “balance” to the meta, which would it be/why?
Ana, like Blizzard is doing. There needs to be an option other than Mercy. I want to see how the Ana buffs/Mercy nerfs go… I think Ana isn’t even “bad,” but Mercy was just so much better, she’s nerfed now, though, so it’s much better.
If you had to reset and not play projectile?
I can’t play hitscan to a pro level, so it would probably have to be off-tank. I think I can play D.Va or Zarya well, I like the utility the role brings, so that would be it for sure. Throw some Winston in there too, can’t [play] Reinhardt for my life, but Winston is fun.