The Overwatch esports scene is fast growing, and some talented players are already making a name for themselves. We recently reached out to one of these professional Overwatch players, Dan “spOh” Street, to answer some questions asked by our community. Dan’s answers cover everything from the current state of Overwatch esports to specific tips to up your game. If you participated in the thread, look below to see if your question was answered!

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A little bit about spOh: he is a high ranking American professional player who generally plays the Support/Flex role, maining Zenyatta on team Sea Algae. His gaming history includes World of Warcraft while pplaying for Evil Geniuses. He also spent some time playing high-level Hearthstone and Guid Wars 2.

Sea Algae are currently involved in several tournaments including: ESL Gamescom NA Regional, Gosugamers Weekly, and iBuyPower Summer Invitational. If you’d like to see him play, you can catch his twitch stream here.

The Competitive Scene

What do you think Blizzard needs to do to make Overwatch esports healthy and vibrant?

A good start would be to make the spectator experience more enjoyable. Better production value like having multiple camera angles to help give spectators a better view of what’s going on in a match (E-League stream on Twitch does a good job of this). Having access to in-game statistics/scoreboards to give a point of reference for spectators and give shoutcasters some interesting talking points to highlight. Another would be developing/cultivating the storylines behind the teams/players, as this helps develop a connection between the players and viewers.

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What teams do you think are most primed to make a splash in competitive Overwatch?

Weunited has had some impressive performances having only been together for a little less than a month.

How do you think the international scene will effect the competitive scene?

Korea, China, and the SEA region have traditionally not performed in FPS games, however Overwatch is not a pure shooter. There are abilities and ultimates that need to be managed well and being an intelligent team, even if you don’t have the best mechanical players, can still give a team a sizable advantage. I think there is a possibility that you could see premier teams from those regions in time when more international tournaments start appearing.

What do you think about the current ranked system? How do you deal with leavers?

The current ranked system is a good start and much better than the original ranked system they presented during beta, but there is still some work to be done on it. A broader amount of skill rating would be nice as 1-100 really isn’t much to go by and it’s hard to get a gauge of where you actually stand versus other players around you. The current system does an okay job at matching you with similarly sized groups, but I still notice games where its two 3-man groups versus a 6 stack or otherwise. A solo/duo queue would also be great as queuing solo as a tank or support class can be rather awful.

I really haven’t had much experience with leavers, but I have had a few cases of players outright throwing the match or feeding for various reasons. They were promptly reported and that’s about all you can do.

Hero Opinions

What is your view on Zenyatta, aesthetically as a character and as a playable hero? What advice can you give someone who already mains Zen but wants to improve and bring him up to the ranks along Mercy and Lucio?

Aesthetically, I think Blizzard’s art team did a great job with the look of the hero. The actual design of the character is in a pretty good place right now, but previous to the recent Zenyatta buffs there were problems with the kit seeming a bit off. Transcendence was tougher to use as without the current speed boost and 50 less hit points as it took longer to get in position to heal and to get out when it was about to end. It required players to be in the middle of things when the character was designed to be more of a glass cannon backliner.

One of the things I think many Zenyatta players struggle with is being able to properly use harmony orb during battle. Players usually like to tunnel the damage and aren’t always attentive to their teammates taking damage around them, so they may miss out on utilizing it more efficiently. Positioning yourself behind your team will allow you to have better court vision and instantly recognize who should have the harmony orb next, instead of having to periodically check behind you, eating up precious time you could be helping take down the enemy team with primary fire and discord orb.

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What are your thoughts on Ana? She seems really strong but more geared towards higher skilled players. Is she viable in the current meta?

She is more of a niche pick in competitive, but she is used on occasion. Both Lúcio and Zenyatta have stronger kits overall. Teams that decide to run a triple support setup with her sacrifice the ult generation of the other supports on the team some too.

Which support hero needs a buff the most right now?

I believe that all the supports are in a good place right now, Mercy just happens to be picked less because of the absence of Pharah.

Several of my friends say that Zenyatta is actually not a support because he has a potential for very high dps and can melt other heroes on his own with good positioning (provided there is no Widowmaker on the enemy team). What’s your opinion on that?

Zenyatta is more of a hybrid support character and not necessarily designed to be the “main” support on the team like Mercy or Lucio.

If you’re playing Reaper, should you play high up or down on the ground?

I would say both are great depending on the situation. Typically, players will be less attentive to flanks from above because most of the action, and their attention, will be on the ground. Just make sure to not always attack from the same area and be unpredictable to increase your chances of catching the enemy team off guard, allowing you a better chance to land that crucial kill.

Skill Improvement Questions

Any pro tips to make me better? Also, any tips on how to get the achievements?

One of the biggest things a player can do to improve is to work on their positioning. A good start would be to watch pro/competitive matches and see where a certain character positions themselves relative to the team. Watching player streams as well can be helpful as sometimes they can answer questions or provide commentary on their thought process behind their play. As for the achievements, quick play will probably yield a higher chance of completing the majority of achievements.

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I have been trying to shotcall to get people to work together with a better team but nobody is listening to me. Do I need to queue with a full team to get anything done at this point?

Solo queue can definitely be more challenging and volatile then playing with one or more teammates of your choice. Even finding one other person to queue with can not only improve your chances of winning, but you know that at least that player will be making plays with you and improve your chances of winning. Some players will have their in-game voice disabled by default, but if you ask them to turn it on so you can coordinate and win as a team, they are usually receptive to that and more often than not players will listen if it means that they have a better chance of winning the game. It can certainly be a test of patience, but more often than not it will pay off dividends in the end.

I will be heading into the competitive leagues soon, and would like some advice from you — a tournament competitor.

It really helps to have a good hero pool in which you can play as being flexible will allow you and your team to craft a stronger team composition. Keeping in-game voice on so you can communicate with your team is also important. Try not to get angry with teammates or be condescending to them as will be less receptive to actual feedback that could be help turn the game in your favor. It’s not easy and it can be frustrating at times, but it will increase your chances of winning and your teammates will be appreciative of it, even if they don’t say so.

Nico Faraguna
I enjoy playing PC games, watching motorcycle racing, and eating good grub