|Art By: Kittrix|
Placing the character
This is one of the most important concepts as a dva player to have, an in depth understanding of, as this is the foundation of subsequential gameplay throughout a fight.
The first thing any D.VA player should know is their job. There are two commonly recognised styles of D.VA being the Western style (aggressive and frag heavy) and Korean style (disciplined and peel heavy). While no style is regarded better than the other it is important to note that in every situation there are multiple decisions a player can make which have following consequences. The best D.VA players in the world show both ‘styles’ when necessary as in many situations one decision is better than another.
Multiple considerations should be noted when producing the most optimal position to enter a fight with. These include positioning of your team and most importantly the consideration of your teams win condition and the win condition of your opponents. Understanding these two aspects of the game will ensure you can make the biggest possible impact and already have set plans for proceeding with the following engagement.
These ideas can be generated by having an in depth understanding of the strengths of the team composition you are a part of and the team composition of your opponent whether it be relevant to ult or general ability cooldown tracking.
It is important to highlight the fact that when working with other people who have equal power to make their own decisions that things may not always go to plan, this can also be relevant to the gameplay of your opponents and can be patched through communication with your own team and reading the opponent. D.VA is one of the few characters in the game with a get out of jail free card for not only herself but also her team meaning that sometimes a play that may be considered impossible can be made in combination with defense matrix.
The following paragraph is extremely important and is an essential fundamental to master. D.VA is one of the few characters with complete control over horizontal and vertical movement during thrusters. This means D.VA has one of the highest potentials to take and create space as well as taking opportunities. When D.VA uses thrusters, it is the best usage of thrusters they can commit to while the ability is still on cooldown. In other words, the need to use thrusters as D.VA is recognition that within the next five seconds of the fight they will either not need thrusters to execute the optimal play or that the play they are making by committing this mobility is the highest facilitator of a win condition within the next five seconds. This concept of understanding control of tempo and discipline in cooldown management is also applicable to defense matrix and micro missiles.
Post Fight and Pre Next Fight
Toward the end of a fight it is important to damage control. In situations that your team will stagger and clean up opponents it is important to minimize any extra ult charge generated by opponents with defense matrix delaying all potential of a retake.
Furthermore in the current meta of Sombra being played it is time to begin spy checking. This involves shooting open space in an attempt to de-cloak invisible Sombra’s who are positioning for the next engagement and to also push them out of any translocation positions delaying the next push. D.VA is one of the most commonly hacked targets as they have immense value out of ability usage and are often in forward positions at the start of fights.
The best way to do this is to consider the pathing of the Sombra to read where they will be at what time, there are common spots for this on each map to become comfortable with, however, players are adaptive and you are operating on an odds basis. Feel free to exercise as much liberty as you want in spy checking as long as you end in the correct position for the next fight before the next fight begins. In the event spy checking is unsuccessful (most of the time) it is also worth considering who Sombra will be hacking at what stage of the fight and why, this will make it easier to cancel Sombra’s mid hack as a fight begins as they will be positioned relative to their hack target.
As defense matrix is a cone that comes out of the front of D.VA it is optimal for D.VA to stand with their back against a wall thus having an extremely small effective hitbox to take damage from. The pace of fights change very fast and this is something that needs to become subconscious in gameplay. Often windows of opportunity and game changing plays (grav eat etc) open and close in very small time frames meaning there is little time to actively think of this during engagements. These opportunities to utilize defense matrix in this way can be optimized by properly using line of sight (LOS). The decision between knowing which wall to hug is relevant to the subsequent play from that current position, D.VA has immense damage drop off therefore if the play is to kill D.VA can hug the close angle wall to opponents to maximise this DPS where as if the play is to eat a projectile it is more efficient for D.VA to sacrifice some damage but opening a larger gap between themselves and the incoming projectile. This creates a longer window of opportunity to capitalise on as projectiles have a travel time.
The core concepts contributing to D.VA gameplay are as follows:
Decision Making / Information
Opportunity creation / capitalization
This section highlights the importance of the second point of the above list. A decision can only be made on information that is known. This means that in a fight D.VA can only make as good of a choice as they read the choices in front of them, often leading to players making the correct choice in their respective scenario and overlooking the fact the their situation is only a result of previous decisions. This is more so an aspect that is relevant to mid fight gameplay rather than pre and post fight and is by in large created by the use of thrusters.
To expand on this, it is overlooked which angle D.VA finishes their thrusters at, as the next set of decisions are inherited by the next set of information gathered which outside of external communication comes through sightlines.
This ability is one of the defining features of god tier D.VA players. I have seen many people say that big eats on high value abilities are chance occurrences and are completely in control of the opponent using the ability. I personally disagree, while sometimes defense matrix can be used in a game of odds it is also a window of denial for players to act.
It is not low value to consume all matrix for a potential eat and then to miss the eat as a result of no remaining matrix, but if and only if the window of time created by denying the ability is used to swing the fight enough that the ability will no longer result in a victory or the value the ability would have gotten is no longer available. This of course is in tandem with the cooldown management notes covered in the Mid Fight segment.
A lot of usage this ability has is enabled by strong intuition and reading of opponents, for example, consider the follow scenario:
You hear a tracer use two blinks behind you and they do not shoot their weapon within one second of the blinks. They are in range of alerting your supports behind you via audio queues of the blinks and their footsteps. It can be concluded that tracer wants to pulse bomb the supports and they are conserving ammo to min max their effective damage as the combination of pulse bomb and weapon damage is more than the required value to kill.
Based on this situation it is a good play to turn around and defense matrix the support they are looking at as it is likely they will use pulse bomb. Important note on the actual usage of the matrix in given situation, matrixing the support who is going to be pulse bombed is more effective than matrixing the tracer as they can blink and pulse thus creating a window where the D.VA player has to reposition their mouse to then successfully eat the pulse bomb. Many abilities in Overwatch can exit a character model and connect instantly even though they are projectiles such as graving or ana nading the floor, this is another reason why it is important to understand where to place defense matrix when a play is being made with it.
With an in depth understanding of the game players can use surrounding information to deduce the following actions in the future. For example, Ana has nade and her tanks are low and she is in LOS as seen by a tracer from their weapon. It can be deduced that Ana is about to use nade and it is time for D.VA to divert their attention to Ana to deny the ability. This sort of reasoning can be used against any cooldown used under certain conditions and is the basis for making big impact with little matrix.
Intentionally playing with my back line in a fight in GOATS vs GOATS, the damage I lose by being in the absolute front line is worth the potential to eat grav, also playing in the front line here lowers the amount of information I can gather about the zarya such as their ammunition, position and bubble cooldowns, all three being important aspects of how they will act when using grav.
The space between me and zarya gives me enough time to eat the grav she throws.
Note that although I didn’t spend the whole time with my crosshair on the zarya character model I was specifically viewing them with my eyes on my screen, this is an example of effectively using LOS discussed in its section above.
Seeing Ana shoot, my team is group and she is on high ground. Winston is going to die if he doesn’t cop a nade.
While this is an example of using information to deduce an outcome it is important to note that the damage I lost by turning around would not have affected the fact that winston died which is why it was ok for me to dip out of damaging for a second.
It is also important to note that this situation could have been bettered by not shooting for a second thus having full move speed and being able to position behind winston and shooting him from that angle, this way the LOS I would have would show both Ana and Winston meaning I would not have needed to stop damaging to check the Ana and to eat the nade as I would have a vision cone showing both.
Thanks for reading, let me know if there are any other important concepts I have missed surrounding these topics and if you have any questions my discord is sadboy#0737. (and im lft)