Let’s talk about everyone’s favorite Australian explosive weapons enthusiast, Junkrat. Or rather, the disturbing lack of Junkrat in professional Overwatch.
He’s an incredibly fun hero to play, between his high flying antics and ‘splosions as far as the eye can see, but for some reason, the little junker just can’t seem to find a home in the pro scene. Consistently.
What gives? He’s got some of the best damage output in the entire game, coupled with ace maneuverability and an ult that can keep him relatively safe. Why no love for the little Vegemite fiend?
Trying to Make Order of Chaos
One thing that gets in Junkrat’s way is something that’s core to the theme of the character: chaos. By that I mean it’s nigh impossible to git gud at randomly lobbing grenades over walls. The random part is what I’m driving at here.
His entire kit from his grenades to his concussion mine to his trap is predicated on getting lucky, hoping you are putting damage where the enemy might be. More often than not, you’re simply carpet bombing the enemy with trash damage that gets easily healed and only serves to fuel the opposing Lucio’s ult.
True, a skilled Junkrat player can apply Zipfian logic—20% of the carpet receives 80% of the use—to get an edge in his placement games, but shoring up probabilities means precisely jack squat when there’s a Diamond Widowmaker on the other team that can ventilate your cranium from a mile away with a flick of her wrist.
Of course, 80% of the time when I’m right, I’m always at least 20% wrong.
One of the other obstacles preventing Junkrat from being a popular pick in the current meta is the way his ult works. Shouting “Fire in the hole!” 5-10 seconds before his RIP-Tire even sees the enemy team allows all but the most unorganized opponents ample time to scatter to the four winds.
Imagine if Reaper loudly grumbled “What did the mortician say to the hospital patients during the recession?” five seconds before he drops his punchline on an empty audience. Or if Pharah shouted “My Google Alert says it’s going to be cloudy with a chance of justice!” while carpooling with the enemy team on the way to the gunfight.
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Remember that Diamond Widowmaker from earlier? Hell, even DeathSn1pez420 can take down a RIP-Tire with ease, safely disarming it.
On top of that, Junkrat is a sitting duck when his tire is out zooming around. Of course, his recent buff—he’s now immune to his own explosions—has made it so that players can go for all-in point blank RIP-Tires, but the ideal solution shouldn’t be to mean that successful playstyles are riskier to play while still providing the same payout.
Nate’s Bargain Bin Junkrat Solutions
For starters, Junkrat’s ult needs a buff. That can come in the form of a buff to the tire’s speed or health. Blizzard could make it so that the RIP-Tire detonates even after it’s been shot down. My favorite option would be to mute the voice cue when you activate the RIP-Tire without an enemy having line-of-sight on you–it’s honestly not that big of a buff, considerng that the thing already makes a distinctive noise once you’ve let ‘er rip. Hell, it could be any combination of the above, but the point stands that something needs to happen to make Junkrat’s ult a little bit more relevant.
And while there’s not much else you can do to Junkrat’s kit that would raise his skill cap, Blizzard should play on his bank robber background when they’re considering any kind of adjustments to the character.
Hear me out.
Junkrat is used to blowing up bank safes, bots, entire skyscrapers. Nothing is too hard or too sturdy to withstand his carnage, right? Which is why he should be the go-to guy for taking down barriers and armor. Give him an extra buff to his passive that makes his damage bypass any and all damage resistance, and do a little extra damage to barriers. With this change, Junkrat isn’t just feeding ult–he can bring down the shield of an enemy Reinhardt, and his presence on the battlefield would counter the utility provided by Torbjorn and Orisa.