With the release of each new big-budget multiplayer game, there’s always that potential emergence of an entirely new competitive community. In the eyes of many, no case is so prevalent in recent years than that of Overwatch, Blizzard’s latest title. eSports have arguably never been bigger, particularly in South Korea, where pro-gamers are akin to pop idols, oftentimes earning just as much money, fame, and press-following. But not every pro-level player streams, plays pro, or has username notoriety. Some players prefer to live quieter lifestyles, setting and achieving personal goals set out of sheer appreciation for the game. A relatively unrecognized name in the Overwatch community, but a name to know nonetheless is that of an Overwatch Grandmaster, Benjamin Mendez — username: Jandrix.
Hello, I am Jandrix, a Grandmaster Overwatch player.
Do you have any pre-game rituals, particularly for competitive play?
I don’t have any rituals so to speak. I simply like to make sure I’m wide awake before I queue for competitive. I’ll have coffee or some sort of caffeinated drink and make sure I’m not playing on an empty stomach. I also want to be free to focus on playing and will do any sort of chores or errands ahead of time, so I’m not thinking about having to do it later. My best advice in this regard would be to take note of any day you’re playing particularly well and remember what you did before you started playing and take from that.
How many hours would you say you play a week?
Nowadays I probably play Overwatch on average somewhere around 20 hours a week.
Lately, Path of Exile challenge leagues have lined up perfectly with Overwatch competitive seasons leading to me splitting my time more than I would like. When it first launched, I was playing more like 40 hours a week or more.
If you had to choose a favorite character to play as, who would you choose?
My favorite character overall would be Genji. There are a lot of close seconds, but Genji has consistently been my go-to hero for a long time now. He has a very active playstyle that is very fun and rewarding. Good awareness leads to easy kills on unsuspecting players and he easily punishes poor positioning. Flankers are strong because they create chaos if the enemy team isn’t coordinated enough giving your team an easier time in fights. And I like that he gives me every opportunity to outplay my opponents. How well you do on Genji is almost entirely up to you.
Apart from Genji, I value being able to play the entire cast well and I find it easy to do so because every character is so much fun. I think people who only focus on one character are missing out on a large portion of what makes Overwatch such an enjoyable game, but everyone has their preference.
Why do you think some people who enjoy traditional FPS don’t enjoy Overwatch?
Overwatch is a game that blends the FPS and what people call MOBA genre into one, which creates a very unique gameplay experience. Traditional FPS values in a game like Counter Strike or Call of Duty can only take you so far in Overwatch because you’re missing out of half (or more) of the knowledge required. Sure, you may play around your opponents loadout slightly differently, but fundamentally your goal is simply to not get shot. So if you have no background playing games closer to Overwatch, you may feel somewhat lost or think things are “unfair” until you learn the nuances required to stand a fighting chance. Overwatch is not a point-and-shoot deathmatch game; aim will only take you so far, and I feel that’s where Overwatch can lose players looking for a pure FPS experience. Sorry if this is an overly simplified explanation. I hope I got the main point across.
I know you pride yourself on versatility, but do you have any characters you dislike playing?
The only characters I tend to avoid are the overly defensive and campy characters like Symmetra, Torbjorn, and Mercy.
What’s your practice routine?
I don’t have any routine in the classic sense. I play a lot. Nothing is better practice than practical experience. I personally believe the drills or the training bots are only useful for training muscle memory. Instead, I try to go into each game with something I want to focus on improving: whether it’s positioning, map strategy, combos, how I play against certain hero, etc. I try not to let myself go on auto-pilot when I’m playing. I know there is always something in my play that can be improved, so I try to identify and isolate it and then focus on improvement.
For example, recently I felt that my High Noons on McCree have always been wasted or very low impact. So now when I play McCree once I have High Noon I am largely focusing on how to best set it up. “Can I get behind them with a flank ult? Will I die if I try? What can disrupt me? Can I wait for their disruption to be on cooldown? Can any teammate combo with me? Is there a worthy solo ult target?” I force myself to focus on things like this and improve until it becomes automatic, then I can work on the next thing. I’ll generally have something like this, big or small, that I want to improve each time I get in a game.
Your favorite play strategy?
Overwatch is such a complex game with so many different factors that trying to say I have a favorite strategy is too difficult. What hero you pick, what your positioning is, what you choose to focus on, etc, all varies from game to game, map to map, character to character. The only thing I can really say is that I like to be flexible, from the start of the game until the end of the game. Starting at the pick screen, I want to know what my team is playing before I make a choice, particularly for competitive games. I put it on myself to have a deep hero pool and to be someone my team can rely on to fill a role that we’re missing. I identify our team’s weaknesses and the enemy team’s strengths. “What are we losing to and what is best to counter it? Can someone on the team swap or do I need to swap? Is a particular player just crushing us despite our composition being correct? Who is going to shut him down the hardest? Do I need to swap to focus on something else even if I’m doing extremely well already?” Asking questions like that and coming up with solutions is a key factor for success in general, but particularly in solo queue.
What’s your favorite wombo (combo)?
Having a solid combo on your team is extremely important for winning games. A strong ult combo can win you fights on their own, and particularly when you’re on offense, can easily lead to team wipes and capping points. Zarya is obviously the easiest solution to this because Graviton Surge combos with everything; my favorites being Tracer’s Pulse Bomb and Hanzo’s Dragonstrike.
Ana is the other easy combo solution. I do play a lot of Genji and my duo queue partner plays a lot of Ana, so Nano/Dragon Blade is an incredible combo that I love and have used over and over again to great effect. Slicing through targets like butter never gets old.
Apart from those obvious ones though, I really enjoy the synergy between Roadhog and Hanzo.
I think they are a heavily underutilized duo, probably because playing an effective Hanzo is difficult. But if you can manage it, this combo has many advantages. Hanzo sets up wallhacks with Sonic Arrow every 20 seconds, allowing Roadhog to set up easy hooks. Then, once Roadhog lands a hook, Hanzo can follow up with his Scatter Arrow on the hooked target, the scatter damage combining with Roadhog’s shot will instagib literally anything in the game.
With these two on your team, your potential to get random free kills with hooks and scatters is extremely high, leading to team fights where your team has the numbers advantage.
What was your go-to game pre-Overwatch?
Dota 2 and Path of Exile were/are my go-to games apart from Overwatch. I played Dota 1, Heroes of Newerth, and Dota 2 all combined for over 10 years and I think a lot of my abilities in those games actually transferred over well to Overwatch (that combined with a few hundred hours of TF2 experience). In Dota, positioning, ability cooldowns, and ultimate timings are all fundamentally similar to Overwatch, even though it’s a different genre altogether. I don’t play Dota very much anymore, but I still love watching it and consider it one of the best spectator e-sports. It was because of Dota that I decided to travel to Seattle for The International (5). Watching that professional competition was well worth it. I would definitely go again in the future, despite my not playing Dota anymore.
Path of Exile is the best ARPG since Diablo 2. I’ve been playing it off-and-on since open beta and have sunk around 2000 hours into it. It’s gone through a ton of changes over the years and remains at the top of the genre. It’s completely free to play and has consistent content updates that puts Blizzard and Diablo 3 to shame. A major expansion is set to release this summer and I would highly recommend checking it out if you are a fan of the genre. It has a steep learning curve, but if you figure out what you’re doing it’s a game you’ll never stop going back to.
And a quick shout out to Super Smash Bros Melee. I’m relatively trash at it, but it might be my favorite game of all time. Big Melee tournaments are always exciting to watch as a spectator. The game just has such a rich history that only a few games can rival.
Have you ever considered streaming?
It’s something I’ve considered, but never put any real thought into. I’d like to try one day, primarily for reviewing my own VoDs for improvement. But at the moment, I want to maximize my frame rate and streaming would cause it to take a hit. Eventually, I’ll get some computer upgrades and possibly give it a shot. But, to be honest, I don’t think I would make a good entertainer.
Who are some of your favorite Overwatch streamers right now?
Seagull – This shouldn’t be surprising; he’s the premier Overwatch streamer right now. He’s an amazing player, has a great personality, and gives incredible insight. Just about everytime I watch his streams I learn something new.
Aimbotcalvin – An absolutely insane player. He’s generally much more try-hard than others and I enjoy seeing someone in that mode.
Flame – Flame does pro-match VoD reviews and does really in depth educational content. There’s a lot to be learned from his videos. I generally watch his VoDs (Videos on Demand) over his live streams.
Moonmoon – moon2SMUG
Do you ever see yourself playing on a pro team?
No. At the moment I have no desire to. Even if I continued to improve and climbed to Top 500, I don’t think that I would. I would try streaming first.
Livestreaming Overwatch matches has become a popular practice by pros as a method of self-funding and maintaining community presence. Many lesser known Overwatch players have become star-struck, engaging in an aggressive climb to popularity. And while seeking pro-status is fine for some, for those more reserved, introspective players, it’s all about bettering oneself for the love of the game.