“I play to win!”
When D.Va was first announced, it was already obvious that she was going to be a highly picked hero for beginners. Right off the bat, we knew that she never had to reload her guns, she could fly, AND she piloted a mech! If you ran out of health, D.Va would automatically eject out of her mech, allowing you to continue playing as her without her trusty vehicle. Not only that, but her ultimate (Self-Destruct) can turn the tide of battle immediately. It’s easy to see why several people were excited to play as her (not even including her character lore as a professional Starcraft player), and she soon became a fan favorite even before Overwatch’s release.
When Overwatch WAS released, D.Va… didn’t quite impress. People saw her as a weak tank hero with low survivability, a fairly useless defensive ability, and a very unimpressive ultimate (at launch, D.Va’s ultimate took 4 entire seconds to detonate!). It was a rocky start for everyone’s imaginary Korean pop star, but that certainly didn’t stop many from playing her.
About a year later, we’ve seen D.Va go through a huge list of changes, with plenty of buffs and nerfs along the way. Now, we see D.Va in competitive overwatch as the 3rd most played hero. She’s definitely back in the current competitive meta after her most current buff (and nerf), and she’s looking to be a much more stable addition to the competitive scene than ever before.
However, here’s an interesting little statistic: D.Va is picked at a much higher rate on lower tier levels compared to higher tier levels, according to D.Va’s meta trends on Overbuff. At the Bronze level, D.Va has a 7.74% pick rate, but at the Grandmaster level, D.Va has a 4.48% pick rate. Despite the huge difference in pick rates, her win rates are fairly even from the Bronze level up to the Master level. However, in the Grandmaster tier, her win rate is 57.07%, compared to a 54.57% win rate in Master, which is a HUGE jump for just being one competitive tier apart.
If we’re looking at a pick rate to win rate ratio between Bronze and Grandmaster, we can see that although with a 7.74% pick rate in Bronze, D.Va only has a 51.52% win rate (which is by no means bad at all). However, with a 4.48% pick rate in Grandmaster, she has a 57.07% win rate. So even with a 3.26% decrease in pick rate between Bronze and Grandmaster, D.Va has a win rate increase of 5.55%. How could the percentages be so vastly different?
D.Va is a Flex Hero
An odd term, but a fitting one for D.Va. What does it mean, exactly?
Basically, a lot of it comes down to how the player plays D.Va. On the surface, her kit looks very simple: she can fly, she can block, and she can shoot. To truly master her, it’s not enough to just utilize her kit effectively – it’s how you can utilize her kit to change your role depending on your team composition, the enemy team composition, and the current situation at hand.
Her simplicity is a huge reason for her high pick rate at the lower tier levels, but her high win rate in Grandmaster is a result of how flexible her role can be at any time. Let’s just run down a few of the roles she can reliably play in both her MEKA form and her out-of-MEKA form:
1) A Flanker/Disruptor
Her Booster ability allows her to fly long distances, allowing her to reach distances in a short amount of time. With a fairly short cooldown on her Boosters, she can disrupt enemy lines and flank with ease.
Being one of the most mobile characters, she can target back liners, such as Ana, Mercy, and Widowmakers. By engaging the enemy team as a disruptor, D.Va can create chaos in the backline, and essentially break enemy formations. With her moderate survivability and Defense Matrix ability, she can zone out attackers while targeting key targets.
What’s important to note here is that D.Va is not an assassin. It’s easy to commit 100% on your flank and try to take down that Ana, but D.Va’s primary fire is just not that strong. D.Va’s role as a disruptor is to create a bit of chaos, and to communicate to your team who you are targeting, so that your team can push forward accordingly and pick off primary DPS heroes and/or healers.
Being a solo flanker as D.Va is risky, since if you’re caught, you’re all but guaranteed to be dead. She doesn’t have a barrier like Winston, and her Defense Matrix is best used against hitscan heroes and other projectile heroes from mid-range. It’s important to always communicate effectively, both before and during your flank. Usually, playing D.Va as a disruptor works best when there’s another flanker-type hero on your team, such as a Tracer or a Winston.
2) A Finisher
D.Va has the mobility and health pool to be an effective finisher if an enemy happens to escape your team’s line of sight with low HP. Her Boosters deal a nice little 25 damage on hit if you fly into an enemy, so it can be used as a killing tool if they’re very low on health.
If a direct Booster hit isn’t enough to finish off an enemy, her primary fire, although slow and weak, deal enough damage to whittle down low HP enemies. Plus, with her Booster ability cooldown of 5 seconds, she can continuously chase enemies until they’re dead.
This kind of role is more of a situational one during a match. For example, let’s say your McCree managed to shoot down the enemy DPS hero to a low HP, but the enemy managed to break the line of sight between them and your McCree. With D.Va’s mobility, she can easily chase down the enemy DPS hero and finish them off, granting both you and your McCree an elimination and an ultimate charge.
Another scenario to utilize this role effectively as D.Va would be with a Tracer. Tracer, being a flanker, certainly has the utilities and DPS to take down other heroes, but usually not alone. With Tracer’s low 150 health pool, her role is more of a disruptor than an assassin. Working in tandem with the Tracer by prioritizing key targets and flanking them together can lead to easy eliminations, and by creating constant chaos in the backline of the enemy team, it makes it easy for the rest of your team to push forward and gain the momentum.
3) A Frontline Tank
This might seem obvious, since D.Va is classified as a tank hero, but her health pool isn’t the best. D.Va’s gone through an extensive history of buffs and nerfs, and with the latest change to her health pool, her armor has gone down by 100 HP, thus making her a lot squishier as a tank.
What this means is that D.Va is no longer the safest option to have as your main tank on the frontline. So if she can’t be a main tank, what’s the point of playing her as any of her other roles, like being a disruptor, or being a finisher? There are other heroes that specialize in those roles specifically, so why ever pick D.Va?
The tank meta has been a popular tactic since the beginning Overwatch’s competitive scene. Two tanks, or three tanks are some of the most common lineups you’ll find in today’s competitive scene. D.Va doesn’t act much like a frontline tank, so to counteract that, your team may pick a Zarya, or a Reinhardt. Let’s go over some scenarios where D.Va can contribute to your main stationary tanks and act as a secondary backup.
One of my favorite lineups is the Zarya/D.Va team. To play this duo effectively, you have to learn how to dance with your Zarya. If you see the Zarya go in with her bubble on, don’t escort her with your Defense Matrix. Let her take her charge, and react to what your Zarya does after her bubble goes down. If:
- Your Zarya continues to engage: you should go ahead and escort her with your Defense Matrix to ensure she lives through the firefight.
- Your Zarya backs up: it’s your turn as the D.Va to jump ahead of the Zarya into the fray and help soak up damage for your Zarya. This gives your Zarya the option to pop a bubble on you to take incoming damage to charge up her laser, or gives your Zarya the chance to go back and heal up.
The same line of thought works for a Reinhardt as well. Help your Reinhardt’s defensive load by putting up your Defensive Matrix and take on incoming damage while your Reinhardt recharges his shield. You don’t want to have both his shield and your Defensive Matrix up at the same time – it’s a waste of both your abilities.
Even if D.Va isn’t the most survivable tank of the bunch, she has enough of a health pool to act as a backup tank when needed, and it’s important to understand when these situations are needed. If your team is getting pushed back heavily, or you find your DPS/support heroes being heavily pressured, it might be time for you to head back to your team and protect your key heroes.
4) A Savior
Let’s go through D.Va’s most underrated and misused ability: her Defense Matrix. It’s a massively useful tool in her arsenal that is often misused, even though it has a huge range of 15 meters, and can block any projectile as it comes in.
In a huge patch back in early February, the Overwatch developers buffed D.Va’s Defense Matrix – namely the amount of time it takes for it to activate. Before said patch, D.Va’s Defense Matrix would allow projectiles to still travel a short amount of distance before it negated anything. Basically, the Defense Matrix, when activated, wouldn’t start working right away.
Now, D.Va’s Defense Matrix immediately eats up any projectile the moment it’s activated. Although it sounds like a simple tool, just take a moment to count how many ultimates in Overwatch function as projectiles:
That’s a lot of heroes. Now, think about the kind of power a properly used Defense Matrix can have on your team if it blocks an ultimate from any of these heroes.
We all know the dreaded Graviton Bomb from Zarya. Once it comes out, chances are you’re dead if you’re caught in it. D.Va’s Defense Matrix can eat that up, thus nullifying all the work the Zarya had to do to just use it (and it doesn’t charge that fast!).
Think about all the times you’ve played on a control point map, only to hear an enemy Mei activate her ult, effectively pushing off the entirety of your team off the point. A properly timed Defense Matrix can null it (and again, Mei’s ultimate doesn’t charge fast either!), which can easily give your team the upper hand.
Before, D.Va’s Defense Matrix wasn’t a worry for Zarya and Mei players, as her Defense Matrix pre-February patch still allowed projectiles to travel a short distance. Now, with D.Va’s instantaneous Defense Matrix, a properly timed Defense Matrix can be the coin flip between your team winning or losing the match.
Now, let me get back to my point about D.Va’s Defense Matrix being misused. Often, D.Va players would use her Defense Matrix to protect themselves from incoming projectiles from afar. If the enemy team is just poking, it’s always a better idea to just take the hit as D.Va (you are a tank, after all), and let your healer heal your HP back. D.Va’s Defense Matrix refills slowly, so it’s vital to utilize it as efficiently as possible.
Here’s a scenario of when to use D.Va’s Defense Matrix: your Mercy just got hooked by an enemy Roadhog. What can you do as D.Va?
- Watch your Mercy get mercilessly shot down and proceed to slowly back away as the enemy Roadhog dance emotes on top of Mercy’s lifeless body?
- Fly to Mercy’s rescue with your Defense Matrix up to block the Roadhog’s incoming primary fire shot, thus allowing your Mercy to stay alive while you spam your “winky face ;)” voice line over and over in front of the Roadhog?
Now, what if your Defense Matrix was on cooldown because you used it earlier to block a few McCree shots coming your way? Option B is no longer available to you if your Mercy gets hooked.
Many D.Va players often just keep Defense Matrix up for the entire duration of the ability just to protect themselves from enemy pokes, but by using it sparingly and only in crucial situations, Defense Matrix can save your allies, your team, and essentially the entire match.
Along with using her Defense Matrix effectively means you have to be in the right position during teamfights, and be aware of enemy team compositions and possible ultimates. Save your Defense Matrix if you feel like it’s been a while since the enemy Reaper got the drop on your team with an ultimate, or if you hear a Pharah flying behind your team.
Another aspect of her Defense Matrix is the ability to escort your teammates when they’re about to engage in a firefight, or if they’re about to use their ultimate. For example, your McCree is about to use his ultimate, High Noon. You can:
- Watch him spectacularly use his ultimate from afar, only to be shot down by the enemy Widowmaker, as your McCree types “lucky shot” in the chat. Or:
- Throw on your Defense Matrix on your McCree as he stands helplessly with his High Noon, thus negating the enemy Widowmaker’s shot from killing your McCree, and giving your McCree three kills. You can then proceed to witness your McCree teabag in place.
The power to escort other ultimates doesn’t have to be just on other heroes. With D.Va’s Boosters and Defense Matrix, you can safely escort Junkrat’s ultimate to their destinations as well. You can escort your Roadhog as he waddles into the enemy lines in hopes of hooking their DPS or support heroes. You can escort your Mercy as she flies in for that 4-man resurrection. The possibilities are endless, but to be aware of these situations requires a solid understanding of your positioning. Communicate with your teammates about who’s about to use their ult. You don’t want to see your Soldier:76 die to crossfire while he’s using his ultimate, and you couldn’t protect him because you were on the other side of the map. Proper communication with your teammates will have a huge positive impact on your ability to use D.Va’s Defense Matrix.
The power to easily negate ultimates, to save teammates, and to escort your own team’s ultimates can have a HUGE impact on your team, and it’s as easy as holding down a button. Learn to read situations and to communicate with your teammates, and support them with your Defense Matrix.
5) A Zoner
One of the last things you want to see is an enemy D.Va in front of your face. Against a well coordinated team, this means that the possibility of the rest of the enemy team ganging up on you is high. A great option is to just escape. Although D.Va isn’t the best at 1v1 scenarios, she’s still a tank, and by the time you might have taken down her MEKA form, she’s given her team enough time to push an objective, or capture a control point, all because you were too focused on fighting her.
This ties back to D.Va’s role as a disruptor. If she’s flanking you, there’s probably a good reason why. By taking you out of the teamfight and displacing you from your team, then it could very well be the final chess piece that allows D.Va’s team to turn the tide.
Although D.Va herself is capable of zoning out the team by displacing them, her real zoning skill lies in proper usage of her ultimate. Throw it on a hotly-contested control point. The enemy’s not going to want to get on it – as slow as the ultimate may be in detonating, it’s still powerful enough to one-shot any hero in the game.
You can get craftier than that. Throw it in the middle of the enemy team as they’re HEAVILY pushing onto your team. If you feel like the momentum is shifting towards the enemy, it’s a good idea to just give them a nice MEKA bomb for them to worry about, so you can give your own team some breathing room.
You can get EVEN craftier than that. Think the Roadhog is going to throw a hook? Get in the way and throw your ultimate towards to hook. Save yourself the trouble of having to place your MEKA ultimate near the enemy team, and have the enemy do it for you!
If you also think the enemy team might be gearing up for one huge teamfight, and it’s been a while since any of them has used their ultimates, you can go ahead and use your Self-Destruct if you want to displace the enemy team so they don’t have the time to group up and start a teamfight your team isn’t ready to engage in.
You can also use it to zone out aggressors that are trying very hard to kill you, and you specifically. If you find yourself with low HP on your MEKA, a good tactic could be to just use your ultimate just to drive them away for a bit, and get back into a full HP MEKA right after.
Be wary when using this tactic, however – ideally, you’d want to use this if you know a huge teamfight is about to happen, and they’re trying to kill your MEKA because they’re trying to negate your usage of Defense Matrix. If they kill your MEKA and the enemy team has 4 ultimates to use, you can’t block any of them. That’s the worst case scenario, and to prevent that, you want to make sure you’re in your MEKA in healthy form in most cases during teamfights.
Your goal with D.Va’s ultimate isn’t to kill (but it is very nice). Use it strategically, and be aware of situations where your ultimate would be most needed.
Now, let’s dive a bit into what you can do as D.Va when she’s out of her MEKA!
To be fair, there’s really not much you can do here besides shoot and get back into your MEKA as fast as possible. Your gun may deal a surprisingly large amount of damage, but with your low 150 HP and lack of any decent mobility, you want to avoid being in this situation whenever possible. There are some great tips to help you utilize your time out-of-MEKA more effectively:
- Stay behind your teammates, and just shoot from afar. Any shot that lands on the enemy counts towards your ultimate charge, so be sure to hit anything you see. You can always prioritize certain targets that might be easier to hit, like a Roadhog, or a stationary Widowmaker.
- Strafe a lot. Although D.Va’s hitbox HP is low once she’s out of MEKA, her hitbox remains small, so she can prove to be a fairly difficult target to hit. If you can strafe effectively when you’re blasting away with your peashooter, you can greatly increase your chance of surviving.
- If you’re caught in the middle of a teamfight and your MEKA is destroyed, be very unpredictable with your movements. Your first instinct out-of-MEKA might to be head in a straight line back to your team for protection, but this is what Widowmaker and Hanzo players look for. If you move in a predictable line, you can kiss your life goodbye. What I like to do is play the aggressor: jump around like a Winston inside the enemy line while blasting away at people. It’s very rare to see a D.Va out of MEKA play aggressively, but when your only option is limited to running back to your team and get shot down, or survive by your own means and ask your teammates to back you up, you should always choose the latter. Dance around the enemy unpredictably, and don’t let up on your offense. Remember – the more shots you land with your peashooter, the faster you can get back into your MEKA. By playing the aggressor, you can greatly reduce the amount of time it’ll take for you to recharge your ultimate.
Once you get back into your MEKA, be sure to gauge the situation and either continue to engage in the teamfight, or head back to your team and coordinate your next attack.
D.Va is a very flexible hero. You have a huge laundry list of responsibilities you can fulfill, but understanding the current situation at hand is key to knowing which bucket list items to cross off in the middle of a match. Once you get more comfortable playing D.Va, you’ll find yourself having your attention spread wide and far.
D.Va’s toolkit allows her to escort teammates safely, negate several ultimates, and to finish off high-priority targets. As a very functional hero, it’s easy to forget all the other things that D.Va can do. All too often, players waste her Defense Matrix, or just stand from afar and shoot at a Roadhog. Always be on the move, be communicative with your teammates, and understand enemy compositions and the flow of the match.
A lot of what takes to be good at D.Va comes off of instinct, quick thinking, and constant communication. Mechanically, D.Va isn’t a hard hero to master, but understanding game situations is key to raising your win rate with D.Va and having the greatest impact on your team. It’s time to raise your APM!