It’s not her Self-Destruct or her Fusion Cannons. Overwatch hero D.Va’s scariest ability is her Defense Matrix.
There’s a certain versatility in Defense Matrix that has recently made itself clear in professional Overwatch. A February patch buffed D.Va’s Defense Matrix, removing a minimum distance that projectiles needed to travel before D.Va was able to block them. It was easier for Roadhog’s hook and Tracer’s Pulse Bomb to get past D.Va if she was standing too close; she couldn’t block projectiles at close range.
But with that stipulation removed, D.Va destroys projectiles regardless of the distance they’ve traveled. It’s taken a few months, but Overwatch players have finally figured out how to exploit D.Va’s Defense Matrix—and now she’s one of the scariest and most annoying heroes to play against.
D.Va’s bullying days have been long gone for a while: She’s now being pulled back to protect her teammates and deny healing to enemies, though she still does decent damage.
Team EnVyUs tank player Pongphop “Mickie” Rattanasangchod is particularly good in finding the balance between offensive and defensive D.Va. A renowned D.Va advocate, Mickie’s been playing her throughout her ups and downs. During EnVyUs’ match against X6-Gaming in the OGN Overwatch Apex, Mickie teetered on the edge offensive and defensive styles, projecting his Defense Matrix when needed, but pushing forward to bully enemies, too.
Holding the first point of Hanamura in the final map of Overwatch Apex, DPS player Timo “Taimou” Kettunen, playing Sombra, set up for a major EMP right at the gate’s chokepoint. As one of Overwatch’s squishier heroes, Sombra can’t stay alive without her Translocator or outside help. Taimou used both to stay alive after his EMP dismantled X6’s ultimates. But he wouldn’t have been able to get out unscathed without D.Va’s Defense Matrix.
Mickie flies after the EMP is let off, straight into the faces of X6. It’s an opening for EnVyUs to do a ton of damage, and they do. Mickie quickly switches into an offensive D.Va when Taimou is back to safety, topping off with a few more kills and blocking X6 from re-entering the Hanamura gate.
Often Mickie also used D.Va’s Defense Matrix to give EnVyUs’ healers—Jonathan “HarryHook” Tejedor Rua and Sebastian “chipshajen” Widlund—room to actually do their jobs. By hanging close to supports, D.Va is able to project her barrier and eliminate threats before they get too close.
And while that’s certainly important, D.Va can also be imperative in shutting down enemy healers.
D.Va’s been played 80 percent of the time across last week’s Overwatch Contenders and Overwatch Apex matches, while Ana sits at a mere 25 percent, according to Overwatch site Overbuff. Unscoped, her projectile healing bullets aren’t able to reach their targets if she’s being zoned out by a D.Va. And D.Va doesn’t even have to be close to Ana: She just needs to direct her Defense Matrix in line with Ana’s bullets. There are certainly other reasons why Ana’s pick rates have dropped considerably, but D.Va is a major part of it.
Getting D.Va out of her mech is essential in stopping her. After de-suiting D.Va, she’s a whole lot squishier, but more importantly, she doesn’t have her Defense Matrix. A team without a D.Va mech is vulnerable—and that’s how you want your enemies to feel.
Patch 1.12’s buff to Reaper, which increased his survivability, will help there. His shotguns are essential in breaking down D.Va’s suit, if he can stay alive. And he should be able to now that he regains 20 percent of damage done as health. But as always, his true potential has yet to be seen: It’s only been days since the patch went live, and we still haven’t seen any major tournament play with the new changes.