Well, it’s time. For some, Genji will be the most frustrating character in the game. For others, he’s a devastating character that can destroy the enemy team. Of course both are true: it’s all dependant on skill, and in that regard Genji can be one of the toughest characters in the game. So we thought the next addition to Play Like A Pro should be Genji, the agile, melee-focused ninja whose ability to counter attacks is his unique attribute and way of assisting his team.
The basics of Genji
The first thing to know about Genji is that he’s going to take some time to master. He’s not like Soldier 76, you won’t be able to simply flip down a visor and cut your way through the team. Genji requires finesse, and that will only come from practice. But what you might not realise is that Genji can be played in two quite distinctive ways, meaning you can choose to play the hero defensively or aggressively. That style is mostly down to you and how much you’re willing to risk yourself. Defensive Genjis - like WhoRU or Seagull - prefer keeping their distance, using the range of his shuriken to build up his ultimate and use that as an opportunity to sweep in and devastate the team. Aggressive Genjis - like Haksal - favour going in and slicing enemies apart, irrespective of the availability of Dragonblade. Because that’s the thing, a great Genji doesn’t need his ultimate to wreck havoc. The only issue with this playstyle is that Genji is so weak and, as such, he’ll need some looking after if he’s to survive long enough to do any damage. Whichever style you end up playing, know that Genji is mostly built to play for close quarters combat. He’s agile - with a double jump and a wall climb - and can close distances with his Swift Strike. He’s about getting in close, and so you’ll need to relearn a lot of what Overwatch is about.
Getting the combo right
So how does Genji do it? Well it’s all about that combo, combining three attacks to effectively take out an enemy. At long range you’re going to want to use Swift Strike to close the distance between you and your target. That’s imperative. As much as a nuisance as as Genji’s long-range, singular shuriken throw is it’s not going to win games. So if you’re at a distance you need to get in close. Ideally you’ll use Swift Strike to at least deal some damage, or ideally finish off a weakened opponent (these should be your primary target for this ability) since it’ll refresh the cooldown on Swift Strike to be used again. Once you’re up close, open with a alt-fire barrage of shuriken. Though this is a spread attack, the close range means you can easily land most if not all of them and deal a good chunk of damage. After that follow up with a sword slash and then repeat the alt-fire barrage. On weaker characters this will be enough to finish them off, so long as you make use of Swift Strike once it’s available to refresh that cooldown and get a second use of it for free. Not only does this ability put you behind your enemies - thus confusing them - it gives you that extra opportunity to remain close to a target. That ‘stickiness’ is what makes Genji such a pain to encounter. That’s the combo, pretty much, but remember you’re not invulnerable. If you’re picking off a lone player then that’s not much to concern yourself with, but if you’ve barrelled into the enemy team then it won’t take long for their focus to fall on you. Don’t stick around: hit and run tactics will work best here, unless you’ve got a healer to hand to keep you from dropping. Here’s a great example of the sort of combo combat you’ll want to aim for, with Haksal bouncing around the map obliterating fools.
Know when to deflect
One of the things you’ll see a lot from amateur Genji players is the way they instantly activate Deflect as soon as they start taking a little bit of damage from any source. It’s an impulse to them, believing that if they can negate even the smallest fraction of damage then that’s an advantage over their opposition. But there are so many more ways of overcoming a threat with Genji, and most of them - heck, the best of them - are more about evading damage, rather than negating it. Genji is such an agile character that it’s often enough to flit away from the attention of an enemy, navigate away and around the back of them and react that way. Making use of that double jump is integral, it makes Genji such a hard character for an enemy to track since he can be unpredictable as to where he’s going to go. Misdirection is your key here, aiming to distract and disappear rather than race in and get squished. Remember you can back off around a corner, too, and if the enemy gives chase you can hop onto a wall, climb up and then leap into the air. It’ll take enough time that it would appear you have vanished, only to land at their feet with sword in hand. That, or you can use this mobility to clamber up and around the map to flank the enemy that was once your aggressor. And if you do have to use Deflect, use it effectively. It’s not enough to just negate damage, make sure that you aim your reticle at an enemy so that by attacking you they will take damage instead. An unthinking player will likely kill themselves that way. Using the likes of Bastion - whose sheer volume of bullets can be hard to stop once it starts - can also mean you’re safe from his gaze while also taking out another enemy. Take a look at TViQ as he bounces around Volskaya Industries, and when he finds himself in danger - after being stunned - hops back up and over to take control. That’s prime Genji.
Dat ultimate, tho...
There’s a reason Genji’s ultimate Dragonblade is one of the most feared in the game. When his call is heard, it’s often enough to cause players to flee - it can wipe entire teams courtesy of that empowered blade. It’s worth remembering a few things about it to make the most use of it though. Its range is increased quite a bit, its damage is incredible and it is still possible to use other abilities while it is active. What this means is that it’s not enough to simply activate the ultimate and then slice away, it takes more than that and you’ll need to employ just as much agility as you would without it. Using the empowered blade with Swift Strike is extremely important. The increased damage means it’s really quite easy to take opponents down, and that will reset the cooldown of Swift Strike - essentially giving you practically unlimited uses of the dash, making you an impossible to hit blur. But more than that, it gives you the opportunity to pick your targets better. It’s not enough to rush in sword a-swinging, that’s not effective and you’ll just as easily get shutdown. Instead pick the right targets, squishy supports or damage dealers first. Use Swift Strike to get closer to them when you can, rather than slicing through the nearest enemy. And if you want an example of what it means to master Genji and his ultimate, here’s Seagull as he obliterates a team.