From the perspective of a highlander team’s best interests (as voiced from a heavy player)*, the scorch shot ban should be batched with the throwables that were banned (mad milk and jarate). I will elaborate on this fact based on the perspective of a heavy- a core member to most team fights where HP advantage dictates the outcome of a fight (most koth and some PL fights, to a certain degree).
This is not to say that the scorch shot should have been banned when the throwables were. The throwable items certainly hold the throne as more egregious attacks on the flow of highlander. The easiest point to make is how they can be applied to the mainstay strategy of saccing. The throwables effortlessly improve the equity of a sac play(eg throwing a bottle from bats to ramp on asheville while a soldier is bombing with the singular purpose to deal as much damage as possible to the area effected by the throwable before death), but I would like to argue that the attack is similar nonetheless.
In formulating pushes, there are a large number of variables to consider. This should come as no surprise, as 9v9 highlander is a competition of 18 players- 18 different individuals with their own values, ideas, and strategies all working amongst each other to prove that their side is better. In my experience, the best formula for a winning strategy is one based on solid team dynamic, trust, and direction. In order to attain all three of these flagstone ideals, sacrifices need to be made. Not all 9 players can use their directive to push the team to victory- a team needs a main caller/a voice of reason. The best teams are built not only on a strong foundation of players, but are built on a foundation that is willing to compromise. A team that is able to adapt to the confides of how their roster operates.
In order to evaluate how a team can best be run, its mandatory to evaluate the team based on high stakes circumstances. Fights that are won based on the team’s performance, rather than on an airshot or a pick from a sniper or spy.** This is what I refer to as a ‘team fight’. In a team fight, all 9 classes (or however many are alive) are in agreement that their own life is (generally) worth less than the advancement of the team, such as in the process of capturing an objective. In these circumstances, both teams are aware that the best play is to put all their chips on the table- to prove that their strategy(positioning, aim, focuses, …) is better than their opponents. These are the fights that we considered in the cases of mad milk and jarate, and these are the fights we should be considering for the scorch shot.
The similarities between the scorch shot and the throwables is best seen from an analyst’s perspective of a team fight. A perspective which pinpoints which variables are expressed in determining the outcome for the team fight. In the age of the throwables, it was often too easy to pinpoint them as deterministic factors in how a push could be evaluated. The impact of the scorch shot is more convoluted, but certainly present in a similar fashion. Im thinking of a heated match between two rivals, where both teams know that the only way to secure a victory is to press the margins-to commit on the 55% and leave on the 45% fights. The scorch shot, through it’s RANGED KNOCKBACK*** mechanic, and it’s ability to PREVENT CRIT HEALS**** denies this margin from being toyed with. I’m arguing that the flow of the game that we have come to appreciate competing over is degraded by the existence of the scorch shot. The tense moments are replaced by the likelihood that a pyro can flare your key classes.
But at the end of the day, we must reflect. At what cost is the scorch shot being banned? What are pyros losing? What are teams losing? I would argue that the losses are minimal. The arguments that seem to stick are generally the pyro v. sniper cases, but are all worth considering when banning a gun. (‘If the SS is banned, the danger shield needs to go too’ ‘Pyro should have a counter to the sniper’ ‘Pyro is already such a bad class, why make it worse?’) I dont play pyro so I dont want to comment too much on this perspective, but I would argue that the detonator should fill the niche of the scorch shot.
*I was thrust into top level UGC hl in a sink or swim environment, and gravitated to demo reviews as my north star in guiding me in my own improvement. I learned to apply the reasoning that the team is centered about the medic, and the medic/heavy are played very similarly in this game mode. My points are based on this dynamic, as it is the most familiar to myself. Though there are very many ways to play, consider listening to my perspective out of courtesy to the community we all are a part of, one which we would benefit from improving.
**Teams can choose to value team fights higher or lower, based on the ability of their pick classes/ high impact play%
***? why couldnt this be the end of discussion? someone should open this can of worms…
****BIG impact, most apperent on mids in particular, but also a surefire way to give impact to pyro even when they miss a direct.