Washington Justice Stratus on confidence, Genji, and sunglasses

By Olivia Richman


Jul 28, 2019

Reading time: 5 min

Washington Justice’s Ethan “Stratus” Yankel was happy to be on the Overwatch League stage today. Thanks to the 2-2-2 role lock, Stratus was excited to show his fans and the OWL community what he is capable of. 

And that’s exactly what he did. Along with fellow DPS main Corey “Corey” Nigra, Stratus dominated the Toronto Defiant, resulting in a 3-1 win.  

WIN.gg spoke with Stratus about his newfound confidence now that DPS are playing a bigger role in the meta. 

You were dancing around after the win. Why was this win so exciting for you? 

Stratus: I’m gonna be real. It’s been three stages of me not playing, not getting showtime on the stage. I had a really hard start with the GOATS meta and playing Zenyatta in Stages 1 and 2. I stopped believing in myself.

But I took a break and took time to be with my family. It gave me confidence in my decision making again. I still make stupid mistakes, but today had been about proving myself again after the Atlanta [Homestand] match. It was about improving, mostly for myself. On the OWL stage, it reiterated that I can do this. 

Why were you feeling so down about yourself before? 

GOATS is less mechanically dependent. It’s more about working with your teammates. Making plays with your teammates. The way I play, well, before the OWL I only played ranked. I didn’t do anything professional before this. It made me feel out of place in the meta. 

Especially having to play Zenyatta. 

Yeah and Brigitte, before the nerf, was very aggressive and sort of like a DPS. But she became more of a support tank after the nerf. I didn’t find myself too comfortable with her. I felt I couldn’t influence the game individually. Now I feel really strong again. 

So what was with the sunglasses you were rocking on stage? 

I have them right here. I figured I’d need them in the interview. Yesterday, I made a really stupid tweet where I did the Naruto run up to my phone and then punched it. I was saying, “I’m practing my hidden jutsu for Toronto.” Today, I used that. Part of that was the chakra I got from the sunglasses.

I’m going to take these off now since I can’t see.

How were you feeling going into the match? 

I was feeling very confident after proving myself for Atlanta. I was feeling really excited. It’s thrilling to interact with the crowd. I’ll always say, “Hello!” It just gives me so much energy. I was really, really excited. But not a nervous excitement. I’ve been there before, but this was very different. I went into it feeling happy and excited.

It seemed like you and Corey were having a lot of fun throughout the game. What do you like about playing with Corey? 

Corey and I are both very mechancially strong. Whenever he dies, I’m confident I can make a play to make up for it. But when I die, I’m like, “Corey’s gonna kill three of them anyway. We’re fine.”

I feel I can rely on him. It feels so natural playing with him. 

Do you feel the 2-2-2 role lock will benefit the team as a whole?

Yes. The meta is still underdeveloped. Some teams will have wacky dive comps to counter Orisa. It’s still day one of Stage 4. But so far Orisa benefits us especially. Corey and I get to play heroes we’re really comfortable on. He gets Reaper and Widowmaker. He’s been playing Widowmaker a lot. He’s one of the best in the league. And me on Hanzo and Mei.

If the meta shifts around, it could benefit us differently. But so far so good. I’m liking it. 

We did see you on a variety of heroes, but mainly Hanzo and Mei. What was the strategy behind Mei when you implemented her in the comp? 

We weren’t actually the first team to start playing Mei. Clockwork Vendetta, a European team, ran Orisa, Roadhog, and Mei. They would use pull the combo and then wall off whoever they pull to secure the kill. Alternatively, Mei can block the pull combo. That’s where the meta is right now. My Mei is very strong mechanically. I can two tap Pharahs out of the air, since I’m good with right click. So we’ll run her more than some teams will. 

On the fourth map, you pulled out Doomfist. What was your strategy behind that pick? 

I needed to get to the point fast and kill a bunch of stuff. I knew Corey would, so I had to to follow up on that opportunity. Doomfist goes fast and kills things quickly. You press buttons and things die. I wanted it to happen twice in a row, because I got my first ever Reddit highlight in Atlanta by switching to Doomfist to win the game. 

Which DPS heroes are you hoping to use in Stage 4? 

I really want to see a lot more Genji. He’s a hero that shows how much time you put into the hero. A lot of Genji players are out of practice.

We haven’t seen a lot of Genji yet.

He really has a place in this meta. We’ll see him more as the stage go on. 

Have you been practicing with Genji? 

Yes, I’ve been playing Genji in ranked. I apologize for trolling my teammates for playing Genji in ranked, but it’s for the good of the meta. I’m going to push the meta forward. 

Is there anything you wanted to say to your fans? 

Shout out to my mom especially. My brothers, my dad. They’ve been really, really supportive. Whenever I’m feeling down, I always have them to talk to. It’s super easy to recuperate my mindset and focus again. It’s a mentally stressful job, so having family is so nice. I’m really grateful.

To the fans, in the same regard, I’ve been bennched for three stages. I don’t have that much popularity. But the support I have is mindblowing to me. I don’t know why or how, but I really aprpeciate everyone who follows me on Twitter, or makes stupid memes. I love stupid memes so I really appreciate them.


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