On February 11th there was an online qualifier to lead up to the Choctaw Festival of Gaming. Here seven teams battled it out for a sponsorship deal for this big Battleborn tournament. Besides getting a paid trip and a studio tour at Gearbox Software they now also have a shot at the $10.000 prize pot. One of the participating teams during the qualifier was Dunk Squad. They played very well and were able to place 1st during this tournament. After this event, I contacted them for an interview about the Battleborn competitive scene.
Interview Dunk Squad
- MM: Once again congrats on the placement for the Choctaw tournament, you guys must be excited. But for those who don’t follow the competitive scene who are the Dunk Squad ?
- DS: Dunk Squad is one of two currently active teams (SweepTheLeg) from a discord originally formed to play private “10 Man” matches. Although we all formed a team after we joined the discord – each of us were separately recruited for 10 Mans by Ssynethesia, who was a networker of sorts for a bunch of different Battleborn communities looking for private matches. In a lot of ways we have him to thank for the team we have and the passionate community that continues to play Battleborn together to this day.
- MM: What motivated you guys to enter this competition ?
- DS: We’re passionate about this game. We’ve all played Battleborn for thousands of hours with nothing but the promise of fun. But now – to compete for money and a tour at gearbox to boot? The real question is “How could we say no?”
- MM: Obvious you guys did well by by qualifying, but how do you guys feel about the tournament and the competitive Battleborn scene, i saw some tight matches and a few where teams got steamrolled ?
- DS: Battleborn has a very interesting problem in that regard, we think. With a comparatively small scene separated over three different consoles – it can be very difficult to form tournaments that can involve and engage large amounts of the community. Its very difficult to form and promulgate a meta if higher level play doesn’t reach the rest of the community. Skill gaps tend to form as a result. We hope that more public events like this will help to increase the visibility of higher level Battleborn play.
- MM: This is the largest sum of money Battleborn players have ever competed for, so how have you and your team prepared for such a large-scale event?
- DS: Preparation in any competitive sense is all about awareness of the scene and familiarity with the mechanics of your game. As a PC team, we’ve had to acclimate ourselves to playing on PS4 controllers, and to acquaint with PS4 teams. What teams can we expect to play? What comps do they favor? How can we counter that? By scrimming PS4 teams we try to have the answers to as many of these questions as possible to form a consistent winning strategy.
- MM: Where do you guys stand about alternating between game modes, because in previous community tournaments, it was always 1 game mode and now you are playing both Meltdown and Incursion?
- DS: We find the change to be extremely refreshing. Playing multiple game modes gives more variety to every set we play – drafts are different in different game types, and as a result it gives more opportunities for teams with different skillsets and rewards teams that have the versatility to be consistent across multiple game modes. In our eyes, this enhances the competitive nature of the game.
- MM: What do you guys think of the change to Meltdown by adding the finale to this game mode?
- DS: Due to the tankiness of late game minion waves – clear times are much higher than they used to be. Adding giant minions to the mix worses things – often leaving teams as the only thing in between a nigh unkillable minion wave they need to clear and an enemy team out for their blood. Higher level Meltdown play revolves almost entirely around the massive advantage given when clearing a minion wave before your opponent – and as a result Giant Minions and econ builds are absolutely necessary to remain competitive. To play through all of this only to again face nigh unkillable minions given to the winning team? In its current incarnation, Meltdown Finale is the epitome of everything we dislike about the current state of the Meltdown game mode.
- MM: What do you feel is the optimal way to approach Battleborn as a competitive game?
- DS: Battleborn has improved a lot since launch, with a rudimentary tutorial and built in draft mode – and it can continue to improve. Examples can be taken from other successful competitive games such as leaderboards, a ranked mode, and developer support for Battleborn content (guides, streams, ect.). The last option is especially important – as important as it is to improve the competitive experience – the lifeblood of any game is a strong base of new players who have both the desire and resources available to them to improve their play.
- MM: What would you consider the current meta?
- DS: In a phrase? Crowd Control. A lot of games have this problem where the best solution to stop players from CC is CC itself. Any system where a mechanic’s best counter is that same mechanic will see the mechanic control or inform almost every aspect of play. The reality of Battleborn reflects this – teams with CC have more free reign to both control space and punish mistakes – an advantage that must be matched with opposing CC. Until a regularly available cleanse mechanic makes its way into the game – it is difficult to see any changes to this state of affairs.
- MM: In the qualifier, you were able to use your own gear load-outs, with the exception of legendary items. With the big tournament, there will be a limited gear pool available. How do you guys feel about that, do you think you will be able to create quality load-outs?
- DS: The only complaints we have are the negative stats for econ gear – we feel this restricts econ gear unnecessarily by restricting them from ranged characters in a typically econ-focused role who rely on reload speed, such as Caldarius. The lack of free reload speed also makes Benedict a lot less able to quickly get his damage online. More commentary on the gear sets would have to come with experience playing with it.
- MM: During the qualifier, I saw a lot of cheap gear, is that a more common strategy? As a veteran Borderlands player, I quickly look at more epic gear.
- DS: Cheap econ gear is often the focus for teams on Meltdown, where buying Giant Minions grants a colossal advantage in wave strength and provides extra experience. In a coordinated environment, however – we only recommend two dedicated builders in Meltdown, who time Giant Minion purchases with minion waves and benefit from the XP of buildables. Having more cheap gear than that takes away from the late game power of your team and cannot be fully exploited – only so many buildables can be built at once.
- MM: What advice would you give to any Battleborn players looking to play at a higher level?
- DS: “Git gud.” 😛 But seriously, improving at Battleborn is all about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Make the effort to network with other players. Send out friend requests. Join Battleborn discords – may offer private matches to help practice organized play. Watch Battleborn content – guides can give you the right advice and VODs can show you that advice in action. But above all – keep playing. Improvement is a process as much as a state of mind – practice makes perfect.
- MM: Thank you for this interview is there any place where people can go to keep up2date on you guys ?
- DS: Member twitch channel and our discord.
- MM: Good luck with the big tournament!
The Choctaw Festival of Gaming will be held on 3 till 5 march and will be streamed on the VersusGameplay and Gearbox Software Twitch channels. Also check out the interview with Lost Heroes, who are the other team that managed to qualify for this Battleborn tournament.