The Mid-Tier Player’s Guide to Learning Genji
I finally did it. I broke into 55-65% winrate with Genji territory. This is in Platinum. I’m no master, but I do have some things to teach mid-tier players who are looking to have success with one of the funnest and most difficult heroes in the game. This guide is organized by tips arranged from most basic to most advanced. Skip ahead if you roll your eyes at the first few tips.
Tip #1: Lose until you win.
You will have a tough time with Genji initially. Stick it out. It’s worth it.
Tip #2: Know when Genji is a good pick, and when he’s a terrible pick.
Genji can play well in a lot of situations, but he is counterable, by both his own team and by the enemy team. Waveclear is Genji’s biggest shortcoming, followed by vulnerability to CC.
- Allais Genji does will with:
- Short cooldown long range, HOT healers like Stukov and Malfurion.
- Teammates you can count on to cover waveclear.
- Dive buddies like Judgemet Tyrael, Diablo, Maiev, Zeratul…
- An Abathur who will hat you consistently is possibly your best case scenario.
- Allais Genji has trouble with:
- Teams with poor overall waveclear.
- Players on healing who just don’t know how and got stuck there in the draft (you can sometimes anticipate this by how the draft goes). They will never heal you and blame it on your range. Think a karazim who can’t get his W on you, or an Ana who can’t hit a skillshot.
- Enemies Genji thrives against:
- Mage heavy comps.
- Overextending split pushers like Azmo, Zagara, Nazeebo.
- Comps that lack point-click CC.
- Enemies that counter Genji:
- Diablo, Uther, Brightwing, heavy auto-attackers.
- Maps Genji does well on:
- Two lane maps. This reduces the waveclear burden.
Tip# 3: Genji struggles from behind.
Playing from behind with Genji is difficult because enemies are harder to finish, and he can’t catch up by clearing waves quickly. Don’t fall behind.
Tip# 4: Don’t ignore macro:
You will have to waveclear sometimes, and you are actually pretty decent at giants. Be the early game giants guy for your team if no one else does it, and be willing to sit in a lane and soak if no one else goes there. If you are stuck 1v1 in a lane it’s best to freeze the wave and focus your dps on the enemy laner to ward them off of their XP. If your team has lanes covered, check down to giants. If they have that covered, too, it’s time to roam and gank.
Tip 5: Three PvP play-styles, use them all.
Genji has three PvP play-styles that you should transition between in game: team-fighting/skirmishing, ganking, and rotation sniping.
- Team-fighting/skirmishing: This is when both teams are grouped and you are standing off against each other, such as at an objective or the lvl 1 ARAM. In this case you want to play from the flank or from the front. The flank is preferred but not always an option. Either way you want to walk-mounted to your target, and just auto-Q them until they are low. Save your E for a target that will die, and who is otherwise out of reach. You need the reset to either go in on a second kill or escape. Play like raynor until someone is low. Auto the tank from the front or sneak back to a mage or healer.
- Ganking: The two gank targets you want to find are either the enemy who is the most vulnerable: an overextended solo pusher or an enemy mage who is making mistakes in his lane vs your teammate. Or, you want to go to the lane that your teammate is losing and chunk his opponent to give your teammate some breathing room.
- Rotation sniping: Pretty easy, sit in a bush on the enemy side of the map and wait for someone (anyone, even a tank) to rotate alone. You win the 1v1 or at the very least stop them from doing whatever they were hoping to accomplish.
- In the teamfight/skirmish you probably don’t want to lead with your E, unless you can get the reset. On the 1v1 you almost always want to lead with your E because the reset will not matter (unless they are over the wall), and there is a chance the 1v1 will last long enough to get a second E.
Tip 6: On mechanics.
- Auto attacks: Genji throws 3 shurikens with each auto. As soon as you issue the command to auto, you can issue some other commands without interrupting the animation. You can move, cyber agility (D), and shuriken (Q) without interrupting auto-attacks. Swift-Strike (E), Deflect (W), Dragon Blade (R), and X-Strike (R) will cancel his autos. Exploit movement and cyber agility to be like Tracer or Lucio. Exploit shuriken as follows…
- Auto-Q not Q-Auto. Learn to use Q immediately after auto, not the other way around. It’s much faster DPS.
- A note on Q: Good Genji players stay right on top of their target. Q produces 3 shurikens that fan out, and each do individual damage. You want all 3 to hit your target. So stay close. Also, I greatly prefer quick cast on Q, over on release. Don’t aim it like a Li Ming orb. Put your mouse directly on the center of the enemy hitbox and press Q. Genji’s level 13, Shingan (which gives bonus damage for landing all 3 shurikens on the same target), is a fairly difficult talent to get value from, but it’s extremely powerful, and the above mechanics are how you make it work.
- A note on E: I prefer quick cast on release for E. You have to land it, and you really need the reset in a lot of situations, or you will die. One of the trademark Genji plays is to snatch an enemy’s soul from deep in the flank or even over the wall, and escape unscathed. Notice that at level 1 E does a little over 200 damage. That is one “bar” of health. Wait for that and E onto them. Immediately auto-Q them after, then deflect. Use the E reset to escape. Beware healing, shields, protects, stasis, armor etc.. As the game progresses, recheck the damage that E is scaling to with levels and talents, update your “safe to go in” enemy health threshold accordingly.
- On Dragon Blade: It’s better than X-Strike when it’s good and terrible when it’s bad. Dragon blade is countered by long roots, stuns, gust, flailing swipe, cocoon, gorge and so forth. Timing is important. This is your win the teamfight ability. Wait for your team to engage, and for the enemy counters to be used. Go in and hack away until someone is low enough to finish and then use the combo E-R. You E onto them then turn around and D Blade. This will reset your E, which you can use to position onto the next kill target. Beware over-chasing with D blade. Once you turn the fight in your favor it’s likely that the enemy backline will break and run while their frontline remains engaged. I’ve died too many times chasing the enemy backline to their base, then D-blade times out and I’m stuck in a 1v3 with no cooldowns, half a map away from my team. Consider instead collapsing back on the enemy frontline with your teammates once the enemy backline starts to retreat.
- On X-strike: It excels where D-blade fails, vs enemy CC. It does less total damage than D-blade, but it is safe, and it is burstier. It also works as an escape. It does not cleanse DOT, but cancels recall, pyro blast, Butcher’s and Illidan’s charges etc.. Use X-strike to follow up stuns and roots. Classically, Tyrael Judgement: you E-R the target. After 20 you can get instant resets by using it on clustered enemies. I’ve had 4 in a row before, and it’s pretty awesome.
Tip #6: Talents
There is actually a lot of build diversity. Here‘s a breakdown
- LVL 1: I always go with (1). The movement-speed synergizes with his sticky playstyle. A strong argument can be made for (2) to increase rotational speed, as well. (3) just kinda sucks.
- LVL 4: All viable: (1) Synergizes well with shingan, and can make up for lack of poke dps in your comp, but you have to stack it. (2) is my preferred talent. It’s easy to execute and adds burst when you go in with E, which is when you need it. (3) is also strong. It adds the most burst in the early game of any LVL 4 talent and it’s AOE, but is not available in every engage because you have to charge it.
- LVL 7: (1) generates a shield for however much damage you deflect. It’s great for diving, and my preferred talent, however – and here’s a general tip on W – your deflect is canceled by stuns. So you have to manage it carefully. If you W the Butcher’s charge, you will get almost nothing out of it. You have to W after the stun. (2) Is also viable, and I think a lot of Genji players swear by it. I generally only go (2) if I am going with a full deflect build vs a comp with rapid attack speed. Which leads to another general W tip: W damages the nearest enemy for a set amount of damage per tick of damage it deflects. It’s going to do a lot of damage to a tracer, very little to a Jaina. This also means that diving an enemy in the middle of an enemy wave that is leashed to you will do more damage when you deflect. Of note, this “per tick” mechanic is totally altered by LVL 16 (1) which makes W also deal a percentage of the damage it deflects.
- LVL 10: see above
- LVL 13: (1) discussed above, the most powerful and the hardest to execute. Synergizes with LVL 4 (1). (2) just not worth it in my opinion because when I use E, I’m generally anticipating a reset anyhow. (3) a great second option to (1), especially when learning, unless the enemy has more than 1 blind. More auto attack damage and range is always good.
- LVL 16: (1) Very, very rarely good (and even then kind of a meme). Consider it if you are against 2 of the following enemies: Zarya, Li Ming (with Disintegrate), Tassadar, Tracer. Also benefits from the boss on Braxis, and the bruisers on Braxis/Warhead. (2) Almost always. (3) never. If you do the math it just sucks compared to (2).
- LVL 20: Ult upgrades almost always, unless you are going the full deflect build (almost never), then Zanshin.
Tip #7: The build.
- 1, 2 (flexible), 1 (flexible), 1 (flexible), 1 (flexible), 2, 1 (flexible)
- Best case scenario you go 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, but I mix and match LVLs 4, 7, 10, 13 and 20 to the situation.
Put in enough games, with deliberate practice (not mindlessly solidifying bad habits), to get level your Genji up to 20 or so, and your teammates will honor you at the score screen, because let’s face it, in Plat and below an allied Genji is usually not a good thing. But a good Genji… it’s so cool to watch, so powerful, and such a blast to play. GLHF.
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