The Essence of Heroes – “Winston – Science in the Soul” with Jean-Louis “KnOxXx” Boyer

October 04th
written by Yiska


Behind the brave deeds of every hero is a story. Behind every story is a spirit. The essence of heroes is an ambitious interview series that aims to uncover the nature of each hero by asking its most skilled specialists to reveal their thought processes. In doing so, we also learn a lot about the hero behind the keyboard. This time we ask: What is essential to “Winston – Science in the soul“?


For the longest time, you’ve been the kingmaker in Europe and later North America. Back in your days at Creation eSports, you played Rogue close for much of last year’s summer, creating one of the most exciting rivalries at the time. When you then went over to Rogue yourself, the team won two major tournaments with The Atlantic Showdown at Gamescom and APAC Premier in Shanghai. When the Misfits-Rogue shuffle happened, your squad became seemingly unbeatable on Western soil for the longest time. You did it on two different roles, namely main tank and support. The pattern of success is strong in teams you are part of so could you try to explain the KnOxXx-formula to us a little? What do you bring to a team? Which things do you change when you get a new squad? Do you enforce a certain structure?

I do not think there is a magic formula to all these successes. The Rogue team has always been composed of world-class players in terms of individual skill and team play. From my beginnings at Rogue on Lucio, I have always tried to enforce a maximum of tempo in the movements of the team and good communication about the game plan. With the role change to Tank at the beginning of the year, I have reduced my communication to fight initiations and to call focus targets, so I could concentrate more on my own game. Over time, we’ve developed very aggressive team play and play style, which allows us to be at the top in any dive meta.


Rogue recently had a dip in performance and sadly you guys failed to qualify for the Contenders offline finals. You guys have talked about Visa issues and problems with living conditions. We’ve speculated that a team that shines by their superior precision, both in focus and mechanics, would have a hard time succeeding in a messy environment. What happened after TakeOver 2, where you guys looked stellar and now, considering your latest performances against nV looked much better? What kind of Rogue would we have seen if Renegades wins Illios and sends you to LA?

We actually had a bad period for various reasons such as too slow adaptation to the meta changes, lack of training with bad conditions for playing. I think we would have come back in better form and mind for the playoffs.



Despite Rogue’s recent struggles, your Winston stats are still marvellous. Among main tanks with over 45 minutes on the hero, you are leading the stats especially because of your ability to get the important first kill in the fight without sacrificing said advantage the least. (#2 in First Kills after ironically Kolsti with 11.52%, #1 First death with 6.62%). Your kill share is also the second highest. How would you yourself evaluate your individual performance on the hero this season? Do the stats tell an accurate story?

Overall, I think I had a good performance in Contenders S1 NA. These statistics accurately reflect my style of play which is always to exert pressure on the opponent or an assault on a target while always trying to stay alive. Exerting constant pressure on the opponent using mobility, Winston’s shield, and protecting myself is, in my opinion, the most optimal playstyle. I never try to get a frag if I see a risk of dying afterwards. Only in a few special cases would I take a voluntary risk of dying to force an opponent’s ultimate and gain an advantage over the next fight or to create maximum space for the DPS (eg. a Dragonblade Genji).


Let’s dive into the mind of “Winston – Science in the soul”. Winston seems to be one of those characters that on the surface don’t look particularly mechanically demanding. In beta the phrase “no brain – no aim – Winston main” became popular. As the game developed, specifically the first accusation seems to be preposterous. Winston’s ability to influence fights is huge and the player’s ability to take in as many factors as possible and then process them and come up with a decision looks challenging to say the least. Is Winston the Stephen Hawking of heroes, requiring an extremely cerebral and complex playstyle with little mechanical ability? Or are there things that are hard to execute and he simply gets a bad reputation because of his Tesla gun? Also, is Winston the hero that fits your playstyle and talents the best?

The mechanics of Winston are not very complex to execute, of course the Tesla Gun doesn’t require good aim. Still, it takes some time to master the Jump Pack to its maximum potential. Indeed it is mainly the decision-making that will determine the impact of the player, thanks to good jump- and shield timings. Also, a good knowledge of the maps is required in order to make the best use of the right positions. Winston is a hero that fits perfectly with my aggressive and dynamic style of play, as he’s always in the middle of the action.

Winston’s Barrier Projector and the decisions you need to make in order to use it effectively seems to be one of the hardest things to do well while playing Winston. Is there a general mindset or rule of thumb for what you want your bubble to achieve when you place it? How do you decide when and where to use it?

There are no general rules on the use of Winston’s Barrier Projector. For each situation, the barrier can help protect his team from damage, protect himself, block control skills (Flashbang, Earthshatter, Hook, Sleep etc.) or even block the opponent’s heal abilities. Depending on the game plan we employ, I will use my shield to optimize the chances of taking a kill (i.e. I would shield on the target which is getting focused) or give to my team the advantage by protecting them from taking damage.

Control your temper

There has been a sort of divide in how Winston’s use their Primal Rage. Some try to frag by often getting people into corners and chipping away or generally chasing supports. Some others consistently use it to deny DPS ultimates and protect their supports like for example Fragi, who still performs quite well but only has 0.157 kills per ultimate which is not even half of yours. You have the third highest kills per ult at 0.404 kills per ultimate in Contenders, suggesting you are part of the first group. What is your thought process when using your ultimate? What do you think is the most important part Primal rage: the second bigger health bar, your increased offensive capabilities with more jumps and DPS or a way to peel, make space and to stall?

I don’t have a set overall goal to use Primal Rage. Depending on the situation, it will be more useful to use it to take frags when the focus on me is not too threatening (with a Discord Orb plus two players, I could die very quickly). To push people off the map, to force the ultimates of the enemy supports and then to come back to save my team, to counter the opponent’s ultimate (such as Dragonblade for example), to stagger and to contest a point if you can retake after are all viable uses for Primal Rage. The most important part of Primal rage is the way to peel, make space and stall.

How much of your play is reacting to what the enemy does and how much is executing a plan? Do you play Winston while constantly thinking “if Y happens, I will do X” or do decisions just intuitively come to you? Do you think either style is possible?

I often think up a plan before each fight in accordance with my team’s strategy. Sometimes I inform my team about my aggressive or defensive game plan in advance with information such as the target, so the DPS and Offtank know what’s up. Then, during the combat phase, I take a reduced reflection time to make the right decisions while being reactive otherwise. Sometimes I play with my intuition if I feel a good opportunity, for example if the opponent makes a positioning error or if a target is low or if I can make a “play” with my Primal Rage. The decision-making is a very important part of Overwatch, playing only on your instinct is risky and might affect the whole team play. That’s why with Winston, you must be aware of the situation before jumping. Even with a well-placed shield, a death can happen very quickly.


Who do you feel you are playing against in the current meta? Is there a specific champion you feel you need to outplay and if you do that you are likely to win the fight? Or do you think of it as playing against an entire team that you need to outplay in your role?

In this Meta, I have to take care of Zenyatta because of the Discord Orb could punish me if I get focused (even if I’m in primal rage), so this is my priority target most of the time. Same for Ana, if you do well to counter her sleep and Biotic Grenade, I can easily get the frag.  Also, I can be punished by D.Va if I have no shield or jump. I will try to avoid her by sometimes just running to get my jump back then focus someone else. In some situations, you can just outplay the opposing Winston by focusing him with a better shield timing, then chase down him when he tries to get back to his team. In most cases, you have to remind yourself that 2-6 guys could try to shut you down, so yes, this is when you have to outplay the entire enemy team.

Someone asks you to create the perfect Winston player in the world as an RPG character. You are allowed to spend 10 skill points and there are no limits as to how many you can spend in each category as long as the total sum is 10.

Aim/Mechanical skill – 2 points

Game sense – 6 points

Shot calling – 2 points


Complete the sentence.

This is your time to take revenge. In his interview SoOn completed the sentence KnOxXx is the most…” with:

“…French guy in the team, drinking coffee every morning, and most salty guy ever :D”

So here you go. SoOn is the most…

American guy on the team, eating burger every day with his thug cap :p

KnOxXx was kind enough to provide sources:

#avecle6 at the World Cup…

…will be an honor.


A Winston player I’ve played against who really impressed me…

…was FaTe.

This was part 6 of the “Essence of Heroes”. You can find the last part “Reinhardt – Be the shield they need” with Reinforce here. 



If you liked this, maybe buy me a beer?