Controlz: Sniper/Gunslinger PvP

The second installment of ticktockbebop's Controlz Sniper PvP video series showcases many of the things I love about a good SWTOR PvP video. Plenty of people have compiled highlight reels of their most glorious moments playing just about any class, but very few of them actually take the time to include commentary or annotations their videos, and thus teach by example. What a regular player like me wants to see - beyond the basics of gearing, specs, and stats talk - is a solid grasp of class gameplay mechanics and objective-oriented gameplay: ideas on how to use your class effectively to win a fight or match, especially against the odds and without a pocket healer.

I've included some notes of my own along with a transcription of ticktockbebop's annotations:

00:15 - Peel by rolling into cover + Knockback everything off
Here, Controlz uses Take Cover to quickly bridge the distance to aid to a teammate by knocking back all nearby melee opponents. With the MM sniper's added knockback range for Cover Pulse, this additionally causes an enemy player to grossly overextend away from team support, thereby isolating him for a kill.

00:28 - Escape sentinel with roll into cover
Using Take Cover rolling for mobility can be a fairly advanced maneuver because using it strategically requires remembering where the roll points are placed on the map. But this allows you to quickly create distance from melee attackers, and at a speed that they cannot match. Furthermore, being in cover prevents some gap closing techniques of your opponents from being used on you: pulls and (most) leaps.

00:41 - Diversion + Knockback, roll into cover to escape Shadow, Stun

00:59 - Flash ending, knockback out of heal range -> focus interrupt
Healer + DPS vs Controlz: Controlz waits for the resolve bar of the DPS to drain out, then he uses Cover Pulse to push the DPS out of healing range. Here is a good example of usage of focus targeting for interrupts, to prevent the Healer from aiding the DPS, while he finishes the DPS off.

01:20 - Flash shadow, knock off ball carrier, tab interrupt healer
Controlz runs ahead to his team's goal zone to head off the enemy ball carrier. An enemy shadow is already waiting as a Guardian Leap target or for a pass. Note that Controlz runs towards the Shadow to position himself for a Cover Pulse, but does so in a roundabout way, away from the platform edge, to prevent becoming a leap target for the enemy ball carrier. He saves the knockback for the ball carrier and is able to push both the ball carrier and the shadow into the pit below his team's goal platform.

Now having the high ground with pull/leap prevention is a sniper's bread and butter, but a Jedi Knight's Zealous Leap (Focus tree talented ability) ignores cover and can be used with a well-timed jump to change z-axis. At 01:31, that is exactly what happens.

01:45 - Entrench stun, Evasion HiB/Full Auto
Melee DPS (Vanguard) + Ranged DPS (Commando) vs Controlz: As the melee closes the distance, Controlz uses Entrench to prevent being stunned by Cryo Grenade or Neural Surge.

Channeled attacks are often followed up by an instant cast attack for extra burst damage (because the global cooldown triggers at the beginning of a channeled cast, so an instant attack at the end of a channeled attack will land in quick succession with the last tick of the channeled attack). Both the Vanguard and Commando are Assault-specced, and an Assault Commando has additional talents that encourage a combination of set target on fire + HiB + FA + HiB. Easy to see the setup (being set on fire or seeing Full Auto being channeled) and avoid much of this damage by using Evasion.

Interrupting Plasma Grenade instead of waiting for Full Auto was a questionable choice (PG is sometimes used to bait interrupts), but it is easier to interrupt than Full Auto, which does more damage (but if your reaction time is not fast enough to land the interrupt within the first second of the FA channel, you didn't prevent that much damage). Also, there didn't seem to be any reason for the commando to use Hail of Bolts against a single target who doesn't suffer from ability activation pushback.

02:20 Legshot, Diversion after Plasma Probe, Entrench Flashbang
To peel for his teammate the Sorcerer, who was being attacked by an enemy Sniper, he Legshots the Sniper, giving his teammate the chance to run out of shooting distance. The Sniper retaliates by laying down Plasma Probe (Engineering 31-pt talented ability), which stuns and then continues to slow the Sorc while in the area of effect. To aid his teammate further, Controlz puts Diversion on the Sniper, greatly lowering the chance that the Sniper will land any more hits on his teammate before he gets away.

While Diversioned, the Sniper takes the opportunity to move closer, so Controlz pops Entrench in anticipation of the Sniper using Flashbang on him.

Versus Carnage Marauder
  • 02:32 - Flash his break, get distance -> Legshot
  • 02:54 - Bait Saber Ward with Target Acquired/Ambush, let Legshot sit
  • 03:01 - Obfuscate = Diversion + Root Grenade, get distance -> Legshot after Saber Ward wears off
  • 03:15 - He Fears my knockback, let [knockback] root sit -> Legshot when it wears off
  • 03:25 - CC Breaker, Stun -> Flash, Legshot if he activates Undying

Constantly being in melee range for attacks is even more important to a Carnage Marauder than an Annihilation one, so the control and range of a Sniper performs strongly against them if these abilities are used properly. In a few parts of the duel, Controlz uses his control abilities to avoid the Marauder, forcing his opponent to waste (1) Fury stacks on gap closing instead of damage increase, and (2) defensive cooldowns ineffectually. Letting abilities like Legshot "sit" (i.e., last for the full duration) buys time for Saber Ward and Undying to run its course.

Note that Knights and Warriors cannot leap to you while rooted, it is generally safe to move from one cover point to another while your opponent is rooted.

03:45 - Healer needs peels, flash everything -> Knockback
Although both Flashbang and Cover Pulse generate a lot of resolve, Cover Pulse does not have a damage component to break mezzes (incapacitates) like Flashbang, so opponents remain mezzed after being knocked back. This is unlike a sorcerer's Overload or mercenary's Jet Boost knockbacks, which do a nominal amount of damage to affected targets, thereby breaking mezzes.

03:58 - Reactive Shield, switch [back] to this target when it is over
A Combat Medic specced Commando's Reactive Shield will be talented (Combat Shield) to grant pushback and interrupt immunity for its duration. This doesn't make them stun/mezz/physics (push, pull) immune though. Depending on your situation, it may be prudent to save your interrupts or focus on another target while waiting for the immunity to end.

04:09 - Their healer got no help ;(
The importance of one of the most basic aspects of teamwork is highlighted here. If you don't protect your team's healer(s), your healer can't help your team. Even as Controlz was peeling for his team's healer, the enemy team's scattered forces ignored the pressure on their own healer and let him die. That can, and often does, make the difference between holding or ceding an objective point.

Versus Focus Sentinel
  • 04:19 - Focus Sentinel, Saber Ward + Pacify, Knockback -> Flash
    Suppressive Fire hits up to three targets in an area and like other area-targeted attacks, can be used to hit enemies who have broken line of sight with obstructions.

    Pressuring the Sentinel to engage the fight and use Saber Ward and Pacify, he uses Cover Pulse's knockback/root. The Sentinel chooses to use his CC breaker to remove the root (big mistake) and Zealous Leaps to Controlz. Because the Sentinel's CC breaker is now on cooldown, he cannot break out of the Flashbang that greets his face when the leap lands (and is unable to take advantage of the auto-crit Force Sweep buff as a result).

    This affords Controlz an eight-second window to gain distance and set up an Ambush, which is followed by a Legshot and forces the Sentinel to blow another cooldown, Force Camouflage.

  • 05:05 he [breaks line of sight of] Ambush, Knockback still roots on white bar
    Even though the Sentinel has a full resolve bar and is immune to stuns, mezzes and knockbacks, Controlz uses Cover Pulse because the root effect is still applied, and quickly drops down off the edge of the stage to get out of melee and Sweep range.
  • 05:18 Flash [Guarded by the Force], kinda trolling =P
Versus Sharpshooter (Mirror Class)
  • 05:35 - Sharpshooter slinger, Diversion each other, his Flash hits through it but mine doesn't (RNG) ;(, should have waited
    Diversion decreases the hit chance of both physical and tech/force attacks, so abilities that you normally expect to always hit can miss when debuffed.
  • 05:47 - Entrench stun, Evasion Aimed Shot, Knockback to interrupt Freighter Flyby

06:09 - Interrupt Underworld Medicine = No Upper Hand procs
Underworld Medicine is not the only way to gain Upper Hand procs, however, it is the Scoundrel's strongest direct heal and most reliable generator of Upper Hand procs a Scoundrel Healer has (especially when there are no other friendlies to HoT up) and denying them that may throw them off their game when heavy pressure is applied.

06:27 - Healer in the open, Knockback

06:36 - Stun Juggernaut, Knockdown Grenade + Ballistic Shield

06:47 - Interrupt Force Choke -> Diversion Juggernaut, Flash Marauder

07:02 - Operative in trouble, Knockback -> Flash, Stun -> Legshot

07:16 - Wait for fake cast, interrupt Grav Round
Although I don't see it happening that often in SWTOR - probably due to interrupt lockouts being short and only affecting the one interrupted ability and not all of the abilities of the same school or category - fake casting is another "juking" method whereby players begin casting a non-channeled ability only to cancel it prior to completion.

For non-channeled abilities, it is useful to actually delay your interrupt as long as possible (latency withstanding) to "waste" the caster's time anyway. This will also help against fake casting.

07:34 - Focus target interrupt, Fear

07:46 - Interrupt -> Flash -> Diversion, peel with knockback, Entrench Mortar Volley
The area-of-effect damage reduction from Siege Bunker (deep MM sniper talent) is a great enhancement to Entrench, especially in PvP, where more than one popular DPS spec include strong AoE attacks.

08:02 - Legshot Guardian, Flash -> Legshot, knockback melee off healer

08:18 - Healer has a tank so doesn't need many peels, stun Master Strike, save Evasion for executes
It is an interesting choice to prioritize spending a stun on Master Strike instead of Evasion. Master Strike requires melee range, and so does your stun. Dispatch (execute) is a ranged attack, so that can be countered with a well-timed Evasion.

08:33 - He knockbacks and Sweeps into Entrench and I still almost die with heals ;(

08:44 - Legshot to get distance, refresh Dampers, knockback -> Diversion

08:58 - Resilience used so can't knockback, Legshot after Sprint so he can't break
Resilience makes Shadows immune to all tech/force attacks for its duration. But unlike most control abilities, Leg Shot (and Force Leap's root) happens to be a physical attack, thus remaining effective while Resilience is active. This is why Controlz is able to root the Shadow as the Shadow speeds past him.

Shadows specced into Mind Over Matter in the Kinetic Combat tree can break roots and slows by activating Force Speed (sprint). However, Force Speed does not make them immune to movement impairing effects, so any roots applied after Force Speed is activated will work as intended.

09:14 - Root grenade doesn't give resolve, knock them off
The Root grenade is a family of Cybertech crafted bombs:

Unlike Knockdown grenades (V-1 Seismic Grenade), single-use versions of the root grenades may be considered cost-prohibitive to craft or buy. Even if you are not a Cybertech, you should consider carrying a few stacks of knockdown grenades as an extra control ability for PvP.

Versus Concealment Operative
  • 09:33 - Concealment operative, stand on ledge to break up opener
    Hidden Strike, which is the concealment operative stealth opener, is usually talented (Jarring Strike, high in the Concealment tree) to knock its target down for 1.5 seconds, but it also pushes them forward slightly (away from the operative, in the direction they are facing). By positioning yourself at the edge of a drop, you can use the drop to space out the operative's opening burst, buying enough time for HS's knockdown to wear off.
  • 09:43 - Get distance with Flash, he saves his [cc breaker] for stun
    Operatives can actually remove Legshot roots with Toxin Scan, although we don’t see this opponent doing that.
  • 09.55 - Recuperate in Entrench to prevent reopener
    When the operative uses Cloaking Screen, both of you will drop combat, which is why Controlz is able to use Recuperate mid-fight.
  • 10:07 - Omg fighting off the node!!!! didn't call incoming!!! =P

10:22 - Entrench, Legshot carrier in Orbital, knock off + stun

10:44 - Legshot's great when it doesn't randomly deflect, hehe

10:57 - Legshot marauder, line of sight Whirlwind, stop cap
Here's an example objective-oriented multitasking, including taking a dangerous melee opponent out of the fight by interfering with his ability to pursue one's teammates.

11:06 - Entrench Whirlwind, knockback root Marauder, interrupt heal

11:21 - Flash healer, stun -> Legshot Marauder, interrupt heal

11:33 - Diversion Marauder, knock them off sorc, Flash [enemy] healer

11:47 - Interrupt heal, Orbital + Ballistic Dampers on top of sorc (PTs kill their healer instantly)
In PvP, Orbital Strike is often used for area denial. Discourage melee from attacking you by parking yourself in your own Orbital Strike zone, or lay it on top of a friendly healer. In Void Star, it is sometimes used to protect the door from being capped.

12:06 - Orbital + stun on tank Guardian

12:26 - Refresh Ballistic Dampers after Ballistic Shield, Diversion slinger's cooldowns

12:30 - Stop cap, Legshot Sentinel, knockback root other

12:47 - (didn't see op's stun in time) Legshot until dot fades -> Flash, dpsing into Saber Ward because I'm bad ;(

13:02 - Flash -> interrupt, Orbital damage is retarded lol

13:25 - Knockback Sentinel off sorc -> stun

13:58 - Interrupt healer -> Flash -> interrupt, peel with knockback

14:21 - Wait for Unremitting to end before knockback
Some Guardians take the Unremitting talent in the Vigilance tree (usually tank hybrids, and occasionally Focus dps hybrids), which makes them immune to interrupts, stuns, mezzes, roots, and slows for 4 seconds after a Force Leap.

14:32 - Legshot -> Flash Guardian