I recently started playing more and more Pharah after two years when previously, most of my experience with her was in Mystery Heroes. Wanting to give her more of a chance and to widen my hero pool, I took some lessons from Fareeha, a high-level, Canadian Pharah player, through a class as part of a community I’m in, the Death Blossoms.
If you don’t know Fareeha from her stream, you may know her from an album of Overwatch-themed Christmas songs such as “Let Them Die” and “Hey There Mercy” she released last holiday season. Both a talented player and musician, while streaming she gives tips as she plays, often breaks into song, and is unapologetically gay in her quips and remarks.
With changes coming very soon to Pharah, I wanted to get Fareeha’s thoughts on what they meant for the aerial hero, but also wanted to get to know more about this awesome streamer in regards to her both her life and how streaming fits into it.
You’ve been streaming for the better part of a year now. What did you do before that?
Before this, I used to do a lot with music. I used to do freelance gigs for weddings and restaurants, I’d go improvise music on the piano and sing if they wanted that. I definitely have a lot of stories from that. The jobs were getting harder and harder to get because everyone just wants a DJ now. I haven’t done it in months. Just full-time streaming now.
You have quite an extensive background in music. Was there anything that set you down that path?
It was kind of forced on me, but thankfully it was something I kind of liked. It was all I knew for years, just get up and play music for eight hours, do other stuff, play more, repeat.
Is there anything you’d like to do with your love of music as a career?
I want to bring it into my content creation a little bit more. If I could just find the time to actually produce some songs, it would be super cool because I do have some ideas for themes for different heroes in Overwatch, not just the parodies I’ve done before. It would be so, so cool to realize them, but they take so much work, like a full week of work to finish one song alone.
Last year you did a few Overwatch-themed songs to the tune of some Christmas classics, do you have any more in store for this holiday season?
I absolutely do! I sang a few previews on the stream a couple of days ago, and I still have to come up with a few other ideas, but I don’t know if I could ever top “Mercy Baby.”
You could do that “Torby Baby” song.
Let’s talk about the incoming Pharah herself and the upcoming changes.
Could you describe your Pharah playstyle?
My Pharah play style is a lot more aggressive because, well it’s not just aggressive, I don’t just press W and nothing else, it’s constantly pressing the enemy for weak links in their armor, and constantly trying to find little mistakes and details I can exploit. Like if I see the Ana toss her Biotic Grenade from all the way in the backline or I see the yellow bars on her tanks, it means now she doesn’t have that sustain for herself, and I can go on a flank in the next six seconds and kill her. It’s just little things like that. I’m always pushing for those things, so if I know that’s where the Ana’s positioned, I’m going to try to force it out by damaging her or her tanks a lot, and then go take her out.
Things like this makes more opportunities for your team, it lets you win more fights without ultimate use, and it doesn’t make you rely too much on your other DPS not being a bot. [laughter] The team who’s able to go aggro on the other team’s mistakes first will win out on a fight. The team who uses their ultimates first will win out on the fight. Aggro plays like that- I feel I can get away with on Pharah because of her mobility. Otherwise, she’s so squishy.
If they were to give her some more mobility, I’d be so down for that. Maybe a second Concussion Blast cooldown, or some way to earn a faster one would be super cool. Say if you were to hit a direct rocket, if that could reduce your Conc [Concussion Blast] cooldown by 1 second or 2 seconds. I think that would be such good counter play against snipers, too, instead of having to rely on cheese flanks and them being dumb, you can just straight up outplay them.
People’s argument against that is “if she can earn a cooldown, you can’t predict it.” and it’s like, do you really predict Junkrat’s mines? Do you ever say, “Oh Junkrat has one mine right now?” Nobody knows! Nobody tracks that.
Blizzard said they wanted to change her kit to reduce how much of a threat she is for players in low tiers of play, and to make her more rewarding for those at higher skill levels. Do you feel the changes reflect that?
[Note, you can brush up on those Pharah changes here.]
I feel they’re a step in the right direction. I know a lot of people want to hear a definitive, “Yes it’s a nerf,” “Yes it’s a buff,” and I know everyone has different opinions on that. Some think they’re an overall nerf because they think you still need time to line up your shots, you can’t just fire outright, but I see it a little bit differently. If you factor in the fact that even though your splash damage is a bit worse, her fire rate is so much faster to compensate for that. Tanks are big, tanks are easy to direct [hit], so if you just realize that, it makes Pharah much more of a valid counter against Winston/D.Va, or just any tank in general.
A lot of people are really concerned about the splash damage change. They keep saying that, “You realize that Pharah’s biggest kill potential is one direct and the full spash,” but people don’t realize how rare that is. You get one direct on someone and then they get healed, and then they get healed again. It’s so much more nuanced than just hitting those two shots because when you factor in team play, when you factor in the existence of Zarya bubbles and Defense Matrix—that kind of occurrence is so rare anyway, and on the flip side, if you’re in a position where you can actually two tap someone, having to use a third rocket isn’t that rare even now with the live patch, and it wouldn’t hurt much.
As we mentioned, you have a different playstyle from a lot of Pharah players, where you tend to be more aggressive and flanky. These changes seem to fit your playstyle than the traditional, “Shoot from a distance and hope.”
Yes! I agree. I think it’s definitely good for a certain playstyle, and thankfully mine lines up with that one.
On to other topics, have you ever considered playing for a team, be it amatuer or pro level?
I had a run-in with another team and while most of the people there were so nice and so humble, and they were just great people to play and practice with, there’s certain amounts of team drama that just can’t be avoided and I’d rather not deal with it. Plus the set scrim schedule would always get in the way of my streams, so that was another factor in the whole thing.
Do you ever feel the burnout from streaming Overwatch?
[laughter and long sighs ensue for 10 seconds] Let me just put it this way. I was writing out my schedule for the month ahead and I actually had to go through the entire thing and count to see if I had enough Overwatch streams, because I did not. All I had scheduled were spoopy games for Halloween, and some Assassin’s Creed, because that’s going to be gay.
I’m honestly extremely sick of the trolls. I love the game, but the community, I wouldn’t say it’s getting to me, but it’s definitely not what I bargained for. I have people actually creating accounts and slandering my name with them by throwing and just being general a-holes to other people in-game, all under the guise that it’s me. I have people coming in to target me on Discord and Twitter, and YouTube, and it’s just so much. You just get so much shit being a content creator. Even if you do everything ‘right’, which is completely impossible because you’re going to do wrong by somebody, no matter what you do, even if you try your best to be in the right, be a decent person, there’s always going to be someone who attacks you, be it they just don’t like you, they don’t like your style, if they’re jealous. That’s another thing. A lot of people seem to think that success is finite, and the mindset that ‘if some other person has it, then I can’t, so it means I have to attack them and bring them down a notch so there’s more for success for me.’ It’s such a destructive way of thinking.
So you’re playing more than Overwatch this month [October], do you want to make that more of a normal thing? To become a variety streamer?
I do. I really, really do, but it’s a long road ahead because I grinded to where I am right now by being pretty much an Overwatch one-trick, and people are used to that. My viewers, they say, “We’re going to watch you no matter what you play,” but that’s not always true. It’s a completely different grind to just go to the variety end of things because you really do have to make sure people are there for you, your personality, and the way you play through games. It’s just a way harder thing to grind out, and it’s just something that takes time.
Do you feel you have an entertainment personality versus normal, off-air Fareeha?
I feel like it isn’t that different. At times I’ll have certain ways about thinking about things, like certain ways about hyping things up, and it’s really not too different from what I do in real life. In real life I’d probably be even less filtered even, but it’s give or take here and there. Just adhere to TOS and all that stuff.
On your stream we see your grandmother bring you things while you’re on-air. How does your family view your streaming?
My grandmother is such a sweetheart. She’s bringing me hot water refills and all that stuff. I ask her not to but she’s so insistent.
Up until summer this year, I was absolutely sure I had kept this whole streaming thing a secret from them, because they did not approve of gaming. I would frequently get emails and texts from my mother saying, “If I catch you gaming, you’re out of the house.” She wasn’t kidding because I have gotten kicked out once, and that was not fun. I thought I had kept this a secret because they rarely brought it up and when they did, we’d have a fight about it and that’s all and it’d be okay. For the longest time that that was an unacceptable part I couldn’t really talk to her about, or anyone for that matter, and I could only tell them when I was actually successful and actually had something to show them.
We had a talk in summer and she said something like, “You know what, Fareeha. I’ve known all this time about your stream,” and I was like, Oh shit! I’m in for it now. I’m there and I’m sweating, and bracing myself for what she’s going to say next. She lowered her tone. She said, “Fareeha. I raised you to be a smart girl. I raised you to be resourceful and spent all that money on all these classes for you to nurture your talents and become a better person.” I was like, Is she guilt tripping me now? What is this? She went on, “I know what you’ve been doing for the past almost year… but I trust that you know what’s best for yourself, and I know you’re a smart girl. If you think this is the right way to go, then I support you.
When I heard those words, I was like Oh my god. I’d never heard her say those words before. I had to fight tooth and nail to even just convince her that there was a life for me beyond just pursuing post-secondary after high school, because everyone seems to have this mentality where they think you have to go get that degree or you’re just a worthless husk, and that’s completely untrue.
Coming up, will you be at TwitchCon?
I’m going to be at TwitchCon for all three days and I believe there is a [REDACTED] event I will be taking part of for [REDACTED] for an issue close to my heart. I think it’s going to be lots of fun!
Note: The redactions were due to Fareeha being uncertain how much she can say about the upcoming events at TwitchCon.
Are you going to be staying an extra week in the States to attend BlizzCon?
From what I can tell, yes! I’m going to document the whole thing, and it’ll also a work kind of thing. It’ll be really cool to see the Overwatch World Cup finals.
I want to give a huge thank you to Fareeha for taking the time to sit down with me.
You can follow the interviewer, Sabriel Mastin (a.k.a. Miko/Sabriality), on her Twitter profile here.