It’s tough being a Pyro. Not in the same way that it’s tough being a Spy in a competitive environment or being a lone Medic in a team full of Snipers, but in a more philosophical way. People rage at Pyros no matter what they do, forgetting the ease at which they can fuck up the enemy team, forgetting the utility a Pyro can bring and forgetting that Pyros can extinguish fires so stop running away dammit!
Of course, Pyros are appreciated in some ways. Everyone would rather see a second Pyro than a second Spy, because a Pyro, no matter how crap they are, might set someone on fire or accidentally press Mouse 2 and screw over an Ubercharge or something. Alright, a crap Pyro airblasting an Ubered pair seems unlikely, but it’s possible. Even just looking from a team perspective, a bad Pyro is better than a bad Spy, Sniper or Scout. I suppose we ought to be thankful that being killed repeatedly doesn’t give anything more than a tactical advantage…
Pyros also get ranted at a lot because of their weaponry. As far as most other players are concerned, Pyros are either dumb and not a thread or they’re cheap scrubs who should play a real class. Ahem, Pyros are a class seen on the Class Select Menu. They’re a playable class. They’re just as real as you Scouts, Soldiers and Demomen. A quick note, Engineers and Heavies are real classes too. Medics are just imaginary though. They don’t really exist and neither do I. Anyway, a Pyro’s load out often corresponds with how players will treat the Pyro. Use the Phlogistinator and get called a “useless non-airblasting scumbag”, use the Flare Gun and get called a fool, use the Backburner and get called a “stupid Spy wannabe”, use the Degreaser and you’re cheap. If you use the Reserve Shooter, you’re automatically the cheapest cheap person in cheap down. Use stock like I do and just get called a newbie. While I do feel that using the Degreaser and the Reserve Shooter together does seem a tad unfair, to the point that I’m being whacked over the head with a flamethrower rather than an axe, the issue is that Pyros don’t really have that much choice.
Well, actually, they do have a lot of choice, as Pyros have a LOT of weapons. Problem is they’re all variants of the same thing: setting things on fire in an inefficient way, then killing them in a slightly less inefficient way. So no wonder that most Pyros will flock to using the most efficient way of killing people, the Degreaser/Axtinguisher combo. And no wonder they’ll proceed to make their lives even easier by using the Reserve Shooter.
But Pyros need skill too. Alright, occasionally, you’ll be killed by a newbie Pyro, but occasionally you’ll be killed by any newbie, no matter how great you are, since newbies are unpredictable and not even they know what they are going to do next. There is skill there though. The flamethrower is incredibly unreliable, especially if you have more than 150 ping. It’s not properly lag compensated, the particles you see on-screen don’t match where your flames actually are and it’s pretty easy to extinguish being on fire. A Pyro has to get up and close in the first place just to set you on fire, avoiding all your mid-to-long range damage in doing so. Yes, they can heckle you with the odd shotgun blast or the odd flare, but their main source of damage (to a Pyro anyway) is in their flamethrower. Then again, they’ll just whack you with their Axtinguisher once they set you on fire.
Problem is, people hate being killed by the Axtinguisher. It’s not actually the fault of the Axtinguisher, more the fault of the insane weapon switch speed of the Degreaser. So we end up with a conundrum: Pyros can use other weapons and get complained at for being sub-optimal, or they can use the more optimal load out and get called cheap. There’s little Pyros can do about this though.
As I said, damned if you do, damned if you don’t.