I have long wanted to write a series of articles about Hero League. With the current season labeled as Preseason, it seemed logical to wait and time the articles to the kickoff of the first real season. Unfortunately, Dustin Browder, Game Director for Heroes of the Storm, acknowledged in a recent Gamescom interview that Preseason will last “a little bit longer”. The good news is that the patch released earlier this week did include some changes to Hero League, including a complete reset to all player Ranks. So while we are still in Preseason, it does feel like a new season now that everyone’s progress has been reset. With that in mind, it seems like a great time to start talking Hero League.
This first article will be all about what you need to do in order to prepare for Hero League. These are the things that you should do before you hit that Ready button for your first Hero League game. It is also written from the perspective of a solo queue player, as that is how many people play the game, especially when they are new.
Unlocking Hero League
There are some prerequisites to Hero League play, so the first step is working to meet those requirements. In order to be eligible for Hero League, you must reach account level 30 and own at least ten Heroes. This means that you are going to need to invest quite a bit of time, and most likely some money in preparation. There is very little way around this if you want to be playing Hero League any time in the near future.
The most difficult part of unlocking Hero League is reaching account level 30. Actually, the most difficult part is not getting frustrated because you are obsessing on reaching level 30 as fast as possible. Even with XP buffs, such as Stimpacks or Friends Bonus, it will still take you hundreds games to make it to level 30. My advice is to enjoy the game and try to learn a variety of Heroes along the way. Just let level 30 come naturally. Putting too much pressure on yourself to level quickly is just going to take the fun out of the game, and then what is the point?
As far as your Hero collection, while you need to own 10 Heroes, there is nothing stopping you from just getting the 10 cheapest Heroes possible. Not only is this cost effective, but several of these lower priced Heroes are actually quite good. If you elect not to go the economy route, you may not earn enough gold while leveling to 30 to unlock ten Heroes without spending some real money. If you are willing to spend a couple of bucks on the game, I would suggest that new players purchase a bundle or two. This gives you a nice base of Heroes to start with, and it also allows you to spend your gold to target the specific Heroes that you want. I look at this as the equivalent of buying a boxed game. Keep in mind, while you may be able to access Hero League with any ten Heroes, it doesn’t mean that you will do well. You also need to be able to fill a variety of roles, and that takes us to our next topic…
Professional teams feature players who often specialize in playing only one type of Hero. Unless you only play with the same four people, you aren’t going to be so lucky. Hero League begins with a draft phase, which we will discuss in depth in a future article. For the time being, I will simply say that you need to be prepared to fill any role that your team needs. Since you cannot have duplicate Heroes, you also need to have several options available for each role, in case your first choice isn’t available. For this reason, your roster should ideally consist of 2-3 Warriors, 2-3 Supports, and 4-5 Assassins. You don’t need to be an expert with all of these Heroes, but you do need to be comfortable playing them if you have to. You may have noticed that I didn’t mention anything about Specialists. That is because while they can be quite useful, you never actually need a Specialist. If you have them in your collection, that can be a bonus, but you can easily get started in Hero League without any Specialists.
Narrow Your Focus
Now that you know how many Heroes you should have, lets talk about how many Heroes you should actually play. This decision comes down to which Heroes are you best at, and you have to be brutally honest with yourself. Just because you like Illidan doesn’t mean you should be playing him in Hero League. Using a site like HOTSlogs, to see your actually win rate with certain Heroes, can be valuable tool.
Using this information, you should rank the different Heroes that you have for each role. Once you know who your best Warrior is, that is who you want to play each and every time you need to fill that role. The same strategy applies to Supports and Assassins as well. The only time you should ever play your second best option in Hero League is because your first choice is not available. If you want some variety, or you want to try something new, then play Quick Match. Hero League is Try Hard Mode, and that means playing your best Heroes every game. By following these guidelines you will primarily end up playing one Warrior, one Support, and two or three Assassins, and you will be great with them. You will also achieve better results than you would by having eight or nine different Heroes that you only play reasonable well.
But Tempo Storm says…
At this point some of you are probably wondering about tier lists and meta picks. For those unfamiliar with these terms, they refer to the Heroes that the community as a whole considers to be ‘the best’ at the moment. This is influenced in large part by what professional players are doing in the competitive scene. Many people will tell you, including some of your teammates during a Hero League draft, that you should only be playing top tier Heroes. They will tell you that Hero X is the best, and drafting anyone else is stupid. What most people parroting this advice fail to consider is that these meta picks are often based on having a specific combination of Heroes, along with precise communication in order to use their various abilities at just the right time. Not only do most of us not play in games with that level of coordination and team work, but we also simply aren’t as good as the pros. For those of us in the average joe category, we are better off picking the Hero that we play the best, regardless of where they may rank on someone else’s theoretical tier list. Even as you move up in skill level, this is still very sound advice.
I don’t want to completely discount tier lists, as I think they can be quite helpful if used correctly. A good way to use them is to determine which Heroes to consider adding to your collection. This doesn’t mean you should immediately put them into your Hero League rotation, but you can experiment with them in Quick Match and see how things go. Tier lists can also be helpful in identifying the Heroes that you are likely to encounter in your Hero League matches. Knowing which Heroes you might face can help you learn how to better play your Heroes against them.
Now that we have a game plan for how to get ready for Hero League, the next step is to talk about the draft. Next time we will go over the mechanics of the draft phase and the different types of factors you should consider during the drafting. GLHF!