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Lessons from the HGC Week 2

by - 1 year ago

Welcome back to Lessons from the HGC, where we study the competitive scene to look for ways that we can improve our own games.

It is important to note that HGC games are currently being played on the Zul’jin patch, which means none of the reworks, buffs, or nerfs that were a part of the Valeera patch are in the build they are playing on. This is relevant because Tassadar continues to be a highly valued Hero, with an incredibly high ban and win rate. It also explains why no one is riding around on the sweet Golden Rooster mount.

His Time Has Come

Artanis has long had a loyal following of devoted players patiently waiting for him to rise to the top of the Meta. That day has finally arrived, at least in North America.

What makes Artanis such a threat is the playmaking potential of Phase Prism, especially when combined with Graviton Vortex at Level 13. While his win rate is hovering around the 50% mark, quite a few of the highlights from the first two weeks of HGC action involve Artanis swaps.

One of the challenges that solo queue players face is getting five random strangers to all focus on the same target. A good Artanis swap takes the guess work out of target selection, as just about anyone can figure out to attack the enemy Hero who just magically appeared in the middle of their team. Whether it is the HGC or Silver Hero League, a well timed Phase Prism followed by some type CC usually results in a 5-4 advantage.

As the game stands now, Artanis is the kind of Hero that you can make a climb with. Consider adding him to your roster, and at the very least you should learn how to play with and against him. If you are playing with an Artanis be ready to use crowd control abilities to lockdown targets after he lands a swap. If you are playing against an Artanis, be sure to keep a mental timer on Phase Prism’s sixteen second cooldown. You should always be stutter stepping and dodge abilities like Blade Dash and Phase Prism by moving from side to side, rather than directly away from Artanis.

Doubling Down on Warriors

With the rise of off-tank Heroes such as Artanis, Dehaka, and Zarya, the Double Warrior Meta has taken over the HGC. Of the 45 games played over the weekend, 37 featured at least one Double Warrior comp, and in 18 games both teams played Double Warrior. Anytime something becomes such a dominant part of the competitive scene you can expect to see it trickle down to your games as well.

The first step to making Double Warrior work in a solo queue environment is communication. If you pick a Hero like Varian or Dehaka early, let your team know if you plan to tank or go more of a bruiser role. Likewise, if someone else drafts one of these Heroes you need to find out how they are planning to play them. Avoid confrontation or judgment, just say something like “Hey Varian, how are you planning to build? Do we need to pick up a 2nd Warrior?” This will help your team make informed decisions during the draft and avoid finding out after the game loads that Varian only plays Colossus Smash.

The second step is to make sure your team still has enough damage to actually kill something in a team fight, which usually means burst damage. Double Warrior comps can do well in prolonged fights, but it still helps to have Heroes who can strike fear into the enemies by dealing big chunks of damage or who can finish off that enemy Hero who is at 20% health.

Missing in Action

Several Heroes, including former Meta powerhouses, have yet to make their HGC debut. The list of Heroes who have not been picked once thru two weeks of HGC play include:

  • Chen
  • Gazlowe
  • Kael’thas
  • Murky
  • Nova
  • Raynor
  • Samuro
  • Sonja
  • The Butcher
  • Tyrande
  • Zagara

What does this mean and how does it affect you?

For starters, when a Hero isn’t seeing play in competitive it is usually because there are other Heroes who fill the same role and do it better. Sonja is a perfect example of this. While she was once the go to bruiser, other Heroes like Artanis, Dehaka, and even Thrall either perform better in that role or have other tools that Sonja lacks. This doesn’t mean that they are bad Heroes or aren’t viable in HL or TL, it just means that you should at least be aware of the possibility that they are not the best option available. You may be limited by which Heroes you own, or which Heroes you play well, but you should continually be looking to improve your roster whenever possible. This might mean saving up your gold to buy a certain Hero next or you may just need to take time to practice and improve with a Hero you already own if it is currently strong in the Meta.

This weekend’s HGC play should continue to provide valuable lessons for those willing to learn them. Not only are there several high profile match ups in NA and EU, but this weekend will also provide our first look at the Korean HGC as well. Whether you watch live or catch the VOD’s, check out the official Heroes eSports page to keep up with another busy weekend of HGC action.

Many of the stats in this article were compiled using information from masterleague.net

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Lee Vaughn

Lee has been playing Blizzard games since the 90's and Heroes of the Storm since the Tech Alpha. If he isn't playing a Blizzard game he is probably tweeting about one.