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Lessons From The HGC Week 3

by - 1 year ago

Another weekend of intense HGC action means another opportunity to look to the pros for ways that we can improve our own games.

One of the greatest parts of the HGC is that each region has its own distinct style of play and Hero prioritization. In addition to games from NA and EU, this weekend also brought us our first look at the Korean HGC. Considering that every Global HGC event with the exception of Blizzcon 2015 has been won by a Korean team, there is a lot to be learned from watching how our Korean Overlords play.

Long Live the King!

Varian saw a notable uptick in play this last weekend. North America had already been featuring a fair amount of Varian, but several Korean teams also drafted comps featuring the Alliance King. EU even got in on the action by picking Varian four times over the weekend after only picking him three times in the first two weeks combined. Team 8 is particularly bullish on Varian and picked him in all five of their games versus Tempo Storm.

Despite this growing popularity, Varian’s win rate in the HGC is hovering around the 50% mark. What is noteworthy is that each and every time Varian has been picked Taunt has been the Heroic of choice. Varian is also doing significantly better as a Solo Warrior than he is in Double Warrior comps. Since his release there has been an ongoing discussion about whether Varian is main tank material. Based on what we are seeing from the Pros, the answer is yes.

Much like Phase Prism on Artanis, Taunt has become a playmaking ability for teams. A well timed Taunt, combined with follow up CC is usually enough to secure a kill, which means a 4v5 fight in favor of the Varian team. Since Varian has limited crowd control options, especial prior to Level 10, have teammates that are able to bring CC is a must. In addition to Taunt, there were several other Talent choices that were consistent across multiple regions. Lion’s Maw at Level 1, Warbringer at Level 4, and Banner of Ironforge at Level 13 were a part of every winning Varian build. NA had success with Live by the Sword at Level 7, but EU had their best results with Second Wind.

A common trick the pros are employing is to combine Varian with Medivh for unexpected portal ganks. Again, Varian’s results have been mixed so far but it does provide the playmaking potential that competitive teams look for.

Timing is Everything

One of the common pitfalls that average players fall into is ineffective use of Mercenary Camps. There is often little thought given to the timing of when Merc Camps are captured, which can lessen their effectiveness. In some cases it can even make capturing them in the first place a complete waste of time.

There are many variables that go into when you should take Mercenaries, who should take Mercenaries, and what you should do after you take Mercenaries. In fact, this could easily be the subject of an entire article, but for now we are going to focus on one example that frequently occurs in HGC games.

Mercenary Camps provide great value when the enemy team has to decide between dealing with them or doing something else. A great example of this is when an Objective is about to spawn. Capturing a Merc Camp or two right before this happens can give your team a significant advantage. Any time you can force your opponent to make a decision there is a chance they will make a mistake. This chance is magnified in a solo queue setting where not only does one person have to make the right decision, but four other people have to also come to that same conclusion. If your enemy decides to defend against the mercs, your team gains an advantage on the Objective. If your enemy decides to ignore the mercs and focus on the Objective, your team gets uncontested lane push. If your enemy decides to split, which they often do, your team has the potential to win an odd man team fight and really snowball the advantage.

Some players have a great internal clock and based on experience can ‘feel’ when an Objective is about to spawn. They instinctively know when it is time to hearth back in preparation for the Objective and almost never report late or at half health. However, other players, even experienced ones, have trouble keeping track of Objective timers. They rely on the in-game notifications to know when an Objective is about to occur, and as a result they often struggle to arrive at Objectives on time and with full resources.

Whether you fall into the former group or the later, Nexus Master is an excellent resource. This site has a wealth of information for each map, including details for how and when Objectives spawn. Even players well versed in map knowledge are likely to find a thing or two they didn’t know hidden in the pages of this site.

Little Things Mean a Lot

The pros do a lot of things better than the average player, that’s why they are pros. They have better mechanical skills, they have faster reflexes, they have a deeper understanding of draft strategy, they have better map awareness. The list goes on and on, but one of the biggest things that top players do better than average players is very subtle and often goes overlooked. They are simply more efficient.

There are countless examples of this in every HGC game. They mostly use auto attacks to clear minion waves as opposed blowing their cooldowns and wasting mana by using abilities (How are you going to kill that Valla that just overextended if you don’t have mana or your abilities are on cooldown?). They don’t instinctively hearth back just because they are at half health after winning a team fight (The entire enemy team is dead, how much health do you need?). They don’t defend what is already lost (The mercs are going to destroy the Fort before you get there, why are you riding top to defend it?). And my favorite example, they don’t waste time moving around an obstruction when they have the range to attack over it!

A common example of this involves Mercenary Camps. A team will have one or two Heroes working on a Mercenary Camp when another ranged Hero decides to help. Rather than waste valuable seconds going around the bushes or walls, they position themselves so that they can attack over them. Not only does this help capture the Merc Camp faster, but it can also provide other benefits such as vision and lane experience.

This may not sound like much, but little things like this are what separate the good players from the great players. Regardless of whether you are playing in the Open Division or Bronze Hero League, being more efficient is an easy way to dramatically improve your game. You just have to be aware of your actions. It can also be helpful to occasionally watch your replays. You will probably be very surprised at all the little things that you do each and every game that waste valuable time.

What will the next weekend of HGC action teach us? There is only one way to find out and that is to come back Wednesday for the next installment of Lessons from the HGC.

*Many of the stats used in this article were compiled based on 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.