I was fortunate enough to be a guest recently on the Nexus Trolls podcast. I had a great time doing it and one of the topics we discussed really stuck with me.
The show features a weekly strategy segment entitled Mystic’s Shakedown. In this particular episode the topic of discussion was One-Trick Ponies, or players who specialize in one particular Hero. It was inspired by the following quote from Bruce Lee.
The point is clear. It is better to be a master of one thing than to be mediocre at many. While this makes perfect sense in the real world, does it hold true in the Nexus? Is it better to be great at one Hero or to be average at many Heroes? I don’t think the answer is quite as obvious.
On the show, Mystic gave his thoughts which you can hear in the video below (there is also an awesome ode to Murky immediately after the segment, so give that a listen as well).
Now back to the question of whether it is better to be great at one Hero or average at many. It is easy to argue for either answer, but to me it all comes down to where you are on the ladder.
If you are in the Bronze, Silver, or Gold range, then I think you would be better off going the One-Trick Pony route. At those levels, how well you play your Hero is far more important than which Hero you play. Don’t worry about things like tier lists, counter picks, or map considerations. Figure out which Hero you are best with and play that Hero each and every game if possible. Pick that Hero when you have first pick. Pick that Hero when you have last pick. Pick that Hero when a teammate tells you that a different Hero would be better in your comp. Pick that Hero every time it isn’t banned or already picked.
Here are a few tips to successfully become a One-Trick Pony.
Pick a Hero that is frequently available
If you are going to put all of your time into mastering a single Hero, then you want to make sure that Hero is going to be available to play as often as possible. This means avoiding Meta Heroes. Ragnaros is a great Hero, but you’re not going to get him unless you have first pick and even then your opponent might ban him. Heroes like Raynor, Nazeebo, and Sonja are great examples of potential One-Trick Pony choices. They have solid win rates and are available in most games.
Pick a Hero that your teammates understand
Although we are focusing on making the most of our ability, this is still a team game. If you are going to be a One-Trick Pony, then you want to choose a Hero that players understand and accept. Certain Heroes throw drafts for a loop, so you want to avoid those Heroes. Everyone knows how tilting first pick Nova can be, but Heroes like Rexxar, Murky, and Tassadar can also cause a lot of confusion. Do we need another tank? Why are you never in team fights? Do we need a second Support? It doesn’t mean that these aren’t viable Heroes, but you have to keep in mind that players at the lower levels often have very limited Hero knowledge. Think twice before deciding to specialize in Heroes whose roles aren’t well defined or who have a very specific play style. You may understand why Murky never leaves his lane and seems to get killed all the time, but your teammates may not, and it could throw them off their game.
Be flexible (but only when you have to)
There will be times that you aren’t able to get your chosen Hero, but it is up to you to limit how often this happens. This may sound counter intuitive at first, but sometimes you have to be selfish to be a good teammate. Avoid the “I’ll fill” mentality; you specialized in that one Hero for a reason.
If you are a Valla One-Trick Pony, then it only stands to reason that you are a better Valla than anyone else on your team. Sometimes you have to fight for your pick. If you have third/fourth pick and someone above you is showing Valla, you need to talk them off of it. The key to doing so successfully is to avoid being a jerk about it. Politely ask if they would mind letting you play Valla. Show your master skin. Let them know that you have over 300 games played with her. Tell them about the 61% win rate you have or the five game winning streak you’re currently on. It doesn’t always work, but you can often get a person to change their pick if you ask nicely and give them a reason to believe in you.
The same goes for when you are asked to tank or heal when you are a One-Trick Pony for a different role. Just like talking someone off your Hero, the key is in how you approach it. Instead of just saying no or locking in your pick anyway, say something like, “I can tank if needed, but I’m crazy good at Gul’dan and I know I can carry us if someone else can tank”. Yes, you are putting yourself on the line with talk like this, but that is why you have been practicing that one kick 10,000 times.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you will have to pick other Heroes or fill other roles. You don’t want to be the guy who last picks an Assassin even though your team still needs a healer. At the same time, you also want to avoid having to play a different Hero as much as possible and you do so by being confident and assertive.
Whether or not to become a One-Trick Pony is a decision that each player has to make for themselves. While there is value in being able to play a variety of Heroes or fill multiple roles, most players would do well to pick a single Hero and stick with it. This is especially true for players at the lower levels and players who have limited play time.
Are you ready to saddle up?