What a weekend of HGC action! We found out which six teams will be representing Europe and North America at the Western Clash and we got our first look at professional play on the Valeera patch. Although Valeera herself only made a brief cameo (3 games), there was a noticeable change in the Meta as a result of the patch change.
For starters, Tassadar was played or banned in 77% of the games played over the weekend. While this may sound high, he had been at 94% on the old patch. Malfurion continued to be a fixture in every game. Literally every game! Of the 75 games played over the weekend Malfurion was either picked or banned in every single one. Although his win rate was only 47% it still goes to show how much value the top players feel he has.
Of Heroes who were played in at least ten games, Ragnaros (71%), Tyrael (68%), Rehgar (67%), Johanna (64%), Muradin (63%), Zarya (62%), and Diablo (60%) all had win rates of over 60%. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Jaina (18), Thrall (28%), ETC (29%), Kharazim (35%), and Valla (35%) were played in at least ten games and all had win rates under 40%.
There had been a few isolated Sgt. Hammer sighting in the previous weeks, especially once play began in the Korean region, but she is officially moved into the spotlight after this weekend’s performance. After having only been picked 13 times in the first three weeks, Sgt. Hammer was picked in 22 games in Week 4 and her impact was noticeable. She posted a solid 55% win rate and even drew a few bans. She was put to particularly good use by Fan in Gale Force eSport’s 3-0 sweep of previously undefeated Tempo Storm. Pay special attention to how careful Fan is with his positioning before going into Siege mode and how he uses terrain and obstacles to hide his location.
Expect to see an influx of Hammer players as a result of this weekend’s games. If you are playing with a Hammer, protect her as much as possible and fight within her range. If you are fighting against a Hammer you want to avoid fighting within her circle of death until you are prepared to dive on her. It also helps to have a double tank comp so that your team is beefy enough to soak up damage while moving in to engage the Hammer
One of the hallmarks of competitive play is the solo laner. This is the Hero who takes a lane by himself, while the other four Heroes on his team rotate between the two other lanes. Since most teams use this same strategy, the solo laner for each team often find themselves facing off for control of the same lane.
Heroes like Ragnaros, Dehaka, Sonja, and Thrall are all examples of solo laners who are popular in the current Meta. While it can be hard to coordinate a four man rotation in solo queue, odds are you are going to end up with a solo laner somewhere just based on how your team chooses to deploy. If you are playing a Hero who is well suited to solo a lane, pick one and let your teammates know that you will solo that lane. This is better than leaving it to chance and ending up with Lt. Morales in a lane by herself. Heroes with global Abilities are a good choice to solo a lane because they can continue to soak XP until the last second and still make it to the Objective on time.
Back to Basics
Double Warrior and double Support comps were all the rage in the first few weeks of the HGC, but this weekend saw a shift back to the traditional one Warrior, one Support, and three Assassin comp. Not only was this composition played more often than any other type of comp, but it also posted a higher win rate (58%). While it may be tempting to try to run fancy comps like double Warrior, double Support, or even double Specialist, this is proof that sometimes you are better off sticking with the basics.
We have one more busy weekend of games before league play starts to wind down for the Western and Eastern Clashes. Although the rest of us will be receiving a new patch this week containing Lucio and the Murky rework, the pros will continue to play on the Valeera patch for a few more weeks. Even so, there will still be plenty to lessons to learn from the HGC.
*Many of the stats used in this article were compiled based on information from masterleague.net