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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Heroes of the Storm Guide - My $0.02 to climbing ranks in Hero League and other things [by Srey]

Quick intro: My name is Srey. I've played Heroes of the Storm since December 2014 and before that I played League of Legends for 4 years. I'm currently the #1 player in Quick Match and #8 player in Hero League. I currently write Hero guides for Icy-Veins.com's Hero section. If you haven't heard of them, they provide top quality guides for Blizzard games, including World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Diablo 3, and Heroes of the Storm, so I suggest you check them out if you're interested in any of those games.

With over 1,000 games played, I've played Hero League quite a bit. In fact, it's basically all that I play these days. I almost never play Quick Match or Team League anymore. I find that in Quick Match, the team comps are horribly composed and both teams lack a support 80% of the time. Team League doesn't suffer from poor team comps, but the queues are regularly 10 minutes, the games are a stomp (one way or the other), and it requires you to always queue with 4 other people. Hero League takes the best elements of both queues. The queue times are never longer than 6 minutes, you almost always have a decent team comp (3 DPS, 1 Tank, 1 Sup), and the games are the least stompy out of the 3 queues. However, Hero League isn't without it's own problems. By far, my biggest complaint (like many of you) is that Hero League allows for premade parties of all sizes, including 5 people. There is absolutely no legitimacy to Ranked play if you can match up against a full, 5 man team (in VoIP) when you are playing alone or with a friend. Blizzard has tweaked its matchmaking, but this still happens all of the time, especially at higher levels of play. Hero League should limit party sizes to a maximum of 2 players. When Blizzard releases the Grandmaster rank in the coming months, its reception will largely rest on how the Ranked queue is handled.

Now, on to Hero League. As I mentioned, I have over 1,000 games played in this mode, but I also have nearly a 70% win rate (706/311, W/L). More importantly, I almost never play with a premade of 4 or 5 people. Below are the steps I take to maximize my chance to win. In order, they are:
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  • Play with 1 or 2 good players/friends
The ideal party size is 3. This will give you the largest impact over the game, while limiting your chance of encountering premades of 4 or 5 people on the enemy team. Between the 3 of you, you are able to cover all 3 roles, DPS, Tank, and Support, guaranteeing that your team will, at the very least, have a solid team comp. Additionally, the players not in your party are much more inclined to listen to your groups calls since they are the minority, significantly increasing your coordination without even having to do anything. Playing in a duo is fine as well, you will most likely run into an enemy team composed of 2-2-1 or 1-1-1-2 groups, rather than 3-2 that will be the norm when you are in a party of 3. Being able to rely on just a single ally not only makes the game easier, but it also increases your morale, something that is extremely undervalued in regards to winning.

Once you begin playing in a group of 4, you have a MUCH higher chance of running into a premade group of 5. What's the problem with that? 5 stacks (and 4 stacks to a lesser extent) are likely to be much more coordinated than any other sized party, due to them likely being in voice chat and listening to each other's calls in game. If you are playing in a group of 5, you are putting yourself at a significant disadvantage to the enemy team if you aren't in comms and communicating.
Playing solo is by far the worst way to play in my opinion. Heroes of the Storm is not League of Legends, and it is built on teamwork, far more than any other MoBA. You cannot carry the game by yourself (most of the time...), nor can you even guarantee that all the roles on your team will be filled.
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  • Draft OP "meta" Heroes and/or synergies
There is likely to be push-back to this point, but picking Heroes that are considered strong will increase your win rate. Not only does it give your team an advantage, it prevents the OTHER team from picking them and gaining the advantage. If you (somehow) manage to draft Kael'thas, Jaina, and Zeratul, your chance to win is already over 55%, and you haven't even entered the game! Yes, I know that you really love Sonya, but she just doesn't fit in with the 3 melee Heroes that we already have. YES. I know that you want to play Illidan really badly, but is that really the best idea when we don't even have a Healer?! I get it, Tank isn't your best role, but we kind of need one for Haunted Mi--WHY WOULD YOU LOCK IN NOVA.

But you get my point, right? Team comps are extremely important, filling in the 3 roles with the best Heroes that are available to you goes a long way to winning the game. Jaina & Zeratul are the best DPS, Leoric & Johanna are the best Tanks, and Malfurion and Uther (sometimes Rehgar) are the best Supports. You should also try running synergistic Heroes, like Leoric & Abathur, Johanna & Azmodan, Butcher & Tyrande, and Rehgar & Illidan.

Playing Heroes that aren't considered meta isn't "wrong" but you are decreasing your chance to win. Of course, this is relative. If you have Thrall level 10 and Zeratul level 4, you should definitely play Thrall. Meta Heroes being "better" only applies if you assume an equal level of skill between 2 Heroes. This is why tier lists are generally much more applicable at high levels of play than lower levels, high level players (usually) play all Heroes at the same level, so weak Heroes become apparent.
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  • Communicate with your team and use pings
This one is obvious, yet few players seem to actually understand what it means to communicate. Communicating with your team doesn't mean getting along with them, it doesn't mean use smileys, and it sure as hell doesn't mean having a positive attitude. Yes, all of those are helpful, but none of those things are actually about COMMUNICATING. It's about things like deciding what lane everyone should be in, when to take mercenaries, needing to heal at base, ganking other lanes, and more. It's about being on the same page as your allies with the same objectives.

How do you do that? Take charge; be a leader. Tell people where to lane, tell people if you should back off of objectives, tell your team when you should do boss. Don't be afraid of being wrong and DO NOT being a dick. You are not in charge of these people, you are simply guiding them along the right path. However, the BEST thing you can do is use pings. Why pings aren't more prevalent, I have no idea. Ganking a lane? Ping it. You're being flanked by Nova/Zeratul? Ping. It. Is now the perfect time to do Boss? PING THAT SHIT! Don't just wander to Boss and start attacking it, that is how games are thrown.

Additionally, if you are low on mana/health or your abilities (specifically your Heroic) are on cooldown, let your team know. If you're playing Zeratul, just give a quick "vp 25s" or "wait for ult." It takes only a fraction of a second to communicate a massive amount of information to your team. Understand that the entire point of communicating is to increase your teams coordination. You don't have to like your allies, but you do need to cooperate with them, at least if you want to win.

But whatever you do, do not rage at your allies. Even I'm guilty of this sometimes, but it does not help. All it does is makes that person AND YOU tilt. They will play worse, you will play worse. It is a fact that shit-talking your team will decrease your chances of winning of the game. If you need a break after a game, take a break. Know when you are tilting so that you can fix it.
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  • Avoid dying and learn when to give up objectives
"Avoid dying? That sounds like something that a noob would say." Maybe, but the noob wouldn't be wrong. Understand that when you die, the experience that you give the enemy is not the only thing that you are giving them. You are giving up lane/map pressure, mercenary camps, map objectives, and your structures. Dying gives up far more than it would seem at first.

Similarly, don't try to force a map objective when you are at a severe disadvantage, such as being down players, levels, or talents. Sometimes you can't salvage a team fight and it's just a sunk cost. Committing to it any more will only put you and your team further in the hole. I'm sure there are times when you are dead that you think, "Damn, why didn't I just leave the Temple and instead push the bottom lane?" Learn when an objective is a lost cause and when to let go (i cri evertim ;__;).

Also, make sure that you understand that the only point of map objectives is to siege the enemies' base, so if you can trade a Fort for a Temple on Sky Temple, it's usually worth it, especially if your team isn't positioned to contest it in time.

This is getting a little too long, so I'm going to list some additional tips below that are on my mind.
  • Don't over-chase
  • Don't overextend, especially when you are playing a low mobility Hero, like Kael'thas or Malfurion. Pretend that every bush has an angry Kerrigan and Jaina in it
  • Map awareness. Always be aware of who is alive and who is dead, and who is in what lane
  • If you are laning against a Hero that you suck versus, ask for a lane swap
  • Be critical of your own play - don't lie to yourself if something was your fault. Conversely, don't beat yourself up over every mistake
  • Not ending the game can sometimes be more risky than letting it progress, especially if the other team has better late game Heroes
  • When playing a Tank, know when it is your job to peel for your squishies and when you need to dive the enemy team's backline. Same goes for melee Assassins
  • When playing an Assassin, understand when you need to kill the Tank and when you need to go for the backline
  • If the enemy team uses abilities that last for a duration, like Tranquility and Bloodlust, it's often best to disengage (if possible) and let the effect go to waste, and then re-engage
  • A game CANNOT be lost only a few minutes into the game. Always try to win right up until the game is over. You CAN win games if you are 4 levels down and without any keeps, even if that chance is small
  • Do NOT play cocky when ahead. Do not die needlessly, as you give bonus XP if you are up in levels. You can lose a 3 level advantage if your team is wiped before a major objective
  • When ahead, do not play too safely. Take advantage of your strength without overcommitting, keep up the pressure
  • Mercenaries are mostly used to keep pressure on lanes, especially when a map objective is active and the enemy team has to fight for it
  • Try to avoid fighting when at a talent disadvantage, especially if the other team is level 10 and you aren't
This didn't really fit in anywhere, but I think Leoric is extremely good. In my opinion, he is currently the best Solo Q Hero in the game. I think that Tanks with good waveclear are the single best way of carrying games.

If you made it this far, I really hope it was worth your time and you learned something.
~Srey

I stream! Check me out here Twitch.tv/sreylol Be sure to check out my guides at Icy-Veins! For business inquiries, please contact me via this reddit account.

Here is a list of all of the Hero guides that I've written thus far:
Illidan
Jaina
Johanna
Kael'thas
Li Li
Sylvanas
The Butcher
Tychus
Zagara
Zeratul

Disclaimer: I understand that Hotslogs isn't the most precise source, nor is it the most reliable, and that the leaderboards are not necessarily a direct representation of skill.

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