Starting today, the Heroes Global Championship will play Heroes of the Storm on Patch 2.35.0, the Raynor and Azmodan rework patch. Crucially, this patch also introduces a third ban for competitive play, which is sure to diversify drafts, team strategies, and gameplay.
Thankfully, due in large part to community feedback, the new ban rotation comes to the forefront of the current ban cycle. Previously in testing, developers had included it in the middle, which would allow for more reactionary bans. After receiving feedback, Blizzard moved the ban to the front of the draft. Professionals argue they should have the ability to ban whatever is currently over-powered up front. This would then prune out those picks from the beginning.
What does this mean for the competitive scene? Most pros agree that a seldom-used meta tactic will become even more important — target banning. We know some players have lower professional-level Hero pools, i.e. their relative strength goes down if they cannot draft one of a few select Heroes. Consequently, we may see games in which players are forced to pick outside their comfort zone.
Another interesting theory about how the third ban will affect the meta results in more Support diversity. With the current Support meta (as read from masterleague.net at the time of this writing) there are only four healers above a 10% pick rate. Malfurion and Deckard, in part due to their strong engage set-ups and sustained healing, are dominating. Malfurion is currently at over a 90% popularity rate, and Deckard at almost 70% throughout the Western meta. Kharazim and Reghar place a far third and fourth, with Reghar’s popularity slightly rising due to his recent changes.
Considering that, we may see a shift within both the Western and Korea meta, where other supports may rise relative in the West. Additionally, we may see a rise in Deckard in Korea, as he currently only sees a 24% popularity there.
Regardless of which change happens, we will definitely see at least some new adaptation as the third ban comes into play, and as always, the meta will evolve.
This patch also introduces complete reworks for our favorite Lord of Sin and Jimmy Raynor. Both of these freshly polished Heroes are sure to make a splash next week in the HGC.
Azmodan’s rework focuses on bringing him up to current design philosophies, removing frustration that lower-skilled players face with him. Also, as we’ve seen previously, the game is currently moving away from Heroes that can overly abuse or “cheese” global map pressure by having effects that gather experience or do moderate structure damage far away from combat.
For competitive play, Azmodan’s rework will go back to fill the role of a long-ranged siege machine. Due to the new ways to gather extra damage on his long-range ability, he can fill the long-range damage set up that Chromie usually fills, but is often banned in situations where she could be useful, such as on Volskaya Foundry. While Azmodan has different kill potential from Chromie, undoubtedly his lane clear becomes better late-game, as he is able to completely clear an entire wave with the re-worked ultimate ability, Tide of Sin.
On the other hand, Raynor’s rework double-downs on the current slow-synergy of Diablo/Fenix compositions. His new go-to Level 1 talent, Ace in the Hole, gives Jimmy 30% extra damage to any slowed or stunned Heroes.
At first glance, this looks like just a copy of the familiar “Executioner” talent. However, notice its wording — “Basic Attacks” are absent. Yes, this talent does give extra damage to Raynor’s damage period, inclusive of his new ultimate, Raynor’s Raider.
Speaking of the new ultimate, Raynor’s Raider is now one singular Banshee escort. Additionally, there is no time limit on its summon. It will only go away when killed. When it dies, only then will its 45-second cooldown start. The summon is easily killed if focused, much like Jiana’s Water Elemental. However, it will regain health out of combat. Considering that, it’s a toss-up whether or not we’ll see it in professional play.
All things considered, expect to see this fresh Jimmy a standard in drafts for the foreseeable future.
Any hidden gems you think may come up in the competitive meta? Be sure to leave your comments below! Want a different take on the reworks? Be sure to check out our review by Daily Esports’ own, Belial, written during the Public Test Realm phase of this patch. Keep up with the latest HGC and Heroes of the Storm news on our Heroes homepage.
Butch “Eo” Cross is a Blizzard enthusiast through and through. A US Navy veteran, he spends his free time engrossed in Heroes of the Storm, as well as World of Warcraft. He currently serves the Heroes community as a free-lance writer, community competition commentator, and coach.