With the start of the new Heroes of the Storm Ranked Season now underway, I thought it might be worth sharing some advice from my climbs. I had a relatively poor last season, losing the vast majority of my placement games before climbing to Diamond 1. I suspect I could have gone on to finish higher, but spent a great deal of time experimenting with heroes I’m not particularly great with. Despite that, I’m still learning valuable lessons every season so wanted to share a few pearls of wisdom.
Play A Few Quick Matches To Warm Up
It might sound a little obvious, but at the start of the new season I recommend you dive into Quick Match. Not only to warm up before you finish your placement games (or even if you’ve done your placements!) but to also get a grip on how hero changes feel. It’s often best to play heroes that have received significant changes (such as Arthas or Cho’gall) while it’s also worth understanding the latest hero released, just in case you encounter them.
I’ve found playing and playing against popular heroes at the start of a new season gives a good perspective on how to play and draft around them and should set you up nicely when you get into ranked draft.
Keep an eye on HOTSLogs
Probius has terrible win rates right now. Probably best avoiding him in Ranked.
HOTSLogs is a brilliant website that details, with some accuracy, the win rates of every hero in the game. It’s an excellent barometer for drafting heroes that are, arguably, superior to those around you. Choosing heroes from the top of pool will often give you and your team an advantage and if you can’t secure some of them, be sure to ban them out. As it stands right now, The Butcher, Lucio and Nazeebo are particularly strong while Anub’arak and Jaina are also heroes to be feared.
I’m not suggesting you can’t win a match of heroes of the storm without sticking to the highest win-rate heroes, but securing them does make life a damn sight easier.
Ban Hard Carries
There’s a few heroes in the game that I would argue can hard carry any team, irrespective of a team’s ability. Varian is a perfect case in point as his Charge, Colossus Smash and general survivability can make life pretty miserable for most players. Even Lucio, with his amazing mobility and sustain, is a contender for instant ban.
Despite that, if you’ve really no idea what to ban there’s always a few safe bets.
- If the enemy team hasn’t yet secured a healer, a safe choice would be Malfurion, Lucio or Rehgar
- If they’ve yet to pick a good ranged assassin, Jaina, Kael’thas or often Valla are solid bets.
- If no warrior has been chosen, Anub’arak, Arthas and Varian are reliable picks.
I must stress there’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to bans, just be sure to talk to your team about what you think is best.
Play Your Best Hero
I've always been able to carry a match with Zarya.
It might sound obvious, but you’ll have a better chance of winning playing a hero you’re highly experienced with over one that’s meta, which you’ve hardly played. It’s a good idea to let your team know at the start what you’re best with. Providing a selection of two or three heroes gives your team something to work with and they’ll appreciate what you can and can’t play. If possible however, try to ensure you can play multiple roles and that you’ve one good go-to hero in each role. For me, I like the following:
- Specialist: Nazeebo
- Warrior: Zarya
- Support: Rehgar
- Assassin: The Butcher
They’re my go-to picks with my highest win rates (around 70%) and while some of them aren’t considered meta, I can usually carry fairly hard with them.
I played a match this morning where myself and a team mate died within 32 seconds of the game starting. It was our my fault as I dived too deep on The Butcher and in an effort to save me, my team mate died in the process. I apologised, but that very instant our Muradin decided it was “GG” and went AFK for three minutes. Needless to say my team were annoyed (at him, not me). Fortunately for us, we continued to play and landed a handful of picks. By 8 minutes our warrior had returned, I’d capped my Blood stacks and by level 10 we’d secured the boss and taken the enemy core after a full team wipe.
There’s no use getting stressed when playing Heroes of the Storm as you cannot control what other players do or how they play. Complaining won’t help and you can’t make anyone better by verbally bashing them. Knuckle down, focus and stay positive: every match can always be won.
Don't Play During Weekends
This might sound ridiculous and I've no concrete evidence for it, but most of my Heroes of the Storm losses stem from playing on a weekend. I can only attribute this to "casual" players, school children and people just checking the game out for free, are playing during this time. Unsurprisingly, this can often result in incredibly poor play and will undoubtedly have a negative impact on your ability to win. I've regularly played placement matches on a weekend only to encounter players on my team who have clearly only just arrived. If you can play during the week and during the day.
Try Not To Die Too Much
It might sound obvious but there’s nothing that tilts a team more than someone dying repeatedly. One of my placement matches yesterday saw our Thrall die 14 times over the course of Towers of Doom. I can honestly say I’ve never seen anyone die that much and even with my words of encouragement, my team had given up and two went AFK. If you’ve died more than three times I’d recommend you stop, take a breath, and establish why. By level 20 you really shouldn’t have more than five deaths and that’s the top end of what I’d expect to see. Some deaths are inevitable but the vast majority entirely preventable.
My best advice for surviving? Look at your map constantly. If you can keep tabs on all the enemy team, you’re in a much better position to choose your battles.
Don’t Worry About Placement
Last season I lost all but 3 of my placement matches. I ended up in Silver 1. I can honestly say I’ve never placed so low and while most of my placements were out of my control (4 AFKers, 2 disconnects, 1 troll) I still made my way out in only a handful of games. Even this season, despite winning only 6 matches, I ended up Diamond 5. That’s still pretty good by any standards and I’ve no doubt I’ll yo-yo up and down the ladder over the next few weeks.
Placement games aren’t really indicative of your ability and in time, you’ll settle to where you truly should be. That said, if you focus on drafting well, picking meta heroes and avoiding death, you’ll climb fairly easily.
Take A Break If You’re On A Losing Streak
My worst record of losses last season was 12 in a row. I was tilted, stressed, angry and playing poorly. The majority of the losses I’m sure were my fault because I was making lazy mistakes and drafting poorly. I should have taken a break long before my fourth or fifth loss but thought I could play my way out of the losing streak.
I really can’t recommend enough that if you lose at least three matches in a row, to stop immediately. Take a break, walk away from your PC and return to the game the next day. A clear head will allow you to play better and you’ll be much calmer. In my case, I took a 24 hour break after my disastrous set of results only to go on a ridiculously long winning streak (15 matches).
Perhaps the most obvious of any advice when attempting to climb a ranked ladder: have fun. Many players I encounter seem to forget it should be fun and instantly get snappy, aggressive or don’t want to work together as a team. Playing Heroes of the Storm isn’t always relaxing but success in ranked is unquestionably rewarding. As long as you’re in a good mood while playing, chat and joke with your team and don’t take the game too seriously, you’ll find you enjoy it much more (or at least I do).
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