Morigesh was released yesterday morning and for the last few hours, despite numerous draft dodges, I’ve managed to play her a handful of times. I’ve won all my matches so far, with a ridiculously high KDA of 19, with no less than 10 kills in each match. I thought I’d write up my first impressions of her, to assess her kit, viability and whether or not I consider her to be balanced.
Morigesh in all her glory (images provided by Wrath of Agora)
When Morigesh was first revealed parallels were drawn between her and Shinbi. Both have the ability to heal themselves, have access to a mobility skill and an Ultimate that’s targeted. Unfortunately for Shinbi, it’s relatively evident - almost immediately - that Morigesh is vastly superior in all areas.
Not only does Morigesh have generous scaling, but her kit is also incredibly forgiving. Her primary means of poke, Mark, is a targeted ability that despite its short range, is quick and deadly. Even at level 1, its damage is high enough for Morigesh to be an instant threat in offlane to the point where 2 versus 1 (as the defender) is incredibly easy to handle. The fact its cooldown is so low and its mana cost fairly cheap, ensures that she can not only harass the opposing “carry”, but can, when level 5 arrives, instantly secure multiple kills.
Outside of her Mark, Hive provides Morigesh with an easy-to-land projectile that slows players and minions for 8 seconds, while also granting vision. Considering this duration is boosted to 12 seconds against marked targets, it’s incredibly good at pressuring , but also preventing those you’re laning against from returning to their Core. On several occasions Hive has bought me enough time for my Ultimate to come off cooldown, allowing me to then kill the affected player before they teleport to safety. The continuous ticks of damage - over such a long period - are frustrating to deal with.
Where the rest of her kit is concerned, Swarm provides an amazing amount of sustain (especially if you run through a full minion wave) while the speed boost - if used alongside some erratic movements - proves fast enough to regularly evade incoming shots and crowd control. The fact it also allows you to pass through enemies is also incredibly useful. Being body-blocked or having an opponent attempt to zone you by standing behind their minion wave isn’t an issue. In fact, it’s often an invitation to quickly kill someone who thinks they’re safe. On several occasions I’ve zipped through a full minion wave (getting a significant stack of healing over time) before throwing out my Hive and Mark. Followed swiftly by your Ultimate, few can survive it; especially early game.
Finally and as for her Ultimate, Curse proves a greater global threat than Kallari and offers immediate, near unavoidable death if you’re even remotely low health. While there is some counter-play (if you can stun Morigesh during her channel) there’s very little. Curse proves a nightmare to deal with, especially when you consider that combined with Mark it’s capable of dealing in excess of 800 instantaneous damage. That’s pretty frightening, especially if Morigesh is wailing on you with her basic attacks and Hive the entire time.
Unsurprisingly, this combination of sustain and early game targeted burst damage sees Morigesh easily wrack up the kills. In fact, the moment she hits level 5 if you’re a "carry" and anywhere near her, you’ll likely die. Despite these strengths, she’s isn’t perfect.
Despite Morigesh’s power during the early laning phase, her kit doesn’t particularly lend itself to the middle and later stages of a match. With her reduced attack range, not only does she put herself in harm's way if she’s to deal damage (especially when opposing players group up) but her threat naturally scales back as said players build armor or active items. Not only that, but roles tend to be reversed by the 30 minute mark as the likes of Yin and Twinblast get their critical damage online. This sees Morigesh die incredibly quickly and while she can still burst carries down, the fact they’re often protected by four others does make it difficult for Morigesh to even use her Mark.
Unlike Howitzer, Gadget or Lt. Belica, which all bring bags of utility, range and damage, Morigesh only has one of these three components. This puts her at a significant disadvantage when defending a Tower or even protecting herself and her team. With no crowd control and woeful wave clear, her best defence (and that of her team) is simply to play as aggressively as possible, as quickly as possible.
I suspect many will call for Morigesh to be nerfed. The nature of her play - dictated by two targeted abilities - does, arguably, lower her skill ceiling. However, this combination of Mark and Curse, is no greater threat than several existing combos: Lt. Belica’s Seismic Assault/Void Bomb, Howitzer’s Land Mine/R2000 Missile or Countess’ Shadow Slip/Feast. While the global threat of Curse does make it sting that little bit more, especially if you think you’ve escaped her clutches, simply ensuring your health isn’t too low if you’ve been marked, building armor or health, significantly reduces the risk of dealing with her.
Unfortunately and this is something I encounter daily in Paragon, players are unwilling to change their builds according to who they’re fighting against, and will often play their favorite hero as opposed to one that directly counters the opposition. This can often result in any hero appearing stronger than they really are as drafting and counter-drafting is an integral part of gaining the upper hand over your enemy.
If I could recommend any changes to Morigesh, it would simply be to slightly reduce the cooldown on her Mark (at level 1) and to increase her mana costs across the board. As it stands right now, she really has no mana worries and that allows her to defend offlane with impunity, but also allows her to build nothing but damage and health. That, as far as I'm concerned, is a little off.
Other than this minor gripe, I have to say that Morigesh is a welcome addition to the Paragon roster and in many respects, fills a void between all other "mages". I suspect she'll soon find herself relegated to the sidelines as more and more players build armor and active items against her. For now though, I'm glad she's here.
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