Oxygen

Blaze Meta Tier List (January 2018)

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Our fifteenth Heroes of the Storm Meta Tier list for the Blaze patch of January is here!

We present our fifteenth Heroes of the Storm Meta Tier List for the Blaze patch of January 2018.

Note: This list also takes the January 16 balance patch into account.

Welcome to Icy Veins's Meta Tier List for the Blaze patch. The goal if of this list is to try and detail game's current metagame state. The prime goal of such lists is to inform players regarding popular and trending team composition drafting strategies (i.e. the drafting metagame). Although tier listings are generally the product of balance, many factors come into play when discussing the relative perceived strengths of heroes, including player regions, maps, play style, skill level, and, of course, personal perception. As such, any tier list—including this very one—should never be interpreted as gospel, but rather, as a guide to better grasp what to expect with regards to typical drafting experiences. One useful application of such lists is to allow you know which heroes to look out for in terms of practice and counterplay, ultimately improving your knowledge of the game.

Using the list

As stated above, tier lists are easy to mistake for gospel. As new strategies are discovered and experimented with, so changes the perception of the relative strengths of each hero. Tier lists still prove to be useful as a snapshot of player expectations in terms of drafting. Although it is generally considered preferable to focus on high tier heroes (Prime and Core tiers), it is important to note that Heroes of the Storm's wild character and map designs make it so that any given hero's tier position is prone to fluctuate depending on the situation at hand.

One classic example of such is that of Kerrigan on the Infernal Shrines map. Although we currently judge her to be a low-to-mid-tier hero, her drafting priority shoots up to first-pick or first-ban material on this specific map due to the nature of its objective. Certain heroes also synergise so well with each other that the sole fact of having the opportunity of drafting them together is generally enough to increase their potential. Tassadar and Tracer, for instance, are generally nightmarish to deal with for many. There are too many examples of these interactions to reasonably produce here, but we invite you to consult our guides to know exactly where and when each hero shines. The guides have been linked in the lists below for your convenience - just click any of the hero names to access them.

A  next to a hero's name means its tier list position has increased since the previous month whereas a  means just the opposite. Additionally, a + or - sign indicates short-to-medium term predictions (which is to say, about a month) for tier increase(s) or decrease(s), respectively. These are often updated after significant balance patches and/or when clear trends are emerging.

If you're newer to the game, also consider visiting our glossary for a comprehensive list of discrete Heroes of the Storm terms.

Current map rotation

 
  • Battlefield of Eternity
  • Braxis Holdout
  • Cursed Hollow
  • Dragon Shire
  • Infernal Shrines
  • Sky Temple
  • Tomb of the Spider Queen
  • Towers of Doom
  • Volskaya Foundry
  • Warhead Junction

Volskaya Foundry replaces Garden of Terror.

 

Prime Tier

Warrior Assassin Support Specialist
Arthas Genji - -
E.T.C. Greymane    
Sonya Hanzo↑↑↑    

Prime tier heroes are considered to be extremely strong in all situations, and show no obvious weakness. They are very often banned or picked right away, as they generally dictate the pace of most matches.

 

Core Tier

Warrior Assassin Support Specialist
Anub'arak Falstad Alexstrasza Azmodan
Dehaka Junkrat↑↑ Brightwing Nazeebo
Diablo Kerrigan Lúcio Zagara
Muradin Li-Ming Stukov Sylvanas 
Stitches Malthael Uther  
Varian (Tank) Nova-    
  Valla    
  Zul'jin    

Core tier heroes are strong in a wide variety of situations and have few counter-picking possibility. They should form the core of your team, and be picked after Prime Tier heroes have been distributed.

 

Viable Tier

Warrior Assassin Support Specialist
Artanis Alarak Ana Abathur
D.Va Cassia Auriel Murky
Garrosh Chromie Kharazim Probius
Johanna Gul'dan Li Li+ Sgt. Hammer
Leoric Illidan Lt. Morales Xul
Zarya Jaina Malfurion (reworked)+  
Blaze (new) Kael'thas Rehgar  
Tyrael (reworked) Kel'Thuzad Tyrande  
  Lunara    
  Ragnaros    
  Samuro    
  The Butcher    
  Thrall    
  Tracer    
  Valeera↓↓-    
  Zeratul+    

Viable tier heroes are generally well-rounded that have either fallen out of favour, or, inversely, are on the rise in popularity, due to the current Prime tier contenders.

 

Niche Tier

Warrior Assassin Support Specialist
Chen Cho'gall Tassadar Gazlowe
Cho'gall Raynor   Medivh
Rexxar Tychus    
  Varian (Damage)    

Niche tier heroes have niche application on certain maps or for certain team compositions. They are generally picked to "round out" your team composition when your team composition is missing out on key components, such as a "jungler" (mercenary camps), a solo laner, or solid waveclear.

 

Bottom Tier

The Lost Vikings

Bottom tier Heroes are deemed to be either considerably weaker than the majority of other Heroes, or much more challenging to play properly. Although they may situationally shine, these Heroes are generally avoided by most players.

 

Metagame assessment

Happy new year to everyone. This list is a tad late, as was the last one, but I was, once again, waiting for one of those odd rework patches that come out a week after featured hero releases and go untested on the PTR for some reason. HGC matches also began just yesterday, meaning that new trends  are likely to emerge shortly; today saw unexpected Cassia, Tychus, and Leoric make an appearance, which was certainly exciting. As per usual, I'll be updating the list as I see fit throughout the next few weeks. The last few lists have generated quite a bit of discussion, which is great to see. Although I cannot reasonably respond to every comment, I do read everything posted. Keep it up!

Blaze. My initial PTR assessment of the hero, which was quite positive, was followed by a sudden realization: he does a lot of things well, but nothing exceptionally well. Blaze is the quintessential jack of all trades, master of none type hero. Generally, that's not a particularly desirable trait, because heroes are generally picked for their niches to either counter opponents or synergise with allies. For a warrior, he can't really solo tank, meaning he often ends up in that strange spot where you need a pretty well fleshed out team composition to make him work. But when he works, he does work well. He can hold his own in a solo lane, but his waveclear isn't quite good enough to deal with mercenary camps pushing before Grill and KillGrill and Kill, which can be frustrating. Certain heroes, such as Leoric and Malthael, completely shut him down as well. This leads me to believe that he won't see much tournament play if at all, unless teams are messing around. Viable as a late pick when you don't really know what else to pick because your team composition is already fine.

Sonya. She's currently the most popular pick in the game. You can't go wrong with a bulky solo laner that can duel nearly anyone, output as much damage as an assassin, and clear mercenary camps with ease. LeapLeap lets her setup really well if your team composition lends itself to that. Still, I don't think she deserves bans.

Hanzo. This important Overwatch figurehead could just not be allowed to remain seen as underpowered for over a month. After unsuccessfully giving him a blanket 10% damage buff across the board following poor PTR feedback, Blizzard adopted the bolder strategy of making his basic attacks deal ability levels of damage thanks to the Sharpened ArrowheadsSharpened Arrowheads changes. What was initially supposed to be a difficult to master skillshot-based hero now  has access to what is arguably the most powerful basic attack in the game, though the Serrated ArrowsSerrated ArrowsNever OutmatchedNever Outmatched combo I discussed last patch remains useful for trivializing map objectives on Battlefield of Eternity and Infernal Shrines while allowing Hanzo to solo any mercenary camp from level 7 and on. With the help of another hero, bosses also become possible at this level. Losing map control or suffering one or two early deaths against Hanzo is devastating. Explosive ArrowsExplosive Arrows lets him waveclear relatively well too, though particularly with Piercing ArrowsPiercing Arrows for double hits on minions. The Natural AgilityNatural Agility range increase made it much more usable, to where Hanzo can now reliably escape most if not all heroes with proper positioning. It is interesting to note that these buffs coincided with Hanzo's first free week.

Junkrat. The proverbial death of the double healer meta means it's time for sustained poke to shine. Junkrat's popularity exploded recently as players discovered that a mix of reliable ranged waveclear, playmaking (through Concussion MineConcussion Mine) and potentially fight winning RIP-TireRIP-Tire hits made the hero a force to be reckoned with. Just be sure to pick up Endless NadesEndless Nades; that's your late-game damage.

Malthael. Hanzo does really well against him, so I'm not surprised by the dip in popularity. Malthael is still very powerful, though unlikely to draw bans before second round, if at all. Always a solid pick against double tank as well as a solo laner.

Nova. She (along with Valeera) were allowed to remain oppressive for quite a while, benefiting from the turmoil generated by the stealth rework and Blizzard employees taking a couple weeks off for the holidays. Nova is now in a good spot, with clear counters and niches, though I'm still disliking how easy Lethal DecoyLethal Decoy makes her to play. I feel like she'll keep a potential caster meta in check for quite some time now that she's back on the radar.

Alexstrasza. She's doing rather well. DragonqueenDragonqueen is now being appropriately treated (though not quite respected by opponents) as a heroic ability by players to fight over objectives and while sieging.

Stukov. His high healing output makes him rather strong in a poke-heavy meta. I think players are going to experiment with the Growing InfestationGrowing Infestation + Virulent ReactionVirulent Reaction (+ Bio-Explosion SwitchBio-Explosion Switch) combo to make Stukov a lot more aggressive than we're used to seeing him be. Flailing SwipeFlailing Swipe continues to be great as a pseudo-Mighty GustMighty Gust in terms of disengaging. Stukov is probably one of the best solo "all purpose" hero leaguing healer at the moment.

Sylvanas. Any change to minion or structure damage end up being indirect buffs or nerfs to Sylvanas. Since structures were recently buffed again and Sylvanas's direct counters were nerfed quite heavily, I think she's back to being relatively high priority. PossessionPossession is really strong now, as is Mercenary QueenMercenary Queen, though only if there's nothing for Barbed ShotBarbed Shot to work on.

Tyrael. Though he's not notably more powerful than he was before, I think his rework opened up a viable bruiser build for him, increasing his versatility. He's sitting at a healthy 50% win rate at the time of writing. HGC already saw him picked rather often - though, that's pre-Tyrael patch, where he is arguably weaker - , and I'm certainly looking forward to see what kind of builds players are going to gravitate towards. Holy GroundHoly Ground is still great, and comes online 3 levels earlier than it did before.

Valeera. She suffered the same fate as Nova, though her overly simplistic ability set makes small nerfs very impactful. At the end of the day, she's probably going to require a broad rework, because as of right now, she either bursts her target down and feels "unfair", or doesn't and feel "worthless". Right now, she's erring on the side of the latter.

Malfurion. Possibly one of the best rework ever done, though his vastly increased skill cap may make him less popular. His sustained healing output is excellent, but his lack of burst management still makes him difficult to play. 

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Why is Hammer in Viable Tier? I see her so little that she deserves to be in Niche Tier. Don't know last time I've seen her.

Sidenote: I feel like every game where Hammer is, she isn't actually contributing directly to win, but rather she is like Nano Boost or Auriel's level 16 talents, just extension of Warrior who can protect her. I don't feel feel like it's much to what I do.

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Junkrat and Kerrigan THAT high? This isn't sitting very well with me. Junkrat's paragraph didn't really sell me; if you want poke, there the usual known broken stuff like Li-Ming and Chromie (and Gul'dan maybe). Don't think he can compete with that. Kerrigan... I'll just consider this a typo.

 

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6 minutes ago, SteveFrost said:

Junkrat and Kerrigan THAT high? This isn't sitting very well with me. Junkrat's paragraph didn't really sell me; if you want poke, there the usual known broken stuff like Li-Ming and Chromie (and Gul'dan maybe). Don't think he can compete with that. Kerrigan... I'll just consider this a typo.

 

These two characters have seen tournament play this week, are both rising in popularity, and Kerrigan sports particularly high win rates. They're both pretty difficult to play well, however, which might be a turn off for some players.

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55 minutes ago, Oxygen said:

These two characters have seen tournament play this week, are both rising in popularity, and Kerrigan sports particularly high win rates. They're both pretty difficult to play well, however, which might be a turn off for some players.

About Junkrat I don't really care much tbh, I just don't think he sits that high atm (compared to the aforementioned ones). If he proves worthy of that spot, no biggie.

Kerrigan on the other hand is one of those Heroes I like (and when I like a Hero I really like him/her/(it?)). I don't think I missed so many episodes and she jumped that high all of a sudden. The issue with her imho is that she literally requires a team built around her to function properly in her current state (I believe she needs a talent tree rework as well). And it seems kinda ironic cause every tier list post contains the  "One classic example of such is that of Kerrigan on the Infernal Shrines map. Although we currently judge her to be a low-to-mid-tier hero, her drafting priority shoots up to first-pick or first-ban material on this specific map due to the nature of its objective " part and you suddenly see her skyrocket to the top. I'm all for seeing her picked and played often personally. After all, pros do know best.

Edited by SteveFrost

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Was honestly hoping to see a bit of Nova play at HGC. She's very good at shutting down meme heroes such as Junkrat and Hanzo and creating headaches for otherwise solid heroes to deal with (Orbital on Alex W, for example), and is arguably easier to play than other mages at the moment. 

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2 hours ago, SteveFrost said:

Junkrat and Kerrigan THAT high? This isn't sitting very well with me. Junkrat's paragraph didn't really sell me; if you want poke, there the usual known broken stuff like Li-Ming and Chromie (and Gul'dan maybe). Don't think he can compete with that. Kerrigan... I'll just consider this a typo.

 

Junkrat's displacement is a huge counter to Alexstrasza, who is one of the most popular Healers at the moment. Concussive Mine is fantastic to ruin her Abundance. 

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1 hour ago, SteveFrost said:

Although we currently judge her to be a low-to-mid-tier hero

I suppose that needs an update, now.

Kerrigan is strange; very good at higher levels, and really... not good at lower levels.

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Theser tier lists are so funny. 
One month niche, next month prime. 

Alexstraszas popularity doesnt really suprises me, if you watch your hp you basically heal like nano-boosted Uther.

(though not quite respected by opponents)

This is what i find funny. I think they should nerf her Q heal in Dragonqueen and make the added HP bigger. Right now people arent even threathened, they just jump at you. 

Hanzo was good to begin with but Sharpened Arrowheads just threw him over the roof no wonder that Malthael is no longer prime when Hanzo is doing his job as a tank killer better. 

Sonya finally where she supposed to be. 

Junkrat is similar to non-dot Lunara with his AoE poke. Altough he might not be the best of dmg dealers hes suprising good at finishing of low hp heroes on top of that he can send people to their death with his mine. Imo he was better at it then Garrosh and the nerf didnt help Garroshs case. Not to mentions hes ultis can cause a teamwipe and RIP-Tire is somewhat non-avoidable even by heroes who have protected cuz you can just wait till it goes off.

Endless Nades is indeed the best choice for sustained dmg in that tier but Spread Volley feels like a second ulti on a short cooldown which means its available in every major teamfight. Endless Nades also doesnt help Junkrat in PvE in any way with Spread Valley you can even solo claim most merc camps.

Edited by xevex

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Nova is still dead and buried under several layers of nerfs. I really doubt the HGC (also known as the "Hanzo-Genji Championship") will revive her.

Blaze doesn't feel particularly bad against Malthael: he has some self-sustain capability, as well as a bunker to protect himself from Malthael's AOE heroic + Soul Rips combo.

Why is Lucio not in Prime tier already? He is consistent top pick/ban material across all League ranks.

My prediction about Tyrael is that pros will run a mobility-based build (identical or similar to the one I proposed) because that's the only good thing with the new Tyrael. Will it be enough to push him out of niche tiers? Probably not.

Edited by Leadblast

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5 hours ago, Plergoth said:

Was honestly hoping to see a bit of Nova play at HGC. She's very good at shutting down meme heroes such as Junkrat and Hanzo and creating headaches for otherwise solid heroes to deal with (Orbital on Alex W, for example), and is arguably easier to play than other mages at the moment. 

Care to tell me how do you think Nova can sneak onto a smart Hanzo? He has his nice big AOE scouting arrow, and Nova has been wed with the nerfhammer months ago.

Do people even play the same game anymore?

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1 hour ago, Leadblast said:

Care to tell me how do you think Nova can sneak onto a smart Hanzo? He has his nice big AOE scouting arrow, and Nova has been wed with the nerfhammer months ago.

Do people even play the same game anymore?

In a straight forward trade or tf environment, Nova 5x stacks has the edge over Hanzo in terms of damage and burst (without setup) and her kit allows her to juke and mess around with his telegraphed abilities. I prefer Orbital but I've seen exactly what Triple Tap thinks of his trait as well. 

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6 minutes ago, Plergoth said:

In a straight forward trade or tf environment, Nova 5x stacks has the edge over Hanzo in terms of damage and burst (without setup) and her kit allows her to juke and mess around with his telegraphed abilities. I prefer Orbital but I've seen exactly what Triple Tap thinks of his trait as well. 

I didn't ask how Nova beats Hanzo in an 1v1 duel, I asked you how do you think Nova can sneak onto him.

Triple Tap is stopped cold by Dragon's Arrow.

Try playing this game next time.

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8 hours ago, Oxygen said:

I suppose that needs an update, now.

Kerrigan is strange; very good at higher levels, and really... not good at lower levels.

One of the things that warrants a talent tree rework, don't you say? :3

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I always thought Junkrat's displacement was reason enough for him to be at least viable, but as everyone kept telling me he was low-tier, I stopped playing him. True, he never did that much but the mine, my dudes, THE MINE!

Anyway, Sonya is still ranked too low in my opinion and the other changes seem appropriate. Not quite sure about Greymane, but what do I know, he might be fantastic in high elo games. 

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2 hours ago, Fliits said:

Anyway, Sonya is still ranked too low in my opinion

She's literally in the highest tier. How much higher should she, or could she, be ranked?

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4 minutes ago, PrivateJoker said:

She's literally in the highest tier. How much higher should she, or could she, be ranked?

She deserves her own Tier at the top xD #spintowin (quite arguably on a serious note)

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6 hours ago, Leadblast said:

Care to tell me how do you think Nova can sneak onto a smart Hanzo? He has his nice big AOE scouting arrow, and Nova has been wed with the nerfhammer months ago.

Do people even play the same game anymore?

Hanzo puts the Scouting Arrow out and it's on it's cooldown? Nova walks around it and up to him? Classic situation for any stealth versus someone with a scout ability (Chromie, Tassadar). There is no reason for the Nova not to be smart as well and arguably (especially with shimmer gone now) any "smart" hero can spot a Nova.

Shelve that salt mister; this ain't the kitchen.

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40 minutes ago, MurkyFelix said:

Hanzo puts the Scouting Arrow out and it's on it's cooldown? Nova walks around it and up to him? Classic situation for any stealth versus someone with a scout ability (Chromie, Tassadar). There is no reason for the Nova not to be smart as well and arguably (especially with shimmer gone now) any "smart" hero can spot a Nova.

Shelve that salt mister; this ain't the kitchen.

Yeah Nova walks up to him, and he does what? Stand in the same spot and await patiently for his death like lamb in the slaughterhouse? Couldn't he, um, move away or something? Couldn't Tassadar use Oracle as well to check for her and go away too in pretty much the same manner?

did you know Chromie is pretty much up there with Junkrat when it comes to get away safely from an enemy?

You shelve your naivety and start using your brain as well while playing.

Edited by Leadblast

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21 minutes ago, Leadblast said:

Yeah Nova walks up to him, and he does what? Stand in the same spot and await patiently for his death like lamb in the slaughterhouse? Couldn't he, um, move away or something? Couldn't Tassadar use Oracle as well to check for her and go away too in pretty much the same manner?

did you know Chromie is pretty much up there with Junkrat when it comes to get away safely from an enemy?

You shelve your naivety and start using your brain as well while playing.

Hey man, honestly. There is no need for such toxicity. People have opinions, and it is important to respect them. If you don't agree, you have the right to disagree and discuss, which is what we're trying to do here. But respect in the first place. If they say something wrong, just correct them without insulting their intelligence.

This isn't the Battle.Net forums, thankfully, where people spit venom in your face and downvote in mass anything they don't agree with. This placed isn't called "Icy Veins" for no reason. We're all chillin' here, ya know?

goosfraba.jpeg

Edited by Valhalen
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10 minutes ago, Valhalen said:

Hey man, honestly. There is no need for such toxicity. People have opinions, and it is important to respect them. If you don't agree, you have the right to disagree and discuss, which is what we're trying to do here. But respect in the first place. If they say something wrong, just correct them without insulting their intelligence.

This isn't the Battle.Net forums, thankfully, where people spit venom in your face and downvote in mass anything they don't agree with. This placed isn't called "Icy Veins" for no reason. We're all chillin' here, ya know?

goosfraba.jpeg

People like MurkyFelix make this place seem no different from Blizzards forum whatsoever lol.  It's them who insult my intelligence.

This guy is deliberately trolling you know.

Edited by Leadblast

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1 hour ago, Leadblast said:

People like MurkyFelix make this place seem no different from Blizzards forum whatsoever lol.  It's them who insult my intelligence.

This guy is deliberately trolling you know.

Trolling or not, it does NOT give a valid reason to throw insults at people whatsoever. Keep the jabs to yourself - no one here needs to know them.


For the tier list itself, is there a reason why Kel'Thuzard is in the viable tier? He gets outpoked from the likes of Hanzo/Chromie/insert any medium-long range mage because of his combo range being too small outside of his Glacial Spike and his poke being extremely mediocre, and his lack of mobility/survivability options outside of the level 20 talent makes him food for anyone that can reach him, particularly the ones in the core/prime tiers.

 

It feels like he constantly has to play on the edge of danger to get the most out of him, but he fails more than he succeeds. And I say this as a a guy who stuck with him since release.

Edited by NoBodyIsHere

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1 hour ago, Leadblast said:

People like MurkyFelix make this place seem no different from Blizzards forum whatsoever lol.  It's them who insult my intelligence.

This guy is deliberately trolling you know.

No one insulted your intelligence, and if you can't take a discussion of how you can counter play reveal mechanics without tilting and flying off the handle at someone you really don't belong on the internet... Bring it down a couple notches before mods have to get involved like they have on a couple other threads.

Aside from that, the tier list looks solid. I think uther should be one lower and kharazim one higher, but not that strongly. Jaina might also be creeping closer to the core tier with the shift in meta from double healer. She benefits from the same thing any of the mages do, explosive damage that won't be topped off constantly by double supports. But she in particular can the easier 1v1 kill potential.

That said, I see arguments for a few that could be moved up and down 1 tier, but no one is drastically out placed. Great work as always.

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2 minutes ago, Laragon said:

No one insulted your intelligence,

No one? SEVERAL ONES I'd say. I won't put up with trolls like you do. Go bear them on your own.

Edited by Leadblast

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2 hours ago, Leadblast said:

Yeah Nova walks up to him, and he does what? Stand in the same spot and await patiently for his death like lamb in the slaughterhouse? Couldn't he, um, move away or something? Couldn't Tassadar use Oracle as well to check for her and go away too in pretty much the same manner?

did you know Chromie is pretty much up there with Junkrat when it comes to get away safely from an enemy?

You shelve your naivety and start using your brain as well while playing.

In fairness you did only ask how does Nova sneak up on him. What happens after is completely dependent on what else is going on and the reaction of the hero being attacked; as expected. And yeah; Tassadar could do that but the point I was making earlier was that the stealthies would (and probably should) take advantage of when the scouting tools are on cooldown.

For Chromie; somewhat but it does depend on placement of time traps and her real escapism doesn't come until level 11 and even that's dependent on her baseline being done (if you didn't take Bye Bye).

In reference to you're next comment; please point out where I insulted your intelligence (presume you were talking about me since you mentioned my name ;-;). You know your stuff quite well and are rarely wrong but you are quite hostile in delivering facts/discussing the game.

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      Sonya — Sale Price: 250 gems Maiev — Sale Price: 375 Gems The following skins and mounts will be added to the featured item rotation and will become purchasable with gems until this round of Heroic Deals comes to an end:
      Upcoming Featured Skins
      Super Sonya Hellwarden Maiev Skin Pack Mad Martian Gazlowe Deadly Lo’Gosh Varian Warsong Hellblade Samuro Toxic Emberlord Zul’jin Upcoming Featured Mounts
      Entropic Dark Nexus Manta Citrine Cyber Wolf
    • By Stan
      Heroes developers answered your questions on reddit earlier today and we're looking at highlights of the latest Ranked Play & Matchmaking AMA.
      The devs plan to enable Hero swaps in Ranked Play drafts, Quick Match rules will be updated to always include a Tank, Healer & DPS. The team also plans to make Team League more popular. Read on for details!
      Heroes of the Storm Dev Team
      /u/BlizzCooper – Matt Cooper (Lead Content Designer) /u/Blizz_Stas – Stas Spivakov (Technical Director) /u/Blizz_Zues – Zues Rawji (Lead Software Engineer) /u/Blizz_Joe – Joe Piepiora (Lead Systems Designer) /u/KaeoMilker – Kaeo Milker (Production Director) /u/Blizz_JunoK – Juno Kwak (Lead Software Engineer) /u/Blizz_DGower– David Gower (Senior Software Engineer) AMA Highlights
      Hero swaps are still considered for Ranked Play during draft phases. They will enable them in Unranked Draft first. They've considered multiple options for Hero swaps: Add them to the game, but disable them below a certain league. Allow players to lock-in their Hero selection in their chosen order. A "Season Quest" is considered that would reward players with season rewards. API is still planned for the future, but the main focus right now is improving gameplay. The team came up with some ideas on how to improve Team League: TL would become available only during specific windows of time for a limited duration. TL is updated to allow all group sizes, including solos and 4-player parties. Combine TL & HL into a single queue. Turn TL into a more structured experience that embraced players forming permanent or semi-permanent teams. This would last the entire season. The matchmaker uses several criteria to find a winrate, such as games played, MMR spread, how many games you've played with the Hero you have (QM/vs AI), game density. Team League doesn't have decay timers and ranked decay enabled. The timers are initiated only after a player has completed all their placement matches. Loss Forgiveness is first in line for development, while Performance Based Matchmaking will follow shortly after. Promotion/demotion games between divisions will be removed in the future, keeping those high-pressure matches limited to moving between leagues. No ETA for the change. MMR will be displayed as part of the Performance Based Matchmaking system. They have a new visualization of hero performance that helps reinforce the MMR means. More information to follow soon. The team considers the following changes for the upcoming Ranked Play Season: Prevent returning ranked players from placing higher than Diamond 3 each season-roll after placement matches. Reduce the number of placement games required for returning ranked players. Separate out regional GM ladders to allow players to rank up within their local player base and matchmaking rulesets. Add draft swaps for Hero League. Extend the Rank Point Decay to affect more leagues. Incentivize Team League. Quick Match matchmaking will be updated to always include a tank & healer & dps sometime this fall. Duo Queueing in Hero League is considered for next year! The team's monitoring the impact of Ranked Decay on Hero League. Decay timers may be adjusted, but not in the middle of a season. Replay files are smaller in size since the Whitemane patch and the games now consumes 2x-3x less bandwidth. New Heroes are immediately allowed in Ranked Play, because the information they gather is critical for the balance team and new content is the lifeblood of the game. Tassadar talent overhaul is coming in the future. Upcoming AMAs
      Hero Balance and Design: Week of September 10 Blizzard (Source)
      When do you plan to introduce hero swapping to ranked play, if at all?
      Hero swaps are one of the most commonly requested features from the Heroes community for ranked play. We discussed this in our April AMA as well which you can find here: 
      Since then, we've continued looking at the roadmap for ranked play. We do have plans to include hero swaps into draft phases for ranked play, but we don't have a timeline for when we'd expect that to come online. When we do decide to include it, I think it's very likely that we'll introduce it through Unranked Draft first, and message it well in advance. There are pros and cons with hero swaps, particularly for less experienced players that may be pressured to select heroes they are unfamiliar with for the promise of swapping later. When a player is only comfortable with a handful of heroes, it's difficult to want to hand control of your pick choice over to someone else. We've considered a few options:
      Adding Hero Swaps but disabling them below a certain league Allow players to lock-in their hero selection in the order they choose I'd be interested in hearing some of your feedback on these ideas, as well as any suggestions for this feature.
      I feel like one of the issues in ranked play is that some players only play for the minimal amount for the seasonal rewards.
      What's your take on increasing the amount of games required for the rewards, making a tiered system or other incentives to encourage these people to play more?
      This is good feedback, and something that the design team had discussed leading up to Season 3. We're actively considering adding a "Season Quest" that players need to complete in order to obtain their season reward. This may take the form of a tiered system, as you suggest, or it could be a flat and simple objective. In either case, we agree that there is an opportunity here.
      Thanks for this posting. But, since that answer, I'd like to hear the developer's new answer. I wonder if they are going to introduce API in this year.
      Hi rost473, thank you for your question. As in April, our focus remains on improving the gameplay experience for now. However, an API is still something we plan to do in the future. This year we have spent some time defining those plans in more detail in line with the philosophy we have shared before. One of the things that is affecting the complexity of this task is our commitment to protect every individual’s privacy as well as compliance with international rules such as GDPR.
      I feel like it would be a lot easier and more straightforward to just have mmr show if you're master and have top 200 mmr's be the GMs. This would fix all of the silly personal rank and grindmaster stuff that's going on right now. I find it really silly that someone can be like GM #8, never ban over anyone ever, have a sub 50% winrate, but still be high points because they play an obscene amount of games.
      Showing MMR for players over ranking is something we have talked about before (for our previous thoughts on this, check out: 
      We are still working on steps to roll this out in a way that is as organic as possible. Rank and rating generally go hand in hand, but there are cases where they can diverge and the posts we sometimes see on here (and we do read them!) about playing games where high masters/GM players are playing with placement people that haven’t played for a while are usually symptomatic of this (as an aside, our MMR decay system should stop this happening in future, as these players will decay out of being eligible for those games). Having a matchmaker work solely on MMR is one approach we have considered for helping with the quality of the games our players are in so we can show exactly why our matchmaker gave the games that it did. As Rating is a measurement of player skill and Ranking places players in an order, we must be careful when switching from one to the other when it comes to broadcasting this information to players, but it is something we definitely want to do!
      Didn't the article about this season say specifically it would matchmake off MMR and not rank? Unless I'm misunderstanding, your comment is saying it currently does not put together games based off MMR
      Our matchmaker finds players based on MMR, but has rules that limit the games it can make based on a ranked difference requirement. These slowly relax over time (which means if you find a game quickly, it will likely be between 1-2 divisions, e.g. Gold 3 and 4, but if you wait longer the relaxed rules will mean you can get Gold 1-5 or Silver 3-Gold 2 in the same game). This means when a player’s MMR diverges from their rank it can make it harder for the Matchmaker to find them a suitable game, which is one of the reasons we are working on showing MMR instead of Ranked points.
      Do you have any ideas in mind to make Team League a more attractive mode?
      Hey, thanks for the question Lorhand.
      We do spend time discussing all of our game modes, identifying what is working well and where we can make improvements. For Team League specifically, we don’t have any immediate answers. I can provide you with some of the ideas we’ve been brainstorming that would end up being a significant overhaul to TL. Bear in mind that all of this is very much still a work in progress and in an early discussion stage. We would love to hear the community’s feedback on any of this, so please let us know what you think or if you have any other ideas:
      Team League becomes a mode that is only available during specific windows of time for a limited duration. In this version, Team League wouldn’t always be available, but we would be creating a moment and celebrating the mode during these windows, encouraging players to play in it. This could mean the mode is only available on weekends, or something rarer like specific weeks out of a month block, or a handful of times throughout an entire ladder season. Team League is updated to allow all group sizes, including solos and 4-player parties. Combine TL and HL into a single queue. This has some obvious issues – we want to make sure that our dedicated HL players still feel like they can have that ‘pure’ experience. Maybe having multiple ladders based off your group size (specifically a solo queue ladder) would alleviate concerns here. At least then, solo queue players would be ranked only against other solo queue players. Turn TL into a more structured experience that embraced players forming permanent or semi-permanent teams. Essentially, players would create a team name, have a limited roster of players available, potentially customize something visual to represent their team, etc. In this version, teams would likely last an entire season, or this could be combined with something like the first option where this is your team for a limited window of time. Ultimately, we do want to increase participation in Team League. However, as I know this will come up as a suggestion and we’ve seen it before, we don’t want to ‘force’ players into this competitive mode if they aren’t looking for this competitive experience. We want players to be happy engaging in whatever game mode(s) they enjoy, so increasing the number of games to unlock TL rewards from 10->30, or adding more rewards is not something we’re excited about.
      What are the metrics for expected match quality in HL and TL? Is it limited to keeping the chance either team wins close to 0.5, or are there other factors as well, like player strength spread? If so, how are those weighed against each other?
      For example, would the matchmaker consider a match between some team A and some team B where it estimates exactly even odds of winning, where team A has a player in bronze and a player in GM better than a match of all GM player and Master players in both teams, where it expects one team to win with 0.6 odds?
      I love stats questions!
      Our Matchmaker uses several criteria to find a winrate. These include, but are not limited to:
      Games played MMR spread (when playing in a party of more than 1) How many games you have played with the hero you have (Quick Match/vs AI) Game Density (How many games you have played in an amount of time) Other spooky things It then does a bunch of maths that I just about understand to calculate the expected probability of winning the game. This is also a rule, (other rules are listed elsewhere in this AMA) so it won’t accept win probabilities outside of a certain range.
      The HL/TL decay timers are only shown to players after they finish their placements.
      Does the decay timer secretly affect players who are in placements? E.g. suppose I play 5 placement games, quit for 40 days, then come back and finish my placements.
      Hello minor_correction, thank you for your question!
      So...a minor correction! TL doesn't have decay timers and ranked decay enabled! The decay timers do not secretly affect players who are in placements. Only when a player has finished all their placement matches, are the decay timers initiated. However, we hope our players remain actively engaged as there is always content coming out and you may miss out on some of our events if you quit for 40 days. I certainly hope you managed to catch Nexxomania!
      Do you have any estimate as to when we will see performance-based matchmaking in the game?
      The two big features on the horizon for Hero League are Loss Forgiveness and Performance Based Matchmaking. Of those, Loss Forgiveness is the first in line for development, while Performance Based Matchmaking will follow shortly after. I can't commit to an exact timeline for these just yet.
      I kind of find promotion and demotion games in the same league annoying. Going from Plat 2 to Plat 1 and vice versa, they don't make much of a difference to me.
      My question is, are you so far happy with this, or do you plan to change anything here? Like only making promo and demo games between leagues.
      I tend to agree. I feel that moving between divisions shouldn't require this an additional layer of ladder anxiety. We intend to remove promotion/demotion games between divisions in the future, keeping these higher-pressure matches limited to moving between leagues. We don't have that on the schedule at the moment so I don't want to promise a timeline for delivery.
      Do you have plans to show mmr to the players and when would that be?
      We intend to display MMR to players as part of the Performance Based Matchmaking system. We have a new visualization of hero performance that helps reinforce the MMR means. I don't have a date for the release of this feature just yet. As we get nearer to its release we'll be sure to get a blog post up that describes the system, and the changes that will be coming along with it.
      Loss Forgiveness
      “Disconnecting” in game yields (-200) points and ‘x’ games of quick match.
      “Disconnecting”in draft yields (-600) points and same number of quick match games.
      The new trend is to load into a game and “disconnect” to avoid the additional (-400) points.
      Having an AI team mate is a significant disadvantage.
      what (if any) plans can you share about loss forgiveness for those 4 people who stuck it out?”
      We're working on a Loss Forgiveness feature right now that addresses these very concerns. In situations where a player deserts their team they will be punished appropriately, while their teammates will have no points deducted for that loss. If the undermanned team wins with an AI in-tow (it does happen occasionally!) they will still earn points for their grit.
      Every now and then we find complaints about matchmaking, mainly because the system rules aren’t clear or visible. Are you planning on making that information available somewhere handy such as in-game?
      We are currently iterating on our Hero League rules based on the feedback we are getting regarding match quality/wait times/game server as well as updating Quick Match with more concrete rules on team composition.
      Once we are in a place where we think (and hopefully you also think!) that these rules create suitable matches for everyone in a reasonable time, having a discussion on putting out something that explains how these rules work would be a great idea!
      What plans do you think will be implemented this season? Next season?
      The Season 3 patch included a ton of changes to Hero League, though not all of them are player-facing. We're still planning on making improvements to matchmaking rules, but right now, we're focused on fixing bugs, and improving our matchmaking data collection. For example, while investigating reports of rainbow matches in Hero League, we uncovered an issue where players will very rarely incorrectly ping lower to a region outside their own when they have "best site" selected in their options menu. When this issue occurs, a player will make matches on that server, which may have different matchmaking rules that allow for rainbow matches to occur. We're currently in the process of resolving this issue, which takes priority over feature development.
      For Season 4, 2018 we plan to continue examining the quality of matches as well as the end of season impact of Rank Decay. Our feature development efforts have primarily been focused on hardening the Quickmatch matchmaking experience. We're also deep into development on a Loss Forgiveness feature that will prevent point/MMR loss for players who were stuck with a leaver while also punishing frequent leavers.
      Here's a quick list of some of the changes we're considering for the future:
      Preventing returning ranked players from placing higher than Diamond 3 each season-roll after placements. Reducing the number of placement games required for returning ranked players. Separating out the regional GM ladders to allow players to rank up within their local playerbase and matchmaking rulesets. Adding draft swaps for Hero League. Further extending the Rank Point Decay to affect additional leagues. Creating more incentive for Team League a topic that U/BlizzCooper is posting about separately in a moment. It's been shown that people remember negatives over positives.
      That leaves videogames, like HOTS, in a tough spot.
      Statistically, if someone plays enough matches they should end up at their proper rank regardless of the "stubbed toe" matches (leaver, troll, etc).
      However, it's entirely possible that someone may play only a handful of matches a week. And if I play five games with two stubbed toes that looks awful.
      Given that the perception is so negative, is there anything that can be done (it might be impossible for all I know) to address the stubbed toe problem from a matchmaking perspective?
      This touches on a lot of the things we are currently working on to make the experience better for everyone:
      Loss Forgiveness
      It sucks when you lose a game because someone disconnected and never came back and you had to play with the AI and the AI did things that aren’t becoming of a Diamond 3 player and now your Core is on fire and your team is sad and that player who left is sitting on a beach somewhere and you wish all their books became the Twilight series (or whatever kinds of books you don't like).
      Our aim with this is to make those games not count against you anymore, so you are not punished for having to complete a game in that situation, which should lessen the negativity felt for it (you still had to play it, which is a tough situation, but the result of that has been negated, and the leaver suitably punished).
      Hero League
      This kind of perception also extends to the matchmaker, when players ask, “Why am I playing a game in high GM with this low Master’s player?” This usually happens when their MMR has diverged from their rank. As we work towards switching to showing MMR for some or all our leagues, this should remove that negative perception, too.
      Quick Match
      When people are given quick match games which are 5v5 assassins, or games that feel like the balance of the players or heroes is off, this can reduce enjoyment as well, so we are working towards hardening the criteria for team composition to make the mode feel both more enjoyable and more like our other queues.
      Are there any plans to tighten the MMR differences GM players experience in their teams? Currently you can see #1GM players getting matched with 200 points masters/placements and i suspect the difference in MMR is quite big. Also showing MMR would shed a lot of light and transparency on how we are matched. Thanks.
      Currently we observe there are a small percentage of players whose MMR and Rank Points have diverged. As a result, these players end up in matches like the one you described. However, it is important to note that both MMR and Ranked Points are used when determining which players get placed into a game. Because of the divergence previously mentioned, GM players may see a lower ranked master player in their game when, in reality, that player has a higher MMR than his current rank. We are investigating potential solutions for how to reduce this divergence. In regards to displaying MMR to the player, please refer to the following reply that has more details: 
      I play in high diamond / low masters mmr in HL. My queue times are hitting 10+ minutes some nights (usually playing 9pm-12AM EST). The game quality seems worse this season then any other season. Are the matchmaking changes this season being reviewed as an improvement on your end? I'm used to 2-5 minute queue's max in previous seasons.
      First of all, congratulations on your ranking in Hero League! The match quality is something we are actively iterating on. We track numerous parameters for each match and monitor them actively. When comparing some of these parameters against last season across the entire population, we have seen a significant reduction in the difference between the highest and lowest MMR within a game, as well as the difference between the highest and lowest rank within a game. However, we still observe some outliers and it is something we are monitoring. Something to note about playing at the high diamond/low masters level is that for larger game servers the matchmaker now enforces a maximum of a one division spread for Master/GM players. As a result, if you end up with Master players in your game, you should only have Diamond 1's or GM's in the game, but never both. This can result in higher queue times. For smaller game servers, the rules are less aggressive (resulting in a slightly more broad MMR\Rank spread) in order for players to get into games within a reasonable period of time while maintaining the best quality the matchmaker can for the given players in the queue.
      When will we have quick match matchmaking where there will always be a tank and a healer?
      Sometime this fall, coming to a quick match near you:)
      Are you aware of the problems with game mode(TL/UD) populations in minor regions?
      When and how do you plan to fix them?
      Hi camerontenten! Thank you for your questions. You've touched on a few different topics so I'll do my best to try and address each of them. We are currently aware of the challenges that minor regions experience and are investigating ways to create additional incentives for players to participate in these modes that are facing challenges.
      Being able to queue for multiple modes is an interesting idea and compelling. However, there are many challenges that come with that. For example, when a player is eligible for matches in different queues, what happens? Is it a first come first serves? What happens to the other 9 players in a match you choose to not go into? We have a holding mechanic that allows players of higher ratings to place a hold on players they feel they could make a match with in the near future (whoa...psychic). A change like this would have far reaching impacts across numerous game modes and potentially create scenarios where all game modes would have a degraded performance. Don't get me wrong, I love this idea and it has been discussed within the team. However, when we make changes to the matchmaker, we validate our changes across historical data for the the population to understand the impact of the changes. With a change as complex as this we would have to verify that all game modes observed a net positive in terms of quality of games as well as queue times.
      In terms of duo queuing: 
      I agree, the game is very enjoyable with friends and I assure you we are very much invested in trying to improve the experience for our minor region heroes...of the storm:)
      How do you feel about the current state of "solo laners" and how do you feel about the current state of pocket picks like Murky?
      Hey Parrot_on_ROIDS, thanks for the question and love the name ?
      Solo laners create an interesting dynamic that is influenced a lot by the battleground you’re playing on. For the most part, we think this is an interesting role for the team and as these are typically bruiser characters, they fit well into many team compositions providing a second frontline character. In general, we see a decent variety of viable solo laners, but there is a lack of ranged character involvement. This is mostly okay but seeing a wider variety of heroes involved would probably be an improvement and something we can chase on the design and balance side.
      In terms of pocket pick characters, I think these are fine if they’re seen occasionally and in the right situation. We definitely don’t want to see the game become a “Murky meta”, but having the occasional Murky pick is fine. A general rule of thumb here would be that the more a hero forces the other 9 players in a match to drastically change their play, the more cautious we are about that hero being overly common. Murky of the old days typically meant he would split push the entire match, forcing his own team to fight in a lot of 4v5 situations which wasn’t fun for them. On the flip side, the 5-player team also had to babysit against Murky which also wasn’t fun. Assuming Murky is playing a bit more of a ‘standard’ game and participating with his teammates, then I think the situation is more enjoyable for everyone… sorry, bit of a tangent but hopefully still relevant ?
      Can we expect to see dedicated roles in QM soon (tank/healer/dmg per team)
      We are working currently on hardening the rules for roles in Quick Match. We are implementing ways in which we can make sure that people who are picking roles with low demand are more effectively informed that there are roles in demand right now that they could fill.
      Question about matchmaking in master hl. How matchmaking works currently in master? Because i have feelings that before grandmasters are up, it was different. In 2 first weeks of season I was matched with 5-9k players having 3k and then when grandmasters were announced i was started getting 0-1,5k master players having 5k points. And quality of matches were much lower. Does this work on purpose because of lower playerbase in master and harsher requirements for grandmaster players?
      Hi Ynous, thank you for your question. Whenever Master players are considered, the matchmaker will first try to make a game with players from one division, before expanding the search to the adjacent ones. It won’t let Master players be in a game that has more than one division spread (e.g. Diamond 1 and Masters are OK, Diamond 2 and Masters are not OK). This spread will only be allowed if all players to be put into a match have waited in the queue for at least 4 minutes. From matchmaker’s perspective Masters and GMs are considered to be different divisions, so when GMs were formed that player pool became separated from Masters by a wait time barrier in addition to all the other rules. In any case, for both Masters and GMs matchmaker is looking to not only make a fair game but to keep player’s MMRs as close as possible – with allowed MMR spread growing slowly over the first 15 minutes of wait time. Currently, the amount of rank points a player has inside a single division are not taken into account by HL matchmaker, so the games you have described were formed based on the MMR of the players involved. In your case, my guess is you probably were a lower MMR player in the matches before GMs were up, and now you’re probably a higher MMR player in those matches as there are fewer high-MMR players (as in, they are more likely to be in GMs now, which is a separate division).
      Would it be possible to steal the ear-destroying Dota2 ready sound? I get tired of losing 600 points and having to play low-priority. ?
      I’m not sure Valve would be too happy with that, but we are in discussions about a form of ready check. Personally, I would go with Murky’s March of the Murlocs horn or Whitemane’s laugh as a ready sound!
      1. Why is Hero League seeded from Quickmatch, when they are fundamentally different game modes?
      This has led to all kinds of abuse over the years with people purposefully cheesing QM for a higher HL rank, as well as being basically the sole reason for the common complaints of a feeling of inconsistency in the "game knowledge" of teammates at any given rank in HL.
      QM is a fundamentally randomized and unpredictable environment. As such, it gives players a warped sense of what balance is, how to form a team comp, and the meta. What makes that a good seed for HL?
      Is it unreasonable to just make Unranked Draft the only seed? UD is fundamentally much closer to HL in terms of the skillset and game knowledge required for success, so it is an infinitely better predictor of how someone will perform in the HL environment.
      2. What is the current form of decay supposed to accomplish?
      For one, it doesn't kick in until you've finished your placements, so people can just wait and do their 10 matches at the end of the season to avoid decay entirely.
      And two, It's not aggressive enough for how short our seasons are. Playing one extra match every 20 days is nothing when the seasons are only a few months long to begin with.
      One of HL's biggest issues over the years has been that the "bare minimum" of matches you can play to keep your rank is just too low, and this doesn't really solve that problem.
      Thank you for your question. Generally when you begin playing HL in a new season, there are 2 cases. In the first scenario, a player has played HL in previous season, in which case we will use your rating from that season. In the second scenario, the player has not played in the last season. Previously when confronted with the second situation, the game would look at other queues to try and use more recent information to estimate the player’s skill. The order in which we would look at the queues is: TL is seeded from HL, HL is seeded from UD, UD is seeded from QM. We changed the algorithm with the last season roll. Going forward, we will only use another queue’s information to seed a player in new season if they have never played enough HL games in any of the previous seasons to place into a definitive rank, and if they did - we will ignore other queues for seeding purposes. In other words, the issue described in the post you have linked should be resolved.
      Do you plan to make the term of MMR & RANK Decay shorter? The decay standard now seems to be a bit long.
      Hello! We are always looking to iterate on changes we make to Rating and Ranked Decay. We are monitoring the impact Ranked Decay is having on Hero League. The decay timers may be adjusted as a result. However, we won't be making any changes to the decay timers in the middle of a season as we want to ensure all players are aware of such changes before they play their placement matches (which is when the decay timers get initialized).
      Are there any plans to add a an AFK check to the start of drafts like many other MOBAs? Losing a game because one player is AFK and gets randomly assigned a hero that’s bad in the map/team comp is incredibly frustrating and honestly it feels like it could be easily avoidable.
      Hello Ankoria! This suggestion is actually something we have been considering for some time now. You can find an answer to a similar question here: 
      Have You guys considered to cover the AMA online in the future? Like Ion & Josh from WoW?
      Hi, ErothTV! We’ve approached answering questions about Heroes development many different ways over the years – from livestream or video Q&A’s with our team leaders, to reddit, forum, and social media posts by individual team members - and we will continue to try different things moving forward. We’re currently focusing our reddit AMAs on this format where we pick a specific area of the game and bring in the developers who work on that area to answer questions directly. I’ve been enjoying the way these have been going and think the individual developers being involved leads to more in-depth discussion, but please let us know if you have feedback on it or ideas on other ways we can continue improving our communication with the Heroes community. Thanks!!
      The biggest problems that occur with matchmaking seem the be around the "failure mode"s, where the matchmaker fails to find an appropriate match in the required time, and makes a wildly inappropriate match right now. Is there work on the way in degrading that more gracefully?
      Previously, the matchmaker search criteria would degrade gracefully to a cutoff point (for the party/player with the longest wait time), and then make the best match it can at that cutoff point. This would result in sometimes you being pulled into these matches being made at another players cutoff point. That is probably what you were experiencing, and we agree that this wasn't the best experience for the player. As a result we have made some improvements to it this season for Hero League. Each player now has their own search criteria. The players search criteria will degrade gracefully and only when players fit each others search criteria will they be placed together into a game—whereas previously it was based purely on the party/player search criteria who had the longest wait time. However, there is still a maximum cutoff of 15 minutes before the matchmaker makes the best possible match it can. This is currently live in Hero League and we are monitoring the experience.
      1. Replay system is so uncomfortable. Advance of replay system will make Ranked players more skillful. I heard in past interviews that the system is being improved, how long has it been?
      2.And the reconnecting system so! The reconnecting time so boring. ? 
      Hi 6igbear, thank you for your question. We think improving actual gameplay experience is higher priority than upgrading replay system. We have talked about these issues before: 
      Since then, we’ve been doing research in how networking model implementation affects player experience. While some of the improvements stemming from this research are still in progress, we have made a few fixes which are already live. Most recently, with the Whitemane patch, we were able to improve efficiency of how the game is sending user input over the network. This resulted in ~2x-3x reduction of bandwidth consumption, improving gameplay experience for players with challenging network conditions as well as speeding up ‘rejoin in progress’ for cases when network was a limiting factor. A nice by-product of that is that replay files are smaller in size as well.
      With voice comms it feels like the main disadvantage of duo queue has been eliminated. Have you considered adding duo queue back to HL?
      This is something we've discussed internally. We think there is value in ensuring players can play with friends and make new ones in Hero League. There are complications, and many differing opinions, but it's something we're considering for next year.
      Why are new heroes allowed in ranked as soon as they come out? When Alterac Pass was introduced it was delayed from rank for a week or two so people could get used to it. Shouldn't heroes be treated the same?
      Allowing new heroes in day of forces people to misuse bans because they might think someone is OP or they are afraid they're UP and a teammate with instalock them. Theres also people who go straight into ranked and mandate they have to play a hero regardless of skill/team comp. Seems like waiting a little bit is a good fix.
      Hi AlexRain1, There’s two main reasons that we allow new heroes into ranked modes immediately.
      1. It’s actually really critical for our team to collect lots of data and make meaningful balance decisions quickly. We believe that our balance patches that come two weeks following a new hero release provides a really good update cadence for the game. For those balance patches, we are able to use about a week of data from live matches to inform our decisions internally, implement and validate our changes, etc. While we absolutely do look at QM and all data available, being able to utilize data from higher level HL matches is much more meaningful. Even the fact that ranked matches require a player to be level 5 on a character first helps to validate this data further, and of course seeing pick and ban rates, is useful data in itself.
      2. The other angle is from a perspective that new and updated content is the lifeblood of this game. From reworks and significant balance changes, to of course new heroes – these are all opportunities to shake up the meta and create new strategies. The game is constantly evolving, and this can help to even resurface older heroes that may now present new synergies or counters.
      For Alterac Pass specifically, we discussed it quite a bit, but felt that having this new battleground enter ranked modes right at the end of the ranked season wasn’t the best experience. We instead wanted to create an interesting moment where the next ladder season would utilize this battleground for its entirety.
      Why Matchmaking changes are taking forever to be done ? We see new events and skins very often, are you investing more resources to make the game "prettier" instead of better ?
      We do have separate, dedicated teams focusing on each area of the game, so releasing a new Hero or a new skin does not take away attention from matchmaking or other feature work. It's critical that we continue making content while also making the game better - these things are equally important to us, and our team structure reflects that. The sensation that we move faster on content is really speaking to a different thing - content changes are more visible and tangible.
      Matchmaking is an area of game development that is incredibly challenging and perpetually evolving, not just for Heroes of the Storm, but for all games. There is no perfect matchmaking; it's always a series of trade-offs where we're striving to get the highest quality matches for the largest percentage of players in the most reasonable timeframes, all while attempting to balance an ever-increasing number of extremely impactful variables.
      Over the past 5 years, we've invested heavily in the ongoing quest to improve the Heroes matchmaking experience across the game and have made great strides along the way with changes that have been behind the scenes as well as public-facing. We've also developed tools that strengthen our ability to predict and understand the far-reaching implications of the changes that we want to make. Through all of this, we've been able to consistently improve the matchmaking experience for the vast majority of Heroes players. And while we've had setbacks, bugs, and fringe cases negatively impact some players as we've evolved the system, we believe matchmaking is one of the cornerstones of our game and will continue to dedicate a significant amount of time and resources to improving it forevermore. Speaking of which - we're always looking to hire talented Server Engineers to join the Heroes team and help support matchmaking as well as other feature development. Please apply!
      Hi, when can we expect some “balance” changes for Tassadar? He has been dangling at the bottom for months, and he is in a really akward and near unplayable spot. In Quickmatch you get matched against Global healing and splitpushing Slugs 99% of the time (why is this seen as a fair match up?). In draft you get reported for even hovering him, or if you are luckily you are not reported.. but solo supporting. I would love to play some Tassadar without trolling my team or getting split push stomped ❤️ Thanks for your time
      Hi IAreNoMonkey,
      Tassadar is someone the balance team has talked about. He could likely use some balance changes to address some of your concerns, but he may also need a larger update to better position him into a definitive role for the team. We do find that his role as an enabler for specific characters is pretty unique and can have a significant impact when paired with someone like Tracer. Whether he stays in this ‘enabler’ role or shifts to a more pure Assassin or Support is still up for debate.
      As far as matching Tassadar in QM games, we do have some changes to QM coming this fall that will help ensure games have a Tank, Healer & Ranged Assassin. This means you may still run into Tassadar vs. Abathur scenarios, but each team should also have a healer to minimize any disadvantage Tassadar may have in this specific matchup.
    • By Stan
      Twitch drops are back! Blizzard's giving away a Rare Loot Chest to all viewers who watch one of the clashes for a total of three or more hours. They're also randomly awarding 500 Common Loot Chests per hour and Heroic Account Unlock codes, which unlock every Hero exluding Whitemane on each broadcast day! Don't forget to link your Battle.net & Twitch accounts!
      Blizzard (Source)
      After your outpouring of enthusiasm during the Mid-Season Brawl for the ability to earn loot in Heroes of the Storm by watching HGC, we're bringing it back for the upcoming Western and Eastern Clashes!
      Guaranteed Drops
      All viewers who watch the Western Clash from Aug. 10 through 12 and/or the Eastern Clash from Aug. 16 through 19 on Twitch for a total of three or more hours will receive one Rare Loot Chest in Heroes of the Storm.
      Random Drops
      While the broadcast is live for both events, we’ll be randomly awarding 500 Common Loot Chests per hour. On top of that, three Heroic Account Unlock codes—which unlock every Hero excluding Whitemane—will be given away on each broadcast day. Tune in for at least one hour of the Western or Eastern Clash competition every day on any of the following channels to be entered to win one of these Heroic Account Unlocks at the end of each day.
      Eligible Channels:
      http://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroes http://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroesfr http://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroesde http://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroesru http://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroeskr Eligible Broadcast Times (PDT):
      Aug. 10 from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Aug. 11 from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Aug. 12 from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. From 6:00 p.m. on Aug. 16 to 3:00 a.m. on Aug. 17 From 6:00 p.m. on Aug. 17 to 3:00 a.m. on Aug. 18 From 6:00 p.m. on Aug. 18 to 4:00 a.m. on Aug. 19 For more details, read the official rules here.
      Link Your Account
      To receive these legendary rewards, you must link your Twitch.tv and Blizzard accounts. Here’s how:
      Log in or create an account on Twitch.tv. Navigate to the Settings menu by clicking your account name in the top-right corner of the home screen. Navigate to the Connections tab of the Settings menu. Find the Battle.net section, then follow the given instructions after selecting a region and clicking Connect. When connecting accounts, be sure that you’re currently logged into the Blizzard account on which you’d like to receive your rewards. Click here to go straight to the Twitch settings page