On May 15th, the current PTR patch will go live and the Heroes meta as you know it will change. Some heroes have been reworked entirely and many other heroes have been changed in subtle ways that will noticeable influence their power level.
If you don't have time to dive into the PTR for testing, so read this primer instead! These are the most important things any competitive minded player should expect come next week.
Alarak’s increased damage output.
Of all of the changes listed so far, an increase in Alarak’s damage output is the most noticeable. The numerous buffs to his baseline kit and his new ability that allows him to routinely achieve ~130% sadism throughout the course of a normal game makes even the least skilled Alarak players a threat. In the hands of a pro, Alarak will stomp unsuspecting teams with an efficiency that harkens back to the Nova days of old.
Alarak will become an ideal pick against multiple warrior compositions, as the multiple targets allows Alarak to quickly complete his Discord Strike and Lightning Surge quests for an early game power spike. He still remains a strong solo-lane pick, but now threatens to snowball out of control if his team wins the early game. If Alarak is allowed to rack up kills (subsequently increasing his sadism) he becomes capable of 1000+ damage Discord Strikes as early as level 13!
The biggest takeaway from the Alarak changes is that the nature of his strengths and weaknesses are still the same. However, the potential upside of his strength is now much higher. All an assassin ever need is more damage, and that is exactly what Alarak was given.
Nova’s PvE buff (already live)
With the introduction of Hanamura, every hero with a Bribe talent has gotten a little more useful. This, coupled with Nova’s ability to contest a payload while stealthed, has given her a narrow increase in playability on this battleground. However, she suffers on every other battleground due to her abysmal waveclear.
However, now that Snipe Master stacks are no longer lost after hitting a non-hero target, Nova mains have something to celebrate. This simple buff to Snipe Master is a step in the right direction that allows Nova to increase her PvE strength and actually contribute to Immortal races, Mercenary camps and, at level 13 (thanks to Explosive Rounds), clearing minion waves.
Nova isn’t suddenly a competitive hero, but her niche uses will now be able to shine without the huge drawback of miniscule PvE value. Any change that makes a hero strictly better is worth mentioning, and the Snipe Master change is precisely what Nova loyalist have been asking for.
Lucio, Auriel, and Li Li nerfs. (already live)
When three top-tier support heroes are nerfed, it’s important to take notice. Auriel’s hope generation was reduced, Lucio’s passive healing was reduced, and Li Li’s damage and blind duration was reduced. The strength of these heroes was their above average sustained healing and damage negation that punished opponents that tried to engage in long team fights. With less sustained healing, this strategy is naturally less effective.
Ultimately, these changes will discourage the current double support meta and result in a resurgence of heavy stun compositions, as Auriel and Lucio notably lack access to Cleanse. Their weakness to stuns is especially convenient for stun-gods Uther (an already popular pick in the HGC) and soon-to-be reworked Tyrande.
Tyrande’s entirely new playstyle.
It’s hard to believe that all of Tyrande’s buffs will make it into the live version of the game. However, if they do, it is a very safe bet that Tyrande will become first-ban-first-pick worthy.
Just look at this moment from Chu8’s PTR stream when Tyrande manages to take out three enemy heroes while starting from 1/3:
To be fair, Chu8 is nearly three levels higher than his opponents and the PTR is infamously known for its low MMR play. However, this clip is still a good showcase of what the new Tyrande is capable of. The old Tyrande wouldn’t have been able to achieve any of these kills, let alone survive the first Zeratul gank.
Tyrande’s new ability to rapidly reduce the cooldown on her Light of Elune and the stacking damage of Lunar Flare (functionally same as Lunar Blaze) make Tyrande a real threat when it comes to 1v1 duels. 1v1 duels were traditionally her biggest weakness, but Tyrande now has the ability to overcome it with these new talents. The changes to Shadowstalk and Mark of Mending particularly emphasize this new strength.
And we didn't even mention the strongest talent among the new talents. Tyrande has been given the easiest answer to stun heavy heroes in the game in the form of a talent called Celestial Attunement:
Level 4 - Celestial Attunement (Q)
Light of Elune removes stuns. If a stun is removed this way, Light of Elune can be recast for free within 3 seconds.
Stuns are a huge part of competitive play, and this talent alone makes Tyrande an incredible strong pick against Muradin, Dehaka, E.T.C, Anub’arak, Uther and virtually any other heroes with reliable stuns as their strength. Considering all of the heroes with reliable stuns are already top-tier competitive picks, it’s safe to say the new Tyrande will start influencing drafts.
Dehaka’s split push nerf.
Primal Aggression increased the damage that Dehaka’s Dark Swarm ability did to minions and was almost always the correct pick. It allowed Dehaka to take full advantage of his global mobility and quickly pressure his opponents while still showing up to a team fight on time.
With this talent removed to weaken Dehaka’s wave clear, the hero has lost one of his most useful tools. To compensate this, his solo lane capability has been made stronger thanks to Tissue Regeneration buffs, and his team fight capability is a tad stronger as well.
Buffs to Enhanced Agility, Feeding Frenzy and Ferocious Stalker in theory give Dehaka more value in a team fight, but it’s hard to imagine Dehaka will remain a top-tier pick. The reliability of his XP contribution and waveclear is what made Dehaka such a safe option. With this lessened, his power is dependent on Brushstalker flanks which are, by their nature, unreliable.
In competitive play, these changes make Falstad an even higher priority, as Dehaka will no longer be able to easily match his waveclear and split push capability.
What do you think?
Did I miss any of the biggest changes from the PTR, or am I spot on with my predictions? Let me know in the comments section and weigh in on whether or not Alarak and Tyrande will become the powerhouse heroes they appear to be.
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