Heroes of the Storm

Support Nerfs from a Pro's Perspective

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In recent memory, the Heroes of the Storm competitive scene has gone through a change in the way team compositions are built that has created a different playing and viewing experience for those involved.

While there is no “standard” way a team should be assembled, it has been common to see two assassins, two warriors, and one support hero make up a five-man squad with some variance from the norm.  

Lately, teams have been focusing on running two support heroes to provide extra crowd control, survivability, utility and so on. This change has led to longer team fights, a lack of diversity in the meta and has alienated certain heroes who can’t deal enough damage fast enough before a target can be healed or have the damage mitigated.

Blizzard decided to do something about that by releasing a large patch note on Monday which will come into effect at a later date. Within the patch, support heroes who emphasize on healing (which is 14 in total) will experience a 5% decrease in health, damage output, and healing numbers along with removing some wave clear talents.

https://twitter.com/LiquidSplendour/status/935233950900981761

 

The rest of the patch notes, including further developer insight into the changes can be found here.

Some took the news with the “wait-and- see approach” while others ran to Reddit and other forums expressing their dismay. Initial reactions from a few professional support players shed a bit of light on those who play the role at the highest level.

“So first off, although it's hard to tell, I do think these changes will point towards less double support. However, it still leaves me with a disappointed feeling, and I must say, it kind of points away from what they stated in the dev insight about supports,” said Team Expert’s main support Niklas "Cursen" Skogheim. “They are talking about wanting supports to feel awesome, but instead of giving them utility and balancing around this, they just straight up gave them a reduction in overall power.”

 

For an individual who makes a living playing and mastering this role of hero, it’s easy to understand a wave of emotion taking place as you may have to re-learn how to play certain heroes who have been impacted.

“When I read the patch notes, I was kind of just freaking out,” said Jérôme “KilluZiioN” Tanguay, support player for Team Freedom.  “All my heroes were getting nerfed after all. After playing on the patch, I realized that it was not that bad. The nerf was 100% needed in my opinion.”

As to why specific support heroes weren’t nerfed opposed to 14 different ones all experiencing the same drop in power level, Team Liquid’s Lyubomir “Splendour” Kozlovski has a theory.

 

“In the past, they've tried to only address the most problematic healers, but it never worked as they expected. You always want to have at least one healer on your team, so what ends up happening is when the strongest one gets nerfed, the next one simply takes the spot. When the nerf affects all of them, the relative strength remains the same (or at least similar),” said Splendour.

While it’s yet-to- be-seen as to whether dual support compositions will die off, stay the same or become more specialized, all three professionals InvenGlobal spoke to agreed that a solo support meta is in the near future.

“When it comes time for the Heroes Global Championship again, I think the support meta will look vastly different from the current one, and with these changes, it will be easier in a competitive environment to stand out as a skilled support player,” said Cursen.

As a result, if a one support meta were to return to prominence, Splendour believes dive heroes who were generally countered by dual supports (Genji + Abathur), have a form of healing (Zarya and Tyrael) and mages with strong burst heal (Kael’thas, Kel’thuzad and Jaina) may see in uptick in play.

 

KilluZiioN presents a different argument for the future. “My first reflex would be that hero like Rehgar, Uther and Lucio are going to be the "main" supports involved. However, we are currently seeing the rise of hero that can basically one-shot supports like Valeera and Zeratul. The good news is, we have about two months to figure this out before HGC 2018 starts,” said KilluZiioN.   

Non-coincidentally, Cursen mentioned Zeratul as a hero to watch out for due to his isolating abilities and his kit being altered a bit due to the Stealth mechanic changes taking place in addition to other melee assassins.

“Another issue addressed with this change, is the current low value of picking most melee assassins. I do expect this role to regain a lot of power now, with melee assassins who are good at bursting to get a return,” said Cursen, “In addition, isolation strategies will get a huge spike as well, it is way easier for Anub’arak to make plays with web, when there is only one support that can save from the burst.”

Only time will tell as to the overall impact of the upcoming changes but initial reaction has both professionals and casuals curious about the future of their favorite role.


Disclaimer: The following article was written freely based on the author's opinion, and it may not necessarily represent Inven Global's editorial stance. 

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