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How Hero League Drafting Works

by - 7 years ago

Last week we talked about how to get ready for Hero League.  This week we are going to cover how the draft process works so that you will know what to expect when you hit that Ready button for the first time.  This article focuses on the mechanics of the draft, and is geared towards new players who are looking to start playing Hero League.  Next week we will step it up, and talk about draft strategies, and the specific team compositions that you will see.

When you start playing Hero League you will initially be unranked.  You will need to complete twenty placement matches before you are assigned to a Rank.  It is important to remember that your Rank is determined by your hidden MMR, not your placement match record.  the term MMR refers to an internal rating that compares your skill level to that of other players.  Your MMR will obviously improve if you do well in your placement games, but not everyone who goes 15-5 is going to start at the same rank.  It is also worth noting that these placement games take place within the regular HL player pool.  While the players you are playing with might also be doing placement matches, they could also already have an established Rank.

The biggest difference between Quick Match and Hero League is probably the draft phase.  Unlike QM, you do not get to pick your Hero in advance and duplicate Heroes are not allowed on opposing teams.  Once you hit Ready, you will be matched with other players and sent to the draft lobby.  There will be a coin toss to determine which team picks first, and then your spot in the draft is randomly assigned.  The only exception to this is if you are in a premade five man group, in which case the party leader will always be the first person on your team to pick.

Draft Lobby


Here is a look at the draft lobby.  In this example the Blue team has won the coin toss.  If you look at the Blue team on the left, you will see the player at the top of the list has a ? icon.  This icon will be replaced by a Hero portrait once they make their selection.  The player who’s pick it is will always be marked with this ? icon.

The draft proceeds as follow:

  • The first player on the Blue team selects a Hero
  • The first and second players on the Red team each select a Hero
  • The second and third players on the Blue team each select a Hero
  • The third and fourth players on the Red team each select a Hero
  • The fourth and fifth players on the Blue team each select a Hero
  • The fifth player from the Red team selects a Hero

The game begins once this process is complete.  If the Red team were to win the toss, the steps would be the same but the colors would be reversed.  So it would start with first player on the Red team selecting one Hero and then follow the same format from there.

The draft moves very quickly.  When your turn comes, you will only have thirty second to make your section.  It is important to note that when it is your teams turn to draft two Heroes, it does not matter what order those two players pick.  For example, when the second and third players from the Blue team are up, there is nothing stopping the third player from quickly selecting a Hero before the second player makes his pick.

Now that we know the basics of the draft process, lets talk about specific things you can do to improve your Hero League experience.


You can use the chat box in the bottom left corner to talk with your team.  When the draft begins, you will see an announcement in the chat box that you have joined the draft lobby.  Simply click where it says draft lobby to communicate with your team.  Since your team only has thirty seconds between picks, maybe less if people are making selections quickly, the chat potential is limited.  Regardless, I like to get the game started on a positive note by greeting my teammates.

This is also a great time to set the expectations with your team.  If you are the world’s worst healer, let them know that at the beginning, so they can plan accordingly.  Maybe you aren’t great at dps, but you are an amazing tank.  Share that as well.  There is nothing worse than being last pick and having to fill a role you are not good at because no one else covered it.  Sometimes you get stuck and there is no way around it, but you can often avoid problems like this with a little communication.

Pre-select Your Hero

This ties in with the communication section above.  Even though it isn’t your turn, you can still click on a Hero and their portrait will show up over your draft icon.  While this does not guarantee that you will get that Hero, it does let your team know what your plan is so that they can act accordingly.  If you only take one thing from this article, it should probably be this.  Again, the draft moves very quickly, so while chat isn’t always practical, showing your pick in advance is a quick and easy way to help your team.  Planning your pick in advance also helps you make better choices, as opposed waiting until it is your turn and then trying to decide between four Heroes while your clock is running out.

Be prepared to adapt as needed as the draft progresses.  The Hero you wanted may get taken, or maybe someone else on your team fills the role that you were planning to cover.  If this happens, simply try and pre-select another Hero as quickly as possible.  Keep in mind though, if you have a tank or healer pre-selected, you should probably pick another tank or healer, unless you know that your team has this covered some other way.  There is nothing worse than when the final player in your draft is showing Warrior the whole way, but then picks something else when it’s his turn, and leaves you without a tank.

Be Flexible

If you follow the advice from last week’s article, you will be prepared to tank, heal, or dps as needed.  Not everyone is as prepared, or as willing to help.  You will get certain players who are completely tunnel visioned on playing a specific Hero, regardless of what the team needs.  While this can be frustrating, especially if you get a couple of people like this, you have to just be willing to roll with the punches.  Don’t waste time arguing with them, just make the best pick you can.

Don’t AFK

I get it, we’re all very busy and some people have very short attention spans.  Regardless, if you hit the Ready button for Hero League then you need to find a way to survive the roughly four minutes it will take to get into match and complete the draft, without going AFK or minimizing the game.  It also isn’t okay to wait until the draft lobby loads, then pre-select a Hero and go AFK.  If your draft timer expires without you selecting a Hero, or if you have pre-selected a Hero that is not available, the game is going to auto pick a Hero for you.  It will not give any consideration to which Heroes you play most often, or what other Heroes you have on your team.  It is simply going to pick a random Hero from your collection.  Needless to say, this is likely to put your team at a disadvantage.  If you are committed to playing a 20 minute game, be equally committed to waiting for that game to begin.

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My original idea for this week was to write a brief explanation on how the draft works, and then dive into standard team comps.  Once I started writing, I realized that the article was either going to be too long, or I was going to have to gloss over the draft basics.  Rather than have that happen, I decided to split these topics into two articles.  I know that this article may have been too basic for experienced players, but I think it will be helpful to new players just considering Hero League.  Come back next week when we will talk team building and common team comps.  Good luck and have fun!

JR Cook

JR has been writing for fan sites since 2000 and has been doing Blizzard Exclusive fansites since 2003. He helped co-found BlizzPro in 2013. You can hear JR every week talk about Hearthstone on the Well Met Podcast published on iTunes.

0 responses to “How Hero League Drafting Works”

  1. Nice guide Alebeard! We’re going to mention it on this week’s Lagging Balls podcast. Thanks for giving newer players a solid road map to success!