Watching competitive Heroes of the Storm isn’t just entertaining. It can also be a valuable learning experience.
The Mid-Season Brawl is well underway, with the Group Stage having just concluded and Bracket Play scheduled to begin on June 16th.
Today we are going to take a look at three games from the Group Stage. Whether you are a Hero League grinder, a casual QM or vs AI player, or someone who likes to get together with friends and crush Team League, there are clear lessons you can take away from these games to improve your play.
Knowing when to attack and when to defend
The first game we are going to take a look at is the second game in the CE versus Method match. After taking Game 1, Method was strongly in control of Game 2.
The video will pick up the game just before the 13-minute mark. Method has just taken out CE’s bottom Keep along with all of their Forts while the only Structure CE has been able to destroy is the middle Fort. Things are only going to get worse as CE is two full levels down and two Temples are about to spawn.
Normally in the games we play you would probably see one of two things happen. The team that is behind would either go into a defensive shell and passively clear lanes because they are afraid to engage or they would decide to contest one Temple and end up trading shots. While contesting a Temple sounds like a reasonable plan, CE knows they are too far behind to simply trade shots and with Level 20 looming for Method, they need to look for a team fight and win it.
There are a lot of interesting decision points in this game so pause the video periodically as you read through the breakdown below.
When CE sees Method rotating towards the Siege Giants they decide to contest and hopefully spark a team fight. Method simply falls back. There is no need for Method to fight at this point. They are comfortably ahead and trading shots is a win for them.
CE takes the Giants and then decides to go for the Boss. Yes, this is risky but remember, CE is looking to force a team fight before 20. When you are this far behind, clearing lanes and trading shots isn’t going to get you back in the game. You have to be aggressive and take chances so going for Boss here is a win/win. If Method doesn’t contest then CE can use the Boss to get the bottom Fort and Keep, closing the XP and Structural gap they currently have. If Method does decide to contest then CE gets the team fight they are so desperately looking for.
Method opts not to contest the Boss and instead sends Dehaka to finish off the top Keep, which presents us with another learning opportunity. As Dreadnaught mentions in the commentary, that Keep is dead. Trying to defend it is a waste of time. Don’t be that guy that hearths back only to see the Keep get destroyed anyway.
There are times that defending makes sense but there are also times where it makes more sense to focus on your own push instead. In fact, if you are faced with a choice between attacking and defending, I would say that attacking is almost always the right answer. The main exception is when the enemy team is attacking your Core but even then you should often focus on attacking as we will see shortly.
CE wisely understands that they need to stay aggressive. They made the risky call to take the Boss, now they need to make the most of that decision by pushing hard with the Boss now that they have it. Too many Bosses are wasted because teams take them and then don’t push with them. While CE pushes the Boss towards the bottom Keep, Dehaka moves aggressively to attack their Core. This is another critical decision time.
I guarantee that in most of the games we play someone on the CE side would hearth back at this point. Sometimes several people would hearth back. This is a knee-jerk reaction and it is a bad one. CE’s best chance to win at this point is to commit to the all-in Core push and everyone on the team needs to be on the same page. Even one person hearthing back could be the difference between whether or not they have enough damage to take down the Core.
CE commits to the Core push and wins the game of chicken, forcing Dehaka to be the one to hearth and defend.
Method ends up winning the ensuing team fight and the game but don’t let the result fool you. CE was 100% correct in being aggressive and pushing for the win. Even though CE lost, this game was a great example of when it makes sense to be aggressive and resist the temptation to defend, even when you are behind.
How to play Volskaya Foundry
The second game I wanted to share is basically an instructional video on how to play Volskaya Foundry. It is Game 2 of Tempo Storm versus Fnatic.
I won’t give a lot of commentary on this game as the play speaks for itself, but the main takeaway is clearly the importance of items on this battleground. Take note of how the teams prioritize collecting items and how patient they are when it comes to using the items. They are even willing to delay contest the Objective in the interest of collecting items.
Taking the long way home
The last game on our watch list today is Game 2 of Heroes Hearth versus Tempest, also on Volskaya Foundry.
In this game, we are going to skip ahead to the 17-minute mark as the two teams get ready to fight over the bottom control point.
Heroes Hearth wins the fight and proceeds to take control of the Protector and the available Mercenary Camps in preparation for a game-winning push.
What I found interesting about this game was that Heroes Hearth decided to rotate to the top lane for their final push. I love that decision!
Yes, it does take time to rotate to the top of the map but with 1:48 on the timer for the Protector, time is not really a concern. Plus, going through the Keep in the bottom lane would have taken a few seconds anyway, so time-wise the lane choice is pretty much a push.
The main reason I like rotating to the top lane for the final push is that it is much less risky. Fighting under a Keep is always dangerous plus the Protector could end up losing precious Health on the way to the Core if Heroes Hearth decided to go bot lane. By going top lane, they don’t have to worry about those issues and they get to bring their catapults along with them, creating an even stronger push. Given how close Tempest was to defending, being able to save some health by not going through the Keep may have been the difference between winning and losing in this game.
If entertaining games and valuable lessons are not enough incentive for you to watch the Mid-Season Brawl, how about free loot? Check out this blog post to learn how you can earn Loot Chests, Portraits, and maybe even unlock every Hero in the game by watch Heroes of the Storm on Twitch. You can also catch up on the latest news and watch the VODs of games you might have missed on the official HGC site.