Here I’m going to talk a bit about the various champs currently in the game. Note: I am not experienced with all the champs. If I or someone on my team has not played a champ extensively, I’ll just tell you that. Also, champs are heavily map dependent, but in order to keep this somewhat short I’m not going to write a section on each map.
Blood for Blood and Vampiric Assault are the only overarching core talent to all melee assassins and should always be taken at tiers 2 and 6.
Illidan is a solid late-game carry assassin. He suffers from extremely weak laning and low pushing power. However, his insane damage scaling with levels and base damage makes him one of the best tower killers in the game. Like all champs,illidan can solo ogres at lvl 1. Due to his high damage, he does it more quickly than average, which gives him something to do if your lanes can survive down a player. Both of Illidan’s ults are very strong, and the choice depends on the teamcomp, map, and style of game.
5v5: I have not seen a lot of Illidan in 5v5s, and the few I have seen have been mostly unsuccessful (not all of course). I have played him in 5s a few times and felt that the weak early game really put stress on my team. Illidan can play as an active roamer, but his lack of real cc, stealth, or reliable initiation (dash is super risky and doesn’t root without mark). He is not a bad choice, but your team needs to carry you before you can carry them.
Neither I nor my teammates have played much Kerrigan. In my experience she is quite strong and, unlike most other assassins, stronger earlier in the game.
5v5: I have played against some strong Kerrigan players. Her early game assassination power coupled with good displacement and skillshot cc makes her a potentially strong roaming champion. Additionally, she has 2 aoe moves, so she does have some limited wave clearing ability, but this really isn’t her strength. Couple her with a reliable stun for a nasty lane.
Zeratul is a powerful roaming champion with little-no laning ability. Experienced players will always see you in stealth if move in lane while you’re in their vision range, so use bushes/vision wisely. Zeratul does not scale as well as illidan in terms of raw damage output, but is one of the premier killers of squishy targets. I see many players taking Shadow Assault, which I feel is a mistake. Simply put, Void Prison is a high contender for the strongest ult in the game, while Shadow Assault is overall decent at best. If you’re having trouble killing targets and escaping alive (trading 1 for 1 is rarely worth it) without Shadow Assault, you should rework your build and practice your Zeratul. Unlike Illidan, you do not outscale tanks, so your target selection and positioning need to be spot on every fight.
5v5: Zeratul’s strong roaming presence early to late game and ability to kill squishy targets makes him a strong pick in many 5s comps. Additionally, Void Prison is among best ultimates in the game. Personally, I feel like Void Prison is too strong, but that’s a different discussion.
Many of us are used to thinking of these as AD carries (or marksman), but due to shared resources, ranged scaling in HOTS is gentler than other MOBAs, meaning you do comparatively more damage early, although levels are still your bread and butter.
Demon Hunter is a very strong late game carry. Unlike many of the other ranged assassins, DH has good wave clear and can push a lane herself.
5v5: Depending on the enemy comp, it is possible to solo lane DH due to her escape via vault and strong wave clear. She is vulnerable to roam and is not all that good in a 2v1 lane, but can often 1v1 successfully. DH is the best balanced of the ranged assassins with strong ults, mobility, and medium range. I have seen many very successful DHs in 5s play and she goes well into most comps.
Nova is a long-range poke based champion who relies on stealth and careful positioning to stay alive. She has very strong ults, with triple tap + overdrive being able to almost 1 shot most other squishy characters. Nova’s auto attacks have a slightly weaker base value than many other assassins, and only middle-of-the-road scaling. However, she has long and upgradable range, and snipe is has phenomenal long-range damage.
5v5: Nova is very playable in 5v5. Her lack of mobility, wave clear, or escapes makes her laning miserable. She can roam to some extent due to her burst with snipe and inherent stealth, but she really doesn’t shine until tiers 4 and 5. Both of her ults are viable, but I have seen the most success from overdrive-triple tap novas when not running aoe-comps (etc, gazlowe or whatnot). In general, Demon Hunter is a more standard pick in 5s, but Nova is very playable and key to some comps.
Tychus is a different breed of assassin. He does heavy sustained damage, has a short range dash, and an aoe displacement, making him a good brawler. Tychus has severe issues against longer ranged and higher burst assassins, but can shred tanks, healers, towers, mercs, and objectives insanely fast. His drill is also a top tier ultimate and along with the utility from his grenade (with upgraded range) is enough reason to play this champ.
5v5: Tychus is a very strong 5v5 pick. He has the best wave clear out of all the assassins, and is god-tier against objectives. Additionally, Tychus brings a lot of team utility, has a fantastic solo and team fight ult plus some mobility. That said, Tychus is weak to other assassins and suffers from range issues against some comps.
Falstad is one of the best burst-mages in the game and has free nearly global mobility, making him a top tier pick. I haven’t played enough Falstad to give much more detail here.
5v5: I’ve faced many Falstads, and with good reason. This champion is one of the best competitive assassin picks for any comp. He has global pressure, high burst, two solid ults and is a powerful solo laner. His ultimates are slightly weaker than those of a few assassins (Raynor, Zeratul, Tychus and sometimes Nova), but his kit is amazing overall.
Jim Raynor is the strongest brawling assassin. He has a displacement/burst spell, aoe buff, and huge free heal to bait your enemies with. Additionally, we’ve all seen how strong Hyperion (and Banshees) are. Raynor’s raw damage is high, but he is stronger as a brawler against melee champs than he is against long-rang assassins. Falstad, Nova, and Demon Hunter are all strong against Raynor, but he has the raw power to win any match-up.
5v5: Raynor is a fairly stable pick in 5v5. Demolitionist is one of the best early siege skills in the game. Raynor’s pushing power is a bit weak, but he can buff his minions and use Penetrating Round to get the wave moving in his favor. In general, I have seen more success from Demon Hunter due to her jack-of-all-trades mobility + damage, but Raynor’s ults are undeniably exceptional.
Thanks for taking a look, please feel free to ask questions, disagree with me, or whatever else in comments. Also, I’m often around in-game (Byron#1690) love to talk strats, put together premades, or whatever.