Greetings everyone! While playing Hero League and talking to friends who have either just started or are about to enter it, I noticed that some people aren’t entirely sure how the Draft Process works. I know a definitive guide to Hero League Draft is only good for however long the current meta lasts, so consider this as more of a general overview. As such, there will mostly be generalizations, not so much specific Heroes outside of some examples.
That being said, I plan for this thread to be a work in progress, so feel free to chime in on things you think should be added or changed. I’ll do my best to keep it updated.
Lastly, please be courteous. This is meant to help people, not blame them for not playing the way you’d like them to or in the way this guide presents.
This is the first thing because it is the most important. A team that begins to work together in draft is already at an advantage. You will have better picks, and generally it gets the game off to a good start.
When you get in the lobby, say which Heroes you have/would like to play. Click on a preferred hero or on a few so you and your team can see what your composition may shape up to be. You may already have people who are predisposed for the right composition. If you are up first to pick, it is crucial you pick a Hero your team can work with. When you make that decision without consulting people, you are forcing 4 people into a play-style based on your choice. Not giving them any choice in the matter isn’t cool. On the other hand, I’ve seen compositions work with less than optimal picks, so if somebody chooses something you don’t like, don’t immediately start flaming them.
2) Hero Selection
Understand compositions. Every team needs at least one Dedicated Tank, Dedicated Support, and Primary Damage (see Hero Identities below). Make sure that happens. If you are the first up, try to pick something that will help your team. By this, I mean one of the above three roles. While a Hero like Zagara is great, first-picking her doesn’t help your composition much, and allows the opponent grab 2 top-tier characters undisputed.
This brings me to my second point- There are Heroes that are better than others. Bottom line. As balance improves, this will be less of a factor, but understand that this is why some people may groan when you choose Sonya 1st when you could take ETC or Stitches.
When choosing, realize that some Heroes combo together very well. Try to pick ones that complement your team. Abathur is not a top pick in most cases, but with an Illidan and Rehgar, he can be fantastic. Kerrigan is lackluster at the moment, but combos very well with Heroes like Arthas or Stitches. If the enemy composition is dependent on getting a hero you can deny them it by choosing it yourself (assuming it fits in your composition).
Furthermore, some heroes are able to shut down the enemy’s composition. For example, Diablo’s Apocalypse is a fantastic counter to an enemy Nazeebo. Sgt Hammer is easily countered by Falstad with Power Throw and BOOMerang and Stitches’ Hooks are amazing against her.
Lastly, if they have a hero that counters one you had in mind, you may want to consider changing it to another that fills the same role. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for a hard game.
3) Team Composition
Certain Compositions of heroes tend to perform better than others. Below are some common Hero compositions you’ll see, how they play out, and what you can do to maximize their potential. You may notice some terms that aren’t actual Hero classes. I’ll break that part down in the second part of the post. For brevity, I only have 2 compositions for now, but will add more in later as I write them (or they are contributed in the comments).
- Dedicated Tank, Dedicated Support, Secondary Support, Primary Damage, Bruiser/True Assassin/2nd Ranged Damage.
When you hear about the double support meta, this is what you’ll tend to see. This team is powerful in 5-man teamfights and will for the most part, tend to stay together or in easy closing distance of each other.
- Dedicated Tank, Bruiser, Dedicated Support, Primary Damage, Split Pusher
This team is a bit more Tanky for sustained fights, and won’t always be looking to get kills. Often, they will fight 4v5 to keep your team busy while the Split-Pusher sieges for an XP/building advantage or takes mercenaries.
Knowing what the team you’re facing is best built for and how they are likely to play can be the key to beating them. Do your best to further your team’s strategy while denying theirs.
4) Hero Identities
Some Heroes don’t play exactly the way you’d expect them to based on their descriptions. For example, despite being a Warrior, Sonya should not be the only Warrior on your team. This is because she lacks the health pool and sustain to stay alive for long periods of time under duress while getting CC’d like some other Warriors.
Please note some Heroes fit into multiple categories based on how they are built.
Dedicated Tank: High-health hero that should almost always be on the front line. Has low-mid damage output, ability to initiate, soak damage, and provide crowd control.
- Arthas, ETC, Chen, Diablo, Stitches, Muradin
Bruiser: Similar to Tank, but can only occasionally be at the front. Mid-high damage output, can soak damage for a while in order to take damage off the Tank, but lacks the sustain for prolonged fights at the front line. Also often has good crowd control capabilities.
- Anub’Arak, Illidan, Sonya, Thrall, Tyrael
Dedicated Support: Hero focused on healing and keeping your Heroes up and in the fight as much as possible. They often provide good CC and other utilities, but their main focus is healing.
- Brightwing, LiLi, Malfurion, Rehgar, Uther
Secondary Support: Heroes focused on being able to support the team in various ways other than just direct healing. This can be Damage, Rooting, Vision, Stuns, Shield or to put it simply- Force Multipliers. They make the team more effective in many ways.
- Abathur, Malfurion, Tassadar, Tyrande
Primary Damage: Heroes that are all about damage and as such, they usually have smaller health pools and strategic escape talents. Also known as ‘Glass Cannons’. Their high damage, especially in burst or AoE form, makes them very powerful in a team-fight if they are able to stay alive.
- Falstad, Jaina, Raynor, Nazeebo, Tychus, Sgt. Hammer, Sylvanas, Valla, Zagara
True Assassins: For the most part, these Heroes are meant to play ‘janitor’ and clean up Heroes that have been partially damaged and are fleeing. while they can hide behind their own Tank and strategically enter the battle, they will sometimes try to get behind the enemy lines and do damage there. Often, they will have stealth or chase-based abilities and high burst with low health.
- Illidan, Kerrigan, Nova, Zeratul
Split-Pusher: Heroes that can have the ability to help in a team-fight, but are generally going to limit their engagement in the fights. Instead, they will focus on getting your team ahead in XP, pushing lanes, capturing mercenaries, and getting map objectives.
- Abathur, Azmodan, Gazlowe, Murky, Sylvanas, The Lost Vikings, Zagara
I’ve previously written about this in a thread KillerofGods and I collaborated on (linked below), but just wanted to touch on it here as well. The difference between Quick Match and Hero League can be summed up as such-
Quick Match: I want to have a good time playing in a mildly competitive environment and highly value my own experience.
Hero League: I want to play in a hyper competitive setting and value being a team asset over my own experience.
The bottom line is which do you value more? If given the choice between playing your favorite hero and the hero your team needs to be more competitive, which would you prefer? Your answer should tell you which game you should play, at least in my opinion.
A note on flaming as well. If you’re frustrated or think your teammates are making bad decisions, don’t get aggressive or condescending. A phrase that I have seen work well is that “We’re setting ourselves up for a difficult game.” You want to make sure you don’t act like the game is over, because it most certainly is not. Keep things positive.