I see people asking in General chat a lot for strong hero recommendations, but a strong hero depends on what game modes you play and who you play with. A hero that’s strong in competitive team games may not be as strong in solo queue. So, I thought I would put together a guide of what I think are the best heroes to use for Quick Match solo queue. I recently got into Diamond in QM (MMR 2726), almost entirely through solo queue games. Not the best but enough that I wanted to share my thoughts with anyone else who is newer to the game and wondering what heroes to spend their hard earned gold on.
While there is no hero in HotS that can “carry” 1v5 like a farmed hero in League of Legends or Dota 2 can, a strong QM solo queue hero can semi-carry if they are able to:
- Clear creep waves fast. This allows a smart solo hero to quickly soak experience for their team to give them the level advantage AND still be able to return to the fight in time. Preferred heroes can also clear creep early so that you can beat the enemy team to level 10 and get your heroics. Getting to level 10 first and winning the team fight is the easiest way to start a steamroll to victory as it will increase team morale and also crush your enemies spirits. This is how you win QM solo queue.
- Push structures. You can’t win without breaking some walls and forts down. Heroes that can quickly bring down structures solo can single handedly win the game for their team with backdoor pushes, giving them the experience advantage and distracting members of the enemy team who come to defend.
- Team fight. A majority of games end late game when one team wipes the other in a team fight. Being able to make that single play late game with a well timed heroic will win many games.
- Survive. Seems obvious, staying alive is a good thing. Many heroes do this much better than others, however, and choosing a hero with an escape or some other means of survival will keep you alive, making plays and earning exp for your team, while denying the enemy kills and map control.
- Be independent. Some heroes practically require a specific team comp or support of some kind to work to their full potential (Illidan, for example), while others are strong regardless of who else is on their team. When you play QM solo and are being matched with 4 other random heroes, you must pick heroes who are strong independent of your team comp.
- Communicate. This goes for any match, with any hero you choose: communicate with your team! Use the variety of pings available to you. Talk to your team in chat. Say please and thank you and good job. Don’t rage. If one person on your team refuses to play with everyone else, follow them around and make them the leader instead. You might not always be in the right place, but at least you’ll be there with your team and you might win a surprise team fight to end the game instead of wiping 4v5 while your E.T.C. tries to clear top lane by himself. You will be amazed at the comebacks you will make if you communicate better with your team. It won’t work every time, but 60% of the time, it works every time.
The goal is to maximize the amount of impact a single hero can have on the game’s outcome. A good player who can influence the game in multiple ways, like those listed above, can slowly build a huge advantage for their team over the course of a game. Other heroes who cannot do all of those things listed above will not have the opportunity to influence the game as much as they need to in order to “carry” their team to victory in solo queue. A fantastic Li Li probably won’t win the game if their tank and assassins are bad players, as she can’t push hard on her own or deal damage to the right targets. Sgt. Hammer can push lanes faster than anyone but without a good team protecting her, she is extremely vulnerable and will get ganked repeatedly. Stitches can be one of the strongest gankers with backup, but has trouble killing solo or with an uncoordinated team. With that said, here are my picks based on their ability to win games in Quick Match solo queue in the hands of a skilled player:
Tier 1 – Murky, Johanna, Leoric
Tier 2 – Zeratul, Nazeebo, Abathur
Tier 3 – Kerrigan, Sylvanas, Lost Vikings, Valla, Kael’Thas, Jaina
TIER 1 – I feel these picks have strong impact throughout the entire game regardless of the map or what other heroes are on your team. They can push lanes, they can destroy structures, contribute to team fights, survive well, escape bad situations, and work well on their own or in a team. These picks will be strong except in rare cases (for example, if your group of solo queuers get matched vs a group of 3 using VoIP, or if you pick Murky and your teammates are Nova, Zeratul, Abathur, and TLV), where you’re probably screwed no matter who you picked, anyways.
In my experience, no other QM solo queue hero can have as much game impact as Murky. He has fantastic wave clear, can push down structures ridiculously fast, team fights extremely well especially after getting Octograb at level 10, insane survivability with the bubble build, and even if he does die is only dead for 5 seconds, and he is strong on almost any team comp. On top of that, he requires a coordinated team to counter him (to find his egg and kill Murky before he can plant a new egg), which you are unlikely to find in QM solo queue games. On top of that, he’s just fun as hell because he’s so annoying and you basically get to play the entire game, since your death timers are so short. 82 games with Murky, 66% win rate. I am a fan.
My build: 1- Block (if vs Nova/Zera to survive burst)/Safety Bubble (vs anyone else to chase/escape), 4- Living the Dream, 7- Compressed Air, 10- Octograb, 13- Bubble Machine, 16- Rejuvenating Bubble, 20- And a Shark, Too!
Alternatively, you can get Slime Advantage at 7 and Rewind at 20 if you’re comfortable doing the smaller Puffer -> Rewind -> Puffer -> Octo combo, but I prefer Compressed Air for stupidly fast wave clears on those giant end game waves so I can throw a puffer and run away (you get exp even if you’re out of range if your puffer gets the kills, which it will late game), maximizing the exp I gain for my team. I also prefer And a Shark, Too! over Rewind because it’s more reliable damage, in my experience, especially after everyone gets Bolt of the Storm at level 20, any decent player will Bolt out either between casting Puffer > Octo, or after Octo ends and before Puffer explodes.
My other top 2 picks are tanks because a majority of QM teams you play on will not have a tank, and the difference between a 5 assassin team and a 4 assassin/1 tank team is massive.
An absolute beast of a tank, as anyone who has played with or against her will attest. The single most tanky character in the game, hands down. With Knight Takes Pawn at level 1 she has awesome wave clear. Her Blessed Shield heroic is a fantastic multi-target stun that can be used to cancel some of the most powerful heroics in the game (Strafe, Jug of 1000 Cups, Ravenous Spirit, etc). She doesn’t have an escape, but who needs an escape when you have her Iron Skin trait? Her Q also displaces enemies (again, cancelling some powerful channeled abilities), she has an AOE slow, and an AOE blind, too! Talk about impact. Strong even without a healer thanks to her Laws of Hope talent, and one of the best backline divers, in my opinion. Most of my Johanna games I win by charging straight for healers and mages, disrupting the entire team while I take no damage and am immune to CC thanks to Iron Skin. You don’t even need to kill them (though you can because her damage output is insane for a tank), you just need to make them piss their pants, and the fight is won. 44 games, 68% win rate.
My build: 1- Knight Takes Pawn, 4- Laws of Hope, 7- Battle Momentum, 10- Blessed Shield, 13- Burning Rage (vs stealthies & Zagara to clear creep, especially)/Spell Shield (vs mages & other ability DPS), 16- Blessed Hammer/Imposing Presence (vs Valla and other heavy AA), 20- Invulnerability
Another top tier tank, though, in my opinion, slightly below Johanna in terms of strength and utility, but more fun to play. Leoric’s main strength comes from his massive regeneration. He also has a basic ability escape, can significantly reduce his death timer, and can revive at any position on the field instead of having to run back from the fountain. He can clear waves extremely well with his Q, great survivability, built in escape, naturally tanky, and you have yourself a solo queue monster. Roaming between two close lanes early game to clear and grab Regen Globes can throw the enemy team off early, and free your team up to make plays elsewhere. On the rare occasion that you do die, you can scout behind enemy lines providing your team with information, and then revive near bot lane that’s being pushed and clear it within seconds, so you can return to the team fight about to happen in mid lane. Leoric has great game impact at all points in the game, even while he’s dead. 59 games, 60% win rate.
My build: 1- Reanimation, 4- Fealty Unto Death, 7- Ossein Renewal, 10- March of the Black King, 13- Burning Rage (vs stealth & Zagara)/Spell Shield (vs mages & other ability DPS), 16- Consume Vitality, 20- Hardened Shield (vs heavy burst)/Spectral Leech (vs sustained dps)
TIER 2 – These picks have amazing game impact but fall short in one or more areas, typically when it comes to considering their power within most QM team comps. These heroes are very strong, but depending on what other heroes are on your team, may have difficulty winning.
Has the greatest team fight impact of any hero with his Void Prison heroic. A properly placed VP will win team fights, and ultimately, the game. His wave clear is also decent with his Cleave attack, which you’ll want to do throughout the game to grab Regen Globes. Even without Void Prison, Zeratul is a huge threat to some of the strongest squishy DPSers in the game, particularly the extremely popular Jaina and Kael’Thas, who both lack escapes until late game. One of the highest skill cap heroes in the game, I am terrible with him, but do recognize his power in QM solo queue for his ability to single handedly wreck face. The only reason he isn’t tier 1 is because he is semi-reliant on having a decent team that can stay alive long enough for him to do his work unharassed. Also, Zeratul will spend most of his time stalking other heroes, so will not contribute as much to pushing or to experience to the team as the Tier 1 heroes. Though his impact in teamfights and ganks is one of the highest, his overall impact falls short of the Tier 1 picks.
My build: 1- Regeneration Master, 4- Focused Attacks, 7- Follow Through, 10- Void Prison, 13- Wormhole, 16- Double Bombs, 20- Nexus Blades
Even though Nazeebo lost Sprint in the latest patch, he is still incredibly strong as a solo queue hero. Almost in the lower tier, Nazeebo stays up here with Zeratul and Abathur due to his tankiness thanks to Death Ritual talent at level 1, his incredible pushing power, his fantastic team fight presence, and newly buffed Ravenous Spirit. His new talent Thing of the Deep makes him even more terrifying, allowing him to toss spiders and zombies at your face from even further away. Even though he has no built in escape mechanic, his tankiness and his skillset makes it unappealing for people to chase you for long, if they’re even able to. His spiders give you great utility for scouting and harassment. Zombie Wall can be used to trap opponents for ganks, or to block paths to keep enemies away from you and your allies. A skilled Nazeebo has many tools available to them to push lanes, win team fights, and gain map control, regardless of who else is on their team. I would consider Nazeebo tier 1 if he had more directly targeted damage and an actual escape without having to wait until level 20, but he is still very strong for solo queue.
My build: 1- Death Ritual, 4- Spider Cluster, 7- Gidbinn, 10- Ravenous Spirit, 13- Thing of the Deep, 16- Leaping Spiders, 20- Annihilating Spirit/Bolt of the Storm (if you’re having trouble staying alive, or need it to escape certain powerful skill shots)
Amazing map presence in the right hands and can be an absolute terror in team fights, especially if you choose Hive Mind at level 20. His ability to soak exp and push in lanes during a team fight / objective spawn while also participating in that team fight through Symbiote make Abathur one of the most impactful heroes. Another extremely high skill cap hero like Zeratul. Also like Zeratul, however, he is highly dependent on your team comp. While Abathur pairs amazingly well with most tanks and diving assassins such as Illidan or Butcher, his Symbiote is not as effective on ranged characters and supports since they will often be trying to stay outside of the battle, where Abathur’s Stab and Spike Burst cannot reach any enemies. An Abathur on a team with Johanna, Leoric, Rehgar, and Illidan will be much more effective than an Abathur on a team with Nova, Li Li, Zagara, and Sgt. Hammer. There are two primary builds for Abathur, and which one you use depends on your team comp and your personal play style. Both work in most games:
Symbiote build (for massive team fight presence, use especially if you have a GOOD Illidan or other strong tank/melee assassin on your team): 1- Pressurized Glands, 3- Adrenal Overload, 7- Needlespine/Mule (Mule is preferred on certain large maps like Sky Temple), 10- Monstrosity (for ultimate push power)/Evolution (if you’re confident controlling other assassins), 13- Soma Transference, 16- Adrenal Boost/Envenomed Spikes (if your team lacks slows/CC), 20- Hive Mind
Locust build (for massive pushing and backdooring, higher skill cap, must have excellent map awareness): 1- Survival Instincts, 4- Adrenal Overload, 7- Needlespine/Mule, 10- Monstrosity, 13- Bombard Strain, 16- Locust Brood, 20- Locust Nest
TIER 3 – These heroes have great game impact but are generally too vulnerable to have as much impact as the other tiers, or require a tank/support to protect them in the backline. In the right hands, however, they can still be extremely powerful on most any team comps. There are a few other heroes that fit into this tier but these are my favorites, and the ones I think are the strongest.
Kerrigan was recently buffed in the latest patch and she is a real monster, now. I’ve only played 8 games with her since the patch, but I’ve won all 8 of them by a landslide, even with terrible team comps. Her ganking potential in the right hands with her Q, W, E combo is unmatched by any other single hero, I’d argue, even Zeratul/Nova. The gap close that heals you, the long range grab, the stun, all providing you with shields, increased health/mana regen, and dealing massive damage make Kerrigan a force to be reckoned with. She has no escapes except Queen’s Rush at level 13, which still won’t save you from everything, and late game you will have trouble getting kills solo, so will require your team to fight well together to win late game team fights, which should go very well thanks to her Maelstrom heroic. She lacks strong wave clear, though she can clear waves well enough with her E and the Psionic Pulse talent at level 4. Close to Tier 2, she’s very strong this patch.
My build: 1- Siphoning Impact, 4- Psionic Pulse, 7- Assimilation Mastery, 10- Maelstrom, 13- Queen’s Rush, 16- Aggressive Defense, 20- Omegastorm/Bolt of the Storm (if I’m being focused a lot)
Strong pusher and when combined with other specialists like Hammer or Azmodan, can absolutely melt structures. However, she is squishy and though she has an escape, it’s one of the most difficult escapes to use, as it is more vulnerable to CC than other escapes like Zeratul’s Blink, since enemies can wait until you fire Haunting Wave, then stun you, eliminating your only chance to survive. Her saving grace, along with her immense pushing power, is her Wailing Arrow heroic. Like Zeratul’s Void Prison, this heroic can turn a team fight around and win the game for your team if aimed properly.
My build: 1- Withering Fire, 4- Envenom, 7- Unstable Poison, 10- Wailing Arrow, 13- Evasive Fire (get dat movespeed), 16- Cold Embrace (if your team is working well together in team fights)/Blood for Blood (if you need more focus damage for single target or more survival), 20- Player choice, always depends on situation
The Lost Vikings
Strong pushers and, like Murky, can give your team a huge experience advantage, while also taking down structures and distracting the enemy. TLV, however, do not have the team fight presence of some of the other picks. Longboat Raid can deal significant damage but almost half of its damage goes to the nearest target, meaning it may not always go where you want it to. Taking Longboat Raid also means skipping Play Again which can be used to keep your Vikings on the field pushing for longer. TLV are also especially vulnerable to AOE and ganks, especially from heroes like Nova and Zeratul that can 100-0 them in the blink of an eye. Also an incredibly difficult hero to play properly, most of your QM teams will rage as soon as they see your name, creating a toxic team environment from the start. Play at your own risk.
I don’t play enough Vikings to recommend a build, but generally go with the Baelog talents and Play Again for passive pushing play. Higher skill cap players may use Spin to Win build.
Takes a few minutes to learn, but thousands of games to master. Valla is one of those heroes with a simple kit that can be used effectively by almost anyone, but is still powerful at high levels of play. She has great sustain with the Hungering Arrow build, basic ability escape, and amazing team fight presence at all points of the game. A good Valla left alone in the backline will tear the enemy team to pieces, and she’s easier/safer to do this with than other ranged assassins. My personal favorite Assassin, and one I would recommend any beginner to learn first. She would be top tier but she is reliant on having a decent front line to keep melee characters away from her face, since she will likely be the first focus in every team fight.
My build: 1- Siphoning Arrow (if there’s no support)/Composite Arrows, 4- Puncturing Arrow, 7- Repeating Arrow, 10- Strafe (most maps)/Rain of Vengeance (Mines, wombo combo potential with Gaz, etc), 13- Giant Killer (vs heavy tank comps)/Spell Shield (vs mages)/Frost Arrows (if your team needs more CC), 16- Blood for Blood, 20- Nexus Frenzy/Bolt of the Storm (if you’re having trouble staying alive)
The typical fire mage, everyone knows Kael’thas’ strengths and weaknesses by this point. Incredibly devastating from the backline, but lacks any form of reliable escape or mobility. His only escape is if you can land his Gravity Lapse skill shot. His impact on team fights is huge, however, thanks to his potential for AOE damage. I haven’t played with the new Kael’thas much yet, but Chain Bomb is incredibly fun and effective both for team fights and for pushing. Like Valla, he is dependent on having a front line to keep him safe, since he will ABSOLUTELY be focused in every team fight by smart opponents.
Haven’t played him too much since the patch, but I’ve been rolling with the new Chain Bomb buld from Hotslogs.com that seems to be the new hotness.
See Kael’thas, but replace fire with ice. Massive AOE damage potential, ridiculous slows, but she’s a squishy mage that lacks an escape. The closest she has to an escape is slowing enemies chasing her with her abilities (though if you get ganked this probably won’t save you) and Ice Block talent at level 13, which will only save you if your teammates can help you during the Ice Block duration. Again, she is reliant on having a strong front line and support so she can do her work unharassed, but game winning in the right hands on most team comps.
My build: 1- Deep Chill, 4- Snowstorm, 7- Frostbitten/Frost Armor (if I’m being focused, or vs Zera/Nova), 10- Player choice since patch, both OK, 13- Improved Ice Block/Storm Front (ONLY if you are having an easy time staying alive, not being focused), 16- Northern Exposure, 20- Bolt of the Storm
And that’s it. Thanks for reading!
inb4: All the above are my opinions based on my personal experience and play style, obviously your mileage may vary depending on the meta in your region, your MMR range, and your play style. Please do not take anything here as an absolute. Every game, every team mate, every opponent is different.