Lately, the joke around the Spoon Deep offices is: “Why are we so bad at Heroes of the Storm?” I know what you are thinking… Spoon Deep has offices? Don’t worry about that, what you should be worried about is improving your Heroes of the Storm gameplay so that you can get out of Bronze League and into the coveted Silver League! I should know, after doing my placement matches for Hero League I was shocked to find a big Bronze circle next to my name. I was ranked into Bronze 3. Things could be worse, I could’ve been ranked into Bronze 5. Does this make me qualified to write an improvement guide for Heroes of the Storm? Certainly! I have learned a lot about this game through many hours and countless nights grinding away at Quick Matches and the occasional Hero League or Team League victory. Also, I won two matches yesterday so things are looking up.
First things first, Heroes of the Storm has a unique ranking system. The ranks are broken into tiers with Bronze at the bottom, then Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Master, and finally Grandmaster reserved at the top for the 200 players with the highest score. Within each tier are ranks 1-5, 5 is the lowest and 1 is the top. It appears that almost all average players are placed into Bronze and Silver League. That means that if you are placed into Bronze or Silver Leauge you are not a bad player, you are merely average and probably got through your placement matches with about a 50% win rate. Compare this to a game like Rainbow 6 Siege, where the majority of ranked players are placed into Gold. Unfortunately for Heroes, this means that if you are ranked in Bronze or Silver, you might be a great player, but you are also grouped with below average players who have nowhere lower to go. Through my travels, I’ve seen countless Bronze 5 players who are really great and knowledge players, but likely do not invest a large amount of time to improve their rankings.
Nevertheless, I have also seen Bronze 5 players that do not do simple things that might result in a win every once in a while. The following is a list of 5 things that you can do
to improve your Heroes of the Storm gameplay and maybe move from Bronze to Gold!
1. Learn a Handful of Heroes
I firmly believe that every hero in the game is viable. Tier lists mean nothing if you don’t have experience playing your hero of choice. However, don’t try and play every single hero and expect to win with all of them. Focus on mastering a few heroes at first and slowly expand your repertoire. Until you’ve played 25 games with a hero you probably aren’t very good. Even then you will still not have experienced every matchup on each different map under countless new scenarios. This means that the first decision you make is picking a hero that you like! This will make the game more enjoyable and you will feel more comfortable playing a hero that you enjoy looking at. For me this means that I often only play big heroes like Butcher, Ragnaros, Tychus, and the occasional Cho’Gall (I’m Cho, you are Gall). But even though these heroes look similar they all have different strengths and weaknesses. Which leads to my second tip….
2. Play to your Hero’s Strengths
Each hero is designed to be played a certain way. The best way to learn how to play your Hero of choice is to first watch Blizzard’s Hero Overview for the Hero. These videos give great tips on how best to utilize your character’s kit. Is your Hero designed to take a lot of hits from the frontline and stun the enemy, or should you hide in the bushes and gank players as they walk by? Blizzard has said that they don’t want a lot of Heroes to fill the same role, that was one of the reasons they chose not to include Widowmaker from Overwatch, she would play too similar to Nova. And that is likely the same reason will probably won’t see Roadhog as he plays a lot like Stitches. My point is, whatever Hero you pick has certain unique strengths, play your game according to those strengths. If you pick a new Hero, your game should be completely unique and fresh as your figure out the best way to use a new set of tools.
When selecting a Hero, Blizzard has put in quick description on how best to play your character effectively. For example, Probius’s tip says “A high damage summoner that must stay near pylons to be effective” so you now know that Probious needs to stay near the pylons and can then dish out lots of damage. Likewise, Tychus’s tip says “An assassin who shreds High Health enemies” telling you to focus on enemies with high amounts of health to be effective. These are just quick tips to get you thinking about how you should play each hero.
3. Play Safe
After you learn your Hero’s strengths and begin playing lots of games, you should start to see some connections between your matches. First, think about the times that you died. Did you overextend slightly, reach the objective before the rest of your team was there to support you? Or did you just happen to jump over the enemies gate and get shredded by the towers? Believe me it has happened. In one game that example happened twice. I can’t emphasize enough how important staying alive is, first a death gives the enemy team experience which makes it easier to kill you the next time. Second a death means that your team has one less person to kill minions and soak experience, which will also put you further behind in level. Third when the enemy team is up one player they have more control of the map and can likely push your towers in or take control of the objectives easier.
If you are a beginning player just focusing on killing the waves of minions that come down a lane will help your team so much. Raynor’s whole kit is designed around killing these creep waves, making him a great Hero to start learning the game with. If you are holding a lane and a group of enemy Heroes come forward, back up. Stay safe. Retreat to your towers and let them help you. If you are in a team fight and the other team seems to have the upper hand, back away. Let them have the objective and go back to defend it. The worst that could happen would be one of your teammates dies from overly aggressive play, which puts the rest of your team at a disadvantage and the enemy team gets the objective anyway. If you die or retreat, the enemy will still get the objective, but in one situation you will still be alive to impact the game. Play it safe. Once you improve at your Hero of choice, you will learn when you can attack the enemy heroes safely, which matchups favor you, and which matchups to avoid, then you can start to be more aggressive and swing the games.
4. Think About What the Other Team is Doing
Once you gain experience on each of the maps, you can begin to think about which parts of the map are safe and which parts tend to have a lot of team fights or hiding spots for ganks. For example, if an tribute spawns on Cursed Hollow you can bet that the enemy is thinking that they should start heading towards the objective. You need to also think that the enemy will be moving in that direction and that some of the pathways towards your objective are going to be dangerous. Try and move together as a team or take a slightly longer route to ensure that you arrive with full health. You can also begin to think about tendencies that some characters have, Nova and Zeratul enjoy hiding in bushes and waiting until you have low health before they pop out and kill you. Once you understand the enemy heroes, you will understand what tools they have that can effect your ability to move around the map freely. Understand that both teams have the same goal, to destroy the enemy core. In order to do that, they must first destroy forts and then keeps. Map objectives and hero kills will help them do that. Once you know what an enemy player is doing (like attacking a boss camp) let the rest of your team know by pinging the location. This will just help everyone realize what is happening and will allow them to make better (safer) decisions.
5. Have Fun
My final point is the most important one. And honestly, it is one that I too sometimes forget. Have fun. At the end of the day Heroes of the Storm is a fun game. It is definitely okay to invest a lot of time, passion, and research into the game, that’s probably why you are reading this article, but that does not make it okay to treat other human beings poorly. In too many games I have seen teammates berate each others performance, sometimes deservedly so and sometimes without reason. Salt doesn’t make the game fun for you, the rest of the team, and it could be especially demeaning for the person on the receiving end. When you are in draft and someone wants to first pick Gazlowe, your first reaction shouldn’t be to attack your teammates. Encourage him or her for picking a hero that they enjoy and are probably good at. Win or lose the game can be a test of skill, coordination, and intelligence, and hopefully after the score screen you learned something about your own play and how you can personally improve. And I hope the same thing for my teammates. I’ve seen a lot of negativity following a tough loss, usually placing blame on one or more or the players for low damage numbers. If you lose encourage your team to keep playing because that makes the community stronger and healthier with more people enjoying the game. Thank them for taking the time to play Heroes and support a game that could easily be gone tomorrow. I’ll take a vow to do my part to improve the community of this game, will you?
Thanks for reading the article! You may have noticed that I did not mention team compositions as something to work on. Mostly because your team is often outside of your control. All you can hope for is that the people on your team are following the same guidelines that I have set above. You don’t have a healer? So what!! I have lost many a game to a team without a healer because we underestimated their damage output and everyone on their team played to their hero’s strengths. I also did not mention the score screen at the end of the match. Don’t worry about damage, healing, or tanking numbers. They only paint a small picture of what happened during the match. A Sylvanas can spend the whole match in a lane by herself racking up huge structure damage, but ensuring that her team loses every objective. Malfurion could have low heals but roots the enemey team so well that you are able to pick them off with ease. As I mentioned above, each hero has a role and lots of different ways to add utility to the team. If you can learn to ignore the damage numbers and focus on how your character is interacting with the environment you will have a better time playing the game and hopefully make it to Gold League soon!
Jake Fredericks is the Editor-in-Chief of Spoon Deep and is still waiting for the rest of the crew to give him something to edit. Spoon Deep provides in-depth (read: long winded) guides to many competitive games, including Heroes of the Storm. If you would like to reach out to Jake and invite him to join your professional eSports team (or other business inquiries) send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.