The Frustrations of Playing Low Level Hero League

HoofitNews, The Nexus Trolls - A Heroes of the Storm Podcast

I’ve been writing about competitive heroes for over 2 years, have been to 3 offline events and watch a lot of HGC (Heroes Global Championship). It may be obvious that, as a Bronze to Silver player, my games won’t be like the high-level games I watch. Yet I don’t feel I am even playing the same game when I play Hero League. When I recently played my placement matches I went 4-6, falling from Silver 5 to Bronze 1. The games were extremely different from what I watched; the difference and the results have made me question whether I should play Hero League.

This article isn’t meant to be one of these regular ‘my teammates are so bad, I don’t deserve to be here’ rants. I know that my mechanics aren’t great and sometimes I can get tilted by my team or even the game. My rank may well be a fair representation of my skill. Instead it is more an explanation into why I don’t feel an incentive to try to climb and perhaps reach the dizzy heights of gold.

The challenges of playing Low Level Hero League

As a starting point I bring you low level drafting. In 4 of my games the person responsible for doing the bans banned heroes we had pre-picked, in 2 of my games our own banning person banned our very next pick. As in we were first pick and we banned our very next choice, causing many recriminations.

Additionally, there are two conflicting forms of Bronze-Silver league perceived wisdom; one which tries to create a ‘perfect composition’ of 1 tank, 1 healer, 1 mage, and 2 assassins and you will get flamed if you deviate even slightly; and one equally as popular which is to pick whatever even if it means 4 bruisers and a support. There is also a big difference in what we think we can play that needs to be picked and what we can actually play.

Once you have got past the draft and the bickering and squabbles that occur then you have the fun of the game. I don’t really want to talk much about what I think the team does wrong because let’s face it, I’m not qualified to talk about mechanics or rotations. Just to mention that the rotations and teamwork leave a lot to be desired. High-level players that complain about Masters not understanding the game would, I think, really have their eyes opened by Bronze and Silver. The compositions; the inability to finish a game; team fighting when down in numbers or levels; what gets you flamed; all of it is eye opening.

Having to tank or support where you rely on unreliable team mates is personally aggravating. As someone who raided in World of Warcraft as both tank and support, and played off-lane bruiser for a Heroes Lounge team, it is a very different experience playing these roles at my level. You can never count on any sort of back up. I do not think that it is a coincidence that I lost all of my games when I played tank or support, and had an 80% win rate when I played someone like Fenix where I was more self-sufficient.

Lack of practice with tank and support might explain some of my losses and poor play some of the others certainly. But playing a role where you really need the support of your team (no pun intended) and not having it (when I am used to having it) is surely a significant reason. There are things that I could do to improve myself perhaps, but let’s examine the case for why I feel no incentive to do so, why I am extremely disincentivised to play more Hero League.

Why should I play Hero League?

Firstly, to be blunt low-level Hero League is not particularly fun. It consists of a lot of squabbling and trying to get a team to play in a coordinated manner is a huge effort for limited success. As someone that watches a lot of HGC and writes about it, the mismatch between what I see and my experience is night and day. Yes this is true at all levels and yes pro-play is not always representative, but at my rank people play nothing like what I see when I watch HGC or when I watch pros streaming Hero League.

Without the fun aspect, there is not really a sense of achievement either. Let’s face it, the reward you get at my rank is paltry; just some gold, and it’s not as if I am going to proudly show off my bronze/silver rank as a badge of achievement. To climb ranks, even assuming that I was capable of doing it, requires a great many won Hero League ‘experiences.’ This is exacerbated by having promotion games that you need to win to climb the sub-divisions. I appreciate they are looking at getting rid of them and that’s a needed change, but it can’t come soon enough. – did this happen yet?

As the lack of communication is so bad, the team work sketchy, and the compositions are often incredibly whacky, what is I wonder is the appeal or point in trying to play Hero League at this level, rather than Quick Match? Why spend time involved in draft lobby squabbling as people pre-select Gazlowe and argue who gets to play it and who has to play tank and support, when I could choose the character I want and play Quick Match?

The match quality is similar and I tend to have more fun playing Quick Match; it is less pressured and I get to play a role that I want (generally the off-lane or pushing type of character). It isn’t that I want to play a whacky character, though I could, but I get to play and practice the same role, which for me is very helpful.

If Quick Match is more fun, the match quality is similar, and I get to play the role I want why should I play Hero League? The obvious answer is: well don’t then, just play Quick Match, vs AI or Brawl even. But shouldn’t I feel like Hero League is the go-to mode? Isn’t that the mode pushed by Blizzard, the true competitive mode with a sense of achievement? For me it doesn’t feel like that, with neither a sense of fun nor achievement and I think that’s truly a shame.

Blizzard has held an AMA (Ask Me Anything) where solutions to resolving hero league frustration have been made, even if a lot of it is coming at an unknown time. Things like interdivisional placement matches being removed, performance based adjustment and some way of getting your preferred role more often would help. I haven’t played Hero League for a couple of months, I can’t see myself playing Hero League presently.

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