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August 22nd, 2018 Patch - 7 Days Later
7 Days Later
(banner courtesy of /u/Somber99)

View the previous post on HeroesHearth here.
View all of my previous blog posts here.

Hello again!  After each balance patch, I've taken it upon myself to track how the balance changes have affected the Nexus.  It's become something of a habit for me, and I thought it might be fun to share my data with the community.

In case you've forgotten what changed in the last patch, here's a link.

Disclaimer (please read!):
All data provided in this post was collected from Hotslogs, which is a database of player-submitted games.  Data was collected between 3:30 PM and 4:30 PM EST each day, using the special filter "Last 7 Days (Current Build)" and focusing exclusively on Hero League data (with the exception of heroes like Cho'Gall, whose unique nature requires pulling data from Team League).  As usual, keep in mind that my numbers may differ slightly from Hotslogs's "official" figures as the site regularly updates older information as more games are added. Therefore, our data may not match up perfectly, but it should give a generally accurate view of how the week progressed.

Here is a link to the spreadsheet with the data I've collected.  The spreadsheet contains all of my original data, split into two categories: "Composite" (which represents all data across the entire week) and "Daily" (which represents data from each individual day).  It also contains a number of graphs showing how each hero is performing in both win rate and popularity.  If you'd prefer a summarized report, read on!

Here is a table showing the win rates, pick rates, ban rates, and overall popularity:
Remember, only the heroes whose win rates are highlighted blue/orange with white text have exceeded their margin of error.  Heroes which do not exceed the margin of error are considered to have too little data to confirm that they have changed in any significant way.  Note that the error column assumes a 95% confidence interval.  To put it simply, a 95% confidence interval is a numerical way to measure whether the win rate has changed in any significant way.  If the change to a win rate exceeds the error, then we can assume that there is approximately a 95% chance that the win rate has changed.

Here is a table showing the composite and daily win rates as charts, as well as a chart comparing the previous and current pick/ban rates:
Win rates are shown as a bar indicating their relative distance from 50%.  Blue bars shown above the line are win rates that are above 50%, and orange bars below the line show win rates that are below 50%.  This gives a visual representation of how the win rate has changed each day.  The final column splits the pick rate and ban rate into blue and orange sections, respectively, to show their overall influence on the popularity.  The bar above is the original popularity, and the bar below represents the popularity after the designated period.

The seven-day analysis is below.  Please note that while I try to cover all heroes, not all heroes are in need of in-depth analysis of their changes, so some heroes may have short summaries or may even be omitted entirely.  Also, be aware that the contents of this section are primarily my own opinion of the changes, albeit backed with data.  If you disagree, feel free to explain why in the comments below.

1) Chromie remains well below par, further showcasing the need for a renewed sense of identity.  It should be noted that these changes were not as small as they might appear.  She received a 5% buff to her Sand Blast and an 8% buff to Dragon's Breath as well as a 25% buff to Bronze Talons, though all of these figures fall woefully short of where she was in July.  On any other hero, a +4.2 p.p. spike in win rate would be huge....but for a hero who was sitting at a 37.1% WR prior to the changes, and who is still 5.8 p.p. short of where she was in July, that's not nearly enough.  She remains a poor choice for PvE damage and a much weaker selection for team fighting, which is probably why her popularity in the HGC on the newest patch dropped to near-zero, with only one pick and one ban for the entire weekend to cash out at a 3.1% popularity rate.  Chromie was sitting at a 21.3% popularity rate for Phase 2 before this patch hit, which ranked her as the 3rd most popular mage and the 12th most popular assassin.

I talked about this back in my previous 7-day post earlier this month, but to reiterate: the core problem with the changes to Chromie is that they are antithetical to each other.  The devs still consider Chromie to be an "artillery mage", but they also lowered her range, and then gave her a baseline talent that requires closing the distance even further so she can weave auto-attacks between her spells.  This was a considerable misstep.  Because she has to close the gap to deliver her maximum damage, you're basically forced to play her as a mid-range mage instead of a long-range one, and that's a field in which she performs relatively poor compared to every other mid-range mage.  And since her AA damage is rather low even if she procs Bronze Talons, she's weaker than AA heroes as well, putting her in an awkward spot where she's not really "good" at anything.  And number changes simply aren't going to fix this design.

More than ever, Chromie needs a clear design path.  Numbers buffs might eventually get her win rate back to something "passable", but they will never fix the core problems that this change has created, which have driven her out of professional play.  If the devs wish to make her a "hybrid mage" who relies on AAs, then she should have significantly reduced range to better line up with Bronze Talons and greater overall damage to compensate for this, but I think this design risks making her even more similar to other mages.  I prefer a return to the "artillery mage" form: remove Bronze Talons entirely and give her back her original range, but severely limit her damage.  This would allow her to throw out consistent and sustained poke with short cooldowns while dealing a lot less overall damage, turning her into more of a "mage Sgt Hammer", which is a niche we don't really have as of yet.  It would also remove most of the frustrations that people have with her kit, since she's no longer able to deal lethal damage on her own, and she has far fewer ways of managing dive than Hammer.

2) Whitemane's Q build has been nerfed, but these changes likely haven't shaken things up nearly as much as they first appeared.  Whitemane's win rate had been trending upwards since her release, and these changes have toned her down to a win rate closer to where she sat two weeks prior.  However, despite many declarations of the "death" of the Q build, Unwavering Faith (46.2% PR, 52.5% WR) is still performing very well in its tier (+1.4 p.p. in WR vs High Inquisitor, and -0.8 p.p. in WR vs Indulgence) despite having its mana efficiency severely docked.  This is largely unsurprising, though, as most people weren't picking it for its high mana efficiency to begin with.  High Inquisitor was always numerically superior to it in that field.  What made Unwavering Faith such a strong talent is the addition of a shield at 3 Desperation stacks.

Shields are a fantastic damage mitigation tool, and the nature of Whitemane's shield makes it an effective anti-dive tool as well, removing one of her kit's core weaknesses and creating a similar problem to Malfurion's Ice Block.  We saw this very clearly last weekend, as Whitemane players would frequently survive attacks that would have been lethal to other healers.  And while her win rate remained low in the HGC, as I noted on Twitter a few days prior, that's largely due to the fact that we've yet to see her played much by top teams, although Korea considered her enough of a threat to first-pick or first-ban her out of every single game that weekend.  Hopefully we will get to see how the changes affect her this coming weekend.  If pros are still using the Q build then, it will only further confirm my suspicions that Unwavering Faith's shield is just too good to pass up.  I would like to see the devs revert the mana efficiency nerfs to Unwavering Faith and instead remove the shield, maybe even replacing it with something better suited to her design.

3) Raynor's changes, when combined with other recent changes, suggest that we might be seeing an end to the scaling "experiment" in favor of normalized scaling.  Numerous heroes, both old and new, received changes in previous patches that gave them higher or lower scaling.  Chromie, Raynor, Fenix, Zagara, and several others all had individual stats or skills which played with scaling to some degree, offering greater early-game power but poor late-game or vice versa.  Since then, however, many of these have been removed.  Zagara lost most of her odd scaling in June, as did Fenix.  Chromie lost hers with her recent rework.  And now Raynor's lost his scaling as well, yielding higher early-game damage but falling behind his old design at about Lvl 13.  These changes suggest that the scaling "experiments" of previous patches might be coming to an end somewhat.  Of course, this begs the obvious question....when does Kel'Thuzad get his scaling adjusted?

4) Kel'Thuzad's changes did not break the margin of error overall, though he remains largely a feast-or-famine hero that may not see much of a "spike" in the pros.  His win rate didn't increase or decrease enough to be certain of where he stands, though in my own experience, he's still plenty potent.  One core problem remains, however: he's still very much dependent on his stacking for effectiveness, especially now that his Glacial Spike is built into his trait.  While I largely approve of this move, the removal of building chains makes him even more reliant on a good 4-man rotation to get early stacks.  And because his scaling is rather poor, the longer he takes to stack, the worse off his team will be.  Now that he's a bit fresher in terms of talents, I'd like to see the devs look into taming his feast-or-famine nature down a bit more.  It would be nice if he gained a lesser total power boost from Master of the Cold Dark in exchange for improved damage scaling so that his early game doesn't suffer as greatly.  I think this would be a good shift that could help bring him more into prominence than he is right now.

5) Tychus receives a small but meaningful buff to his damage that might improve his stock in Hero League and the HGC alike.  Tychus had been starting to fall a bit behind in Hero League, sitting at a 46.1% WR before these changes and a very low 4.2% popularity rate in Phase 2 of the HGC.  These changes represent a net 4% buff to his auto-attack damage, which is considerable for an AA hero.  It's not a flashy change, but it might help raise his stock a bit in both the pro scene and in Hero League.  Personally, I'm very pleased with this change, and I think these are the sorts of tweaks that the game needs to do often to keep things interesting.

6) Li Li also receives a fairly small change that ends up being somewhat meaningful.  Her win rate has just barely broke the margin of error, and it only reached that point as of today, so it's admittedly a bit sketchy as to how much she's changed.  But at least in terms of how she feels, I'm very pleased with the results.  With the removal of cast time on her Cloud Serpent, as well as a tweak to prevent it from canceling move orders, Li Li has a bit more flow to her kit now, which is always good on a support.

Looking for more of my work?  My last HGC article focuses on the third ban's impact on competitive play.  That article is located here.  Feel free to let me know your thoughts to this article in the comments section below, or on Twitter at my handle @CriticKitten.  I look forward to your replies!

Hope to see you again next time!
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