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Hero Priority at the 2018 HGC Eastern Clash (Phase 1)

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Hello again, everyone!  Today, we're here to talk about the HGC....specifically, the HGC Eastern Clash!  The tournament in Taipei, Taiwan pit the best 4 teams in South Korea against the best 3 Chinese teams, as well as a team from Taiwan.  For today's article, I'd like to take a look at the hero selection for these regions, and see how it compares to their regular season games.  We'll also look at some of their lesser-used heroes and draft strategies, so that maybe you can bring some of their ideas into your own games!


Hero Pick/Ban and Win Rate - The Raw Data

Here are some tables showcasing which heroes were selected the most during the Eastern Clash.

Now let's look at this data in greater depth.  What has the Eastern Clash shown us about each team's preference towards heroes?


While the West Prefers Blaze, the East Prefers....Garrosh?

Yes, it's true!  While the west embraced Blaze as their one true savior in the Warrior role with a 93% pick/ban at the Western Clash, Korea and China weren't quite sold on joining the religion of Blaze, only picking him 63% of the time and just barely falling short of the top ten.  Instead, they turned to a different hero to hold up the role of primary tank: Garrosh, who saw the most action of any Warrior with a 78% pick/ban.  While some had considered him "dead" after his changes to Groundbreaker, Korea showed that he remains a very powerful choice, pulling off a 10-6 record on the hero.  His overall win rate of 46% is deceptive, primarily due to his 1-6 record in China's hands, which accounts for half of his losses and suggests that he ought not to be underestimated in the hands of Korean teams.

Of course, coming in at second place among the tanks is the usual staple of eastern play: Tyrael, who logged a 70% popularity rate and a 58% win rate over the course of the tournament.  He remains a powerful choice for aggressive compositions that seek to dive deep into enemy lines and restrict their escape routes, which is perhaps the best description of Korean and Chinese play that you can offer.  His Lvl 1 talent, "Justice for All", recently received some nerfs, so it will be interesting to see if this affects his preference rating in Korea after the changes become available in the HGC.


Maiev Has a Friend in the 100% Club: Genji

Maiev continued her ongoing streak from the Western Clash, getting picked or banned in every single game in the Eastern Clash.  Teams just weren't willing to let her slide, and when they did....well, her record speaks for itself.  She went 5-3 overall, and 5-1 in Korean play, suggesting that they are able to use her quite effectively.  Of course, it remains to be seen how she'll perform once the next wave of nerfs is applied to the HGC scene.

However, Maiev didn't end up as the only hero at 100%.  Genji joined her as the only other hero in Taipei with a 100% pick/ban rate.  The Eastern Clash ended with Genji at a 17-18 record overall, with his Korean record as 15-12.  It seems that while the west is starting to relax its grip on Genji, the east remains steadfast in using him as a tool for pushing their style of aggressive play.  Their build of choice is to lean heavily into his Swift Strike as both an engage tool and as a finisher, with the true strength of the build emerging with the talents "Flow Like Water" (to reduce the cooldown of Swift Strike) at Lvl 13, and "Steady Blade" (to ramp up the amount of damage that Swift Strike deals) at Lvl 16.  It seems that the west may have to watch this trend carefully and consider if they want to spend one of their bans restricting Korea's access to Genji in the Midseason Brawl later this year, because if left unchecked, Genji could yet prove to be a deadly addition to an already aggressive play style.


Junkrat Emerged as a Korean Ranged Favorite

While the scene continued to have quite a few appearances by previously popular ranged damage heroes, such as Greymane and Hanzo, neither was able to match the deadliest ranged Assassin of them all....Junkrat!  Yes, the Aussie hero from Overwatch managed to achieve a 72% pick/ban during this tournament, primarily riding on the backs of the Korean region, which achieved a 12-6 record on the hero.

His true strength in the draft here was his general versatility.  His range allows him to safely poke at minion waves, enemy structures or heroes, and even objectives while remaining relatively safe.  This means he can serve as wave clear and team fighting damage alike, which is quite valuable.  His Concussion Mine also proved to be a dangerous tool for displacement, serving to help secure a pick on the enemy team, or as a way to prevent pursuit and save his fellow team members.  Combine that with the incredible power and additional displacement of his RIP-Tire and you have a recipe for a fantastic ranged damage hero that can cover all sorts of roles in the team draft, provided he can be safely protected by the team's front line.


The Eastern Clash had a Smaller Hero Pool than the Western Clash

The Western Clash featured about 62% of the total hero pool.  The Eastern Clash, on the other hand, featured only 57%, and it would have been considerably smaller if not for a lot of single-pick heroes emerging in the last day of the tournament.  The last day of the tournament gave us our first and only games on Cho'Gall, Chromie, Gul'dan, Medivh, Varian, and Zarya....whose exclusion would trim the Eastern Clash hero pool down to only 48% of all heroes.  So suffice it to say, the hero pool was actually pretty narrow, and only got as large as it did because the remaining Korean teams decided to experiment a bit more in their final games.  Below is a table showing an overview of the heroes that were selected for the Eastern Clash, broken down into sub-categories by their overall popularity (pick/ban).

There are not too many surprises in this collection, at least on the top or bottom of the charts.  Where things get interesting is when you look at the middle of the pack.  Greymane has slipped down the list since his recent nerfs, though still a relatively high priority at 54% popularity.  Worth noting is the fact that, outside of the expected top tank selections, E.T.C. (33% pick/ban) is now seated at a popularity level comparable to that of Johanna (26% pick/ban), a much maligned tank who has yet to find a solid place in the meta, and also Leoric (26% pick/ban), who hasn't been quite as favored in Korea as he is in the west.  Also important to note that the east places most of its emphasis on two healers: Malfurion (94% pick/ban) and Uther (89% pick/ban).  This could become an exploitable weakness in the Korean meta that the west might seek to attack, as their success on other healers like Stukov (2-4 in Korean Eastern Clash play) is not nearly as strong.


That's all for today's segment.  Next time, we'll be looking at Week 6 play, and seeing if the Clashes have changed the way each region approaches their games.
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To be fair, criticizing the Eastern Hero Pool as smaller until the last day's experimentation isn't really fair to those team's strategies.

They held those strategies and drafts until they absolutely needed to use them. Ballistix could have used that Zarya comp in the first series. They held it as long as they could and then used it.

It's actually really smart and well done hiding of some pocket picks they had.
I think you misunderstood that section. I'm not criticizing the eastern teams at all.

I'm merely pointing out that the final results for the eastern hero pool were largely dishonest because of how many pocket strats came out at the end of the tournament, and how it really boiled down to less than half of the overall roster for most of the tournament.

If anyone should be critiqued in this case (which is not my intent, but let's assume it was), then the criticisms should land squarely on the balance team for HotS, since there is no good reason why half of the roster should be missing from a major tournament, even given the limited number of games during said event. A healthy roster would field at least 65-70% of its total across this many games, and that's not what we're seeing.
Very interesting post to read :)