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Whitemane's Success Thus Far in HGC 2018

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Hello again, everyone!  Today, I'd like to talk about Whitemane.  The High Inquisitor was released on August 7, 2018, and has so far seen use in Weeks 6-8 of HGC.  I'd like to take a look at this hero's standing so far in professional play, including some head-to-head matchups and heroes that have paired well with them.  Keep in mind that, as is always true of HGC games, some of this data will be skewed due to the differences in skill between teams.  No hero has yet managed to completely overcome a skill deficit between teams or regions.  I will try to take this into account in my writings.


Hero Pick/Ban and Win Rate - The Raw Data

Here are Whitemane's hero stats at a glance:

Whitemane has achieved a 65% popularity rate in the last three weeks of professional play across North America, Europe, and South Korea combined.  This ranks her second among healers in total popularity behind only Deckard Cain.  Her pick rate is about the same in all three regions, but Korea has placed a much higher priority on her in terms of bans, removing her from 61% of their games across the three week span, and making up about 59% of the total bans across all regions.  Europe has put the least emphasis on Whitemane, only picking or banning her in 46% of their games in total.


Whitemane's Player-Specific Performance

Whitemane's win rate is fairly dismal to date, and it doesn't look much better when you break it down by player.

Three of the players on the list of top ten picks are from top four teams in their respective regions. These are Method's Niklas "Cursen" Skogheim (who went 1-4 on Whitemane), Dignitas's Kenn Øster "Zaelia" Rasmussen (3-0) and Team Octalysis's Chandler "Buds" Gavran (2-1).  Each region had a top four team that didn't play Whitemane at all: North America's Tempo Storm, Europe's Team Liquid, and South Korea's Team Blossom all passed on the hero.  When combining the records of the top four teams in each region, the record for Whitemane is 4-3 in North America, 4-5 in Europe, and 2-3 in South Korea.

This, of course, leaves the records for the bottom four teams in each region as follows: 5-11 for North America, 3-10 for Europe, and 4-10 for South Korea.  This means that about 43 of her 64 games, or about two-thirds of her picks, came from bottom 4 regional teams.  This may help explain some of her win rate's general weakness, although her relatively mediocre win rate from top teams suggests that they're not doing much better with her.


Whitemane's Map Record

I am always trying to expand these articles to include valuable information that I think you'll find useful, and this is one of those expansions: a record of the new hero's performance across each map in the HGC.  Here's a look at how Whitemane has done on each of the maps:

This really gives us a clear view of where teams prefer to use Whitemane.  Whitemane appears in about 43% of games on Dragon Shire, 41% of Volskaya Foundry games, 39% of Infernal Shrines games, and 36% of Battlefield of Eternity games.  It is thus pretty safe to say that Whitemane is mainly prioritized in maps with a heavier emphasis on skirmishing and team fights, which is to be expected of her when her healing relies primarily on PvP in order to be successful.

We can see some teams attempting to compensate for her PvE deficiency by looking at her build choices.  While Martyrdom and Unwavering Faith (commonly known as the "Q build") were by far the build of choice in Week 6 due to its strong shielding and reasonable mana efficiency, Patch 36.2 changed pros' minds and her overall figures now show a preference for the Clemency and High Inquisitor "W build" instead.  This shift also helps reduce her dependence on team fighting in order to heal, although it doesn't completely overcome this problem and is a likely contributor to her struggles on the performance front.


Whitemane's Priority in the Draft

Here's a look at where Whitemane is prioritized in the draft:

Whitemane's ban priority in the first week of her HGC presence was mostly composed of pre-draft bans, with Korea leading the charge by banning her in almost every single game in Week 6.  In her patch-adjusted form, her ban priority shifted downwards, and she began acquiring more bans in the middle of the draft instead, leading to her overall stats being relatively balanced between first/second round pre-draft bans and third round mid-draft bans.  She is slightly prioritized earlier in the draft as a pick, with 35 picks (or 28% of her pick/ban) coming before the mid-draft ban phase, as opposed to 29 picks after.  This is somewhat unique compared to other heroes I've reviewed in the past, whose picks or bans are typically lumped into a particular spot in the draft, but Whitemane's bans and picks are all relatively evenly spread.


Head-to-Head: Who Can Beat Whitemane?

Here's a table of some of the most popular heroes to be selected against Whitemane:

Unsurprisingly, Deckard Cain was her most common opponent, and was typically the winner in a battle between them.  This is most likely due to the fact that Cain simply brings far more utility.  While Whitemane does have an actual cleanse and later is able to pick up a rooting talent akin to Stukov's, Cain brings far more CC to the fray while still delivering a great deal of reliable healing, and is arguably harder to kill when grouped with his team.

Whitemane also struggled very clearly against ranged poke, with heroes like Raynor, Li-Ming, and Fenix carrying strong win rates against her.  This could be a bit of a false positive, of course, since Whitemane's low win rate means that many heroes are likely quite successful against her, but the rather significant gap in their win rates with her present vs games where she wasn't on the enemy team suggests that they have an edge against her.  This would make sense, since Whitemane's own range is more limited, and her healing relies upon her damage, so heroes with larger amounts of poke that can dance around her abilities would inevitably tire her out.


Duo-Queue: Who Do You Pair Up With Whitemane?

Here's a table of some of the most popular heroes to be selected alongside Whitemane:

Much as I mentioned it in the last section, I should also preface this analysis by noting that Whitemane's poor win rate means that most heroes will have better win rates without her around than they will alongside her.  However, some of this information makes a good degree of sense.  For example, it stands to reason that Whitemane's win rate alongside dive-oriented tank heroes like Diablo and Garrosh, as well as off-laners like Blaze or Yrel, would not be as strong because of the fact that Whitemane is somewhat more frail on her own, and needs a more reliable tank to stay back and keep her safe.

She did seem to have some degree of success when played alongside ranged heroes like Sgt Hammer and Hanzo, although this is something of a mixed bag because she fared very poorly alongside other ranged heroes like Raynor.  Given the fact that her overall win rate is relatively bad, I'm inclined to suspect that this might be more of an anomaly brought about by the teams that played her, rather than anything specific to these heroes that works well with Whitemane's design.  There is, however, one hero that I can support with Whitemane: Dehaka.  While the sample size is low, Dehaka's synergy with Whitemane is a bit more apparent, with both of them having CC that could play off of each other and allow their team more time to secure a key kill.


The Final Word

Whitemane's story in the HGC thus far is a troubled tale.  While the Korean scene continues to place a relatively high priority on her in the ban department, she has yet to post any sort of impressive results, even among the top teams in each region.  Whitemane's high dependence on PvP makes her strong in maps where such skirmishing is more common, but her PvE deficiencies seem to be holding her back.  It also doesn't help that she has something of a need to be defended in an HGC meta that is more oriented around dive and aggression.  Perhaps this will change in the future, but at present, her status as a pro pick is less clear than that of other new heroes.

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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