Today, I wanted to focus on one of the most important parts of a draft: Assassins. A team composition can look spicy with the correct assassin pick or incredibly hard-to-win with the wrong one. This all depends on how you slot your assassin pick and what you are picking it with and against. For example, if you first-pick a Hero like Lunara, the enemy can counter sustain or with heavy dive, but if you allow the enemy to draft low sustain/low dive then pick Lunara late in the draft, it can be back-breaking for the enemy to deal with and almost win the game outright for you.
An assassin doesn't always have to be ranged and can sometimes be chosen as an aggressive Jaina or a Hanzo that pokes from the back. While most of the time we see ranged assassins play this role in a composition, it's not impossible to see melee Heroes such as Thrall or Maiev create kill pressure in the 4-man. The important note about assassins is that they are the Hero on your team that kills the enemy. Without one of these Heroes, you will be unable to finish kills and end up watching the enemy team walk away with little bits of health left asking yourself why you were unable to finish the kill.
CC Assassin: Thrall, Greymane, Zeratul
These are the type of assassins that work best with heavy CC compositions that are looking to turn kills on rotations. While their waveclear is okay, they usually need to be paired with a waveclear tank or with the flex who will need to take care of the waveclear, allowing them space to rotate or get out camps. One incredibly safe and comfortable draft usually pairs one of these Assassins with a waveclear, giving you a very solid 4-man. CC Assassins and Roam Assassins fill somewhat of the same role as they both finish kills for the team, having two on the same teams usually leads to being behind on rotation and chasing the enemy team's heels, rather then getting ahead of their rotations like you'd want. Usually this hero is taken in the 2-3, 3-4 of a draft and doesn't really push your composition in any direction. Can be drafted if in need of a finisher hero or have good waveclear in the flex/tank slot.
Roaming Assassin: Maiev, Genji, Tracer
While these Heroes all have the ability to soak and try to waveclear, you really don't want them to be forced into doing so. They create much more pressure on the map by roaming around hidden in the fog and ganking waves quickly while they enemy team goes to clear them. These Heroes are also very powerful at punishing the solo-laner when playing too far up or out of position. This type of pick has been meta in the competitive scene over the past month or so due to its flexibility and ability to punish strong solo laners. Keeping the top lane honest allows your team to pick weaker solo laners. Roamers are usually seen as the first few picks of the game as they don't fill any role on the team outside of killing the enemy team and being everywhere on the map. The key to this sub-class is that you should really ever only have 1 of these on your team because of the waveclear pushback they force. Can be drafted if in need of a finisher hero.
Waveclear Assassin: Jaina, Guldan, Junkrat, Tychus
The waveclear gods. It's not always necessary to have one as you can supplement waveclear through your flex, tank, or support, but if you have one of these Heroes, for the most part clearing waves becomes very easy and controlling rotations can be even easier. The drawback with these Heroes is their effectiveness in teamfight. Often, they can be lackluster if not paired with or against the correct targets. This is why it is important to pick this Hero based upon the enemy team’s composition and not to simply force the pick. The waveclear Hero typically falls into the flex slot on whether your team needs more waveclear or needs more damage. The only way you can take these early is if you plan on forcing the enemy team to respond to them with certain picks and countering those picks later in the draft. I like to draft waveclear Assassins in he 3-4, 4-5 after I've seen almost every hero in the draft. Can be drafted with any composition.
Poke Assassin: Chromie, Lunara, Li-Ming, Hanzo
The pseudo-waveclear mages. While having decent waveclear, these Heroes cannot be the sole waveclear for your team because of their speed and AoE damage. With the help of a tank or a support, these Heroes can be incredibly powerful, because of what they bring to the table outside of the laning phase. Furthermore, being able to poke and push damage onto the enemy while they attempt to waveclear or try to complete an objective can be so powerful and hard to deal with if played correctly. Ever had that Chromie who just won’t stop poking you when you try to channel on Towers of Doom? This is what that slot is for. When paired with the correct dps finisher (typically one of the roam assassins), the damage you put on the enemy from a distance softens them enough to be killed. Just remember, the biggest weakness poke assassins bring to the table is the inability to finish kill since they focus primarily on softening. Sidenote: these Heroes are strong against CC supports or supports with low sustain where damage sticks, pick accordingly. Poke heroes are typically found drafted after a support as been locked in, or in the later picks of a draft. Because their damage type is so counterable it's somewhat a bad idea to take them early. Also pair very nicely with CC tanks allowing you to connect all damage.
The Big Picture for Assassins
Pick something that compliments your team’s composition. If neither type of assassin has been picked by your team, pick whichever you are more comfortable on. However, if your team has already picked a poke assassin, don’t just pick another poke assassin; pick something to round out the damage and finish kills.
That’s going to be it for today’s How to Draft a Basic Composition. With this knowledge I hope you can start to think about what your team needs when it comes to both damage types and damage roles. Please walk away from this with the knowledge of how a composition stacking one type of damage and rejecting the other can have many issues within the game. It’s also okay to play Heroes that aren’t listed above, but fill the same roles as far as comfort goes for you as a player. Don’t feel like you have to always play it by the book or insult others if they don’t follow these exact Heroes. The big picture is the guidelines within each sub-class of Assassin. Hope this helps you guys grind up to grand master. Next week, we will focus on Offlane/Trashman and the importance of the roll within a draft. Until then, Cheers.