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Created September 27, 2019

Jack of all Trades, Master of Some - Part 2

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Welcome back to Why Isn't This Banned: Divine Edition! Our returning star (Hah!) is Tyrael, Archangel of Justice. While previously we focused on the impetuous Judgement build, this week we'll be donning our thinking caps for Sanctification, and all it's intricacies.

A forewarning: this guide will repeatedly reference concepts outlined in Judgement Tyrael. If you haven't read Part 1, I'd suggest you do so here.

Otherwise, let's begin!


Tyrael is a Support/Warrior hybrid; he empowers allies and carries macro through versatility and esoteric disruption. He slows the game through Anti-Wavclear and rotational harassment; he accelerates chase through Swift Retribution; and finally, he sublimates chaos through his heroic, Sanctification.

Sanctification is the be-all, end-all of tank ultimates. Boasting the highest momentum swing potential of any teamfight heroic, bar none, this ability is one of the hardest engage breakers available, period.

Let's get this out of the way: Sanctification has two massive counters. Both are time stops - Zeratul's Void Prison, and Medivh's Leyline Seal. Fortunately, these heroes are relatively uncommon through most divisions of play; else, Judgement - or simply bans - are your steadfast recourse.

Onto the good: Sanctification explores a new brain space for aspiring ardent tank players. This space is called "the swing". Through a correctly timed Sancti, you can deny an enemy engage, while simultaneously counter-attacking the enemy team. While the enemy is busy rushing in, presuming their enormous ultimate successful, you've already pulled the rug out from underneath them, completing the trap.  To this end, almost every engage in the game is a possible swing, whether that be an incoming Twilight Dream, Earthquake, or Kerrigan combo. Too, being engaged upon often results in your team grouping; Sancti converts clumping into a benefit.

Simply put, a swing is so mentally shocking that it practically stuns the enemy team for a brief moment. In that time, your team (having just been released from the stress of almost dying) can POUNCE. A swing is as emotional as it is mechanical - triumph to despair, and vice versa, has a HUGE psychological effect - and understanding this human element is a key component of your winrate!

Now that's all well and good, but how do we connect our ultimate? After all, executing a proper Sancti requires intuition - and that can't be taught. Or can it?

Aspect of Wisdom

Sanctification, much like a Mosh Pit or Dark Conversion, can be broken down into conditions. Firstly, what kind of heroes do you have - aggressive, or passive? Are you playing with a Greymane, who loves diving deep, or a Sgt. Hammer, who wants to hold ground? Perhaps you have a Zul'jin, who can switch back and forth - but not if his ultimate, Taz'Dingo, isn't available! Give it some thought on the loading screen, and you'll find yourself INFINITELY more in tune with your team.

In fact, Hot Tip: Do this every game, every comp. Think about what your team wants to do, and play around it! Every tank has sung the song of no follow up, but how many times did you know where your damage WAS? Were they busy smelling the roses, or were they running for their dear lives? Knowing how your composition WANTS to fight will help you avoid these moments.

Condition two; what kind of heroes does the ENEMY have? Easy to do - just use the same thought process you applied to your own team, and run it again!

Condition three; what big heroics matter? I'm not asking you to memorise every cooldown, or count the seconds till an ultimate is back up. Simply put, does the enemy team have Jug of 1,000 Cups/Force Wall/Stim Drone or do they have Earthquake/Apocalypse/Bloodlust? For that matter, what do YOU have? Ultimates are the biggest buttons in Heroes of the Storm, and often decide a fight on their own!

Condition four: A New Hope Execution! We've set up our game plan and thought it through. We know just about when to pull the trigger - all you need now is to watch for the signal! Will it be your Illidan hunting their backliner? Or perhaps their Fenix hitting a big scan? Is Malfurion WALKING into your team? That's a Twilight Dream coming - smash your ult! Don't be afraid of wasting Sanctification, there's no other way to learn but to do it! A late Sanctification might not be enough to save the day, so be ready to fully commit! This is the same part of your brain as pulling the trigger on countless other heroes - Muradin's stun, ETC's slide, Johanna's frisbee - and is just as easy to learn. So get out there and consecrate!

In essence, what I'm saying is this: Sanctification requires you to be a different breed of tank. It requires you to give some time and energy to getting better, and to developing newer, better habits. Sanctification wants you to be a better you, and I do too! You'll find the information herein applies not only to Tyrael, but to EVERY TANK IN THE GAME, and will be invaluable in improving your play! Intuition is not gifted, it is manufactured. Repeated practice will hone this sixth sense, so get to it!

There's another broad category of Sanctification, and that is the Aggressive Sanct. Simply put, Q the enemy backline, wait for your team to engage, and attempt to time your blink with the enemy pressing their buttons. Should all go well, your arrival will be your opponents death knell, as an unstoppable greymane swiftly tears their backline apart. This utilisation uses the exact same steps, simply in addition to timing your engage.

Learning Mechanisms

If you've never paid a tank head, the sheer number of requirement may seem daunting. That's why we're going to break it up - into four steps! Practice each individual condition separately; they don't need to be on a tank at all! For one game, focus on achieving just that condition during your draft or load in. Then, keep that knowledge a the forefront of your mind while playing. After some effort, it'll become second nature. At this point, simply pick another condition and repeat. New mechanics are learnt one at a time; focus on one or two a game.

Angelic Armaments, Heavenly Halberds, and...

We've finished talking about Sancti - but we're just scratching the surface of main tank Tyrael! Beyond your ultimate, there's an entire holy arsenal at your disposal. We've shied away from the specifics previously, but we're WELL beyond brevity now. Let's dive in!

Firstly, there's the matter of Tyrael's level 7. While main tank Tyrael can afford to take Reciprocate for the additional waveclear and burst, I'd strongly advise you to instead pick Swift Retribution. With the latter, your E warps your team to lightspeed, with an incredible 45% movespeed increase. That's 15% faster than Lucio's Amp It Up! Too, it increases auto-attack speed by 20% - something that any heavy hitter will dearly appreciate. I firmly believe enabling your allies to be a key characteristic of strong tank play, and Tyrael is as support oriented as a Tank can reasonably get, barring main tank Uther. With this in mind, utilise your empowered Smite to enable chase or escape at will; sheer undiluted move speed is the strongest buff a tank can grant.

Next comes Tyrael's 13/16 tier; I strongly recommend pairing these tiers together, into Sword of Justice/Burning Halo, Holy Ground/Horadric Reforging, and Law and Order/Smite the Wicked. While you can mix and match as you become more experienced, these are the fundamental talent combinations.

The strongest of the lot is Holy Ground, and with it comes the highest burden of execution. Holy Ground creates a ring of impassible terrain around your El'Druin cast. This ring can close chokes, block gates, split teams, and of course, steal a boss. But intrinsically, Holy Ground has infinite application. The best use for it is to protect your Sanctification, since many CC abilities require proximity to hit or targe. But besides that, it can be used in myriad fashion; it can begin or end a fight, by separating the front and backline, or by isolating a flanker. Another excellent use is for peeling; throwing a circle on a teammates effectively grants them 'protected from melee autos'.

With Holy Ground, you want to play terrain; utilise walls and chokes, divots and bends, and reduce your opponents positioning options to a minimum. Holy Ground is a map knowledge talent; good map knowledge enables better Holy Grounds and creates more confusion for the enemy.


Sword of Justice is a scout/poke/disruption talent. It's used to create pandemonium through a wormhole-esque effect, creating perceived threat from your multi-faceted attack. While Tyrael possesses little threat alone, the impact of a tank engaging aggressively can bait out cooldowns and trick opponents into playing overtly defensive. Otherwise, it's used to dismount and assess position.

Towards the late game, you should have constant control over the enemy rotation. Do not disengage vision of your opponents; use a holy ground as a safety to scout forward with, push waves, or sword of justice for vision. Tanks are sentient vision wards; blind tanks kill teammates. Ensure your team is always prepared!

Leader of the Horadrim

Finally, let's breakdown drafting Tyrael. Tyrael functions at his strongest with an allied dive to enable, such as the aforementioned Greymane, Kerrigan, or Illidan; his highest synergy, however, comes from being paired with a CC offlaner. Globals such as ETC and Dehaka benefit him greatly, as do melee heroes like Thrall and Rexxar. Additionally, he enables auto attackers extraordinarily well; look out for a Tracer, Valla, or Zul'jin.

Tyrael doesn't have any particularly poor matchups; most of his bad matchups are solved by simply going Judgement. Sanctifications counters are Zeratul and Medivh, for their aforementioned Time Stops and slipperiness, and that can be solved with an ult switch, ban, or gameplay adjustment.

Otherwise, look to enable Tyrael through allied CC, and ensure that your team is onboard with going deep. Boss points, objectives, and invades are your best friends!

Tips and Tricks, Bits and Baubles

Holy Ground can 'pinch' enemies backwards, if you teleport to create the terrain while an enemy is 'on' the surface. Use this to split enemies apart!

Swift Retribution will increase the auto attack speed of archers and catapults; as archers do triple damage to structures, it's often better to smite them instead of smiting the building.

You'll never run OOM if you only W and E on waves in the early game; save your Q, and dismount with auto attacks.

Always engage from your mount; the additional movespeed is free, and allows you to position deep without spending CDs.

Q past enemy heroes so you can bodyblock them.

On that note, bodyblocking is the most powerful free CC available, and with Tyrael's mobility it is exceptionally easy to do so. Too, with your slow, you gain a feedback loop of effective lockdown; wiggle your mouse cursor back and forth to deny enemy right clicks!

On bosses, try to rotate who's getting hit by the boss with your Shield; spread damage evenly across multiple targets, instead of accruing it on one HP bar.

Additionally, this is the mentality to use with AoE; allow an ally to block the first hit with their Justice for All shield, then step in for the next blow!

If you enjoy my content, or would like to enquire about coaching (first session free!) you can find me on Twitch, Twitter, and Discord!

Justice For All
Increase the Shield applied to allies by Righteousness to 75% of the Shield gained by Tyrael.
Justice for All grants anti-waveclear; denial of enemy clear through temporarily buffing your own minions HP bars. Utilise this to slow enemy rotations, and stick to the enemy waveclear like glue!
Bound by Law
Increase El'druin's Might's Slow by 10%. Tyrael's Basic Attacks against enemies Slowed by El'druin's Might increase the Slow duration by 1 second, up to 4 seconds.
While Stalwart Angel provides excellent survivability, Tyrael possesses more than enough mobility to survive regardless. I instead recommend Bound by Law to enable chase and threaten kills.
Swift Retribution
Smite grants 20% more Movement Speed and also grants 25% Attack Speed for 2 seconds.
Swift Retribution will accelerate you to lightspeed and allow you to see HoTS in 4D.
After 0.5 seconds, create a field of holy energy that makes allied Heroes Invulnerable. Lasts 3 seconds.
Note the 0.5second vulnerable cast time; make sure to slip it between enemy CC!
Holy Ground
Create a ring that blocks enemies from entering the area teleported to using El'Druin's Might.
Your Holy Ground is limited only by your imagination. Use it to its' full potential!
Horadric Reforging
Tyrael's Basic Attacks reduce the cooldown of El'druin's Might by 1.5 seconds.
You can gain another Holy Ground by continuously attacking with Horadric Reforging, whilst standing on a Holy Ground.
Holy Arena
Increases duration of Sanctification by 1 second and increases the damage of allies by 25%.
The damage amplification at 20 is an absolute back breaker. Use it to absolutely shred enemy front and backline alike.
Balance Patch - 08/28/19
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