• Dodging Skillshots: Timing & Technique




           Dodging skillshots can be one of the most satisfying feats to pull off in Heroes of the Storm especially when you did it consciously. It sets apart a good Jaina from a great Jaina simply by saving herself from taking what can sometimes seem to be negligible damage. The more important reason to dodge skillshots, aside from avoiding damage, is because many skills shots can stun or root your hero. A proper stun or root can get you out of position and allows the enemy team to quickly engage your hero. Channeled abilities that get canceled by stuns like LiLi's Jug of 1,000 Cups is another reason why you want to dodge skillshots.

           There are three ways to improving your ability to dodge skillshots: watching hero animations, anticipation, and mouse positioning. Before I go through these three topics I think it goes without saying that keeping your hero moving is one of the best tools for not getting hit by skillshots. Even if you are auto attacking as Raynor, take the time to take a step from side to side in between each auto attack, just to make it that much harder for the enemy team to hit their skill shots on you.


    1. Watching Hero Animations

           Each hero has a specific animation for their skillshot casting as well as their respective skillshot. Watching for these animations can greatly aid in dodging a skillshot coming your way. For example, Muradin raises his right arm that is holding a hammer when casting the skillshot and this is followed by the skillshot itself which is animated as a lighting hammer traveling forward. The skillshot casting animation time and the skillshot itself can either be fast or slow. Anub'arak's Impale ability has a slow casting animation time and a slow skillshot animation time, making it easy to dodge an Impale coming your way. Zeratul's Singularity Spike ability has a fast casting animation time and a fast skillshot animation time, making it difficult to dodge. Some casting animations are also easier to spot than others. Arthas, for example, has a very distinct animation for his Howling Blast ability.

           It takes a while to get used to watching for hero animations and I suggest playing a few heroes you rarely play just to get used to their animations. I also recommend picking one enemy hero during the loading screen that you will consciously watch for when you are ever in a lane with them or even during team fights.



           Zeratul's Singularity Spike: Fast Casting Animation & Fast Skillshot Animation



    Anub'arak's Impale: Slow Casting Animation & Slow Skillshot Animation



    2. Anticipation

           Many heroes have skillshots, and simply reminding yourself before the start of the game that the enemy will try to hit you with them will immediately improve your consciousness to dodging skillshots. Sometimes it is so much easier to just run when you are getting chased down by the enemy, but always ask yourself if anticipating to dodge a skillshot is worth it. I'm not talking about zig zagging all the way to safety and just giving your enemy more time to catch up, I'm referring to actually positioning your mouse so that you are ready to dodge (more on this later). Watching the hitbox direction (the little pointer underneath each hero) can also help you anticipate if an enemy hero is intending to shoot your face with a skillshot. Finally, although you are not technically “dodging a skillshot”, hiding behind minions and structures is also a great way to deny your enemy from hitting you.


    Although not technically a skillshot, the ability to dodge Kerrigan's combo is a useful skill to have


    3. Mouse positioning

           So you knew that Kael'thas was going to stun you with Gravity Lapse, but you couldn't quite react fast enough and he stuns you and blows you up with a flamestrike and two living bombs. What can you do to not let this happen again? A lot of the time it comes down to mouse positioning. If you are not casting abilities or throwing down your own skillshots, your mouse should be positioned above or below your hero, never in front or behind. This allows you to move your hero laterally (side step) much quicker and react to an incoming skillshot much faster. Here are a two images to illustrate the ideal mouse position:


    Mouse Positioning for Slow Reaction Time


    Mouse Positioning for Fast Reaction Time


           Animations, Anticipation and Mouse Positioning, that's all there is to it. Dodging skillshots definitely requires some practice and I even suggest going on Try Mode to see the different animations. Soon enough you'll be side stepping like a pro and maybe even learn how to dodge giant balls of fire.


  • In the Blink of an Eye: Properly Playing As and Against Tracer



         Lena Oxton, a.k.a Tracer, is the first Overwatch character to join Heroes of the Storm. Before we get into discussing her gameplay and talent builds I would like to acknowledge both the Overwatch dev team and the Heroes of the Storm dev team for the excellent job they have done with creating the character as well as adapting Tracer for the Nexus. Tracer's mechanics in Heroes of the Storm feel very much like how she plays in Overwatch and the Heroes of the Storm dev team also fitted her with a talent tree that fits the mobile playstyle that Tracer encourages. Simply put, Tracer is just as fun to play in Overwatch as she is in Heroes of the Storm.

    Along with this fun mobile playstyle that Tracer introduces to the Nexus, is a problem that the other heroes need to adapt to. Tracer's ability to stick to her target and evade damage can be problematic for teams who choose to treat Tracer just like any other hero. For example, what may have been safe positioning for a Li-Ming before is no longer true when a Tracer is on the enemy team. This guide will focus on both the tips and tricks to playing an effective Tracer as well as suggestions to how your team can deal with her when she is on the opposing team. Let's get started by discussing Tracer's abilities and her general gameplay.  


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    Never underestimate Tracer's ability to stick on her target


    Abilities and Gameplay 



    Reload (Trait)

         Tracer's trait is arguably now the strongest trait in Heroes of the Storm. Being able to auto attack and reposition simultaneously is the dream scenario for any auto attack based hero. What really makes this trait powerful is that it is combined with the rest of Tracer's kit that provides even more mobility. Blink (Q) and Recall (E) guarantees that you are able to get full value from your trait as well as your high rate of fire. Tracer is now the gold standard in terms of sustained DPS.  


    Blink (Q) and Recall (E)

         Tracer as a whole revolves around her Blink ability, it is what makes her viable. Unlike Zeratul's long range blink, Tracer's blink ability is short and divided into 3 charges which allows her to change direction and dodge enemy spells with ease. If you are not already playing with quickcast on, I highly recommend you do so with Tracer since the extra milliseconds you save with quickcast will make a difference when you are blinking around and dodging spells. Combine this with her Recall ability that removes all negative effects such as roots and damage over time, Tracer is nearly impossible to lock down. 


    Melee (W)

         If you get close to your desired target make sure to immediately use your melee attack before unloading a magazine. Even though a full magazine will deal more damage than a melee, it will not always be safe to go through the melee animation once your target's teammates respond to your harassment. Also, take extra caution if you take Bullet Spray at level 13 since the animation time of the melee attack becomes slightly longer leaving you more vulnerable to enemy CC. On the other hand, if you are dealing with an enemy Tracer, waiting for her to do a melee attack before attempting to lock her down will increase your chances of success.



    Map Awareness 

         Aggressively look for opportunities to pick off enemy heroes who are separated from their team before a team fight even starts. Tracer's kit as a whole allows you to duel almost any hero and dealing with a hero 1v1 is always easier than doing so in a team fight when the entire enemy team is there to respond.



         Tracer's Blink charges not only allows her to stick to her targets, but also gives her the chase potential from point A to point B that no other hero can do. This is where Jumper at level 7 can come in handy when the extra blink charge can make the difference between securing a kill and letting an enemy get away. When playing as Tracer make sure to pay attention to the map especially during team fights when enemy heroes might be fleeing just outside of your camera vision.


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    Not so fast Nazeebo!



         In team fights you should be flanking and going straight for the backline to harass isolated heroes. Some team fights can be hectic and the enemy team might not be able to respond to you allowing you pick off a hero. If the enemy team does respond to you in time you will at least hinder the enemy team's aggression by forcing them to deal with you in the backline.


    How to deal with Tracer

         So how do you deal with a highly mobile hero that is constantly shredding away at your team's health pool? Patience is the key. Do not chase after a Tracer that is "almost dead" and do not commit cooldowns on Tracer unless she has already spent her Recall. Unlike other ranged assassins you do not have to kill Tracer to effectively deal with her. Just like in Overwatch, it is sufficient to force a Tracer to use her Recall in order to remove her from the fight and prevent her from harassing your team. Below are more specific tips for dealing with Tracer. 


    1. Backline Tracer harassment

         When going up against a Tracer as a squishy hero, make sure you are not isolated in the back of your team. It is your responsibility as the squishy hero on your team to be in range of your tank for peels and your support to receive heals. If your team is being aggressive, you should be as well. The biggest mistake you can make when playing against a Tracer is to run away from your team when Tracer is harassing you.


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     There is a fine line between playing safe in the backline and getting yourself isolated


    2. Map Rotations

         Before Tracer was released being mounted meant that you could freely move around the map as long as you knew the location of most of the enemies. This is no longer true. Tracer can duel most heroes and pick them off just because she can easily dodge damage as well as stick to her target. What this means is that if you do not think your hero can duel a Tracer, you should be moving around the map with someone else from your team or not at all. This is especially important during the late game when running back to safety is no longer an option because several gates have been destroyed.


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     Never get singled out if the enemy team has a Tracer


    3. Decide how much you want to commit

         Having the restraint to not chase after a Tracer that is "almost dead" when you cannot kill her within 1-2 seconds with your spells is a must if you want to effectively deal with Tracer. If you chase after a Tracer and she manages to get away then you are allowing her to win the team fight for her team not because she is dealing damage, but because she is wasting your time and spells. In general, you do not want to commit your CC on a Tracer unless you know for sure that she has overextended and cannot escape.


    4. Effective heroes against Tracer


    Brightwing – Polymorph is very powerful against Tracer. It is a point and click ability that gives your team the opportunity to burst through Tracer's small health pool. Consider taking Greater Polymorph at level 16 if your team is lacking the CC to lock down the enemy Tracer.

    Johanna and Li Li – Blinds shuts down Tracer's auto attacks and removes her primary source of damage. Johanna has the added utility with her Blessed Shield that can directly hit a Tracer since it's a fast long ranged projectile or maybe get a lucky bounce onto Tracer after throwing it at one of the other enemies.

    Thrall and Raynor – Both these heroes can continuously poke at Tracer to force her to either use her Recall or keep her zoned out of the fight. A good flank from a Thrall can also devastate Tracer if she is caught off guard and gets hit with a Sundering. 

    Tassadar – Having vision of the Tracer is important in making sure she is not free to harass your team. Tassadar's low cooldown shields are also useful for dealing with Tracer's high rate of fire from her auto attacks. 


    5. Heroes to ban


    Brightwing – If you cannot take Brightwing during the draft it is best to ban her. Tracer will endlessly harass your team in fight if she is constantly receiving Brighwing's Phase Shield.

    Lt. Morales – Stim drone + Tracer's Sleight of Hand at level 16 is not something you want to deal with.



    Tracer Talent Selection


    Level 1 – More Bombs vs Mobility



         Taking this talent allows you to further take advantage of the fact that Tracer has her heroic ability already available at the start of the game and increase the uptime of your Pulse Bomb.



         The 4 second cooldown reduction that this provides for your Recall (E) is not very significant, but the 1 extra second that you are recalled can be useful when you dive deep into the enemy backline. However, the extra second that it adds to the time recalled can also sometimes work against you in situations when you want to be aggressive again after recalling since you may be positioned further back than you would have liked.



         Compared to Pulse Strike and Slipstream this talent is quite underwhelming. With the amount of mobility you have with Blink (Q) you are unlikely to need the extra vision to keep track of enemies.


    Level 4 – Damage vs Survivability


         The amount of damage that you can potentially do with the bombs that you leave after recalling is nowhere close to the amount of damage that you can rack up with Untouchable once you have accumulated stacks.



         This can be useful in small maps like Tomb of the Spider Queen where you think you will be taking significant damage as you rotate from lane to lane to harass enemy heroes. Keep in mind that your late game damage scaling will be affected since you are giving up Untouchable for early game survivability and map presence. If you think you can snowball the game with your early game map presence and harassment then go for it!



         This talent is very powerful not only because it drastically increases Tracer's main source of damage, but also because of the fact that with Blink (Q) and Recall (E) it is easy to stay alive as Tracer which means you are likely to retain your stacks for the entirety of the game.


    Level 7 – Blink Upgrades


         The extra Blink charge allows you to play as if you are Zeratul with his level 4 Vorpal Blade and level 13 Wormhole talents: blink twice aggressively -->  kite and deal damage --> blink twice defensively to create space between you and enemies --> recall to aggressive position if necessary to finish off target.



         In terms of playmaking potential it is better to just have the extra charge of blink already available (Jumper) or have it recharge after recalling (Spatial Echo)  than have to rely on basic attacks (which will not always be safe to do) to regain extra charges of blink. 



         The mechanics are slightly different, but this also allows for the same Wormhole playmaking potential you can do with Jumper. Just make sure you remember which talent you took before going for a Wormhole play or you might get yourself killed. The difference between Jumper and Spatial Echo is how you obtain the extra charges of blink. Jumper is better if you just need immediate escape or the ability to chase down targets while Spatial Echo is for situations if you need to dive a target, recall to get out then blink even further to create more space. Consider taking Spatial Echo when your team is a dive heavy composition and you need to keep up with your teammates who are diving backline enemy heroes.


    Level 10 – Pulse Bomb Upgrades


         On maps with tight choke points as well as when your team has access to mass CC like Diablo's Apocalypse or E.T.C's Mosh Pit Sticky Bomb can get a lot of value. Also, placing the bomb on tanks who have overextended and are trying to retreat back to their teammates can result in unexpected team wipes. Most of all Sticky bomb is useful against heavy dive compositions especially when combined with Composition B at level 20.



         This can be useful against double tank compositions or against heavily protected heroes like Sgt. Hammer or Lt.Morales where you might need the extra damage to snipe them off.



         The main reason both of the above options are only situational is because the amount of uptime you can have on your Pulse Bomb by taking Pulse Rounds is too good to give up in most situations. It is necessary to have your Pulse Bomb not only in team fights, but also when you are rotating and picking off stray heroes. By taking Pulse Rounds at level 10 you ensure that your Pulse Bomb is available whenever you need it for the extra damage. If you take Pulse Rounds at level 10, you might even have opportunities during prolonged team fights where you are able to get off two or more charges of your Pulse Bomb.


    Level 13 – How would you like your damage?


         Tracer's wave clear is quite mediocre up until level 13 in that even though she doesn't require any mana it takes her too long to clear a single wave. If you take Bullet Spray at level 13 it will allow you to rotate and contribute more in wave clearing which can be really important on certain maps like Tomb of the Spider Queen. With that said, keep in mind that clearing the waves faster also means that you have less targets to shoot at to recharge your heroic ability. Aside from improving your wave clear, Bullet Spray is also useful when you want to dive the enemy team and just deal some area of effect damage with your Melee (W).



         If your team has enough wave clear then Ricochet is also a good option. If you take Ricochet at level 13 I highly recommend also taking Locked and Loaded at level 16 since the CRITS from Locked and Loaded is also applied to the Ricochet target.



    This talent is not worth giving up Bullet Spray and Ricochet for since you lose a significant amount of utility and damage. Between your trait, Blink (Q), and Recall (E) you should be mobile enough to evade damage so that you are not constantly worrying about getting low in health.


    Level 16 – Choose Your Weapon


         This talent is useful not only because it increases your total damage, but also because it allows for even more mobility. Being able to reload faster means you can move on to your next magazine faster as well as to your next target.




         This talent provides less damage than Slight of Hand and Locked and Loaded (assuming you are able to consistently activate the reload bonus) and can also be punishing if the target you are focusing on gets away and you are unable to get off the last bullet.



         I personally like this talent the most out of all three options at level 16 not just because of the extra damage, but also because of the mini game that you get to play when you are reloading. It can be easy to forget to activate the reload bonus during the last 50% of the reload cast time during hectic team fights so I suggest getting a feel of the reload cast time in Try Mode to get the perfect timing.


    Level 20 - Different Playstyles

         All of the talent options for level 20 are labeled as Situational because each one requires a different playstyle and should be chosen based on what the enemy team is comprised of.


         Are your blink charges and recall not enough to get the enemies off your tail? Do you want your own mini Haymaker just like Muradin? Then Get Stuffed is the way to go.



         Do you like to dive deep into the enemy backline to assassinate a squishy enemy? Are you a master in baiting out spells and messing with enemy cooldowns? There is nothing more frustrating than almost killing a Tracer and then have her come back with full health.



         This talent is useful against heavy melee comps that tend to clump up. Remember that the second bomb that you place also receives the upgrade from with Sticky Bomb at level 10 which means that you can get two large area of effect bombs to explode against an enemy dive composition. 



    Final Thoughts

         The current iteration of Tracer in Heroes of the Storm is very powerful and only time will tell if Blizzard decides to make adjustments either to her mobility or damage output. What is for certain is that Tracer will force players to change how they play. Plays and decisions that you could get away with before now get heavily punished by an enemy Tracer that is looking to constantly harass your team and bait out your spells. What Tracer lacks in terms of early game wave clear she can make up for with map presence and lane harassment potential with the fact that she does not need mana. The most effective way to learn how to deal with a Tracer is to play the hero yourself and get a feel for how much she can escape from her enemies. Hopefully this guide and your own experience will make you both a great Tracer player and Tracer counter. 

    As always, follow us on Twitter @StormLegacyTeam to receive updates and news from us daily!




  • Mind Games: Tips & Tricks

    CarlTheLlama, #1 SoloQ support main (#53 overall on this month’s Blizz ladder- SoloQ isn’t kind to supports), shares the baits, bluffs, and mental buffs (Sometimes referred to as “game sense”) that can be employed by any player regardless of position or MMR to outplay their opponent.




    • When your teammate is in a bush waiting to gank your lane, help him out. Giving up a bad trade, then falling back will sucker your opponent into moving forward to punish you, when in fact you’re about to punish his existence.


    • Bosses in SoloQ are more risk than they’re worth (unless you have death timers on the enemy team), but one way you can lessen the risk is to split push on the opposite side of the map to give them something else to focus on, because nothing says “we’re doing boss” like 5 people missing from the map (if you have someone like Rexxar who can solo boss, you can distract even more to bait them away from that side of the map). However, you have to do so with both eyes on your minimap so you don’t get collapsed on; the goal is to make them come to you, not to actually get push, so you want to stay visible and push waves, without being any further up than you have to, and mounting up whenever you suspect a gank.




    "If you are far from your enemy, make him believe you are near. -Sun Tzu"


    • When you run straight at people, they tend to back up. When they don’t have full vision on your team, you can often use this to bluff your way into getting them to back off when you’re sieging, and other scenarios where you want to buy a second or two. Staying mounted while continuing to run in, and going a couple of steps further than you would in any sort of normal scenario are how you get your opponent to think you know something he doesn’t.The more slippery your character is, the more reliable the tactic, but don’t try it on KT, Tyrande, or other heroes that are free kills. That’s not baiting that’s just feeding.   


    • When you’re running short on good options, instead of choosing what seems to be least bad, pick whatever is most unexpected. For example, if you’re getting ganked halfway up the lane and you know walking back to tower is just going to end with you being dead, jumping into a bush and mounting/walking the other way will sometimes get you out. Same with going down to the merc camp at the bottom of Dragon Shire, or the side paths on Battlefield. That’s what those are there for, and because they are so rarely used people forget about them, making them more effective than you’d think.


    -This principle can be applied many other ways, for example, when you know a spot skillshot (like Tyrande stun) will be coming for you, waiting for the cast animation and having your cursor ready to walk back towards the enemy is most likely to get you out of the hitbox, and possibly survive.


    Beautiful Outplays


    "Even if a man dies in a ditch, he should die falling forward. -Sakamoto Ryoma"


    • As you get more experienced, you know the capabilities of your hero, so you know when you aren’t going to get out of certain predicaments, and running merely prolongs the inevitable. When you find yourself caught in those situations don’t die like a coward, get something done. Turning and dealing what damage you can will often allow your team to follow up on your death and get something out of it.


    - If you’re in a situation where you got caught out while you’re with your team but were positioned poorly, blowing your heroic typically takes priority because of the likelihood that a fullblown teamfight will break out despite the unfavorable circumstances for you, and getting off as much as possible is your top priority. If you get caught in almost any other scenario however, blowing your heroic will be a waste (depending on the cooldown of the heroic and the death timer). This is particularly noticeable with Leoric, who I often see use March of the Dead King at 10% HP to live an extra second, only to respawn 30 seconds later and not have it when he needs it. Don’t die like a coward, but don’t die like a noob either.


    • One of the tightest chokes, yet easiest to sucker people into fighting in, is their own gate. Herd them towards it or bait them out to it, and fight. Your AOE abilities will hit more people because of the cramped space, you’ll be able to get on more of the targets you want because they have less room to position themselves, and they won’t be able to escape as well because they’re blocking each other. There’s a definite balance that has to be struck with the damage of towers in mind, but after level 10 fighting in front of fort gates is increasingly worthwhile, and after 16 the same goes for keep gates. Even if those markers aren’t met, you can prepare a fight at gates by running them out of ammo, or occasionally even having a knight camp push with your wave to soak the damage.


    • When a solo kill happens late game, it opens the opportunity for a respawn roulette. Essentially, once you have that edge, getting your team to group together, paired with active map awareness can let you control the win. Pushing 5v4 with the timer is good, but normally an enemy team won’t defend with 4 in that situation, at least one person will be off in another lane. Rounding up the posse to gank them will let you create a respawn roulette where they never have a full team on the field. The longer you keep them short on people, the more impatient people will get and you can keep making picks.


    Buffs and Debuffs of the Mind


    • Throughout most of history, the chief factor in determining the outcome of battles has been morale, in large part because a group that expects a positive outcome from their efforts is more likely to stick to a plan and be organized, and because they’ll focus more on the task at hand and less on personality clashes. Give your team a morale buff by typing “gj” when something goes right anywhere on the map. When something really big goes right, like a 5-0 team wipe, celebrate with a slightly longer message, like “niceeee.” Short, focused, celebrations make people want to earn those results again.


    • An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Every hero has some niche thing about them that your team will forget about. For example, when I’m playing Brightwing I often recall and TP right back, at a break in fighting in the middle of a teamfight/skirmish, so I type “brb tp,” to remind people. Or, I’ll remind them that when I die as Uther, ghost form healing makes me just as effective as a normal hero in a fight. If you do so in a friendly manner ahead of time, you’ll avoid common unforced errors.


    - The same goes for interactions between heroes, with a small exception. Instead of a gentle reminder, pose it as a polite question: “stim odin?” “save Dshield for when I go in?” etc. Clarifyingone or two “obvious” things politely in advance will take stress out of team games, and put some more MMR on your profile, no matter where you are on the leaderboard.


    • Always keep the focus on the next step, not the last one. Talking about what someone else picked, or defending what you picked does nothing productive, and does distract. Leave off any discussion about previous plays that doesn’t directly feed into what to do next.


    - Keep in mind when doing so that whatever it may feel like, telling people what to do isn’t going to pay off unless they want to be told- which is almost never the case. At the end of the day SoloQ is to improve you, not anyone else, so you really shouldn’t want to coach your teammates anyways.




    At this point in my other Tips & Tricks I usually remind people that one bad plan is better than three good ones- going with the group and not throwing in another opinion/call is best. However, it’s important to remember simultaneously, that a bad plan is better than no plan. Even if people disagree and another plan gets chosen, you’ve started the process of getting everyone on the same page.


    To see the other articles in the Tips & Tricks Series, as well as my stream and every other piece of content I make, check out this