Li-Ming the latest mage to join the Nexus and arguably also the most diverse in terms of the number of different playstyles and builds. It is the combination of the fact that she has a lot of viable options at each talent tier, as well her unique kit & trait that allows each Li-Ming player to choose from a variety of styles. Building her (Q) (W) or (E) each requires you to play differently to get maximum value. In this article we will discuss the various Li-Ming play styles as well as getting the most out of each one.
Mobility vs Escape: The value of Aether Walker
Before we get into Li-Ming's various play styles it's important to discuss her Teleport (E) ability. Many Li-Ming players use Teleport (E) purely as a way to escape instead of a tool to continuously reposition themselves. Teleport (E) has a low cooldown as well as a short range. It is better to be using it constantly to reposition yourself, to keep your enemies guessing your location rather than using it to escape when they are already in melee range. This is where Aether Walker at level 1 gets its value. Having a free Teleport (E) every 3 seconds allows you to be very mobile and it is even better for allowing you to stay longer in the ﬁght than Astral presence (100% mana regeneration when below 25% mana) if you are having extended team ﬁghts and running out of mana. Although it is currently under picked in HOTSLOGS, Aether Walker is deﬁnitely a viable talent for Li-Ming at level one, especially if you want to go for a full Teleport build. It allows for a fun mobile play style that is very rewarding if executed to its fullest potential.
Catch me if you can!
Sustained High Damage Play Style (Talent Build 1)
For balance purposes, sustained damage and burst damage heroes are polar opposites in Heroes of the Storm. For example, while Jaina has burst damage, her sustained poke damage cannot compete with an auto attack hero like Raynor. Li-Ming is an exception to the rule. Glass Cannon (level 13) combined with Mirrorball (level 16) allows Li-Ming to constantly chip away at the enemies at a safe distance with a considerable amount of damage. It is important to remember that with this version of Li-Ming you are going to be more fragile than anyone else on your team. Simply put, you have a target on your back. Be extra wary of your ﬂanks and any enemy hero that you do not have vision of during a ﬁght is probably trying to ambush you. Constant repositioning is key to making this play style work.
Terrible Terrible Damage Play Style (Talent Build 2)
This is also known as the Arcane orb (W) build where you just beef up your Arcane Orb with Zei's Vengeance (level 7) and Arcane Orbit (level 16) and you wait patiently wait for that glorious moment when some poor enemy eats an Arcane Orb at maximum range. Although it can be gimmicky, this play style can demolish teams when combined with prior mass heroic crowd control abilities like ETC's Mosh Pit, Diablo's Apocalypse or Zeratul's Void Prison.
Illusionist Play Style (Talent Build 3)
This play style is my personal favorite because all it takes is one kill and Li-Ming can snowball the team fight for her team. Illusionist is a two edged sword, it can be used as an emergency button for escaping as well as a way to burst an enemy down to start the snowball rolling. Quick reactions with your Teleport (E) as well as looking out for opportunities to activate your Illusionist (level 13) for even more damage from Calamity (level 7) is vital for this play style. There's a lot of room for error, but also potential to out play your opponents. Diamond Skin (level 16) is definitely something to be considered as well when going for this type of play style. It is not necessary if you think you can safely hop in and out without taking too much damage, but the last thing you want is to kill one enemy hero then be forced to step out of the ﬁght because it is no longer safe for you to stick around for you to take advantage of your trait.
Level 13 and 16: Survivability vs Damage
When choosing your level 13 and 16 talent these are the things you should consider: the amount of crowd control the enemy team has, how long you expect the ﬁghts to last, and which play style you are going for. As discussed above Diamond Skin is a talent better suited for the Illusionist play style since you will be giving up a damage boost talent like Mirrorball at level 16 in favor of survivability. The same goes for choosing between Glass Cannon and Illusionist at level 13. There is no point choosing Glass Cannon if you will not be surviving long enough to take advantage of it. Keep in mind that if you also took Dominance at level 4 followed by Glass Cannon at level 13 that you will be receiving less health per takedown and may make it more difficult to snowball the team fight.
Level 20: Choose Wisely
Li-Ming's talent options at Level 20 are again another reason why Blizzard did an excellent job with her hero design. The choice between upgrading her Heroic Abilities, Tal Rasha's Elements and Archon: Pure Power leads to very different play styles in the late game. It is deﬁnitely satisfying to shoot out an endless death beam when you are in Archon mode. At the same time Tal Rasha's Elements can win you team ﬁghts just from the constant high damage output that Li-ming can provide for her team. The decision to either go with Tal Rasha's Elements or Archon: Pure Power should be decided during the loading screen. Assess if channeling in Archon mode is a viable strategy for the match you will be playing. Again Diamond Skin is something to consider when going for Archon mode since you may need the extra survivability in times where you have to quickly stop channeling and teleport away. If you decide that it is unsafe to go for Archon: Pure Power then going for the Tal Rasha's Elements route begins as early level 7. You want to make sure that you are getting the most out of the 10% ability power from Tal Rasha's Elements. The more you play Li-Ming you will have better judgment in terms of how greedy you want to be with her damage boost talents since taking her damage boost talents always comes with a price in terms of survivability. Currently the most popular choice at level 20 is Temporal Flux which was overwhelming when it had a 60% slow, but was recently nerfed to a 40% slow. It's is still a solid choice if your team lacks the crowd control and you want guaranteed damage from your Disintegrate though you should consider if the 10% damage boost from Tal Rasha's Elements is worth giving up for a 40% slow.
Li-Ming Hero Synergies
Greymane, Thrall and Zeratul have one thing in common: the ability to deal massive single target damage to squishy enemy heroes so that Li-Ming can follow up and get her first Critical Mass trait reset. If you have any of these three heroes on your team and they manage to get a flanking position on a squishy enemy hero, make sure that you are in position to follow up with your damage in order to get the initial takedown and trait reset. In general, when you see a teammate flanking be sure to follow them. This will give your teammate the confidence to continue with the flank since they will see you right behind them. Up until level 20 Greymane will have the fastest single target damage. If he can manage to land a Gilnean Cocktail on a squishy enemy hero and follow it up with damage in Worgen form then it will be a guaranteed double reset for both your basic abilities and Greymane's Go For the Throat heroic ability. When level 20 hits, however, a skilled Zeratul with Rewind can single handedly kill a squishy enemy hero and all you have to do is be there when it happens. Before level 20 pay careful attention to your Zeratul teammates, since they will sometimes try to isolate enemy teams with Void Prison and the last thing you want is to also be stuck inside the Void Prison unable to follow up with your spells. Thrall is also a contender in terms of giving Li-Ming her first trait reset. Although Thrall's damage is a little slower than Greymane and Zeratul his Sundering can open up fights for Li-Ming such that flanking is not even necessary. Moreover, despite Thrall's slightly slower single target damage, he makes up for it with crowd control and the ability to line up enemy heroes for Li-Ming's Disintegrate.
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One kill, two kill, three kill, PENTAKILL
1. Aether Walker + Illusionist
The combination of Aether Walker + Illusionist makes it so that when you are chasing (or fleeing from) an enemy it is better to just continuously Teleport (E) rather than mount up and chase. Aether Walker + Illusionist allows you to be almost as fast as a mounted hero.
2. Aether Walker + Calamity
Combining these two talents allows you to clear waves, creep tumors, siege down buildings and capture camps for no mana cost as long as there is someone else with you to take the damage for you.
3. Duo Queue, Duo Queue!
Duo queuing in Hero League with someone you trust will always improve your win rate. This is true even more so with Li-Ming since getting that first Critical Mass reset can be very easy if you are working with a duo queue teammate. It is almost an unfair advantage to have a Li-Ming + Melee DPS duo queue in Hero League just because of the amount of control that you and your teammate can have on the outcome of the team fights.
Li-ming is rated as a "hard" hero to play even though she is very easy to learn. The reason she is classified as a hard hero to play is because mastering her to be as impactful as possible is not as easy as the other mages like Jaina and Kael'thas. In other words she has a low skill floor, but has a high skill ceiling. When it comes down to it Li-Ming is a hero that revolves around patient decision making in order to maximize her potential. Waiting on which talents your enemies select, holding onto your Arcane Orb (W) for the perfect opportunity and timing an aggressive Teleport (E) at the perfect spot can all make a difference in the outcome of a team fight. It is easy to be an average Li-Ming, but more difficult to master an aggressive play style and be a one man carry for your team. Thanks for reading this StormLegacy guide and if you liked this piece give us a follow at @StormLegacyTeam before you head into the Nexus for your next team wipe.