We’re less than a week away from Thailand, and that means it’s time to take a good look at competitive HoN’s current hero pool and what we should expect on the biggest stage of the year. After all, a huge portion of the game is won or lost during the drafting phase – did you pick heroes that work well together? Heroes you can play well? And most importantly for MOBAs in general, did you pick heroes that are straight-up more powerful than your opponents’, at least for the current stage of balance?
In order to find out what heroes we should expect to do well, let’s look at which ones consistently won in Season 3. The greatest predictor of the future is the past, and by examining heroes with particularly high win rates in large amounts of games, we can guess that they’ll be similarly successful when it comes to crunch time.
Our ideal hero fits two categories: it’s seen high use, so we can be sure that it didn’t just get a few lucky games in, and it has won substantially more than it has lost. So let’s sort heroes based on the following formula:
Games * (Wins-Losses)
Heroes with an even record will be punished, as net wins will be close to zero, reducing the overall value. Heroes with a low number of games played and a high win% won’t be doing well either, since the first portion isn’t going to help them.
The Five Best Heroes
This is what’s called “validation of things you already knew”. At least, the first two names should be, since neither of them are particularly surprising atop that table. Swiftblade and Doctor Repulsor are two of the most-picked heroes in the game (7th and 10th respectively), and long considered two of the strongest. It’s no small feat to crack the 100 games played barrier and still sport a winning percentage over 55%; only two other heroes in the top 10 most picked are even above 50%*. The list does give Swiftblade the edge, considering he has an additional 11 games and carries the same chance at victory, which indicates a better chance that is his true power.
The next three names aren’t as obvious. Pebbles in the #3 spot is probably highly related to the fact that SynC have played him more than twice as much as anyone else, and as we all know, they barely lose. If you read the article highlighting their team, you’ll know he’s easily their best hero. In fact, if you take away SynC’s games with Pebbles (22-2 record), he’s actually a reasonably terrible 20-30. But that’s bad science – SynC won a lot of games with Pebbles, and those count. In fact, their success with him suggests that other teams aren’t using him enough and/or aren’t using him correctly. If they could fix that problem, not only would they have a lot more success with Pebbles, they’d apparently be much better teams in general. So that’s the secret to winning, guys: get a m`ICKe of your very own. Then ez life.
Ophelia comes next, and she seems like the biggest surprise on the list. But her presence has a lot in common with Pebbles; who picks Ophelia the most? SynC! Who rarely loses with Ophelia, going 18-2 overall? SynC! It’s like there’s some sort of pattern. By the way, that extends all the way to the top; SynC are the heaviest users of Doctor Repulsor and tied for the top spot with Swiftblade.
That’s the sort of thing that one might believe invalidates these rankings – SynC wins with everything, so whatever they pick is going to end up on the list. It doesn’t say anything about how strong the hero is objectively, just that they like it and they win, so it wins. But contained within that argument is its own undoing: if SynC are the best team in international HoN right now – and there’s some evidence to suggest they are – then we should pay attention to what heroes they like to use. They obviously know what they’re doing, and it’s kind of silly to suggest that they win despite their drafts. So it’s a bit of positive feedback, sure, just not the sort that renders this meaningless (at least, I hope not).
Reinforcing that argument is the presence of Cthuluphant in the #5 spot, which two teams pick more often than SynC: BMG and Null! Wait, dammit, that would be way better if it were someone who sucked ([Editor’s note: rude), like Solaire Club or Frog No Hippo…
Either way, Cthulu and Ophelia sport the oddity of K:D ratios below 1.0, which one wouldn’t expect from non-support heroes on the top of these lists. The elephant can be explained by the general difficulty of getting kills with him, and he makes up for it with a high assist count. But Ophelia doesn’t even do that well on assists, which is strange considering her constant army of minions, and has a reasonably poor average GPM as well. And no, it’s not like SynC does way better with her either, as Zlapped’s good-not-spectacular 4.1/2.1/8.9 line and 337 average GPM will attest.
No, she’s much better at illustrating the value of general utility in a lineup; Ophelia provides a lot of different mildly helpful effects that combine into one strong hero, as opposed to a hero that excels at a single thing. Though in general you can see representatives from five different camps in the top five, which is kind of nice. Swiftblade hails from the land of versatile carries, heroes that can be played shortlane, offlane, or mid and excel into the late game as either the primary or secondary carry. Doctor is more of a babysit hero, who needs someone to hold his hand until he can wreck. Pebbles is a burst initiator, the kind that can put a game away early if he gets off to a good snowballing start. Cthulu rounds it out with the value of tanks, as well as reinforcing the power of the jungle and heroes who can go to multiple lanes.
It’s unfortunate there’s no true support on the list, because then you could theoretically draft that lineup of heroes and it would look completely normal. Although there was that time iNsania played Cthuluphant…
The Next Five: Valkyrie, Pyromancer, Chipper, War Beast, Keeper of the Forest
Hey, there’s a hard support! And we only had to go to #7. These five are characterized less by a large number of games and more by a high win%, so one might consider them even better representations of what we’re looking for if you change the weights slightly. They all have between 47 and 62 games played, so none of them have appeared as often as any of the top five, and boast win rates between 56.5% and 61.2%, generally substantially higher than their betters.
If they were played more often, they might overtake one of the top five spots, or they could drop their win% enough to fall out of the top 10, so don’t assume these are actually better heroes. They just could be.
Top Five (Non-SynC games): Glacius, Cthuluphant, Valkyrie, Chipper, Riftwalker
Just for fun, let’s remove SynC’s destructive influence from both sides of the equation; this list includes only games where SynC was not involved. It still sports three heroes from the former top 10, and one from the top five, with new additions Glacius and Riftwalker. SynC actually plays a fair bit of Glacius, it’s just one of their worse heroes, and they’ve gone 16-1 when facing it, so those things combine to really hurt Glacius’ winning percentage overall. Riftwalker, of course, is one of BMG’s signature heroes, and they have done the heavy lifting on her 18-5 record. She’s definitely a hero that should be thrown into the “maybe more teams should try this” bucket, and hopefully we’ll be seeing teams blindly searching through that trough come next weekend.
So what did we learn? Not much we didn’t think already, which is good; if this exercise had come up with shocking names, it could really only do so on the back of bad methods, so getting some expected results isn’t a bad thing. It’s just confirmation of things you already suspected: namely that every time you lose a game of HoN, it’s because the other team is a bunch of dirty Skillblade pickers that only have one button on their keyboard, and your chat rage is entirely justified.
*This is pretty much the strongest argument anyone can make in favor of the game and scene being very well balanced right now
quincy0191 is a HoN veteran with a focus on the numbers. Fascinated by quantifying and valuing human beings, he shunned the world of finance in favor of sports and competition. When not on Honcast you can find quincy playing games like Civilization and Pokemon, or watching movies, writing, pondering, or catching a game of baseball.