By quincy0191

Rejoice, good people, for HoN Tour Season 3 is nearly upon us! With the Carnage in Caldavar event recently completed, HTS3 qualifiers ongoing, and HoN’s biggest tournament just around the corner, let’s check out some of the heroes, players, and teams you should be looking out for in the first few cycles. In this edition, I’ll be taking a look at a few heroes that are trending down as we head into HoN Tour.


Swiftblade

Assuming you watched the CiC Cycle 2 Pro Playoffs, you might think that Swiftblade is going to be the new Puppet Master. SB saw a lot of action in Carnage overall, appearing in 48 out of 150 games, eighth-most overall. In fact, he was the most common carry; the seven heroes above him include supports (Torturer, Rhapsody, Engineer, Empath) and initiators (Magmus, Bubbles), as well as the versatile Drunken Master, who was split almost equally between carry, suicide, and initiator.

But the Cycle 2 Grand Finals were really Swifty’s coming out party. In three games, he averaged 16 kills, one death, and 10 assists, with a massive 622 GPM and three wins. That included a suicide role in Game 2, where Xibbe managed a paltry 557 GPM. So is Swiftblade going to be the new automatic ban in Cycle 1, the equivalent of Puppet Master throughout CiC?

Well, he probably shouldn’t be. As well as Swiftblade played in the Grand Finals, he was actually something of a disappointment in Cycle 2 overall:

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Cycle 1 SB was a force. He won 14 of 20 games, with a pretty ridiculous stat line, and deservedly his presence increased in the second cycle, from 13% of games to 19%. But his win rate was cut almost in half, as the kills and assists dropped significantly, and he saw a slight uptick in deaths. Notably, he didn’t lose out much in terms of farm, with both GPM and XPM holding steady. So perhaps Swift is doing just fine, but his team is letting him down?

That’s certainly an explanation that can’t be ignored, but there are two factors that increase the validity of a conclusion: sample size, and distance from the mean. A 70% win rate in 20 games suggests that Swiftblade was a legitimately strong hero, and his subsequent drop suggests that teams figured out how to deal with him. That doesn’t necessarily mean they shut him down, but whatever strategies he was using to win don’t appear to be working anymore.

What to Expect: Swiftblade should see regular to high use in at least the first part of HoN Tour, in no small part thanks to his amazing performance in the Grand Finals. After a sustained stretch of winning, he certainly earned his place in the spotlight, but don’t be surprised if he doesn’t seem to take off quite as much as you’d think. Barring a turnaround, expect to see his use start to drop.


Drunken Master

This versatile strength hero had some pretty impressive splits in CiC. First, I have to note that laning information is incomplete right now as a result of difficulties downloading replays, but that only affected three games of the 70 that Drunken appeared in, so it’s not that big a problem. In any case, DM played suicide 21 times, carried 18 times, and was the initiator 28 times. No doubt, he can play any role.

Well, maybe. Check out his win rates based on role:


Overall, Drunken boasted just a 42.9% win rate in a whopping 70 games, tied for the fifth-most played hero. To find a lower win rate, you have to go down to Madman, the 18th-most played hero, who won 37.5% of 24 games.

DM does just fine when played as a carry. It’s his transition to other roles that tends to limit his effectiveness, and drag his team down with him; no doubt, one would expect his numbers to be better when he is the primary farmer, but there are plenty of initiation or suicide heroes that boast better numbers. Magmus, for example, was run as an initiator 75% of the time, and managed a 4.3/3.5/10.3 line and 61.4% win rate. Bubbles sat at 4.2/3.7/8.4 and won 50.7% of games.

Well, maybe Drunken is just a victim of circumstance. Perhaps he’s being over-utilized by lower-tier teams, while the best teams ignore him. Regardless of what that says about the hero, it’s just not true. SynC and BMG used Drunken Master more than any other team, though on a per-game basis Ogr overtook both of them and The Last of US tied SynC:


Giant table of numbers, I know, but here’s the big takeaway: only one team won more often with Drunken Master than without him, and that was REXXARS. BMG and SynC both won a bunch of games with DM, but they just won a bunch of games in general. DM can carry. It doesn’t look like he can do much else, and there are better candidates for that role.

What to Expect: Drunken saw an uptick in use in Cycle 2, mostly as a result of Shrek is Love picking him up a lot. Their performance in Cycle 2 is difficult to tease out, because they didn’t look particularly good in most games, so it’s hard to pin it all on Drunken Master. Overall, though, his use stayed mostly static. What changed was how he was used; BMG, SynC, and Reason all put him in the carry role more often in Cycle 2 than in Cycle 1. He also jumped from just under a 40% win rate to around 45%. DM still looks like a suspect hero, but his apparent versatility and some better use by teams likely mean he’ll stick around for Season 3.


Torturer

Calling Torturer popular is unfair. The hero was picked more often than any other in CiC, 94 times, ten more than second-place Rhapsody. Based on the last few weeks, Torturer is the most popular.

Yet, he won only 44.7% of games across both cycles, with only a slight increase in Cycle 2. BMG is about the only team that plays him well, going 9-0, while SynC won just 55.6% of games and nobody else was above .500. Part of the problem is the popularity and success of Rhapsody; Torturer is often the counter-pick to the game’s best support, and as a result suffered from having to oppose her. Yet heroes like Engineer and Empath managed good win rates in large amounts of games.

In half of his games (45), Torturer was opposed by a Rhapsody; against Rhap, he falls to just a 33% win rate, meaning his win rate against non-Rhapsody lineups is 55%. That’s not bad, but taking out one of the highest win rate heroes should provide a boost to win percentage. Consider Engineer and his 58.3% mark in 72 games; against Rhapsody, he’s at 39.1% in 23 games, which means he’s won 67.3% of games when not opposing a Rhapsody. By comparison, Torturer still looks ineffective.

One advantage Torturer supposedly has is his versatility; picking him early means you’re not tied to running him as a support. But across both cycles, carry Torturer went 3-6 with just 407 GPM and a 7.2/6.4/8.7 line, not particularly good for carries overall.
Let’s check out some splits to see where Torturer does well, if anywhere:


Just about the only place Torturer does well is in the mid lane (where all 29 games were dual-laned). He won’t hurt you in dual lanes in general, and the long lane is also alright, though a larger percentage of those are trilanes (45%). The lack of a specific role in which Torturer shines makes it difficult to justify using him; it just seems like the hero is not that good across the board.

What to Expect: It doesn’t seem likely Torturer will suddenly drop in use. Despite a low win rate in Cycle 1, he continued to see regular play in Cycle 2, and he’s been a popular support for long enough that a major change will be necessary to see his use rates fall significantly. Perhaps innovations in laning, lineup construction, or just better play will boost Torturer’s success, but for now, he looks like a hero to avoid.