By quincy0191

In case you hadn’t noticed, there was a pretty big balance patch that hit between Cycle 6 and 7, and it’s already being felt in the hero pool. The big bad Cthuluphant is seeing much less attention, dual support lineups are gaining traction, and there are a number of new heroes that teams are trying out.

Prior to Cycle 6, 18 heroes had not been picked once in HoN Tour Season 3. Accursed and Hellbringer showed up last cycle, bringing us to 16, and seven new faces mean just 9 of the 122 eligible heroes haven’t been picked yet. Those previously absent heroes are Deadwood (14 games), Jeraziah (4), Monarch (3), Martyr, Predator, Armadon, and Bombardier (one apiece). Tremble (5) is in a special situation since he wasn’t eligible before, so he wasn’t counted as a hero that hadn’t been picked. That makes seven unpicked heroes and one “new” hero.

How have the newbies done so far? Pretty well, in fact. Collectively they’re 18-12 with a 4.5/3.4/7.8 line and 332 GPM. It certainly seems that bringing new heroes into the meta has benefitted teams significantly. Let’s look at each new hero individually, starting with one of the current stars of Cycle 7.

Deadwood: 4.8/4.0/7.9, 269 GPM, 5-9 record
Deadwood’s fourteen games played tie him with Parasite for the 6th-most picked hero out of 72 in Cycle 7, the most diverse cycle yet. He’s also been played by six different players: BeaverBanger, Mbrei, Z4NE, Boxi, L4byr1nth, m`ICKe, CholoSIMEONE, and FuzzySloth, though only the first three emerged victorious. Clearly Nullstone and Reason are the biggest advocates as they account for 11 of his 14 selections and were the only ones to record victories. There’s some thought that he could occupy a suicide role as Z4NE gave him multiple shots, coming out with a 4.8/3.0/10.8 line with 262 GPM and a 3-3 record.

Deadwood only got minor buffs in the most recent patch, with a slightly improved version of Oakbolt and a little more early damage and strength reduction on Willowmaker, but his viability as a competitive hero seems to have recovered in the eyes of captains. He still hasn’t been very successful, but with more time and patience teams may figure out how to use him properly and improve his performance.

Tremble: 5.0/3.2/7.8, 562 GPM, 4-1 record
Tremble got some slight nerfs to deal with his performance in the Season 3 qualifiers, after which it was deemed his rework made him too powerful. After sitting out nearly the entire HoN Tour event, he’s finally back and apparently little has changed. His one loss out of five games was for tree, 0/3/3 with 274 GPM in a 15 minute concede to Prime Icarus. He’s slightly weaker with less damage reduction from his Dark Swarm, but the increased gold bounty for killing Terror Mounds hasn’t made people prioritize them, and overall it seems he could be vaulted to the top tier of carries quite soon. Leading all heroes in Cycle 7 in GPM (min. 5 games) certainly won’t hurt his candidacy.

Jeraziah: 3.0/2.5/7.3, 336 GPM, 3-1 record
Another coincidence as Jeraziah received no changes in the patch, Reason Gaming was the only team to grab Jeraziah in the entire cycle, but they clearly had quite a good time with the hero, going 3-1 overall in four games against tree (2-0) and SynC (1-1). There’s no padding of stats against lower-tier teams here; Rea waited until Jeraziah was absolutely necessary, with his first selection coming in Game 3 of the Winner’s Semifinals against willowkeeper, followed by one each in all subsequent series for them. With their first Grand Finals appearance and his only loss in the last game of that match, it’s safe to say the pick generally worked out.

Monarch: 1.7/4.3/8.0, 181 GPM, 2-1 record
During the tree-Mint series I pointed out that Fusen had played only four heroes to that point in HTS3: Torturer, Rhapsody, Glacius, and Empath, the last just three times. He owns the top two most played hero combos with Glacius (27 games) and Rhapsody (23). He took exception to that, picking Voodoo Jester, Moira, and Andromeda on top of Monarch’s first two games this season. willowkeeper dropped Game 1 of their series against Reason, so getting an unpicked and re-worked hero like Monarch was a pretty bold move. But he made it work, and did it again while tied in the Loser’s Bracket against Prime Icarus – maybe Monarch is the new go-to for tree’s captain.

Armadon: 4/1/12, 514 GPM, 1-0 record
SynC got the Winner’s Finals started off with a bang, including Armadon’s first selection of Season 3 and 450+ GPM on three players in the first game. m`ICKe and iNsania beat up on a short lane Pharaoh, but it’s not like Armadon got a major buff. A boost of one intelligence to start and a tenth of an agility per level does make it easier to spam early, but it isn’t the major upgrade that would suggest 500+ gold per minute is easy. So maybe SynC just thinks Armadon is actually viable and finally decided to pick him up.

Bombardier: 14/2/14, 505 GPM, 1-0 record
More of a coincidence than anything as a slight increase to the attach range of Sticky Bomb didn’t suddenly make him a great hero. Xibbe had a great game on Bombardier against a stumbling REXXARS team that lost two of its core members and which has apparently disbanded. It’s pretty hard to take that one game particularly seriously considering the context in which it was played, so this probably doesn’t herald a new era of Bombardier picks.

Martyr: 4/4/3, 218 GPM, 1-0 record
Martyr got major changes to his spells, and SynC eSports figured he was worth a shot. Clearly they were right, as Zlapped in the second support role had a good performance and they were able to knock Nullstone to the Loser’s Bracket and secure a place in the Winner’s Finals. A long lane dual lane with Cthuluphant meant some serious tank presence despite his nerfs, and KheZu took advantage with three kills and eight assists against only one death as Nullstone conceded just after fifteen minutes.

Predator: 5/1/2, 546 GPM, 1-0 record
Yet another late-cycle pick, Pred was selected in Reason’s first game against willowkeeper in the Loser’s Bracket Finals; with the chance at their best cycle finish ever, they wanted to get started on the right foot, and they certainly accomplished that. ImbaBoy has been a Predator player for awhile now, but so far in HTS3 he remained unpicked. Like Jeraziah, he received precisely zero changes in the patch, though perhaps the metagame is shifting to allow his current design to work. It certainly did for at least one game, and perhaps Rea will expand ImbaBoy’s strange stable of carries.

There’s still another cycle and the playoffs before we hit the World Finals. These heroes are going to pick up, drop off, become popular, and fall by the wayside as teams and players get more comfortable with who they are and what they do. Their overall strong early performance may indicate worthiness, or it might be a fluke. Either way, in the first cycle post-patch we’ve set a record for the most heroes picked in a single cycle, and with practice and continued theorycrafting, we could break it yet again in Cycle 8. It looks like the playoffs and World Finals may be one of the most diverse hero environments competitive HoN has ever seen.

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.