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View the previous post on HeroesHearth here.
View all of my previous blog posts here.
Hello again! After each balance patch, I've taken it upon myself to track how the balance changes have affected the Nexus. It's become something of a habit for me, and I thought it might be fun to share my data with the community.
In case you've forgotten what changed in the last patch, here's a link.
Disclaimer (please read!):
All data provided in this post was collected from Hotslogs, which is a database of player-submitted games. Data was collected between 3:30 PM and 4:30 PM EST each day, using the special filter "Last 7 Days (Current Build)". As usual, keep in mind that my numbers may differ slightly from Hotslogs's "official" figures as the site regularly updates older information as more games are added. Therefore, our data may not match up perfectly, but it should give a generally accurate view of how the week progressed.
Here is a link to the spreadsheet with the data I've collected. The spreadsheet contains all of my original data, split into two categories: "Composite" (which represents all data across the entire week) and "Daily" (which represents data from each individual day). If you'd prefer a summarized report, read on!
Here is a table showing the win rates, pick rates, ban rates, and overall popularity of each hero in Ranked and Unranked play:
Remember, only the heroes whose win rates are highlighted blue/orange with white text have exceeded their margin of error. Heroes which do not exceed the margin of error are considered to have too little data to confirm that they have changed in any significant way. Note that the error column assumes a 95% confidence interval. To put it simply, a 95% confidence interval is a numerical way to measure whether the win rate has changed in any significant way. If the change to a win rate exceeds the error, then we can assume that there is approximately a 95% chance that repeated tests would confirm the true value lies within the bounds of the confidence interval.
The seven-day analysis is below. Please note that while I try to cover all heroes, not all heroes are in need of in-depth analysis of their changes, so some heroes may have short summaries or may even be omitted entirely. Also, be aware that the contents of this section are primarily my own opinion of the changes, albeit backed with data. If you disagree, feel free to explain why in the comments below.
1) The new Chen has released at last with "staggering" results, but a tepid reception (at least from me). While you might be inclined to look at the jump in win rate as particularly meaningful, I would caution that Chen in particular has had a notoriously weaker win rate on Hotslogs than his internal data seems to suggest. The dev team has regularly quoted him as being one of the more powerful heroes in the right hands, despite what our own data might say, so let's not talk too much about the win rate itself. Instead, let's dive into the hero's design itself. In my own personal opinion, the rework was not handled well. I'm sure there will be plenty of Chen mains who disagree with me, so I'll do my best to explain why I feel this way.
First and foremost, instead of tying Stagger to his D key alongside his Brew mechanic, they put Stagger on E, which forced a combination of Keg Smash and Breath of Flame onto a single key. Even after a lot of practice on my part, the transition between the two abilities feels exceedingly clunky, probably due to the delay between swaps. Furthermore, it used to be that you could use Keg Smash or Breath of Fire independently if needed, which was useful, albeit not something you'd frequently do. But this change cements the two as only being usable one after the other, which in my opinion removes some of the character's nuance. No longer is there room for you to repeatedly spam Key Smash slows on a priority target for extra slows. This is partially reduced in necessity by the fact that Breath of Fire extends the length of the slow, but I've found that it's still not as efficient as I'd like it to be. I admit that I'm not sure this is a "fixable" issue, however (and some of you may disagree with me that it's an issue at all). In any case, it's likely that we're stuck with this change, for better or worse.
I also have major issues with how Stagger and Fortifying Brew were handled. My personal proposal for giving Chen Stagger was to leave his Brew mechanics entirely intact as they were, then replace Fortifying Brew with Stagger altogether. In other words, while drinking, he would've had no shields, but also would take no damage unless stunned out of drinking or after a certain number of seconds had passed, at which point he'd take a percentage of damage dealt as poison-esque damage per second, just as Stagger works now. With my pitch, there's more power to go around, allowing for Stagger to be a lot stronger in general. My pitch also would've allowed for the addition of more talents that focus around managing his Stagger as a resource like you're meant to do in WoW. For example, giving him talents like Hot Trub to use his Staggered damage as an AoE effect like the Burning Rage-themed talents and allowing him to punish focus-fire, or variations on Ironskin/Purifying Brew, etc.
But instead, the devs left Fortifying Brew intact and slapped Stagger onto E. This spreads his kit's power considerably thinner, which is why Fortifying Brew was given decreased shield strength, an increased cooldown, and no guaranteed Brew when activated. Now yes, it's clear that the intent was to compensate for these changes by giving him longer shield duration, faster Brew regeneration, and decreased channel time. But all of these aspects together help contribute to the aforementioned feeling of "clunkiness". Losing the guaranteed Brew reduces his effectiveness vs stun-happy heroes to where it used to be, for example, making that longer cooldown hurt considerably more if he's stunned right away. And the longer duration of shields means little because the shield duration and channel times no longer stack neatly on top of one another. Previously, 5 seconds of channeling + a 5s CD meant you could chug forever. Now, you chug for 4 seconds, and your shields hold up just barely long enough for you to start chugging again 3 seconds later, and you'll have about 8% less shields during that in-between time.
Now, I'll grant that this is all largely my opinion, and that perhaps with further tweaking of the numbers, this new version of Chen can still work out fine. They can reduce the cooldowns on Keg Smash and Breath of Fire so that the abilities flow better, they can tweak the cooldown and channels of Fortifying Brew to make it feel better, and they might even revert the Brew changes. But even with fixes like these, I don't think that Chen will ever really feel "right" to me, in large part because of the decisions made in how to add Stagger. I still feel that Chen would have worked out much better if they had thoroughly redesigned his kit around the idea of using Stagger as the new trait, rather than just adding Stagger to an ability key and then pulling power from the rest of his pre-existing kit to make it fit. But I'm sure some folks will disagree with me on that, and if the new design is what they want, then I'm happy for them. I just don't think it was the best way to handle this rework, which should probably have been bigger than it was. From the sounds of it, Tassadar's rework will be considerably more transformative than this, so at least I've got that to look forward to.
Looking for more of my work? My last article discusses concerns about snowballing and the "passive meta" that the new changes may bring if not handled properly. That article is located here. Feel free to let me know your thoughts to this article in the comments section below, or on Twitter at my handle @CriticKitten. I look forward to your replies!
Hope to see you again next time!