HGC Digest Week 5

Aaron Blackman, Blizzard Entertainment

League play has wrapped up for the first part of Phase 1 in Europe and North America, and the stage is now set for the Western Clash on March 2. As new teams and grizzled veterans fought for their spots at the Western Clash during Week 5, we also witnessed a quick acceptance to a Support staple: Malfurion.

While Malfurion appeared in only 33% of the games during Week 3 in North America, he showed up in all 15 games during Week 5. His rework has been available since day one of HGC 2018, but North America was much slower to adopt the hero than Europe, where he appeared in at least 12 games every week.

Same Hero, New Way to Heal

Numerous adjustments came with Malfurion’s recent rework, changing the functionality of all three of his basic abilities. Regrowth lasts longer but doesn’t grant an initial heal, while Entangling Roots no longer affects Minions and Mercenaries. One major shift in how the Support hero is being played comes with the updated effect of Moonfire—this ability now heals all targets with an active Regrowth for every Hero hit in its radius.

These small bursts of healing provided by Moonfire has given Malfurion potent partners in crime: highly mobile Assassins, like Tracer and Genji. “Malf is pretty nuts with these heroes since you can just put a Regrowth on them and can heal them from wherever if you’re able to get Moonfires off,” SpaceStation Gaming’s Support player Thomas “Tomster” Maguire explained.

Malfurion was played 19 times across Europe and North America during Week 5. In seven of those games, he was paired up with Tracer, and in another five he was partnered with Genji. These pairings found success in the form of a 66% win rate. Malfurion’s ability to keep low-health Assassins alive while staying in safety has given the hero a much higher priority in the draft.

An Archdruid’s Place in the Meta

HGC players are building Malfurion in a fairly consistent fashion, especially once Level 10 hits. Variations tend to occur from player to player with their choice of talents at Levels 1, 4, and 7. Nature’s Swiftness is primarily the go-to pick at Level 1, granting Malfurion 5% extra movement speed for every ally affected by Regrowth. Most pros gravitate toward Deep Roots at Level 4 and Nature’s Cure at Level 7 if they face a team composition with numerous stuns, roots and slows.

Finally, Malfurion’s Entangling Roots and Twilight Dream work wonders in setting up deadly combos. “I believe Malfurion is strong currently because of his insane sustain with the new Regrowth Moonfire mechanic,” Tomster elaborated. “If a Malf gets a good silence off in a team fight, it has the chance to just win you the fight, and he has a follow up CC for tanks and other stuns which a lot of supports don’t really have.”

Other Notable Highlights from Week 5

  • To qualify for the Western Clash, Zealots had a steep hurdle to jump in the form of an undefeated Team Dignitas. They cleared the hurdle with stellar teamfighting, finishing off Team Dignitas in a 3-1 victory on Friday and securing their ticket to Katowice.
  • After earning their spot in the HGC through the Phase 2 Crucible in 2017, HeroesHearth Esports have qualified for the Western Clash, their first international tournament.
  • Recent changes to Malthael have boosted the Aspect of Death in priority for North America. The Assassin was played in nine games and banned in five others in North America, but was only played twice in Europe.