So you’ve played a few games of Heroes of the Storm. You’ve caught onto the whole talent system thing, you’ve found a handful of Heroes you enjoy playing, and you feel confident in your skills—now you want to take it to the next level and see how you actually compare to the best.
Whoa, slow down. Ranked mode is an entirely different world compared to what you’re used to in Quick Match. There are a lot of elements like drafting and—dare I say?—actual teamwork that you haven’t even discovered yet. It’s not an easy climb to #1, but here’s a starter kit to get you headed on the right track!
Ranked Mode Requirements
Before you play any ranked games, you’re going to have to meet a certain set of requirements. Why are there requirements? Blizzard is looking out for your own interests! They want you to spend some time getting to know the game before you get thrown into the deep end, so you’ll need at least level 30 for Hero League, 40 for Team League. You’ll also need to have ten Heroes in the unlikely (but possible) case that every Hero you own is picked by the nine other people in the game.
For most players, the frustrating part is not going to be the level cap, it’s going to be the minimum Hero requirement. Unless you’re a well-seasoned MOBA veteran, you probably need the time and experience playing and leveling up to 30 before you jump into something competitive. However, once you get to 30 and feel ready to play a ranked game, you may find yourself at a Hero deficit without enough gold to fill out your Hero roster. If you don’t want to spend real money, you’ll have to grind out several more games to get Gold so you can buy more Heroes. This is especially frustrating if you spent a lot of your early Gold on expensive 10K Heroes.
Lesson learned: spend your money wisely!
If you do have some extra Gold lying around and need a few more Heroes to meet the requirements, there are a variety of solid budget Heroes (worth 2,000–4,000 Gold) to choose from. I recommend Valla, Raynor, Malfurion, Muradin, E.T.C., Jaina, Zagara, Sonya, Tassadar, and Johanna from that range; they are all consistently strong Heroes that will serve you well if you can’t play your favorites.
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You’re probably familiar with drafting to some degree if you’ve played or watched League of Legends or Dota 2, but the process can be confusing for newer MOBA players. Draft Mode is basically a system for both teams to pick cohesive compositions. Instead of everyone choosing what they want at the same time, teams take turns so that they can “counterpick” each other.
Luckily, there are no bans in Heroes of the Storm for the time being, so drafting is pretty straightforward. One team gets first pick and then each team takes turn picking Heroes until the draft ends. There are certain strategies to drafting, but don’t worry about that too much; it will come with time and experience as you learn the capabilities of each Hero and the “metagame”. For now, just focus on having a few picks in each role (Assassin, Support, Warrior, and Specialist) so you can cover any position if necessary.
The Ranking System
All right, so how good are you? Every game has its own ranking system, and Heroes of the Storm is no different. Unlike other games, you aren’t placed in a League. Instead, Heroes of the Storm uses a system that ranks you 1 to 50 with each rank supposedly representing 2% of the gaming population. Rank 1 is the goal—that’s where you want to go. You compete for points each game which will allow you rank up on your way to success.
Before you even get a rank, though, you’ll need to play through a series of placement matches. Ranked Mode has its own MMR (Matchmaking Rating) compared to Quick Match, so the game needs to determine your basic skill level first. There are 20 tedious placement matches, ranging anywhere from games with people who just started playing Ranked to some of the better players in the game depending on your progress.
If you get anxiety about losing your rank, don’t worry! Movement between ranks is quite easy, so it won’t take you long to get back up to where you started. In addition, you can’t be demoted below Rank 40, a failsafe introduced by Blizzard to keep newer players from being perpetually stuck at the bottom of the barrel. Nonetheless, trying to climb the ranks can get aggravating at times. Remember that the game is, first and foremost, fun; don’t forget to enjoy yourself too.
Now that you’re prepared, it’s time to try out your luck in Hero League. There’s still an immense amount to learn about the game, but hopefully you’re prepared for what the immediate future holds. Armed with a solid arsenal of Heroes, some confidence, and a healthy amount of dedication, it should take you no time to climb to the top. Good luck, Hero!