We didn’t think it could get worse than Chromie or Lunara. It turns out it can.
Blizzard typically tunes Heroes to about a 50% win rate, give or take. When a widely played Hero tops out over 60%, we start to worry if they’re overpowered. Similarly, if a Hero drops below 40%, that’s cause for concern as well. Most of the time, those Heroes below 40% are egregiously underpowered and need some serious buffs before they see any sort of realistic, non-troll play. Medivh got as low as 25% last week on HOTS Logs, more than double the threshold.
Nonetheless, proponents of the Hero will swear on their life that he is viable—overpowered, even. A few months ago, several professional players and top community members got a chance to playtest Medivh early at a “secret” Blizzard summit meeting. Among those attending, most of them agreed that Medivh was way too powerful and would receive numerous nerfs after release. And yet, here we are.
What causes the difference between opinions and win rates here? Were we mistaken in thinking he was powerful at all? Is Medivh actually a bad Hero? Let’s examine some of the core strengths and weaknesses of his kit in order to unravel this mystery.
Do Skill Levels Affect His Viability?
Of course they do. Every Hero can be played better by a better player, though sometimes the disparity between higher and lower skilled players is less obvious. Medivh’s kit is centered around a lot of high-level thinking. Medivh is one of the most obnoxious Heroes in the game when played properly by a good player who knows how to use his abilities to the fullest. A lesser player will have little to no impact, which could explain (in part) why he has such a low win rate.
His Raven Form allows him to fly around and gain vision without danger; only players who know when and where to look for vision and how to use that vision appropriately are able to use his trait effectively. Force of Will (W) is all about anticipating damage ahead of time to block big bursts of damage, a skill that many lower level players lack, especially in disorganized fights. Upper level players or pros can efficiently use another Hero as bait, using Force of Will to block big stun-lock combos that would typically one-shot Heroes. Many poor players will spam it since it has a relatively short cooldown, but good players can time it in accordance with focus fire.
Medivh’s other defining skill is Portal (E), which allows him to do some crazy positioning plays. Once again, positioning is another very high-level concept that only a few hundred top players truly understand. Controlling the battlefield and manipulating positioning well via the portal is what separates noobs from masters. The skill difference for this ability is vast.
All in all, there’s a lot he can do in the right hands. Medivh’s abysmal win rate might be associated with a higher weight of bad players dragging his stats down; it might be that good players are still learning how to play him too. Yet, while his win rate does substantially improve from bronze to master league in Hotslogs, it still falls short.
Medivh Lacks A Lot of Damage
The biggest downside to Medivh is certainly his practically non-existent damage. This was in the original design, partially to make up for his insane utility, but also to prevent him from just being a lane bully or assassin. Whatever the reasoning, it’s clear that Medivh’s damage was undertuned quite a bit, both on his auto attack and Arcane Rift (Q).
The lack of damage made Medivh a bit of a one-trick pony. He could scout as freely as he liked with Raven Form, but when it came time for a big team fight, he’d have to rely on a key Polybomb or Lay Line Seal and some Portal trickery in order to pose any significant presence. Without the damage to follow up—particularly on uncoordinated teams in Quick Match, Unranked Draft, and Hero League—Medivh’s playmaking abilities were severely hampered.
Blizzard’s recent patch earlier this week gave him quite a notable boost in damage, so this may drive his win rates up. They believe (rightly so) that an increase to his damage might give him the edge in individual playmaking and allow him to get more done around the map instead of just keeping tabs on the enemy team in Raven Form all the time. Grubby, in his latest patch review video, claims the 20% damage increase they gave him might actually be too much. Time will tell.
Can Medivh Be Played As A Solo Support?
The other main problem with Medivh is that no one can really find a solid role for him to fill in standard compositions at the moment. Without a proper role to fill, the meta has to evolve around him a bit. Games during this time period will necessarily be a bit rockier than a Hero like Greymane or Li-Ming, who are clearly assassins.
Medivh is closest to Tassadar in terms of the his kit and role. As such, many players tend to play him as a “utility support” in a double support-esque composition. However, he doesn’t quite fill this role as well as Tassadar and, along with his (previously) lackluster damage, remains a risky choice in comparison.
There has been some conjecture on playing him as a solo support with a sustain-heavy dive comp, but he still faces a problem with lack of healing like Tassadar. In any case, it’s unlikely that Blizzard would sanction this trend if it did come to light since he is officially labelled as a specialist and not a support.
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Whatever his role ultimately becomes, we simply don’t know yet. The confusion of where he belongs and how to properly incorporate him into the current meta are detrimental to his win rate and likely another cause for his unfortunate debut.
The Verdict: Medivh is Borderline OP
It’s strange to say it, but Medivh is very close to being broken and overpowered, despite his various drawbacks and his horrid win rate. As mentioned before, his utility is through the roof between Raven Form, Force of Will, Portal, and even Polybomb/Lay Line Seal. Used properly, any one of those abilities are game-changing; combined, they are insane. The recent buff to his damage just makes him more self-sufficient.
When players start to fully understand how to play Medivh better, how he fits into their composition, and what he brings to the table, I think he’ll spike in power. The damage buff has already had a positive effect on his win rate, and I imagine it will only take one all-star performance from a pro player to revolutionize the way we view the game. Without a doubt, Medivh is going to be one of the most influential characters in the history of Heroes of the Storm.