Another new patch, another new meta (and tier list)! With 1.12, Kestrel touched down onto the Fold, and we got some interesting meta changes. Nerfs to Koshka and Fortress have brought them in line with other heroes, and notably, a new bounty system was introduced. The amount of gold that you get from killing an enemy is now calculated differently – instead of being based on the killstreak that your unfortunate target was on, that gold gain is now based on how much more gold their team has compared to yours. This, in combination with the nerf to the jungle stomp comp, has slowed down the meta considerably. Gold swings from ganks and picks are now much more noticeable and it’s a heck of a lot easier to mount a comeback now compared to before, as games tend to last longer. So how has this affected our heroes? Keep reading!
In this Tier List, you’ll notice that in addition to splitting all the heroes up by role, we’ve also placed them in tiers. These tiers will give you an idea of heroes that are similar in power level, but within each tier, the person with the lower number is still overall a stronger pick. Tier 1 heroes are very strong and excellent picks, Tier 2 heroes are decent picks and can certainly do well, and Tier 3 heroes probably need a little love to be nudged back into viability. As always, this tier list is based on power levels of each hero and the current meta. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
Tier 3 – Ask Again Later:
9 SAW – SAW is still struggling with many of the same issues as last patch. Despite impressive pushing power, as displayed in both VGL EU and NA and even in the VIPL, SAW falls off too hard too fast to really be viable. Somehow, I’m okay with this. Losing to a SAW just feels wrong and gross, like cats not treating you with indifference or AdyEndrus on a hero other than Krul.
Tier 2 – Simply Amazing:
8 Joule – Joule is honestly pretty awesome. She’s still got great base stats (defensive stats in particular) and great damage (500 damage AoE crits, anyone?), and has a kickass Tier 3 skin (who else splits the freaking ground with their B?!). Her low position on this tier list is not actually a reflection on her weakness so much as a result of everyone moving up past her. In the right hands, Joule is still a monster, but it takes a bit more skill and experience to make her carry hard compared to the past few patches.
7 Skaarf – Our favorite sparkle-free hunk of unicorn poop is in much the same situation as Joule. People who burned down the Fold with Skaarf in recent patches will likely continue to turn the enemy’s experience in the Fold into a hellish firestorm, but he has fallen slightly on the Tier List due to others rising despite being at the same power level as before.
6 Kestrel – The goat-slayer (hisssss!) drops into the fold, and she immediately goes invisible, only to smack you with a stunning(ly beautiful) arrow as soon as you step forward to investigate. Kestrel’s not quite top-tier, but she is getting there. 4 back-to-back arrows is a staggering amount of up-front damage to be dealing out in such a short period of time, but a proficient support will be body blocking these shots and Kestrel does not reposition nearly as well as Skye can. Interestingly, she is another item chameleon; Kestrel can perform well in either item path.
5 Celeste – Celeste in the right hands is still a very scary hero. Her kit is just packed full of juicy goodness. Heliogenesis is such a strong skill, with vision, zoning, and damage in an all-in-one; Core Collapse offers self-peel and immense target focusing potential; and Solar Storm at maximum stacks of Broken Myth can easily take out half a squishy’s health, if not more. Celeste hasn’t been affected very drastically by the slower meta because she has a smooth power curve that, despite spiking at level 8, she’s extremely relevant at all points in a match.
4 Ringo – Ringo’s never been a super late-game menace, but his power curve doesn’t fall off too much, either. He’s a solid carry at all points in the game and can really aggress in lane, which is extremely useful against gold-hungry heroes that are fairly weak early-game. However, since games stretch longer now than before, those weak early-game laners have a tendency to grow up into scary late-game laners that Ringo can’t deal with nearly as easily.
Tier 1 – Vainglorious:
3 Blackfeather – If you read the last tier list, then you’ll know that Blackfeather had some issues with being viable due to a super slow early game in a particularly aggressive meta. However, Blackfeather did get some love in 1.12, with cooldown reductions on his A and ultimate as well as a fix to his slower-than-it-should-have-been attack speed. All this in tossed into a slower meta and a bug that lets Blackfeather proc the heal from Book of Eulogies four times has made Blackfeather not only viable in lane, but a top pick. A fairly tanky build with Breaking Point and a Serpent Mask or Sorrowblade will often have Blackfeather 2v3ing with 700-damage Feints late-game. Ouch!
2 Vox – Hopefully you know that Vox, as a late-game hero, had issues surviving into the late-game. And if you’ve been paying attention to the article (pop quiz: what did we call Skaarf this time?), you’ll know that the meta is slower in 1.12. So what does this add up to? Vox skyrocketing in the tier list, of course! He’s back, baby. Vox’s late-game has never been weak, and each Tier 3 item is a huge power spike for him. CP Vox with an Alternating Current, Shatterglass, and Broken Myth does an unholy amount of both single-target and AoE damage. Hey, where’d the enemy team go? Ctrl + Ult + Deleted.
1 Skye – Skye’s early-game power is great, her mid-game damage is awesome, and her late-game is immensely powerful. She’s strong at every point in the match! Her kit is, quite simply, loaded; Forward Barrage does crazy damage, Suri Strike is the best repositioning tool in the game (and also deals a hefty amount of damage, by the way), and Death From Above is useful for both zoning and setting up kills with a stun and/or slow (plus it’s on a seemingly nonexistent cooldown).
Tier 3 – Getting There:
9 Rona – It looks like SEMC decided to tone down Rona’s anger issues a little bit, but maybe a little too much. Adding an auto-attack delay after Foesplitter activations has reduced Rona’s burst potential immensely, and has made it harder for her to take down a carry before they are able to kite away. She does have potential, but is currently not in a fantastic spot.
8 Taka – In a surprising turn of events, CP Taka has risen as a semi-viable counter to the crazy number of CP Skyes that have emerged. The burst damage from CP Taka is extremely powerful, as is the bleed effect. It’s always fun getting a kill after someone runs away. WP Taka is still having trouble, though, with the same issues – having a rather unremarkable late game as well as a fairly weak early-game.
7 Petal – Ah, Petal. We saw a brief resurgence in Petal’s popularity, but it was damn brief. With 1.12, we see a heck of a lot more Skye, who is as direct of a counter as it gets against Petal. Munions, forward! Nevermind, they all got evaporated by Forward Barrage. The issue of Petal’s munions dying against some heroes way too easily is what’s keeping her down in the dumps as a Tier 3 hero rather than a Tier 2 or Tier 1 (she had the highest win-rate in SA and above in 1.11, which certainly speaks to her strength). Thankfully, this issue is definitely on SEMC’s radar.
Tier 2 – Simply Amazing:
6 Krul – The gold bounty change would have made 1.11 Krul very happy. Krul has always been a late-game monster, becoming effectively invincible once he was built up enough. SEMC wisely tuned down Krul’s late-game to account for this, but also tuned up Krul’s early-game. This has breathed new
life death into the undead warrior, opening up alternative build paths that don’t revolve around Breaking Point (e.g., Sorrowblade + Bonesaw). Despite all this, Krul still does have the issue of being quite kiteable, bumping him down a bit.
5 Kestrel – Kestrel is a tad higher in jungle than she is in lane because of the nature of the jungle (no lane minions to body-block). While supports can still body-block in jungle, this isn’t a fantastic strategy early-game because supports won’t have as much defense as they will late-game. Kestrel’s base damage is also pretty high and wow, did half my health disappear from two arrows? Stealthing and kiting the enemy into a mist trap is also a fantastic way to make them hate you.
4 Blackfeather – This smooth-talking, boyish rogue still has a slow early-game, but this was remedied somewhat by the fact that the meta has slowed down a bit. Aggressive comps falling out of favor has improved jungle Blackfeather’s chance of staying in the game long enough to become relevant. Additionally, the attack speed fix and decreased cooldown on his A have improved his jungle clear time, albeit only slightly. Though not the strongest choice, Blackfeather is now a viable jungler.
Tier 1 – Vainglorious:
3 Koshka – The jungle cat is slightly less fierce in 1.12 than she was in 1.11, where she ran more rampant, but her early-game damage is still nothing to scoff at. Several teams are running her in jungle with a lane Blackfeather to smooth out the team power curve throughout the game, and the utility from her ultimate is undeniable.
2 Glaive – With the fall of Petal, Rona, and Joule, Glaive steps up to the plate. Ever a consistent weapon jungler, Glaive dishes out the hurt. The popular build that starts with a Tension Bow and builds towards Breaking Point is a great way to burst Skye down. Glaive’s innate tankiness with the highest base health in the game also helps him survive long enough against Skye to kill her.
1 Skye – Skye was an unpopular choice for a while due to a stigma of not having enough power for the amount of skill that it takes to pilot her that was a result of her being too weak on release. However, VGL and VIPL teams have both run her with great success (if you haven’t seen these awesome plays yet, what are you waiting for?!), jumpstarting everyone into trying this high-risk, high-reward hero. She’s great in jungle for all the reasons she’s great in lane, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to land the entirety of a Forward Barrage if there are no pesky lane minions body-blocking everything.
Tier 2 – The Hotness:
4 Adagio – The seraph we all know and love as Adagio is strong, but not strong enough. His early-game is respectable, but his late-game initiation technique of sprinting towards the enemy, healing himself, and channeling his ultimate just doesn’t do enough for his team. However, with the amount of gold that supports are earning with the new-ish Ironguard Contract, I can foresee Crystal Support Adagio (with mainly defensive items but also one or two CP items) slowly becoming more popular.
4 Phinn – No, that’s not a typo. Phinn is tied with Adagio for the #4 support spot. Despite a strong showing by Mowglie’s Phinn in VGL EU, people remain uninspired, instead sticking to the less clunky supports. Phinn hits a huge power spike at level 6, and the bulky lizard does benefit from the longer games this patch. He has huge potential to be a strong support, despite not being quite popular this patch.
3 Fortress – A direct nerf as well as an indirect nerf in the form of the slower meta has knocked this pooch down from his #1 perch. However, early-game snowball strategies are still viable (albeit requiring more precision to execute), leaving Fortress in a decent spot for the patch. He isn’t great, but he isn’t awful either.
Tier 1 – Vainglorious:
2 Catherine – With Fortress’ nerf and a slower meta, Catherine moves up a notch. She’s always had a strong kit, and in the current meta of Skye, Skye, and more Skye, a well-timed Blast Tremor absolutely crushes. Silence is huge, but it is especially huge against a hero that relies entirely upon skills to do damage, and a stun to hold down a hero that relies on mobility to survive can be really troubling for them. However, Catherine’s Stormguard is directly countered by Forward Barrage, Merciless Pursuit is easily dodged by Rose Offensive, and Catherine doesn’t have strong synergy with Blackfeather, keeping her down from the #1 spot.
1 Ardan – Halcyon Fold’s very own Iron Man is the top dog support this patch (hopefully this doesn’t worsen his drinking issues). Ardan has decently strong early-game damage but isn’t outscaled by other supports like Fortress is. Gauntlet is fantastic for initiating a fight on your terms or splitting a team in the middle of a fight. Vanguard is the best way to protect a hero right now with its health barrier, movement buff, and AoE slow – all things that Blackfeather and Skye do extremely well with. Skye tends to work best when diving the enemy team aggressively to kill the enemy damage dealer quickly, and Blackfeather usually needs to survive long enough to build 10+ stacks of Breaking Point – both things that are facilitated with Vanguard. A strong kit in combination with excellent synergy with other top heroes makes Ardan a top pick this patch.
And that brings this tier list to a close. Leave a comment with your thoughts! And have a happy New Year! But before that, another pop quiz! How many times did I mention that the meta is less aggressive?
Note: As some people have pointed out, Joule isn’t in the jungle carry list. Oops! Joule can certainly be played as a jungler. She should be in Tier 2 between positions 6 and 7.
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