Heroes of the Storm

How to fix Zeratul: Give Void Prison a 0.5 second channel time

HeroesoftheStorm 10 - How to fix Zeratul: Give Void Prison a 0.5 second channel time
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Let me start with a little history lesson for those who haven't been around for 4+ years or have forgotten what the game was like back then to justify why Void Prison needs to be changed. Way back when, back before the stealth changes, Zeratul was a very under-tuned hero. His kit was very weak, but there were 2 things that acted as huge crutches to keep him relevant: stealth and Void Prison. See, at low levels like Silver and Gold, the old stealth was pretty overpowered and hard to deal with. Thus, even with an underwhelming kit, Zeratul could secure kills far more easily than he had any right to simply because players could barely see him. At high levels like masters and above, this was not the case. Players were very good at spotting stealthed heroes. Instead, his crutch was Void Prison. While low-level players struggled to get effective use out of Void Prison, this one ability singlehandedly carried Zeratul into competitive relevance because, when coupled with Blink, it is completely unstoppable and is the single best combo-enabler in the game. Thus, Zeratul saw play at all levels, but not for the right reasons. Low-level players abused his invisibility, high-level players abused his Void Prison, and everything else about his kit was decidedly underwhelming. And this was simply how Zeratul was for something like 2 years.

 

Now, fast forward to the modern age, two things have changed, one has not:

  • Old stealth is gone and all players can easily spot Zeratul at all times

  • Zeratul's baseline kit has been drastically buffed such that it is now formidable and no longer in need of crutches

  • Void Prison has not been touched.

Overall, things are much better for Zeratul than in the past. He no longer needs to rely on the crutches of old-stealth and Void Prison to stay relevant because his baseline kit is very powerful. In return, he lost the low-level crutch of old stealth entirely and thus isn't breaking anything at low levels. But, as you may have noticed, he still has his high-level crutch of Void Prison. Now that he has a strong base kit and an untouched Void Prison, he is unsurprisingly one of the most powerful and highly contested heroes at high levels of play. The ability that once saved Zeratul from the depths of competitive irrelevance is now instead pushing him to competitive dominance, and it’s high time that something changed.

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Ok, so what do we do about Void Prison? What specifically is it about Void Prison that is too powerful? To get to the bottom of that, we can draw comparisons to a similarly impactful heroic: Sanctification. The duel between these two heroics is one of the most classic matchups in HotS. They have similar cooldowns and similarly massive impact in team fights if used correctly. A great Sanctification can save a fight just as quickly as a great Void Prison can end it. And both Zeratul and Tyrael have excellent mobility to position their amazing heroics wherever they need to. But the biggest difference between the two abilities that makes Void Prison decidedly better is it has an instant cast time compared to Sanctification’s 0.5 second channel. That may not sound like a big deal, but trust me, if Sanctification could be cast instantly like Void Prison, Tyrael would be the single best Tank in the game at high levels. The fact that Sanctification can be interrupted means Tyrael puts himself at risk every time he tries to use it. Void Prison has absolutely 0 risk, and the enemies have absolutely 0 time to react. For example, if Tyrael tries to use Sanctification, a great Garrosh player who is right in position could punish Tyrael hard with Warlord’s Challenge. As soon as Garrosh sees a Tyrael jump in to save his allies, he can interrupt it with his ultimate and probably wins the fight for his team by denying that crucial heroic and putting Tyrael in a terrible position. By contrast, there is nothing even the best Garrosh players can do about Void Prison because it is cast instantly. Your positioning is irrelevant, your reaction time and predictions are irrelevant. All of these things can counter Sanctification but are useless against Void Prison. The fix is simple, add a 0.5 second channel time to Void Prison (if interrupted it would go on a 10 second cooldown) just like Sanctification. Boom. Done. Ship it.

 

Note, it’s not just Sanctification. All these arguments apply to other powerful heroics with 0.5 second channels such as Twilight Dream and Emerald Wind. In fact, using Cleanse on yourself and then casting Emerald Wind as Brightwing used to be a real strategy in competitive play (back when Cleanse could be self-cast…and Brightwing still had vanilla Cleanse…jeez I feel old). Both of Thrall’s heroics, Sundering and Earthquake, used to be 0.5 second interruptible channels instead of just 0.5 second delays. The channel was removed because they were being interrupted too often! That half of a second makes a huge difference. I just decided to focus on Sanctification because I feel it is the most similar in impact to Void Prison, as well as Tyrael having powerful mobility just like Zeratul.

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TLDR: Void Prison used to be a crutch for Zeratul back before the stealth changes. But now that Zeratul’s base kit is very strong, this ability needs to be nerfed or he will continue to dominate high-level play. Void Prison’s actual effect is not overpowered, there are similarly powerful heroics in the game that don’t need to be changed such as Sanctification. What needs to be changed is the fact that Void Prison has no counterplay and carries absolutely 0 risk for the Zeratul player. To fix this, simply add a 0.5 second interruptible channel time to bring the ability in line with heroics like Sanctification.

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