Misfits Splendour: "I don't want to be a healbot."
Lyubomir "Splendour" Kozlovski is the support player for Misfits, the current undefeated HGC EU team. His Kharazim is legendary and his veteran status in the Heroes competitive scene is unquestioned. In the past, he has played Heroes for Na'Vi and mYinsanity, and with each new organization has become closer to securing the often disputed "best in EU" title.
With Misfits clearly on top of the heap thanks in-part to his aggressive support and drafting skills, Splendour is having a very good year.
First off, a little background: How did you get started in esports and Heroes, in particular?
In my last 2 years of high school I started playing Starcraft and was playing in some local competitions. When Starcraft 2 came out, I switched to that and played semi-competitively, I played in Bulgarian tournaments and online cups and I even made it to a LAN event in Korea. I stopped playing competitively after that until Heroes came out. In Heroes, I was scrimming after work and eventually transitioned to full-time as the scene grew.
Damage Kharazim is the way to go. In fact, recently I've been picking Iron Fists in every situation.
Looking over the first quarter of the season, you were 9-1 with Rehgar, 10-3 with Malfurion, 1-0 with Kharazim, 1-0 with Brightwing, and 0-1 with Auriel. So, out of 26 games, 23 of them were with Rehgar and Malfurion. Is that just a matter of those two being the best or the two you're most comfortable with? A combination?
I'm the main drafter for our team and while I would like to play Kharazim every game and it's the hero I feel most comfortable on, I feel like Rehgar and Malfurion provide too much and can rarely justify picking another Support.
Makes sense. It's interesting to hear that you're the main drafter, too. Does your choice of Support influence how the rest of the team sets up or do you try to keep in mind things like battleground, opponent, and your team's favored heroes? I noticed a fair number of 1st pick Malfurions in the first part of the season, which isn't an unusual choice, but I wonder how it impacts how you and your team approach the game.
Yes, definitely. For example, Malfurion is not too great with some melee assassins so first-picking him changes the draft a lot. Thankfully, we can play many diverse strategies, so I wouldn't say it limits us. The map is also a very important factor for choosing the best Support, especially for heroes like Auriel or Morales.
I would lower the duration of his Entangling Roots to 1 second and leave everything else as is.
Speaking of Kharazim: Damage Kharazim seems to have become viable as a solo Support: you did that in game 2 vs Tricked, alongside Ragnaros, Nazeebo, Falstad, and Varian. Was it that comp that made it work? Or with the Blizzard trend toward Armor, less focused healing, and more defensive talents, is damage Kharazim a real thing? Is this a sign of what Supports should become and have become in some niche cases (Li Li, etc.)?
Damage Kharazim is the way to go. In fact, recently I've been picking Iron Fists in every situation. A while back it got changed to give 30% movespeed - same as mount speed, making it very strong. It also lets you split more as Kharazim as you have better waveclear and more kill pressure.
I still prefer Divine Palm over Seven-Sided Strike though as Kharazim has no other saving tool before level 16 (Cleansing Touch). I really like Kharazim's current playstyle and hope we can have more Supports that can frontline like him in a team fight (Give me self Ancestral back, please.)
Damage Kharazim in action-- match starts around the 8:45 mark
Totally agree on the self-Ancestral Healing (Melee support can save himself. What a concept!) So it seems like you're on board with the Supports as utility + healing, rather than the other way around?
Yes. I don't want to be a healbot.
Agreed. Speaking of someone who is more of a healbot: Malfurion: They hinted at a rework in September but just tweaked his numbers to where he's the dominant Support in the game and has been since then, despite two subsequent nerfs. What needs to change about Malfurion to keep his identity but allow other Supports (than Rehgar; occasionally Brightwing) into competitive play? Does something need to change or do people just need to try different comps?
I disagree here. Malfurion is not really a healbot.
He has a lot of utility in terms of very strong CC, Cleanse, and a choice between great waveclear and a vision tool. The power of his abilities are over tuned right now, though. If I were to balance him, I would lower the duration of his Entangling Roots to 1 second (it's 1.5 right now) and leave everything else as is. He would still be good but not enough to justify first-picking him.
That's a really mild change to go from first-pick to not. Interesting. So, looking at the draft in game 4 against Tricked on Dragon Shire, you banned Tassadar and they banned Falstad: you got rid of shields and they removed a global.
Then you first-picked Malfurion and they responded with Tychus and Rehgar; you got the best support in the game and they got a global waveclear and a tank killer.
You responded with Ragnaros and Xul; two more wave clearers (key on Shire) and one of the strongest assassins in the game.
Is Malfurion key in aiding that wave clear approach or was he first pick just because he's the strongest Support?
Malfurion's waveclear is not needed if you already have Xul. I even took Scouting Drone over Moonburn for that reason. He is just very strong right now. I would compare him to Tyrande at the start of last year as he gives you a lot of kill pressure in the early game with his roots.
Speaking of changes, let's talk about the impending Uther rework: What else does he need? 10 Armor is noticeable when I play him (i.e. he doesn't die instantaneously when Holy Light is on CD) but he's still horribly CD-limited and doesn't bring much utility without Divine Shield. He's also a melee Support with zero mobility. Can that work? If he stays slow, would being tankier help or would that still not be enough?
Uther's talent tree has a lot of potential for staying in the frontline but, as you said, the hero still has a lot of issues: very high mana costs, very high cooldowns. I'm not sure what other changes are planned but if his playstyle is supposed to be similar to that of a tank, he needs to have over tuned stats, similarly to all the low-mobility tanks. Divine Storm is actually very strong. I'm sure we'll see a lot of it if frontline Uther becomes a thing.
With that mobility aspect in mind, do you think it's fair to say that positioning is even more important for Supports than other roles?
Depends on the comps, of course, but if you get caught as a Support, there's no one to Cleanse you. Moreover, you don't get as much value from auto-attacks so it's usually not worth it to remain in a dangerous position.
I would really like a more strategical Support; some kind of Support-Specialist mix.
Right. Which brings us to Lucio, whose positioning is the essence of his character, since his main abilities come from auras. He has massive utility, can only burst heal to a very limited degree, but is amazing in the current sustained damage game. What are your thoughts on him as a viable, competitive Support? Is he a higher skill floor hero?
I only started playing Lucio after our last match of HGC part 1, so I wouldn't say it's my final opinion but I think he is viable, but also situational. He's great at securing pickoffs and running away but he is weak at splitting off, as he's not that great at wave clearing or dueling and he has no good way of dealing with the stun lock meta.
I think he's actually a low skill floor hero as you can get a lot of value from him by just Amping the healing boost. That doesn't mean he has a low skill ceiling, though, as there's a lot of hard decision-making on which aura to use and when to boost it. His Soundwave is a mechanically high skill cap ability as you can use it to interrupt abilities like Varian's Charge or ETC's Powerslide.
With the newest Support in mind, Blizzard has mentioned that this will be the year that the Support pool grows significantly. Most assume that Auriel was the signal moment where they realized that Supports had to be more than just healers (and some pros last year suggesting that they'd thought about quitting because Support play was boring, i.e. healbots) What do you think the game needs in terms of new Support characters? What niches need to be filled?
I would really like a more strategical Support; some kind of Support-Specialist mix. For example, a tree of life druid hero that sends out healing wisps with rts-controls (similar to Vikings). Or a Support that has a very high hp pool but has to use up his own health instead of mana to use his abilities.
In terms of what we need for competitive right now, a Support that can deal with CC-chains with some kind of low cooldown Cleanse and a Support that can break shields from level 1 would be very strong.
Great ideas! OK. I think that's about all I have. Anything you want to add that I didn't cover?
I'd like to thank everyone watching HGC and especially the Misfits fans for supporting us. And the future looks bright for all of us Support players. I'm very excited to see what new heroes and reworks Blizzard has planned for us.