Big Changes Coming Soon to Draft Lobbies

We’re about to give draft lobbies a serious face-lift with our next Heroes of the Storm patch. Along with this revamp, we’ll also be implementing what might be the most commonly requested feature in the game’s brief history: Hero Bans. Yep, you read that right!

Now, we’ve seen a lot of discussion about ranked within the Heroes community, and we’re working hard to create and release features and changes that you’ve requested as soon as we’re able. Today, we’d like to give you a sneak peek at some of the changes in store for you on patch day.

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New Draft Lobby Look and Feel

We’ve received feedback that our current draft interface doesn’t indicate which battleground you’ll be playing on clearly enough, and we want to make this much more apparent. As soon as you enter a new draft lobby, you’ll immediately be presented with full screen battleground art, a welcome message, and even an audible callout of the Battleground’s name—and this is all before hero picks begin!

What’s more, we’re given the draft lobby an epic visual overhaul, which includes new background art, animated hero models and portraits, updated selection animations, as well as a variety of methods you can use to quickly find and select heroes while you’re drafting.

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Find Your Heroes, Fast

We’ve also received comments from players who mentioned that it can be difficult to find the heroes they want to play using the current draft interface —especially when they’re crunched for time after discussing hero picks with teammates in chat. Let’s take a look at some of the changes that we think will help to alleviate these concerns.

Aside from the new art and animations, one of the first things you’ll notice in the revamped draft lobby is the row of “favorites” we’ve added near the bottom of the screen, which will make it easier than ever to quickly find and select your top eight heroes ahead of each ranked game. You can customize who will appear in your favorites by selecting them from the Hero Collection tab in your Player Profile. Don’t worry if you queue up without picking any favorites, because your highest-level heroes will automatically fill any empty slots, which means it’s still easier than ever to find your most common companions in the Nexus.

Additionally, the row of buttons we’ve added above your favorites will help you sort heroes by role, and the search bar will allow you to find heroes by name, universe, and other keywords. You can also click the new “Browse All Heroes” button to open a much larger selection pane, which includes up to 48 heroes per page, sorted alphabetically.

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Hero Bans Incoming!

As our hero roster continues to grow, and players continue to tune into esports broadcasts, we’re seeing more and more discussion within the community about the need for bans in Heroes of the Storm. We agree, and we’re excited to bring hero bans into ranked play and custom games with our next major patch!

Ranked play will use the “Mid Ban” method, which works in much the same way that bans do in official Heroes of the Storm tournaments. This method features two bans per team during each ranked draft: One round of bans before hero picks begin, and a second after three hero pick rounds have elapsed.

Whichever team wins the coin toss before drafting begins will receive first ban, and the player with the highest matchmaking rating on each team will automatically be selected to issue bans for that team during ranked games. You can identify the ban issuer on each team by the crown icon that will appear over the hero portrait.

Each team will receive 45 seconds to select a hero during the first ban round, and 30 seconds during the mid-ban round. If a hero is highlighted, it will be automatically banned when the timer expires. Also—and this is very important—if no hero is selected or highlighted before time runs out, the ban will be skipped.

We wanted to make sure the drafting phase remained relatively quick and impactful, even after bans and ban timers were added. In order to help accomplish this, we decided to reduce hero pick timers from 45 to 30 seconds so that you can get back to brawling in the Nexus as soon as possible.

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Hero Bans in Custom Games

Those of you who prefer to duke it out in Custom Games may be happy to know that we’ve implemented bans in this game mode, as well. In fact, we’ve added several ban methods for you to choose from in the new Ban Mode dropdown menu that will appear in Custom Game draft lobbies. Here’s how each of your options will affect the draft:

  • Not Using Bans: Heroes cannot be banned in this mode.
  • One Ban: One ban round before hero picks begin.
  • Two Bans: Two ban rounds that alternate teams before Hero picks begin.
  • Mid Ban: This is the ban method that will be used in ranked games. It features two ban rounds: one before hero picks begin, and another halfway through the draft.

After selecting a ban method, the lobby host may click the crown icons on each occupied player slot in the game lobby to designate which player on each team will issue Hero bans. Once everyone is ready to go, the lobby host can start the game, and draft mode will begin with the ban method you’ve selected.

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Updated Ranked Requirements

Adding bans to Heroes of the Storm meant that we also had to re-examine our minimum requirements for ranked games. For example, we don’t want to create a situation where you can’t proceed with a draft because all 10 of the heroes you own have already been picked or banned by other players!

With this in mind, we’ve upped the minimum requirement for ranked play from 10 to 14 heroes. Additionally, Heroes that you’ve reached level 5 or higher with —this includes Heroes you own, as well as those on the Weekly Free-to-Play Rotation— will now count toward the minimum hero requirement, and can be selected for play during ranked games. Heroes that have not yet reached level 5 do not count toward the requirement and cannot be selected in the draft lobby. We believe that these adjustments will also help to ease concerns we’ve seen that some players tend to pick heroes they are inexperienced with during ranked games, which can become a point of contention for their allies.

We’ve also removed player level requirements from ranked play, meaning that you will no longer need to reach player level 30 in order to participate in Hero or Team League games. In addition, since you have full control over who you choose to ally with in Team League matches, players who have received penalties for leaving games will no longer be prevented from participating in this ranked mode. 

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We’re thrilled to bring these changes to you, and we hope you’ll continue to send constructive feedback to us after you get your hands on bans and the new draft lobby with the arrival of our next patch. Let us know what you think in the comments below, or head to the official Heroes forums to kick off a conversation with other players. We’ll see you on patch day!

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