Competitive Heroes of the Storm players will soon have a new way to measure their skills.
At a media event earlier this week in Newport Beach, California, developer Blizzard Entertainment announced that it will get rid of the old Ranked Play format in its popular multiplayer online battle arena game (MOBA). Currently, Heroes of the Storm uses a ladder system that players can ascend — starting from Rank 50 and maxing out at the top with Rank 1 — by playing in ranked matches against players of similar skill. But on June 14 in North America (and rolling out to other regions throughout that week), Blizzard will replace it with League Tiers and Divisions.
League Tiers group players into specific categories: Bronze (the bottom), Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Master, and Grand Master. Divisions are numbers that represent your progress within those tiers (5 being the lowest, and 1 the highest). If you’re a Bronze 1 player, for example, your next promotion would put you at Silver 5, and Silver 1 players can look forward to reaching Gold 5 status, and so on. During a presentation, Heroes of the Storm senior systems designer Travis McGeathy said most ranked players will “fall into the gold and silver range.”
Blizzard is confident that these new changes will reflect skill levels more accurately than the old system, and incentivize players to keep aiming for higher ranks. A healthy and active community is the lifeblood for free-to-play MOBAs like Heroes of the Storm, so it’s important for the developers to keep competitive players happy and invested in the game with major updates.
The Master and Grand Master tiers offer a different experience for the few who are able to reach them. They’re directly tied to the start of Heroes of the Storm’s first season of competitive play, which will also kick-off on June 14. Seasons will last between eight to 12 weeks (Blizzard is still deciding the exact length and will adjust it based on community feedback).
When you become a Master, you’ll continue earning points throughout the season from playing in ranked matches. Those cumulative points will determine who the top 500 Masters are in each region — these are the players that’ll make up the Grand Master league. Grand Master leaderboards will update every day.
At the end of each season, players across all tiers will receive awards based on the highest rank they got to in that time span — and not on the rank they finished with (it’s possible to move down the ladder if you lose too many matches). Rewards will include gold (useful for buying new heroes), unique avatars, and new mounts for your characters.
“At the end of the day, [the new Ranked Play system] is really to highlight the highest levels of competition in Heroes,” said technical director Alan Dabiri in a group interview session. “There’s a lot of people who play Quick Match who will probably never play this. I think it’s open to them. … Some people maybe think, ‘It’s too competitive. It’s too hardcore for me.’
“That’s cool. We’ve got Quick Match. If that’s too competitive, you can go down to Versus A.I. I think just like in a lot of our games, we want to present different experiences for [different types of players].”
For a complete list of all the changes, you can read Blizzard’s blog post here.
Two more Warcraft heroes join the fray
Ranked Play wasn’t the only news to come out of the event. Blizzard also showed off two new playable heroes: Chromie and Medivh. Chromie, a World of Warcraft character, will be available on May 17. She’s an adorable gnome who’s actually a dragon in disguise, and she helps her team as a long-ranged attacker. Because she’s a master at manipulating time, she gains her abilities one level sooner than her teammates, and she can trap or slow down enemies who’re trying to flee a battle.
The prophet Medivh arrives the same time as the new Ranked Play system. Medivh is an important character in Warcraft lore, appearing in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and World of Warcraft. He will also appear in Warcraft, the upcoming big-screen adaptation of the long-running fantasy game series.
In Heroes of the Storm, Medivh (sporting his Warcraft III look and personality) is a new type of specialist who uses his magic to selflessly protect his allies. He can also create small shortcuts by summoning two portals that only he and his teammates can use.