LI-MING, REBELLIOUS WIZARD – ASSASSIN – DIABLO 3 UNIVERSE

LiMing

KIT AND DESIGN

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that I would enjoy her kit and design just as much even if it weren’t for the brutal numbers she is executing right now. And yes I picked the word executing for a reason. After playing a lot of games of Heroes, MOBAs, whatever, when you get given a character with such abilities, you know you’re in for a good time. The spells synergise in the most satisfying way, that even if the numbers get tweaked, i’ll still play her a great deal.

Magic Missile gives a good sense of flexibility, and as much as there are lots of people out there who are big fans of level 16 Diamond Skin, i’m a lover of Mirrorball. Some people like Calamity (admittedly I too take it sometimes now depending on the situation) at level 7, but my first pick was Seeker. Yes I like to live “dangerously”, if you can call combo-ing from the back line 1 kilometer away dangerous.

I say I like to live on the more hazardous side, but I prefer Illusionist over Glass Cannon at 13. Extra mobility for me is a big deal when it comes to heroes, especially when that extra mobility can come before the usual pick on other heroes, level 20 Bolt of the Storm. Illusionist makes Li-Ming feel almost unkillable even without the other Teleport talents, increasing her mobility as a base, then even further if in peril with the instant CD refresh.

It’s already been mentioned by Dbro himself that Ess of Johan for Arcane Orb is going to be looked at, as it allows the Combos from an early stage of a game to be hit a little too easily, reducing her skill cap. Ultimately I have to agree. With the range at which you can cast and combo the abilities, as well as their very low mana cost overall (which probably should be looked at too), you can just throw the synced up spells every other Magic Missile cooldown and almost guarantee yourself 50-60% of a support or assassin’s health.

The two abilities above give her a very powerful level of push early against structures. The enemy team needs to pay close attention to which lane Li-Ming is in, otherwise you will lose your towers rapidly. My early game Li-Ming strategy right now revolves around finding vulnerable

I’ve already mentioned a few of the Teleport talents above which are my choices or some that people feel are popular. A lot of people are particularly fond of the Calamity build, which currently works because her base damage is more than enough to make her viable. Teleport however give Li-Ming a very strong and responsive answer to avoiding threats during teamfights and a brilliant resource to allow her to extend that little bit further when sieging. You’re already out of range of Towers and Forts when pushing them solo, then as long as you’re not being flanked, threats emerging from the same lane are neutralized completely by Teleport, mount up, run away. The Calamity talent can feel like a pretty strong finisher when heading into a 1v1 situation, or dealing with a pest that is trying to give your back-line for you. Be wary though, not the best “finisher” when in a tight teamfight situation, stay at good distance because even an asthmatic child’s cough will knock you down to death-timer town.

Alright juicy time. Disintegrate being the first of her heroic abilities, and as you probably know by now, the most popular choice by quite a margin. With a 20 second cooldown I observe a lot of Li-Ming’s actually not popping it as often as they should. Even to clear mercenary camps it definitely has a lot of viability. Outside of that utility though, it’s a great follow up to the Arcane Orb, Magic Missile combo. Then at level 20, Temporal Flux makes this spell godlike. Slowing people for 60% movement speed after landing a first kill with a combo, Teleporting aggressively and capturing another person in the beam for your team to swoop in is extremely strong. Initially when I was playing Li-Ming I thought Tal Rasha’s Elements would be the clear choice, and while it is strong, Temporal Flux allows for so much more kill potential.

Wave of Force is something that has gone completely unnoticed, for the most part. Sadly the level 10 version of the ability doesn’t provide anywhere near the kill potential of Disintegrate unless you are pin-point accurate with it’s cast, to knock back players in to your combo. But even then, you risk putting yourself in danger because of the range at which you may cast it. I suppose the level 10 version is more for your own safety than anything. If your patience can hold up though, and you manage to get to level 20, Repulsion is surprisingly strong. Bakery and I were theorising the applications of it, and it can actually blow up high hp targets 95% of the time if you cast it correctly behind a target when combo-ing them. Food for thought.

I don’t really need to detail the power of Critical Mass, her trait. Let’s put it this way; Li-Ming is like a snowball, more like an avalanche, if the avalanche were made entirely of rusty needles about to implode in on themselves.

META?

All regions, 2nd ban or first pick potential in her current state (writing this on 09/02/16, before the potential balance changes this week). I say 2nd ban because right now in the meta, with only 1 ban each early on, being the first team to ban gives you a huge advantage. A common first ban now can be something like Zagara or Kael’Thas, for you to them force your opponents to ban either Rehgar or Li-Ming. In which case, you can pick up the remaining member of the cast to be your MVP.

COMPOSITION AND PLAY?

I don’t feel there are any map restrictions for her currently. Her siege potential is so strong and makes up for any inadequacies in objective control that could be an issue.

With her current threat level, Li-Ming can open up a different combination of heroes and role choices when she actually gets through the initial ban phase of the draft. We’ve already seen heroes like Cho’gall actually have play this patch, and I could foresee a dream draft where you take as strong a backline as Li-Ming, with a sturdy tank and then off-tank to supplement, which could come in the role of Cho if their comp doesn’t have a correct counter drafted. Admittedly, there are many, but teams are caring less and less about some of them recently.

There are few threats to Li-Ming going into a game when it comes to straight up team fighting. The main one though is flanks and heavy divers. Vision is very important for her to feel safe in the back line and thus pump out as much damage as physically possible without being interrupted. Choices like Zagara and Tassadar to compliment her, providing her that little extra vision, and in Tassadar’s case even stealth detection, are very strong additions to her companions. As for dive protection, this comes back to warriors helping out, peeling and aiding her survival. a well coordinated stun from for example a Muradin, then a Teleport away from the target, into blowing that target up for over-extending makes for a tasty treat.

Also pick Rehgar because the reincarnation of Green Jesus is here, even though Thrall isn’t dead yet in the meta. 2 Jesuses are better than 1!

FINAL THOUGHTS

It probably goes without saying that Li-Ming requires a few changes here and there. Ess of Johan as we already pointed out is one that will take a blow. Mana cost might be increased a small pinch, damage numbers slightly decreased. Maybe a slight increase on the cooldown of her Heroics so they can’t be used so flippantly outside of a team fight, because there it doesn’t matter about the CD unless we end up in a very sustain-heavy meta.

Thanks for reading guys! As always check me out at the following links! If you like this piece, i’ll continue to write them.

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DASKEYBOARD – DIVISION ZERO REVIEW

Hey guys, Kaelaris here! Normally you’d see me at eSports events and broadcasts. I’ve been a professional eSports commentator for 4 years now at ESL, covering StarCraft, Heroes of the Storm, and more recently, Guild Wars 2, all across the world. I’ve had the pleasure to cover each games World Championship over my time, and got to meet some of the very best gamers on the planet, who became good friends along the way.

I’m not usually a reviewer of sorts, but ever since I started in StarCraft and watched streams where you could hear that unmistakable click, i’ve always appreciated DasKeyboard and their, erm, Keyboards hah. So I didn’t want to take the ultra formal path most do, and give you my personal thoughts.

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That feeling when you get military grade looking boxes through the post

DasKeyboard were kind enough to send me a sample of their new Division Zero gear in order to review it and get an impression of how it feels and works. During my time in the top tier of eSports i’ve used a lot of different gear from all kinds of companies. Because of this I have a good idea of how our gear should feel when it comes to pushing it towards gamers who are playing with drive and a passion. Let’s start with the Division Zero X40 Pro Gaming Mechanical Keyboard.

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The silver panel came for me as default, but the Red one really did it for me.

There are two things that are very evident from the get go with this Keyboard. The first being that it is not a compact keyboard. Some on the market at the moment remove the number pad as a compromise for saving space. The X40 keeps the traditional layout of a keyboard but definitely executes it in sleek fashion. The second observation is that the keyboard most certainly has some weight to it. Because of that though, you can tell the build quality is there. A sturdy build is very clear. I could strap it to my arm as a shield and feel safe from attack! The front metal plate really adds a firm finish to the keyboard that is extremely attractive, stable and also has the functionality of being interchangeable. I was provided with “Stryker” silver, “Stryker” red and “Defamer” mustard, but I believe there are also “Stryker” olive and “Defamer” silver available if you want them. Since it matched the backlit keys well, I eventually settled on using the Stryker red metal plate, which was very simple to replace with 8 screws.

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Each of the metal plates, Red being my favourite.

Aside the X40 being very good looking, the main reason I was particularly attracted to the keyboard is because of the new switches it exhibits. They’re called “Alpha-Zulu” Gaming Switches, which boast a 15% quicker response time compared to Cherry MX. This is obviously a massive selling point for me when it comes to having even more responsiveness when i’m playing. I opted to go for the Tactile switches, which have a bit more click to them, as well as some stronger feedback of a slight bump halfway through the press. You can get Linear as well for a smoother keystroke press, and they’re also quieter, however I personally really enjoy the feedback in the touch as well as noise. I like to know very clearly there is a distinct signal for my actions.

What do I think overall? I’m in love with this keyboard. Don’t even get me started on the idea of game branded metal plates. A Heroes of the Storm or StarCraft one would make me very excited if they ever started doing custom covers. Depending on the game i’m playing I will sometimes remove the macro keys on the left but they’re easy to take out and place back in. I think some pro-gamers and people that travel frequently may prefer a smaller keyboard when on the move, but for usual home use, its brilliant. 
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Let’s move on and take a look at the M50 Mouse. This is actually the first Ambidextrous mouse i’ve ever had to actually play with, so this was a slightly different experience for me than other mouse i’ve used before. That being said, ergonomically it makes so much sense. When i’ve held Ambidextrous mice in the past without playing with them, i’ve felt they do sacrifice some convenience to accommodate for using either hand. After playing with the M50 for a while though, I feel no fatigue in comfort. Another minor but neat feature i’m particularly fond of but didn’t notice initially until it was pointed out to me, is that the scroll wheel makes virtually no noise on scroll, but you can still feel the tick as you go.

Overall the mouse has 9 buttons, however two of those are to mostly accommodate someone who may use a different hand to you, which is understandable. In theory you could use them comfortably with some practice and precision. I usually only ever use thumb buttons extra though, and the two located in that area are easily accessible. The mouse also has a 4D scroll wheel, which basically means you can tilt it left or right for a bind. I’ve never actually had a mouse like this before, but being a previous hardcore raider in WoW, I can see the applications as sometimes in MMOs for example, there are so many buttons you require to be close and comfortable. I should also mention the DPI options that are easily changeable on the mouse from 800 / 1600 / 3200 / 6400. For me I settle on a usual 1600 and adjust from there when it comes to RTS, MOBA and MMO gaming.

Once again you can feel the quality of the build in the mouse. It’s very clear that DasKeyboard has really taken care when creating these new products. The only thing that became noticeable during play was very slight visual imprint on the buttons, but it is eventually to be expected of most mice.

Finally we have the mousemat, the 47W-Flex. Now i’m really picky with mousemats. I don’t like hard plastic or metal ones, and I certainly don’t like cheap made material ones that will either peel or have noticeable edge damage after continued use. This mat though instantly dispelled those concerns though by having a tough edge that i’m not going to catch my hand on after extensive handling.

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In conclusion looking at their peripherals, the Keyboard stands as the clear MVP for me. To be expected really from DasKeyboard as they really know from the past how to produce a good one. I mean it when I say I can’t think of a single other keyboard that feels and looks this good that i’ve used.

Thanks for reading, it was a lot of fun trying out their new products and taking a look at them in this way. Make sure to come say hi and shake my hand at events to come up in 2016!

I believe the keyboard retails as $159, The mouse at $79, and mousemat at $19 – Available in the U.S. at the moment.

http://www.divisionzerogaming.com/

 

WCS 2016 – MY UNEDITED THOUGHTS.

Many people have tweeted and written about this already but I absolutely must do the same. My mind wouldn’t be at peace otherwise since I’ve been a main component of WCS from the very beginning way back in 2012.

There’s many things I need to establish before I go on this relatively peaceful and thought out harangue. The first of which is, I understand that there are once again many arguments for either side and it really depends on personal opinion – which is exactly what I’m about to describe, my opinion. Hopefully though you take my words on board as I try convince you that we’re in a good place when it comes to WCS for 2016.

I already briefly covered this on Twitter, but the second part is any mentions of an agenda on my side in regards to backing up others is just unfounded. I say what I say because I mean it from my mind, not from anyone else’s. You can see that in my interview from back in 2014, where my opinions of the WCS system were not in line with the system back then http://teamacer.com/en/btsw_kaelaris.htm. If I were just a yes man, this would be different.

It just also happens to be that I’m a very positive person. I have zero time for negativity in my life. When I’m casting and you hear me excited, you better believe I’m damn excited. You don’t have to be edgy to be honest in your opinions, or to be perceived as honest.
OK! Down to business! Let us start by taking a look at DreamHack Leipzig and how things went. I think for the most part, the StarCraft community is not giving foreigners the credit they deserve when it comes to their level of play. Yes there are mistakes, even Koreans make them and admittedly foreigners make them more so. However, It’s a known fact that the human mind is selective, and I believe that may be happening here. When players like Hydra lost to Lilbow in WCS S3 last year, the community exploded. When Lilbow went even further and won the whole thing, the community exploded. When Hydra loses to Bly at DreamHack in a great series, is he not also worthy of recognition in his ability? viOLet hasn’t looked that good since 2013. He went 13-0 during the beginning of his tournament run and didn’t break a sweat, metaphorically. viOLet even mentioned in an interview after one of the victories that he practiced a lot on the Korean server, and that the foreigners don’t know how to respond to his play. Bly then defeats him 3-0 and then goes on to lose in the final 4-1 to Ptitdrogo who showed in that series just how much of a beast he is. His control and hold for the longest time on Prion Terraces with limited stalkers on either side of the Zerg army was nothing short of what you would see in Korean leagues.

After talking to a lot of the pros at DreamHack, the general consensus from them was that their fire (no Bly pun intended) for passion and competition has been reignited not only by LotV, but also WCS 2016.

Traditional sports have followed a pretty set way of doing things for a long time, and for very good reason. From national to continental to global. Steps here exist for a reason, and as you go along, the competition gets more and more vicious. The Global finals should be the equivalent to the Olympics. The best players who have proved themselves in their regions come together and battle for the crown of world champion. This is exactly what 2016 gives. And you know what? A lot of people are criticising the Western world for potentially getting crushed at BlizzCon. Well, yes probably! And there is actually nothing wrong with that at all! The USA in the Olympics, along with other nations like the Soviet Union/Russia, come away with the majority of the gold medals and crush the other countries. Does that make the thrill of global competition any less exciting? If you have global competition every other week, it’s no longer special. StarCraft is in a position where the hardcore fanbase has been very spoiled in this regard, to the point where I think some may never accept change, but that doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t also try and draw new people in or give the larger, equally as important, casual audience a good gate to greet them when they arrive or have already taken the first steps in.

I used to do fencing (stabbing wildly at people with a stick), and I wasn’t bad at it. My ambition and passion for it came in steps and they were achievable. If there wasn’t a clear way up, and suddenly I were to attend tournaments bi-weekly where the world champion or players of his caliber were there, would I still feel the same drive? Would that be a healthy environment to allow a scene to expand or motivate others to get involved? Probably not! But if I were to work my way up, and then at the world championship meet those players, but then get dominated, that is understandable. Some may argue that there is a clear way up in the previous systems, Online Cups, Challenger, Premier, World Championship. However, each and every one of those stages had you completing on a global level. National pride was only really rekindled when Lilbow and the French players started something at the end of 2015, but even that was lightning in a bottle. 2016 gives national and continental pride back for the most part.

I feel it’s very easy for people from other scenes to look in on StarCraft’s WCS and criticise. League of Legends for example only ever has Foreigner vs Korean actually happen perhaps 2 or 3 times a year max? Usually resulting in the Korean team taking the victory unless in very strange circumstances (I’m thinking WE taking out the Korean favourites at IEM Katowice last year). Then looking at Counter-Strike, Asian regions have never supported the game quite like Korea took to StarCraft, and even when they do seldom peer into the world of FPS, they navigate quickly to counterparts like CrossFire. The success of both these games has relied a lot on personality more than skill, which is no secret. And when skill has been the determining factor, players from regions that are more personable have been at the top because they haven’t had to compete with regions that have had 10 years of experience over them. Do you believe people would have gone as crazy about their esports endeavours if you didn’t have someone like Ocelote screaming his lungs out back in the day? Or if a team responded to xPeke’s backdoor with a quiet demeanor? These kinds of moments are filled with empathy from the spectator, so much so that even I know about them without admittedly followed League very closely. Emotion like this, and it’s especially something that LCS has done well in their feature pieces, has been something that StarCraft has been deprived of because of some of the points I’ve explained above, such as the discouragement felt by up-and-comers.

At DreamHack Leipzig we got a little bit of that back. Look at how Bly and Ptitdrogo reacted to their victories towards the end of the tournament. These kinds of reactions in CS:GO and LoL are emphasized and amplified even more because of the team based atmosphere, the camaraderie (some French in there for ToD) of human interaction and the embrace of one-another’s emotions after a clutch play or well fought victory. StarCraft hasn’t had that properly for a long time until recently. StarCraft and any other game out there are completely different beasts in nature because of how ingrained the practice regiment is in Koreans and their culture over what is almost 15 years of refinement. The Western scene never had this properly.

For me while casting WCS, yes commentating Koreans playing picture perfect is fantastic, but also commentating on relatively equally matched foreigners is also extremely entertaining. Much like many forms of entertainment, you don’t have to have the very best players in a game for the combat between one-another to be exciting. Why would people be fans of the lower divisions of football if they didn’t have a place? Why do many people support their local club in traditional sports? Of all places the one exception could be the Premier League as it’s the most beloved league in the world, but I’m willing to bet that the number of people that support their closer clubs parallels it, if not surpasses. To me, with 2016 WCS, we are restoring normality, not making radical and sensational change for the worse.

I will still always say that WCS 2012 EU finals for me was one of the greatest experiences of my StarCraft career, and I get the impression that many spectators feel the same way. It was brought up by many people during community feedback sessions that this feel was magical. Sure the production may not have been as crisp or clean as tournaments can be today, but it captured something very special. A continents champions coming together to qualify for the truly global stage. A distinct progression milestone in a circuit. Giving western talent the opportunity to once again find that kind of will and determination to get up and be the champion of their region.

What is the most famous picture of Stephano you can think of? For me, it’s this.

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StarCraft is unique in that, yes we technically can have global competition all year round, but just because we can, and have done for a few years now, doesn’t mean we should.

I thoroughly enjoy watching Korean StarCraft as much as the next person, and if you’re a complete die-hard, truly hardcore fan, then yes, wanting to watch the very best of the best day in, day out is what will appease you. Proleague is yet to start, this will help you sate that thirst, and it’s a huge component which people need to consider. But if you want StarCraft to grow and continue to be successful, you need to nurture players that are relatable, and give more casual fans someone to cheer for on a more personal level. Your fellow countrymen provide that.

While thinking about what I wanted to write in this, other thoughts came to light and I have to agree with Dario in that, Korea’s structure is too top heavy in regards to prize pool. From what I know though, and I may be wrong, but that’s just how Korea has always been. A change would definitely help there if people are concerned about Korea. But just as people are concerned about Korea and are calling for change, you cannot dismiss that concern for emerging talent and local scenes in the Western hemisphere was not warranted when changes were proposed and implemented.

Korea will always have the highest skill level, and yes they deserve to be world champions, and probably always will be.

Change is scary, but do not fear the change, it’s sometimes necessary.

A continued thank you to Blizzard for making the most beautiful games on the planet. I’m still utterly rubbish at StarCraft, but I adore it all the same, and probably always will.

I don’t expect to convert from this, and I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree. But I would ask people to give this system a chance.

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