Quick abilities overview
Overview of the Talent builds
My impressions of Li-Ming
My predictions on a viability and a competitive potential of the hero
While having a high skill-cap, Li-Ming also has a very strong kit of talents and abilities. I think that she will make an impact similar to the one that Kael'thas did. In a casual environment, she is played in every game. Many professional players predict that Rebellious Wizard will be a tier 1 hero, with a value similar to Kael'thas'. In my opinion this is a positive change to the Heroes of the Storm hero pool, as mage pool has been dominated by Jaina and Kael'thas for far too long.
Quick abilities overview
Let's see what makes the hero. If you are familiar with Diablo 3, you will be excited how similar Li-Ming's gameplay is! Your kit is filled with familiar spells, and you feel like you are playing an arcane mage.
I'll start abilities overview with description of the Trait. I think it is one of the strongest Traits in the game, and it is really crucial for Li-Ming's successful gameplay. Trait description: every time you kill a hero, the cooldown on all of your abilities will be refreshed. This also works on your Heroics! They have a small cooldown, 20 seconds; nevertheless this is super strong effect. You can use your ultimate few times per fight! Moreover, the Trait creates an insane snowballing potential. Reset, this is the name that is given to the Trait effect by professional players, is really dangerous for Li-Ming's enemies; as her damage is very high and Mana costs are small.
The spell is a great example of how, at the same time, rewarding and unrewarding the skill-shot can be when it has a high skill-cap. Don't get me wrong! I absolutely love the spell. It reminds me of Shadow Fiend's Shadowraze from Dota. Just like it is with Shadowraze, you have to cast the spell at the right time and in the right spot. The results vary accordingly: usually, you either hit a hero with all missiles or hit with none. Ability description: fire three missiles toward an area, each dealing 153 (+3.5 % per level) damage to the first enemy hit. Magic Missiles have 3 seconds of cooldown time and cost 20 Mana.
Judging by the description, you may think that this is a ridiculously imbalanced ability. It is not exactly true, as it has very special mechanics. The spell is not a targeted spell, such as Kael'thas' Pyroblast, and it is not a classical skill-shot, like Muradin's Stormbolt.
The ability consists of 3 separate projectiles that function like Muradin's Stormbolt, however, this is only a part of mechanics. The projectiles don't fly from you to a targeted point. They change direction angle and the position where they land depending on the distance between you and a targeted point! This is a part of the mechanics that makes it very hard to land them, especially against moving targets. Magic Missiles is a god-like spell in poke wars and for a single target focus. It works incredibly well if you have a lot of stuns or other disables.
Arcane Orb is a heavy hitter. The spell deals heavy AoE damage. Just like it is with Arcane Missiles, Orb has specific mechanics. Orb's mechanics makes it harder to land, but at the same time it increases Orb's damage. Arcane Orb is an AoE projectile that flies from the caster to a pointed spot. Orb has a limited reach. The longer he flies the more damage he does. Also, AoE will increase accordingly to the amount of the distance that Orb has traveled. Probably, you already think that this is an imbalanced spell. Well, it is partially true. Arcane Orb has a very slow movement speed, so, it is an easy to dodge spell unless your enemy is slowed or stunned.
If we put away nasty details about the way the spell works, we can see that Arcane Orb is a great AoE spell. It features an awesome wave-clear and tremendous damage numbers. The spell is best played when you have a few heroes that can provide crowd control abilities. This way, you will have an easy time landing devastating AoE damage! If you won't have such heroes in your line-up, it is best to flank enemy heroes or use your spells from the bushes. Arcane Orb and Magic Missiles are easy to dodge if you see them coming!
Ability description: fire an orb that powers up as it travels, dealing 150 (+ 3% per level) damage to the first enemy hit. The amount of damage dealt is increased the further it travels, up to 450 (+ 3% per level) damage.
This is a great ability if you want to trick your enemies. Teleport is like the Bolt of the Storm ability, only a cooldown is much smaller and the distance you travel is shorter. You will find this spell incredibly powerful, as it greatly enhances Li-Ming's capabilities. First of all, you can flank an enemy team. I'm sure you will be safe. In case of any danger, you just retreat; using Teleport to bait and to dodge enemy abilities. Second of all, Teleport is a handy spell that will make you mobile. You can run around a battlefield, minding your own business. If you see that you are needed somewhere, you will have no trouble landing a hand. Lastly, you will maintain a safe distance in team fights, and mobility allows you to cast your spells from a far.
Here is a part about tricking enemy heroes. You can dodge many abilities with Teleport. Teleport's mechanics is such that it will negate most of the projectiles that were aimed at you. The only exceptions are Heroics and spells that have similar mechanics to Kael's Pyroblast or Tyrael's Judgement. Even such spells can be dodged, but the process is hard to execute during the on-line play. To succeed, you need to use Teleport at the last split-second before the spell hits. Also, there is a talent build that is based around Teleport. The build is very cool and excellent at climbing the ladder, however, it requires an additional knowledge and experience of playing as Li-Ming.
Ability description: teleport a short distance instantly. The spell costs 30 Mana and has 5 seconds of cooldown time.
Disintegrate is your finisher. It does nice AoE damage from a long range. The Heroic is used to take down a target after you use a combo of Magic Missile and Arcane Orb. This Heroic is great at the task, as it has a good reach and scores high damage numbers. Also, Disintegrate pierces your targets, so, you are guaranteed to get a kill.
Heroic description: channel a powerful beam, dealing 1168 (462 + 5% per level) damage over 2.5 seconds to enemies while they are in it. The direction of the beam changes with your mouse cursor position. The spell has 20 seconds of cooldown time. Disintegrate is an improved version of Diablo's Lightning Breath. It has lower AoE, but magic damage is dealt faster and the spell is much more sensitive to the cursor movement. As all Li-Ming's cooldowns are refreshed on a takedown, you can use Disintegrate to assist your mates with a quick kill. You don't need to worry about the cooldown or Mana cost. The cooldown will go off with Trait activation, and the Mana cost is only 80.
Wave of Force
During my games, I felt that this is a weaker Heroic. Compared to Disintegrate, it is less efficient. There are a few problems: the spell works against your own spells, it has a small reach, and I feel like it needs a small rework. The range of Wave is less than the range of other spells. This works against you, as you don't want to be close to your enemy. Li-Ming is the glass-cannon Assassin. She has one of the lowest health pools in the game. The "push everyone away" effect also works against you. Because of it, you can miss one or two Missiles. Generally, you want to pull enemies in, to damage them with AoE abilities. You don't want to push them out, especially in a game environment where you don't have a voice communication. So, my point is that the Heroic needs a small tuning to become efficient.
I guess Wave of Force can be a great spell for some wombo-combos and hero setups. Right now, it doesn't feel right to play the Heroic.
Heroic description: knock away all enemies from an area and deal 425 (168 +5% per level) damage.
Overview of the Talent builds
As of now, there are three talent builds. The first one is devoted to the Arcane Missiles spell. It is a useful build for poking setups and prolonged wars. You can spam Missiles all day, as they have a low Mana cost and cooldown; but at the same time they do tremendous amount of single-target damage. The second build is about the Arcane Orb ability. The spell will have a bigger range and will deal even more devastating damage in an area that looks similar to Jaina's Blizzard, with an increased AoE. You will like the last build if you want to snowball team fights. It is based on the Teleport ability. After learning some talents, the ability will have a better range, will deal damage in the area around Li-Ming, and will grant you a shield that is equal to 25% of your hit-points. Let's have a more detailed look on the first build.
This is the Magic Missiles build. Apart from being great for poking wars and prolonged fights, the build also fits really well into a mindset of new players. You will have a good learning curve with such build. You will safely poke enemy heroes from a great distance, and learn the hero, the way the spells work, the amount of damage you can take, and so on. Once you are familiar with mechanics of Magic Missiles, you will do tremendous amounts of single-target damage. At level 16, you can do around 1600 damage to a target! Not bad for a spell that costs 30 Mana and has 3 seconds cooldown, right?
This is also a version of Magic Missiles build. The version has a few different talents. You will find this version effective in fights aimed at scoring a fast kill. The level 13 talent, Glass Canon, is a tradeoff: you deal more damage but sacrifice your health pool. The talent is best played against enemy heroes that have no burst-damage or good mobility. Li-Ming is already a hero with one of the lowest health pools in the game. If you cut away additional health, you become even more squishy.
The level 16 talent, Fireflies, allows you to spam Q rapidly; as spell's cooldown is decreased by 50%. Also, the talent will significantly increase the speed of projectiles. Lastly, the level 1 talent, Astral Presence, will make sure that you won't run out of Mana completely while spamming Magic Missiles.
As you can see, this build is based around Arcane Orb. The build can be great in competitive environment where you have a communication with a team, and a hero setup that has few spells to support Arcane Orb. In the usual solo play, the build is not that effective. It is hard to constantly land good Orbs from a big distance. If you don't, then the build is not that effective. Arcane Orb build is very fun to play though. If you can land many good orbs, you feel yourself very satisfied and rewarded.
Arcane Orb build is for more experienced players, as it has higher skill-cap compared to the Arcane Missiles build. Mistakes that you make, while playing this build, have bigger impact; as Arcane Orb's cooldown is higher than the one of Magic Missiles. Also, Orb is harder to land, as it moves at a rather slow speed. You want to cast it from the shadows, or time it up with spells of your mates.
Lastly, you can try playing with different level 4 talents. As default, I've chosen the Ess of Johan talent, the one that pulls everyone in. There is another level 4 talent, Triumvirate. The talent will be god-like if you are able to land your Orbs at the maximum possible distance. The talent will decrease cooldown of Arcane Orb to 3 seconds of time if you hit enemy hero with Orb after it traveled 80% of a distance. This will allow you to spam the orb just like the Arcane Missiles spell.
This is my favorite build. The Teleport build can snowball team fights really hard. It is the build for experienced players, however, once you pull it off the sense of joy is incredible. It is a common knowledge that Heroes of the Storm is a team based game. In some aspects it is too team based. One of such aspects is that you can't really win a fight or a game on your own. There are some heroes that require higher input and have higher impact on the game, but an overall picture is the same. This build really makes it so that you can "carry" your games.
Teleport will grant you a shield that equals to 25% of maximum hit-points. The spell will have a bigger range, and what is more important, it will deal damage in the area around you! With this build you try to finish people off with the Teleport spell. If you succeed to do so, a fight can drastically snowball in your favor. Once you finish someone off, you have refreshed cooldowns and all your spells are available again. So, you use your combo on the next target and finish it off with the help of Teleport. The sequence continues until the whole enemy team is dead, or until you've made a mistake. Usually, mistakes are punished by the death. It is a high risk, high reward build.
My impressions of Li-Ming
I really enjoyed playing as Li-Ming. The hero has a marvelous design. The skill-cap and damage are high while hero's survivability is low. Such heroes are also known as glass-cannons, and I love playing this type of heroes. My impressions are also highly affected by the fact that Li-Ming is the Wizard class from Diablo 3. I have been playing as Wizard for a while now, and I can tell you that developers have done a great job to make Li-Ming feel like Wizard from Diablo. Everything, except that microphone that appears when you teleport back to your base, feels in the right place; and you do feel like you are playing arcane Wizard.
Another thing that makes Li-Ming fun to play is that you can actually "carry" your games. I know, I know! Heroes of the Storm is a team game and other bla, bla, bla; but you really can! In my opinion, it is an incredible option to have. Unless Blizzard's matchmaking is repaired, such heroes are like the air for your lungs!
So, I’m incredibly satisfied with Li-Ming and I think the Hots universe could use more high skill-cap heroes!
My predictions on a viability and a competitive potential of the hero
Li-Ming is definitely a tier 1 hero. In competitive tournaments, we can see that she is new Kael'thas; she is being banned all the time. Each past tournament on this weekend have seen Li-Ming being banned in the first ban phase. This is not surprising at all, as her damage output is insane! She is more mobile compared to other Assassins, thanks to Teleport, and she has incredible amounts of almost instant damage. Such heroes can be easily abused with a proper setup, so, such outcome is expected.
The ban rate, around 100%, definitely means that her power is incredible. On one hand, teams don't want to give up the hero, as it is very hard to play versus her in a competitive environment. On the other hand, her damage output seems a bit more than she needs to have. I think that Li-Ming is a bit overpowered hero and needs some small number adjustments! Combined with other spells from her kit, Disintegrate is doing too much damage! Also, it is quite easy to use. Personally, I think that Disintegrate could use a small nerf to damage numbers. Right now, Li-Ming one-shots almost any Assassin with the combo of Q + W + R if the spells are used at a maximum distance.
So, the hero is definitely viable in competitive games. Once Li-Ming gets some nerfs and professional teams will get used to her, I think we will see a lot of Rebellious Wizard in professional tournaments!
As for the casual environment, Li-Ming is better than old Nova was! You can easily climb ladder with Li-Ming. She is incredibly fun to play, and you don't feel as pressured as Nova; due to the Teleport ability. Also, the gameplay is harder and doesn't feel as stupidly overpowered as Nova's gameplay did. Li-Ming's design makes her incredibly good at winning games on her own, and this a new and incredible feeling to have in Heroes of the Storm!
Right now, Li-Ming sits at 55%+ win rate. This is not as imbalanced as I made her sound, however, you need to account the fact that she has a high skill-cap. That explains the win rate. If you look at Rehgar, for example, you can see that he sounds far more imbalanced; judging by the 60%+ win rate. However, he is easier to play and does a lot of things at once!
Li-Ming patch is a cool one! Not only we got the new hero, but also we got a ton of balance changes and reworks. They have sprung a positive change in many aspects of the game. Apart from receiving new heroes after major reworks, such as Nova and Rehgar, we also received the shift in Meta-game towards recently introduced heroes. We can see Greymane and Lunara being played in many tournament games. They are not just played. They are played with a success, and they score high damage numbers.
As for the hero herself, I think that Li-Ming is definitely a superb addition to the Heroes of the Storm hero pool. Not only she is fun and rewarding to play, but you can actually "carry" games with her! Moreover, she is a new spell Assassin in the game. This adds a variety to the mage hero pool, which has been stuck with Jaina and Kael for a while. Lastly, I think that Hots could use more heroes of such type and design. They are vital for general game health, especially for a competitive scene!