Two months ago, Heroes of the Storm introduced possibly the biggest change it's ever undergone, outside of the alpha. And while the community has almost universally seen this as a positive change, it's had unforeseen side effects which haven't been addressed -- and it's enough for more than one prominent player to take a break.
The scaling changes had been coming for a while, as the developers had made it known they wanted to make early deaths more consequential. Respawn timers were tuned so you're not straight back into the match if you die at the start, and damage and health numbers were tweaked so the whole game kind of felt like it used to at level 20. In terms of how heroes scaled up with the new numbers, some fared a lot better than others.
Because people were doing more damage, stunlocking became much more deadly. Two or three stuns in succession should mean guaranteed death if the team is properly pouncing on the opportunity. And seeing as Tyrande has a ranged stun, as well as having her ultimate buffed, what we have now is known as either the "Tyrande meta" or "stunlock meta".
when the enemys in hero league get Tyrande, Diablo and Kael'thas pic.twitter.com/Xjl9U9xiuL
— Christoph Gowitzke (@LiquidCris) January 8, 2016
The in-favour heroes are so popular that picking anyone else is considered asking for a loss. Raynor, Diablo, Zagara, Morales, Muradin also reign supreme. Kael'Thas and Uther, somehow always strong even after nerfs, also remain popular.
In the recent Heroes Rising competition, Tyrande, Muradin and Kael'Thas had a 100% pick/ban rate, with Uther and Jaina not far behind. 15 heroes were never picked, which is actually more hero diversity than expected for Heroes of the Storm, but it still highlights a problem, especially when combined with Tyrande's 58% winrate on Hotslogs.
So what does all this mean? Without any changes for two months, basically every game has been the same. The recent addition of Lunara didn't change much, as she's not a viable competitive hero most of the time. People are tired of playing the same heroes over and over, and combined with HOTS' existing matchmaking woes, some are taking a breather.
One of NA's top ranked players, Wiz, has signed off after a 24-hour stream in which he was repeatedly teamed with the lowest ranked players. Chu8 had a bit of a spat on his stream too, before clarifying his beefs with the current system, saying you basically have to choose between winning and having fun. Cris from TeamLiquid also weighed in.
It's certainly not new for prominent players to have a whinge about the way things are, but you won't find any of the usual arguments in these threads. No one is spitting the dummy. The playerbase is all pretty much in agreement that changes need to be made a lot faster than they're happening. A new hero is released tomorrow, Greymane, but Blizzard has said there won't be any incoming balance changes with the update.
One simple solution which would solve some, but not all of the problems, is to introduce a ban system in the draft. That way, a couple of the most overpowered heroes at the time, whatever the meta might be, can be excluded and more possibilities will open up. There are concerns with who gets control over the actual bans, of course, but in a situation like this one it wouldn't matter -- I think just about anyone with a sliver of experience would ban Tyrande, Diablo, or Kael'Thas.