All You Need To Know About Core Calls Ft. Wubby



Mon 1st Oct 2018 - 10:24pm

Every game of Heroes of the Storm ends with one team's Core destroyed. With the help of the map objective, waves of minions and catapults, or maybe just an Illidan, you too can take down the enemy's Core and earn a victory! Towers of Doom aside, it's critical to know not only when, but also how to go for a game-winning Core push. In the same vein, you've got to know how to defend against opponents who are making a big push into your base.

After his scrim practice, we had the opportunity to sit down with Team Dignitas' drafter and shotcaller, Jonathan “Wubby” Gunnarsson, to get some insight on how games end and the art of the Core call. If you're looking to improve your decision-making when it comes to all things Core, then this is your chance to learn.

Making Core Pushes Involves Understanding the Game State

When you have a sufficient offensive advantage relative to the defense the enemy team can muster, you can make a core call. A 5-man team wipe in the late game is often a clear signal to end the game, but there’s a wide range of situations below that level of safety where going Core is still a great call! It all comes down to analyzing the situation and understanding the current game state. Wubby discusses a common situation where you can look to push in to end.

Wubby: “If you’re in the late game and you get a boss, if the enemy fort is down in that lane, you have it decently pushed, and you’re above level 16, then you can definitely try to push for the Core. You’re usually very safe when you push with a boss, and you can also look for pick-offs while the boss is pushing. If you get one or two kills, and the boss is around half HP, you can definitely go for that Core.”

“If you are in a more defensive position, I would say it comes down to how the game looks. There’s going to be a lot of variables all the time, but let’s say you’re three keeps down and you’re backed into a corner, you might think to yourself: ‘If we don’t push here, we’re in such a bad position that even though this is a risky Core call, it’s the best we’re ever gonna get in this game.’ So when you feel pressured, that’s when you go for those more risky Core calls.”

Strong heroes for Core Pushing

While going to finish the game often requires the cooperation of the whole team, there are particular heroes on the roster that excel at Core calls that would otherwise be very difficult. Samuro, Greymane, and other auto attackers are renowned for being strong at taking down the Core (and pushing structures in general). But, it’s not always about raw damage output - there are other heroes that make going for a Core push safe and more reliable in other ways. Wubby lists some heroes that bring an edge when it comes to ending games.

Wubby: “Just in general, I think Illidan is pretty known. I think Tassadar on lvl 20 with Infinite Archon has a reputation of being able to go ‘let’s just walk at their core and see what happens.’ He’s one of those heroes that can keep the shield from generating with his storms. It’s very hard to fight into an Archon, and he can sustain himself by hitting the Core, chunking it down lower and lower. I would say Hammer has been one of those heroes lately where you can say, ‘yeah, let’s just go Core and see what happens.’ When you walk up and siege, I think Hammer and Tassadar are the best at doing that.”

On Backdooring

In general, you’ll see most games of Heroes of the Storm end with the aid of the map’s objective or maybe after a big teamfight. However, some games end more “sneakily”. A big topic in ending games is backdooring, i.e. going for the Core while the enemy team is still up (and usually distracted by something else or is unable to respond in time). There have been many games - at every level of play - that have been decided by backdooring at the right time. But when is backdooring the right move or a line of play you should be considering?

Wubby: “Let’s say you play Infernal Shrines, and you’re 20 to 20. You’re fighting over the shrine, let’s say one of your teammates dies. So you have to back off, and the enemy team finishes the shrine, and they start marching towards your Core. If you have an opening, let’s say you took a keep earlier or just a keep wall, your thought process could be like: ‘There’s no way we defend this, so our best chance is just to throw ourselves at their Core.’ One, it creates a lot of hard decisions for the enemy team, maybe they recall with only two, maybe they recall with everyone. You forcing the backdoor could force them to recall which could turn an impossible defense into a pretty easy one. And you could also send people to stop their recalls.”

“Backdooring is very good as a last resort when you know the defense will be so incredibly hard that you have a better chance creating chaos and hoping for the enemy team to make a mistake. It’s definitely not a move you always make when behind, though. I would say if you play a very macro-heavy team comp, like let’s say Anub/Greymane, it’s still possible to play that style of macro and backdoor and force the enemy to chase you. Sometimes, you can be level 19 to 16, and they feel like “ok the best fight we get against this annoying macro composition is putting all five on the next objective, like going all five to the boss, take the boss, and all-in the Core with the boss as a deathball, because they know that your macro is so good that your teamfight will be worse. So even if you’re ahead, you can always pressure that backdoor.”

Don’t Be Too Afraid to Go for Core

Making the call to go Core isn’t always straightforward. It can be tough to figure out how far you can push. Evaluating the current game state and determining whether you have a strong enough advantage to push in for the win is a skill that comes with time, practice, analysis, and review. In general, do players tend to go too ham for the Core or do they not make Core calls enough? Wubby weighs in.

Wubby: “I would definitely say not enough, I think a lot of teams underestimate how easy it sometimes can be to kill a Core. And even if your whole team dies in the enemy base, usually you can respawn before they get to your Core and having the enemy team’s Core at 20% or 30%, which is a huge pressure in itself. I think there’s definitely more Core calls to be made than there are right now.”

Analyzing the Decision-Making Process When You’re Looking to Push to Core

When making a big push - particularly with some kind of map objective by your side - it’s important to understand what your best line of play is and to coordinate as a team. A lot of the time you’ll hear the phrase “we need to go for kills first” or something to that effect called out, as eliminating enemy players will allow for more unhindered structure damage. But how do you know whether to put all the damage on the Core, versus when to go for kills first?

Wubby: “I would say whenever you’re pushing, in almost every scenario, you should always take it as a fight. You should never just run ahead and start hitting Core, even if you sometimes feel it’s 100%. Because if you leave your backliners and all five enemy heroes connect on them, the Core can be falling too slowly from just the tanks hitting it, so always protect your ranged and the damage dealers when going for a Core, even if you’re all-inning it or playing it slow.”

Defending Against Opposing Core Calls

There will be times when you’re on the back foot, and the enemy team is trying to push into your base; knowing how to properly play defense will help you come back into the game. When should you rush past the objective and take a fight? And when should you make your stand at the Core? Moreover, deciding who to focus on the enemy team is also critical. Should you always focus the enemy damage dealers? Let’s see what Wubby has to say.

Wubby: “So I guess it depends a bit on who the enemy heroes are, obviously. But I would say a lot depends on the HP of the objective coming at your core. Sometimes a boss can be full health, and if we don’t get a kill within the next five seconds, they can probably just walk up and suicide themselves on the Core. So that’s where you can be like, ‘ok let’s look for a fast pick, like a fast engage, past the boss, and then into a fast disengage to walk back and defend against the boss and hope for the best.’”

“I would say trying to burst the enemy Tank can be effective, depending on comps, of course. Even if you don’t kill him, it can be hard for the rest of the enemy team to move up, because when you go for a Core call, you have to move with the boss, you have to move very far up, not stop the train. But if you can burst down the Tank, or get him low enough, so that he can’t be in charge of the deathball, it can be hard to go for that Core. So definitely trying to catch a Tank off-guard can be key.”

Heroes that are great at defending the Core

We have learned that Illidan, Tassadar, and Sgt. Hammer are strong when it comes to making Core calls and are powerful assets when it comes to evaluating whether you can succeed in closing the game against some resistance. But what heroes have strong defensive capabilities, and bolster your confidence in defending the Core when the situation is dire? Wubby discusses a few examples.

Wubby: “I think Li-Ming is quite good sometimes. She’s both very good at poking down a boss, and even if there isn’t a boss, she’s very good at poking down heroes, she’s hard to catch, and if you are defending your Core, she gets those resets on kills.”

“Another one that’s very hard to push into in general is Junkrat. The traps, the mines, and the constant bombardment of his grenades are very hard to get through. If you have a hard-camp and two minion waves, they disappear. If you try to walk up with a boss, you might take too much poke. He’s generally a bit annoying to catch and he also has the RIP-Tire to just throw even more at you.”

“I will say Gul’dan is pretty hard to push into as well. It’s very easy to get caught by the fear. He has massive amounts of damage and it’s hard to dive him while he’s in his base. It’s hard to all-in Core because you have to stack a bit together and one good fear can just turn the entire situation. So those three, very good at defending bosses, minion waves, and pushes in general.”