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Heroes of the StormJun 15, 2020 1:00 pm CT

Mei skates into Heroes of the Storm to freeze out the competition

Finally, after weeks of intermittent snowstorms, and a couple of very snowy teasers, we know who the next character is who will be joining the lineup in Heroes of the Storm — It’s Mei and her adorable robot companion Snowball! She’ll be the first hero to be added in almost 8 months, and is also the first Overwatch hero to be added since Hanzo came in alongside Alexstraza more than two years ago! She looks like she’s going to be a fantastic cornerstone to any team looking to tell their opponents to chill out.

What role is Mei?

While the teasers may have been obvious in hindsight, Mei’s role is a big shock. I was expecting her to be another ranged assassin, but she’ll be causing havoc all over the Nexus as a tank. Mei has a big focus on putting out as much crowd control as possible with slows, blinds, knockbacks, and stuns in her base kit. Looking at her abilities she’ll play like a ranged version of Johanna. Only a lot colder, and with a bigger emphasis on causing chaos from the edges of the fight, instead of going into the dead center of combat.

  • Trait [D] Cryo-Freeze
    Mei encases herself in ice, gaining a rapidly decaying Shield that absorbs up to 1104 damage. While active, this Shield grants Unstoppable and restores up to 35% maximum Health.
    Cooldown: 40 seconds.
  • Snow Blind [Q]
    Throw a snowball that hits all enemies in an area. Enemies hit take 70 damage, are Slowed by 35%, and are Blinded for 1.5 seconds.
    Cost: 35 Mana. Cooldown: 10 seconds.
  • Blizzard [W]
    Command Snowball to create a blizzard at the target location for 2 seconds. Enemies within the blizzard take 13 damage every .25 seconds and are Slowed by 7%, stacking up to 35%. When the blizzard ends, enemies within its area take an additional 75 damage and are stunned for 1.25 seconds.
    Cost: 70 Mana. Cooldown: 14 seconds.
  • Icing [E]
    Slide quickly in the targeted direction. When this effect ends, enemies near Mei are knocked back, take 52 damage, and are Slowed by 80%, rapidly decaying over 1.5 seconds.
    Cost: 70 Mana. Cooldown: 14 seconds.
  • Avalanche [R1]
    After .5 seconds, roll a massive snowball that consumes enemy Heroes in its path. At the end of its path, the snowball crumbles, releasing the consumed Heroes, dealing 220 damage and stunning them for .5 per Hero consumed.
    Cost: 70 Mana. Cooldown: 65 seconds.
  • Ice Wall [R2]
    After a .75 second delay, create an impassible wall that traps enemy Heroes hit for 2.5 seconds. When the wall expires, trapped Heroes are slowed by 75% decaying over 3 seconds.
    Cost: 60 Mana. Cooldown: 90 seconds.

Interestingly her ultimate ability from Overwatch, Blizzard, is just one of her regular abilities. While Ice Wall gets promoted into one of her two ultimates. I’m glad that it has that 90-second cooldown since it’s an unholy fusion of Tassadar’s Force Wall and pure ice-y pain. But Avalanche looks like the standout of her abilities. I can’t wait to see the first clip where a Mei rolls up the entire team and sends them into the no-mans-land around the base on the Towers of Doom map.

I can see her becoming an absolute terror in Heroes just like she is in Overwatch. The combo potential between all of her abilities is outstanding. Landing her Snow Blind leads into getting stunned by Blizzard, which leaves you unable to dodge the knockback on Icing. If all of that isn’t enough to kill you, she can also roll you back away from your team with Avalanche, or keep them from reaching you with Ice Wall. I’m feeling cold and isolated just writing it out right now.

All of a sudden any hero with talents that deal increased damage to heroes who are slowed or stunned is looking a lot more deadly — as well as any hero with hard to land skill shots. If Mei is bringing the snowy pain it’ll be a lot easier to keep targets in things like Mephisto’s Lightning Nova or Falstad’s Hinterland Blast. If you’ve got a Mei staring you down from the enemy team, good luck. It looks like your best hope is to burst her down quickly, which is harder because of her Cryo-Freeze trait and Icing ability if she needs to escape. But once both of those things are on cooldown you’ll have a much easier time of putting her back in cold storage.

New Anomaly: Climate Phenomena

The snowfall we saw in the teasers for Mei turns out to have been just the start of a much bigger storm of weird weather effects, finally putting the Storm in Heroes of the Storm. Climate Phenomena is the next Anomaly to hit the Nexus and who better to study its effects than a climatologist like Mei? Maps will start having weather effects that actually affect your gameplay. Rain, fog, and snow will all occur during your matches to buff players for a few minutes at a time and repeating throughout the duration of your game.

The last two Anomalies have created some interesting new dynamics to how matches play out, but both have needed some fine-tuning after they’ve come out. I really like how the exp globe changes have altered the early game and lead to some interesting laning changes and strategies — I like the tower changes a little less. Having any structure swap to attack you while you’re next to it sounded great in theory, in practice it just made it feel more frustrating to play alongside map objectives. I’m cautiously optimistic that this new anomaly will change the game in good ways. But they’ve got a tough balancing act ahead of them to make sure that it doesn’t supercharge players too much.

I’ve been itching for another tank hero in the Nexus, and so far Mei looks extremely fun. Plus as a Canadian, I’m a sucker for anything involving ice and snow. I’m still holding out hope that we get Sindragosa and Baal eventually, but I’m pretty happy with Mei — at least until I get rolled up in a giant snowball to be fed to an angry Butcher.

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