Ragnaros: First Impressions and Pro Opinions

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Written by: EsportsJohn


Ragnaros, an elemental as old as the world of Azeroth, has been called to many realms…but rarely one so suited to his destructive nature as the Nexus. As he strives to reduce this new land to ash, Ragnaros hews about with the fiery hammer Sulfuras and takes command of allied and destroyed forts, scourging all who approach him with falling rocks and waves of magma. Though his power is vast, those who summon the Firelord must be prepared to watch the world burn.

At BlizzCon, Blizzard revealed the next two heroes to enter the Nexus with a thrilling cinematic featuring an epic battle between Varian and Ragnaros. The Firelord was available for play at the venue, but it was over a month before he was actually released. Advertised as an assassin that could take over a fort and become a “raid boss”, there was a lot of excitement for the upcoming hero.

Ragnaros lives up to the hype: he’s big, does lots of fire things, and makes the game feel chaotic—but maybe a little too chaotic. Perhaps the most broken hero since Samuro, Ragnaros dominated matches during opening week, peaking at 70% on HotS Logs. He’s since been nerfed a bit, but it still remains to be seen if Molten Core and Lava Wave are too impactful or potentially game-breaking. Let’s take a closer look at this destructive Hero and his devastating abilities!

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths

  • Strong solo laner
  • Long range poke
  • Good waveclear
  • Dynamic zoning abilities

Weaknesses

  • Weak escape
  • No CC in base kit
  • Vulnerable to CC chains

Abilities

Ragnaros’s basic abilities are a nice mix of poke, sustain, and utility. For his Heroics, he can utilize either global pressure with Lava Wave or build for teamfights with Sulfuras Smash. The combination of these factors make him a beast at solo laning and useful in a variety of compositions. There are certain battlegrounds like Braxis Holdout and Tomb of the Spider Queen on which he is exceptionally strong, but he isn’t necessarily bad on any.

Even though he’s classified a melee assassin, Ragnaros can put out a lot of long range poke damage with Living Meteor. Using some of the Meteor talents like Molten Power and Meteor Bomb, he can maximize his poke and deal insane damage from afar while still retaining the ability to walk up and smash someone with Empower Sulfuras. The ability to fight from both a distance and in close quarters is one of the factors that makes him one of the most well-rounded characters in the game.

Ragnaros the Firelord

Artwork Credit: Sendolarts

Molten Core and Lava Wave are game-changers. The way the abilities are designed makes him exceptional at pushing and defending forts and can even change the way objectives are played on some maps. For instance, Molten Core can delay tributes on Cursed Hollow or altars on Towers of Doom using the insane range on his second set of abilities. Lava Wave literally melts the Zerg rush on Braxis Holdout and makes him a must-ban Hero on that map.

The one glaring weakness of Ragnaros is his lack of escape. Despite having great sustain with Empower Sulfuras and a small speed boost from Blast Wave, it can be difficult for him to get out of a tough situation. Grabbing talents like Catching Fire and Resilient Flame can help boost his tankiness when he goes in too deep and hopefully him buy enough time to deal good return damage.

Talents

Ragnaros has one of the most adaptable talent trees in the game at the moment, but that might be largely due to his colossal damage numbers; when his numbers get nerfed a bit, we may see a bit more stability in talent choices. As with most assassins, his builds usually empower one ability while taking defensive or utility talents where necessary.

Perhaps the most common build right now is the Living Meteor build, which does insane amounts of poke damage from a safe distance. Talenting into Shifting Meteor allows Ragnaros to keep the ball on someone for the maximum possible damage; it also makes it easier to consistently build stacks of Molten Power. Once he gets Meteor Bomb at level 16, he can wreck the back line and dish out some serious AoE damage.

Ragnaros in World of Warcraft

If you’re looking to play more of a melee style, you can go for a Q build. Sulfuras Hungers at level 1 is similar to Azmodan’s Taste for Blood talent because it requires Ragnaros to last hit minions, and in turn, it greatly increases the damage of Empower Sulfuras. The quest doesn’t take that long but requires him to solo a bit so to gain maximum value out of his Qs without teammates accidentally clearing minion waves. Once you tack on Hand of Ragnaros and Giant Scorcher, Ragnaros does some insane burst damage with his Q on an absurdly low cooldown.

His level 20 Storm talents are all very good and situational. Heroic Difficulty makes it easier for Ragnaros to abuse his trait and push/defend far more often. When he’s taking a lot of damage in teamfights, Submerge can help him survive for a bit longer and potentially dodge lethal damage. If he takes Lava Wave at 10, he can significantly increase its efficiency with Lava Surge; not only does it provide a second wave which can be staggered with the first, but it also lowers the cooldown by 10 seconds. More lava equals more winning.

Professional Opinions

On Kit, Design, and Implementation

Wings, Super Perfect Team
The second ult Lava Wave deals so much damage that I feel it’s getting nerfed pretty soon. As for the weaknesses, the model is huge so it’s easy to get body blocked. And since he doesn’t have any escapes, you need to be very careful with positioning. He’s also weak against dive compositions for the same reason.

m, ZeroPanda
I think the hero is pretty interesting. His kit is enjoyable. Some of his talents can provide some self-sustain and damage mitigation. On the other hand, his mobility is mediocre. Sometimes an attempt to engage with Q might cost you your life before the ability even connects. As for his defensive utility, the value you can get from the trait as well as Lava Wave is tremendous.

Baphomet, Please Buff Arthas
I think the overall design is good. The kit is decent and the trait is very unique. Though categorized as a melee assassin, the hero is actually very good at poking. For now, I think a poking playstyle works well and can deal lots of damage. Some might feel the trait is a bit weak as you can’t move while it’s activated. However, when it comes to defending—say like enemies pushing with mercenaries or map objectives—the trait is extremely valuable. And it can also be used offensively. I think the trait is powerful enough to be considered a second ult and might open up a lot of potential strategies around the hero himself.

Sunshine, Coach
I think a great way to look at Ragnaros is to compare him to Thrall. He has self sustain in his Q, great poke potential in his W, and he can either speed himself or an ally with his E, which brings a lot of utility. Both of his ults are very good, and you probably just pick according to comp and map.

His passive seems a little broken to be honest though. Love the concept, but it does so much. Prevents building damage, has massive range, very high damage output, slows, stuns, and just feels way to hard to play around. I feel like they left out a weakness to it, but that might just be me complaining about the OP hero being OP.

Youngbaek, Coach
His kit and especially the last hitting talent is a really interesting change for Heroes of the Storm. If we start seeing more talents like this, we’ll see the meta and team compositions change based on talents like Sulfuras Hunters. It’s similar to stacking Seasoned Marksman, but due to the last-hitting mechanic, it will be forced to play out differently.

sCsC, L5 (Ballistix)
All my teammates agree that Rag is plain OP. He isn’t the best in standard teamfights, but his power near allied/enemy keeps is extremely imbalanced.

On Professional Play and Meta Changes

Baphomet, Please Buff Arthas
Overall, the character is strong and well-rounded. It’s likely we’ll see the hero in competitive play.

Sunshine, Coach
Ragnaros has great solo lane potential, good self sustain, wave clear, and utility. I don’t really know how Ragnaros couldn’t find his way into the meta. I would be shocked if he wasn’t picked, and he might even be ban material even with the nerfs.

Youngbaek, Coach
If he’s strong enough, you’ll see him in every region. I’m not talking about his current state, but after the nerf that should be coming from Blizzard’s side. I can see his playstyle work great in Europe though; regions [like EU] that I consider a bit more careful and calculated will be able to execute the stacking game better than other more aggressive regions if that’s the pro build.

On Map and Composition Viability

Wings, Super Perfect Team
The W ability provides decent poke and even burst damage in teamfights. His trait is extremely strong on maps like Battlefield of Eternity and Haunted Mines, as it can deal with map objectives really well. The trait is much less valuable on huge maps like Blackheart’s Bay/Warhead Junction.

m, ZeroPanda
The second ult Lava Wave is very powerful on small maps or when teamfighting in lanes.

Baphomet, Please Buff Arthas
Maps like Infernal Shrines or Haunted Mines are where his trait shines, as it helps a lot in defending against enemies pushing with the map objectives.

Sunshine, Coach
Any map where the objective is forced to push down a certain lane will be a good map for Ragnaros, since it guarantees value from Lava Wave. I don’t think he will really have a bad map, but Braxis Holdout and Tomb of the Spider Queen seem like maps that he would dominate.

Youngbaek, Coach
It honestly depends on what build the professionals decide on in the future. If he becomes a stacking hero, he should fit perfectly into the smaller maps like Dragon Shire and Tomb of the Spider Queen. But if it becomes another variation of the build, he should be good on larger maps as well. Maybe multiple builds will be viable, and you’ll see him played on all maps.

Final Thoughts

Wings, Super Perfect Team
I think the hero is overpowered. His auto attack damage is quite high. At the moment, he can be one of the best solo laners in the game.

Baphomet, Please Buff Arthas
The Ult Lava Wave is very strong when pushing, as it clears minion waves immediately and can force enemies to dodge it so they can’t defend their structures.

Sunshine, Coach
He’s incredibly fun to play. Simple kit, but he has a lot of skill with how you play him. Knowing how to use your E will probably be what sets apart the good players from the bad.

Youngbaek, Coach
Expect a nerf coming to him. I think his overall kit is difficult to balance, and he’ll likely be in a OP or undertuned stage forever.

sCsC, L5 (Ballistix)
We haven’t scrimmed with him yet, so I’m not too sure about how team compositions will factor in. In Hero League, he’s just a standard melee flex pick.


Huge thanks to everyone who contributed their thoughts and opinions! You are the true Heroes of the Storm!

Also, props to yaya, DogRay, and RallyJaffa for translations!


EsportsJohn is likes long walks on the beach but hates lava waves. You can follow him on Twitter or help support him on Patreon.

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