Cho’Gall: Are Two Heads Better than One?
Abathur, The Lost Vikings, and Cho’Gall rank among the most unique characters in Heroes of the Storm. Unlike the others, however, Cho’Gall has struggled to find a regular spot in professional play. Apart from a handful of absolutely perfect drafts, the two-headed ogre has only seen play as a cheese strategy or as a way for teams to fool around on stage. Over the first half of 2017, Cho’Gall recorded 1 win and 6 losses in HGC top division play, which amounts to a sub-1% pick rate and a disparaging 14.3% win rate.
However, all that may change with the recent goings-on in HGC Korea. In the past week, Cho’Gall has been picked in four games and banned in one. What’s more, this Hero won three of those four games in absurdly dominant fashion, trampling over enemy Heroes previously thought of as hard counters. Has the meta finally shifted enough for Cho’Gall to shine?
It’s Actually Auriel
“We had actually prepared Cho’Gall in scrims for Braxis Holdout, so we were very surprised when BlossoM picked it away first,” said MVP Black’s Lee ‘Rich’ Jae-won in an on-air interview following his team’s 3-1 victory against Team BlossoM. (Both sides had picked and won with Cho’Gall in the match.) “We picked Cho’Gall [in the very next game] because we thought we’d win no matter what as long as we had Cho’Gall,” he said. “But we won so handily that it sort of feels like the game has come to a point where the team playing Cho’Gall just wins.”
Rich explained that Auriel was the real reason why Cho’Gall was such a strong pick at the moment. “It depends on the situation, but because Auriel is really strong right now, everything that pairs well with Auriel seems to be good as well.”
Tempest’s Lee ‘HongCono’ Dae-hyung’s take was similar. “We faced Cho’Gall in scrims quite a bit, and it’s extremely strong,” he said. “I think as long as Cho’Gall is supported by Auriel, it’s Tier 1 for sure—it doesn’t seem to matter much what you take against that combination. It might be more about Auriel than Cho’Gall, really. Auriel is just that good right now.”
Although Cho’Gall as a Hero is far from being fully researched, most Korean professionals currently believe that Cho has one optimal talent build. Both victorious Cho players—MVP Black’s Rich and Team BlossoM’s Yoo ‘Gondar’ Hyung-sik—opted for the tree below, which grants the maximum amount of in-combat mobility:
Level 1: Calloused Hide
7: Power Surge
10: Hammer of Twilight
13: Runic Feedback
16: Surging Dash
20: C’Thun’s Gift
On the other hand, Gall’s talent builds are a lot more varied. Below is Team BlossoM’s Ko ‘DDuDDu’ Doo-hyun’s preferred tree, which focuses on empowering Shadowflame:
Level 1: Taskmaster
4: Bomb’s Away
7: Double Trouble
10: Twisting Nether
13: Searing Shadows
16: Deafening Blast
20: Shifting Nether
In contrast, these are the talents that MVP Black’s Lee ‘Sake’ Jung-Hyuk chose during the game against Team BlossoM, which give much more weight to Dread Orb:
Level 1: Keep Moving!
4: Bomb’s Away
7: Ogre Rampage
10: Twisting Nether
13: Twilight Nova
16: Leaden Orb
DDuDDu believes that Gall does not really have a fixed talent tree. “I think Cho’Gall as a Hero can be played in a lot of different ways, him being [piloted by] two people and all,” he said. “I personally like [upgrading Shadowflame] at 7 and 13, but maybe that’s just because I started out playing Gall with that build. [Which talents Gall takes] really depends on the two players’ styles of play, I think.”
It Might be Ogre Soon
The Twilight’s Hammer Chieftain finally becoming a meta staple is certainly exciting (and overdue), but can the trend be sustained? Every recent Cho’Gall victory featured an Auriel pairing. Would the ogre still be viable in competitive play if the Archangel were to become a staple ban, for example? Most players are doubtful. “[Without Auriel], I think it would be too difficult to find the right conditions for a Cho’Gall pick,” DDuDDu said. “Even when Auriel is on the board, [setting it up properly] isn’t that easy. Without her, it would be much harder.”
Overreliance on Auriel is not Cho’Gall’s only issue, either. Teams are scrambling to find an answer to its oppressive presence, and it is expected that the Cho’Gall and Auriel pairing won’t be a free win for much longer. Korean HGC commentator Seo ‘OPrime’ Hyeong-uk offered some insight as to what works and what doesn’t against the twin heads.
“Most abilities that deal damage based on the target’s maximum health require you to attack for 3 to 4 seconds for it to be effective,” he said. “But [due to the recent rework] Cho’Gall can easily get out of range [when the attack starts]. So apart from Leoric (Drain Hope and Entomb) and Greymane (Cursed Bullet), I don’t think any of the other counters are that effective.”
It should be interesting to see whether Cho’Gall can continue to stay relevant in HGC Korea in the coming weeks, as well as whether the ogre fever will spread to other regions around the world. Be sure to tune into playheroes.com/esports for the broadcast this weekend as MVP Black dukes it out with Tempest in an attempt to secure their spot at the Eastern Clash.