Superstars’ YoDa: Throwing Shade as the Aspect of Death
According to Superstars’ Orie ‘YoDa’ Guo, Malthael, the newest Hero to hit the HGC, can be summed up in just two words:
While Malthael currently has a 50% winrate in the HGC, YoDa’s high opinion of the Aspect of Death might explain why Superstars have drafted the Hero more than any other team in the HGC. Per YoDa, in the right hands and with the right build, Maltheal can be a powerful answer to Heroes like Dehaka and Anub’arak who seem to have a spot reserved in every competitive draft at the moment.
“Malthael is an easy Hero to play decently, but a difficult Hero to master,” YoDa opines. “Anyone can press their ult, run into five people, and spam all their buttons. It takes a really good Mathael to make sure Tormented Souls goes off safely. It takes a really good Maltheal to play around Anub’arak’s Cocoon. It takes a really good Malthael to win lane and survive.”
YoDa is currently undefeated with Malthael in the North American HGC. “I would take him if the other team has a lot of tanks or just melee [characters]'s in general. It's easier to spread Reaper's Mark to those Heroes.”
Reaper’s Mark, Malthael’s Trait, applies an effect with every auto-attack on an enemy Hero or Minion. Marked enemies are revealed for the duration of Reaper’s Mark (4 seconds) and take damage equal to 2.5% of their maximum health every second. Reaper’s Mark is the core of Malthael’s kit, and it’s what YoDa chooses to build around when playing competitively on the tournament realm.
“In team fights you want to spread Reaper's Mark to as many targets as possible. Heroes have priority, obviously, but hitting Minions has the added bonus of healing yourself more when you use Soul Rip (Q).”
Soul Rip is Malthael’s self-sustain — it heals him for a small amount, multiplied by the number of nearby targets affected by Reaper’s Mark. “The cool down on Soul Rip is very low, so you basically use it in team fights every time it’s off cooldown.”
Another thing to consider with Reaper’s Mark is the vision it gives on enemy Heroes that Malthael has afflicted. In general, you cannot hide from the Aspect of Death.
“Mostly, the vision provided by Reaper's Mark comes in handy in the solo lanes on certain maps,” says YoDa. “For instance, on Dragon Shire a matchup you'll see a lot is Malthael versus Dehaka. A lot of Dehaka players will go in when Dark Swarm (W) is up, and then they'll hide in the bushes when it’s on cooldown. Against Malthael this strategy doesn't work. Malthael can still see him with Reaper's Mark when he retreats to his brush.”
Level 1 – Fear the Reaper
“At level 1, Fear the Reaper is mandatory,” YoDa exclaims. “On a Pale Horse might be viable in pure 1v1 lanes, but in competitive it's almost never pure 1v1. Someone is almost always going to be camping your lane, and then the advantage you get from that talent is gone. Fear the Reaper is the best talent here, I think. It serves the same purpose as Death's Reach, only it's super useful in almost every situation. Movement speed is always good.”
Level 4 – Throwing Shade
“Throwing Shade is absolutely nuts. If you check level 20, Final Curtain has a four-second duration. So at level 20 you literally have 100% up-time on your E. Reaper's Mark also lasts four seconds, so you can pretty much keep your opponents marked the entire time. Throwing Shades is great, the only problem is completing it. When I first went this talent I actually didn't even complete it in the whole game, but I learned the trick is to use it in melee range. Like, you jump on someone with Wraith Strike, and just use it then for easy stacks.”
Level 7 – Cold Hand
“Level 7 is a bit situational. You go Touch of Death if your lane matchup requires it, for instance against a Dehaka, or if the other team has a Rehgar because you can nail their Ancestral. Sometimes, just having a Rehgar on the enemy team isn't enough reason to take Touch of Death though, usually you want it to have some effect on the solo lane as well. Cold Hand is amazing; one of the biggest issues Malthael has against a lot of Heroes is just sticking on them. Let's say they are outranging your Wraith Strike and Fear the Reaper is down, you won't be able to get on top of them. But Cold Hand makes it so once they're marked you're basically on them until they're dead. One of his biggest weaknesses is getting kited, and Cold Hand mitigates that.”
Level 10 – Tormented Souls
“Applying your mark to everything near you synergies so well with the rest of your kit that you can't really pass it up. Last Rites is not as good in competitive because it doesn't work through protective shields, so if they have a Medivh or a Varian or a Zarya it's pretty much useless.”
Level 13 - Ethereal Existence
“Level 13 is the most situational tier Malthael has. I think Soul Siphon is a trap because it only increases the healing from Heroes, and it only increases the bonus healing so it's actually not doing that much. Ethereal Existence is better against physical damage, and Shroud of Wisdom is better against magical damage. You can look at their team and decide what they have more of and pick the talent that fits that. Inevitable End is a talent I've been messing around with. A big reason to take this is to counter Anub'arak's Cocoon. A lot of Anub'arak players will say 'Oh there's a Malthael, on their team, I'm not using my Cocoon on anyone else.' so you can just take Inevitable End and block it. Once you've played Malthael against Anub'arak a hundred times you basically know they're watching you. You can press R, and literally hover your finger over the key for Inevitable End and wait for it.”
Level 16 – Soul Collector
“You want either Memento Mori or Soul Collector. This is dependent on the draft. Soul Collector gives you more healing and a little bit of damage. If you want damage, Memento Mori is your talent. The reason I stopped going Memento Mori is because I also stopped going Black Harvest at level four. With the Throwing Shade playstyle, a lot of the time the Reaper's Mark will be on for four seconds and drop for half a second and be on again. That doesn't do you any good with Memento Mori, because it has to be on continuously. So Soul Collector is my go-to for now.”
Level 20 – Final Curtain
“At level 20, if you're about to lose the game you can take No One Can Stop Death and just respawn instantly once you die (it has a five-minute cooldown). If you can, you should go Final Curtain, because it has extreme synergy with Throwing Shade.
In Superstars’ series against Even in Death at the beginning of Phase 2, YoDa recalls a team fight that showcased the reaper’s true power. “Against Even in Death on Braxis Holdout, I was losing my lane most of the game. In the last team fight I basically jumped on them and pressed all my buttons, and they all died. That was a good time, probably my most memorable moment with [Malthael] so far.”
When pairing Heroes with Malthael, just look for Supports who can keep him alive and uninterrupted. “If you're getting all your damage off with Malthael you're probably going to win the team fight,” YoDa explained. “so Uther with Divine Shield is great to ensure this. Any Heroes with Cleanse are okay. Medivh is actually pretty good with him as well.”
With these tools in place, it all comes down to finishing the Throwing Shade quest to maximize Malthael’s damage output. “Besides when he gets his Heroic at level 10, the power spike with this build is when he completes Throwing Shade. I can usually get it done between level 10 and 13. It’s difficult, though. The thing about Malthael is that most teams play him as a solo-laner, so he can only hit one target with Death Shroud. Even if you're roaming, it's kind of a hard skillshot to hit, because most people can just dodge it.”
Practice makes perfect. Be sure to tune in to playheroes.com/esports on Friday, July 7 and Sunday, July 9 when YoDa and the rest of Superstars take on Team Freedom and Tempo Storm respectively.