The Undefeated Alarak: Tempo Storm's psalm
Harrison ‘psalm’ Chang from Tempo Storm is one of the few players in the North American HGC who remain undefeated with Alarak, the Highlord of the Tal'darim. Alarak doesn’t see a lot of HGC play currently, but psalm makes a strong case for the Protoss’s competitive merits.
“I would pick Alarak if the other team drafted relatively squishy Heroes,” said psalm. “His two big strengths are his kill pressure and laning ability.”
“Whenever you draft him you're going to want to pick him with other Heroes that have kill pressure, lockdown, CC, and burst damage.”
Alarak shines brightest on rotation-based maps, which allow him to roam with at least two other allies between lanes, clearing waves and securing kills.
“His main strength is in his early game,” psalm continued. “Generally, in the late game you won't be four-man death balling as much in a rotation which is where Alarak is strongest. He's not bad late game by any means, unlike Kerrigan who really falls off, but early game is definitely his strong suit.”
The comparison to Kerrigan is fair. Both Heroes rely heavily on properly executing a combo to secure takedowns. But psalm believes Alarak has an advantage over Kerrigan in this respect.
“I think Alarak has a lot more flexibility than Kerrigan because he has the escape if he chooses not to combo,” he argued, “whereas Kerrigan if you just get on her she can't run away at all.”
Some players might not be aware that Alarak can use his Telekinesis (W) ability on himself, vaulting him in whatever direction he is facing. This hidden feature is not detailed In Alarak’s ability description.
“Depending on the direction you're facing, you just Alt+W. which self-casts the displacement ability on yourself in the direction you're facing. You always want to look away to the direction you're running.”
Alarak’s Telekinesis is one of the strongest abilities in his kit. “I think displacement is the type of ability that is has a lot of room for play making since you can interrupt a bunch of things with it. You can position people in a way where they line up with some spell shots. You can push enemies into roots and into boss stuns. I think that's one of the main reasons people pick him on Battlefield of Eternity . . . it's so scary pushing into an Alarak defending his Immortal for that very reason.”
Across all regions in this year’s HGC, Alarak has indeed seen the most play on Battlefield of Eternity. He currently boasts a 58% win rate on the Battleground.
“He's really popular on Battlefield of Eternity,” psalm said. “Outside of BoE, he excels on the rotation-based maps — so like Tomb of the Spider Queen, Dragon Shire, and Braxis Holdout. Whichever maps have a four-man death ball or even like a three-man rotation. You don't see him that much on Cursed Hollow or Sky Temple.”
psalm’s build is relatively straightforward, at least for levels 1-7.
“I switch up a couple talents here and there. Most Alaraks go the same build, however. I always do the same talents on 1, 4, and 7. Level 10 through 20 are kind of the situational talents.”
In terms of Heroics, both are viable depending on the situation at hand. “I'll usually go Deadly Charge for my Heroic if I’m not under pressure to have to use Counter-Strike. I'd pick Counter-Strike in scenarios where the enemy has a lot of lockdown. I like Deadly Charge because of the flexibility it brings. It gives you an unexpected kind of engage tool and it also helps you reposition well in a fight. If you're on one side of the battle and you see that your teammates are focusing someone down on the opposite side of the battle, you can use it to join them.”
At level 13, many players like to take Pure Malice for the damage, but psalm prefers the 40% slow that comes with Hindered Motion. “Level 13 my go to is the slow just because 40% slow for two seconds makes it so you don't even have to combo. You can pull them, walk around and do whatever, and then Discord Strike (Q) them. You can't miss a Discord Strike on a 40% slowed target. It brings a lot of utility.”
At 16, psalm’s Default is Quick Mind, which reduces the cooldown of Telekinesis by 6 seconds. However, there is something to be said about Projected Range, which extends the range of Telekinesis by 25%. “If my main priority is just getting a pick or a combo on a squishy then I take the range upgrade. People know the range of Alarak and they play around it. You pick up this talent, they’re like half an inch closer than they should be, and they get caught off guard.”
For Storm Tier Talents, it’s straightforward. “I either go rewind or the second Heroic. If I have Counter-Strike I'll usually go Deadly Charge here. That's just based on how you're feeling.”
psalm has a strong personal attachment to Alarak at this point. He’s made a name for himself over the past season thanks in large part to the Protoss assassin. “Right now, Alarak is one of my favorites. He's been one of my favorite heroes ever since he came out. He’s got a place in my heart.”
Come this Sunday, Tempo Storm will play Gale Force eSports in one of the most important series to date. A win here for Tempo will secure their spot at the Mid-Season Brawl. If you’re curious to see if psalm will break out Alarak again, keep your eye on playheroes.com/esports this weekend for the games.