Week 2 of the HGC has ended, and although the standings look to be settling in, we still have three weeks of competition left as teams work toward qualifying for the Eastern and Western Clashes in August. There are familiar faces in the #1 and #2 spots in Korea and North America, but in Europe Team Liquid is racing for the top as they trail Team Dignitas by only two map losses.

This week, a new fight began to heat up outside of the battlegrounds as the Nexus’ newest hero Yrel skyrocketed in priority as a solo laner. Yrel factored into a staggering 82% of the 66 matches this weekend throughout Korea, Europe and North America as either a ban or a pick. She was actually the very first pick in 10 drafts throughout the weekend, evenly split between Europe and North America.

Taking priority over solo lane staples like Blaze, Dehaka, and Sonya is no small feat. Let’s examine what makes the Draenei Paladin a unique fit for the offlane.

Swinging Through the Solo Lane  


Separated from the rest of their team, solo lane heroes need an array of tools to help them maintain pressure and soak experience in the early game. Chief among these is the ability to sustain yourself through self-healing as your team’s Support hero is grouped up and half a map away.

“I think the standout element for me when it comes to Yrel in the solo lane is Maraad's Insight,” according to HeroesHearth Esports’ Stafford "McIntyre" McIntyre. “This Level 1 talent enables her to start aggressively trading with her lane opponent from the beginning of the game and always keeps her at full health.”

McIntyre’s build from Game 2 against Team Octalysis

McIntyre elaborated on why Yrel’s self-heal helps boost her priority over other heroes. “For both Blaze and Dehaka, they have active requirements that have to be met to sustain (stand in the fire, minion essence, globes, etc.), but with Yrel, all you need to do is use your spells to damage your enemy and make sure to auto-attack them.”

Another integral aspect in the solo lane is the ability to clear enemy minion waves efficiently. Yrel’s recent balance change increased the damage of her Avenging Wrath, allowing for quick experience gain. “This paired with Divine Steed at 7 give you an impossible to kill, double soaking, battle GOAT.” McIntyre explained.

Dominance Through Disruption

Yrel can clearly hold her own in the solo lane, but what does she bring to the table when it comes to team fights? By jumping into the backline with Avenging Wrath and swinging her Righteous Hammer, the Draenei Paladin disrupts enemy positioning.

“Yrel is that bully that you know you don't really want to focus attention on because of her ability to sustain, but you know you have to because she will drop her hammer on your head if you don't,” said McIntyre. “She creates a ‘Do you really want to hit me?’ pressure for the enemy in a fight.”

HeroesHearth found plenty of success while McIntyre was on Yrel this weekend, winning both games they drafted her in. Their series-ending teamfight against Team Octalysis on Sunday demonstrates why McIntyre defines Yrel as a “bully”:

Even after successful teamfights that cause enemies to retreat, Yrel’s Avenging Wrath makes escape a distant dream. By upgrading the cooldown with the Holy Avenger talent at Level 7, Yrel has the potential to simply stick to fleeing heroes:

Keep an eye on how the Nexus’ newest hero settles in the meta in the coming weeks as teams continue experimenting and develop ways to counter her.

Other Notable Highlights from Week 2

  • After nearly qualifying for the Mid-Season Brawl, Zealots have lost their first three matches in Phase 2 and have a very tough schedule in front of them. Meanwhile, Team Liquid has won their first three matches and look to unseat Team Dignitas from the top of HGC Europe on Sunday July 15.
  • For the second week in a row, The Lost Vikings appeared in an HGC Europe match when Team Dignitas used their constant experience soak to help defeat Method on Volskaya Foundry.
  • As Genji and Tracer continue to be targets for first bans, Fenix is rising in participation in all three regions as the backline Assassin looks to be in a safer position.