Opening Moves: The Chinese Bush Meta

Dylan Walker, Blizzard Entertainment | January 26, 2018

For #OpeningMoves week we’ve covered the 4-1 split, the level 1 fight, cheesing towers, and the 5v5 mid. For the fifth and final installment of Opening Moves, it’s time to educate yourself on the fine art of pouncing from the shadows.

Death bushing, otherwise referred to as “Chinese Bush Meta,” is a very simple playstyle. You and your teammates wait in a bush for unsuspecting passersby and perform a coordinated takedown. While this technique is usually in play towards the late game with the aim of securing the final kill needed to push for core, it has its merits early on. 

Origins

The phrase “Chinese Bush Meta” was originally coined by Daniel “Artosis” Stemkoski at 2016’s Spring Championship, which was arguably the best performance that the Chinese region has shown to date at an international event, as former world-class caliber teams eStar and EDward Gaming (EDG) found their way through to the semifinals.

China has always had exciting showings at international events, thanks to an incubated meta that typically gives higher prioritization to specialist and high-risk, high-reward plays that incorporate the help of Heroes that generally require a higher skill cap to win with, especially when tasked with taking down other top teams from around the world. 

Why is death bushing a thing? Many signs point back to a time in Heroes esports history when most of the top Western teams first began utilizing Falstad for his Gust Heroic, often taking the High Thane of the Wildhammer Clan early in the draft. Asian teams responded by drafting stun-lock compositions and waiting patiently in a bush for the unwitting global assassin to chance by.

While coordination-intensive, the death bush counter was successful in removing Falstad from a team fight before the fireworks could even begin. Without Gust, a key component for engage and escape (referred to back then as a “get out of jail free card”), many Western teams would fall apart, while Asian teams would take their pick and snowball their advantage. 

Execution

The team that many consider to be the pioneer of this tendency would be EDG, the Chinese 2016 Spring Championship runner-up. For the best example of EDG’s tactics, look no further than their group stage match against Cloud9, who were hot off their BlizzCon 2015 win at the time. 

EDG starts the game with a cheeky bush camp strategy in top lane, and while it didn’t pay off against Kun “iDream” Fang’s Chen at first, it did accomplish something else: create pressure and demand respect where there was none. For the rest of the game, Cloud9 had to fear all bushes, praying that a stun chain headed up by Tyrande wouldn’t spell instant death. 

Don’t Face Check the Bushes, Seriously

Universally, pro players will tell you that it’s more important to respect the fog of war than it is to respect your opponent in lane. In every bush and shadow an enemy (or five enemies) could lurk. Unless their hand is forced, top teams do not show on the map unless they want to, often attempting to create misdirection and luring an enemy into a false sense of comfort. Most of the time—specifically with Heroes like Stitches, Li-Ming, and Malfurion—professionals will tell you that you shouldn’t be afraid to throw out spells blindly if there is even a remote chance of connecting. 

Just like traditional sports, the saying “the best defense is a good offense” holds true in Heroes of the Storm. So, get out there and practice the bush lurk. Just make sure you’re prepared for a fight when the right target walks by.