Opening Moves: When, Where, and Why You Should Cheese a Tower Early

Dylan Walker, Blizzard Entertainment | January 24, 2018

We’ve gone over the Level 1 fight and the 4-1 split so far during #OpeningMoves week, and now it’s time to explore the world of cheese.

“Cheesing a tower” is just a simple label for the strategy in which the majority of a team runs at an enemy tower as soon as the gates go down and pushes relentlessly.

The Basics

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The key to pulling this strategy off without dying is to know when to retreat. Method’s melee assassin, Liam “Arcaner” Simpson, claims that the best heroes to execute a level 1 push with are Greymane, Kharazim, Rehgar, Anub’arak, and E.T.C.—at least in the current meta. These heroes have a high damage output and a means of escape when the time comes to flee.

“It all depends on the how easy it is for you to recover in terms of your lane setup,” he said. “If you're committing a lot of people to bot lane, can you recover to soak top and mid?”

At the highest level of play, every bit of soak matters. Even missing a few minions here or there usually warrants acknowledgment in team comms. The idea of missing soak seems mad for some players, but for those who have done the math, it’s a perfectly sane approach.

“It is far more valuable to be pushing structures compared to soaking a few extra minions or looking for kills,” Arcaner said. “My team is always shotcalling to push towers or look for a kill or do something that will guarantee a snowball into level 10."

Before you go tower diving, a word of caution—it’s only beneficial on a handful of Battlegrounds. On Cursed Hollow, for instance, if you push bottom or top lane early you are creating more space for the Boss to wreak havoc. The same can be said for Battlefield of Eternity.

“The team that pushes before the second Immortal spawns on Battlefield of Eternity will likely be hitting on a Keep first,” Arcaner said. “The bigger the map the safer it is to tower push, unless the opposing team predicts where you will push towers, they will not be able to rotate in time to save a tower - this is why you dont see tower cheesing on small maps like Tomb of the Spider Queen."

How to Respond

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Typically, at least at the pro level, the response is to trade and begin pushing as hard as you can yourself.

“You want to stay even in experience,” Arcaner said. “Most of the time, the reason why people trade push instead of counter-engaging is because they're not close enough to counter-pressure. Let’s say you're all mid-lane on Cursed Hollow and the enemy team is pushing top. The best shot call is just to push mid towers because by the time you get to top they're going to have taken a front wall, and you get nothing out of it besides denying them a further advantage.”

One of the major reasons that trading is important is because when you start losing structures you start losing a safe path for rotations between lanes, which can throw a wrench in the plans of any composition that is heavily based on roaming and ganking. When you lose a structure, what you are really losing is the vision it provides.

The Specifics

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One of the most popular current strategies to run puts Zarya in the driver’s seat, with the help of Lt. Morales or other Heroes that mitigate damage easily.

“It's a pretty scary strategy to play against,” Arcaner said. “Teams run Zarya as a solo warrior and just push so hard. Typically, they’ll have a global like The Lost Vikings or Dehaka to make up for the lost soak. It’s hard to punish.”

You’ll notice that Specialists have been absent for most of the conversation. While there are plenty of Specialist heroes that want to siege to their hearts content, Arcaner urges players to reconsider. Most Specialists have very few means of escape, and it’s likely that there is a better option for this particular strategy.

“Typically, you would take a Hero like Anub'arak for this strategy instead of a Specialist,” he explained. “Take Sylvanas, for instance—she doesn’t have a very high damage output, and the only real reason you would pick her in the current meta is for her ability to disable structures. However, when you have an Anub'arak, Medic, or Zarya, you aren’t worried about taking damage from towers or forts because you have the means to mitigate it.”

The next time you go for an early push strat, try to look past the low-hanging fruit. The Heroes that have a means of escape and high damage output play a pivotal role in sieging, especially when paired with a global Hero that can make up for lost soak—just be prepared to run when the time is right.

Tomorrow for #OpeningMoves week right here at playheroes.com/esports, Simon "scHwimpi" Svensson drops some knowledge bombs about the traditional (and rather baseless) strategy of running mid with your teammates as soon as the gates go down.