Nexus Alphabet: Swarm the Lanes with Abathur!

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Organism Abathur welcomes you…

Abathur is a specialist from StarCraft universe and one of the most iconic heroes ever made! He provides gameplay unlike most any other, as he relies on avoiding battle and supporting his teammates from hiding. Affectionately (or not so much) called “slug” by the community, Abathur is a situational pick in the current meta with less than a 50% winrate across all leagues. He performs far better in competitive play… In the hands of a skillful player with coordinated teammates and a suitable map, he’s made it as high as a 63% winrate over 64 HGC games (as of time of writing)! Still, the hero is so unique that I recommend everyone at least try him. If you can understand his strengths and weaknesses, I guarantee that it will be one of the most satisfying experiences in the game!

 

This isn’t a hero that can be blindly picked into any team composition. Abathur’s kit is based around aiding his team from afar, while finding opportunities to soak priceless XP, push lanes, and slow enemy rotations all at the same time. His win potential lies in the ability to generate constant pressure across the map, combined with priceless buffs for his damage dealers. That being said, let’s take a closer look at his characteristics!

 

Weaknesses exposed…

Pros

  • Synergizes well with autoattack-based heroes
  • Soaks XP from multiple lanes at once with Symbiote
  • Good splitpusher; left alone can quickly take down a Fort / Keep
  • Global map presence
  • Gives vision and map control; slows down enemy rotations
  • Extremely rewarding to play when mastered

 

Cons

  • Highly map and team dependent; allies need to adapt gameplay to Abathur
  • Requires good understanding of game mechanics to unleash full potential
  • Cannot solo lane due to supportive nature of abilities which leads to early game issues
  • Dies easily when caught
  • Vulnerable to global and invisible heroes (e.g. Dehaka, Falstad, Zeratul)

 

 

Understanding required…

Abathur’s skillset is based around supporting his team in both active and passive way.

 

A major difference from most other heroes is Abathur’s inability to Mount. Instead, he has the Deep Tunnel ability to “teleport” into any location where you have vision on the map. Use this ability to move quickly to split push, soak experience, and escape from threats! Be quick with your decisions, since hard crowd control stops the channeling.

 

Abathur’s Trait is the main reason he’s such an effective split pusher. Creating additional minions is a serious balance breaker on the lane! Remember that you can’t toggle this ability off, so the Locusts are going to spawn every fifteen seconds and head towards the nearest lane. If an enemy spots where the bug is coming from, they can easily estimate where you’re hiding! Stay mobile and unpredictable.

Symbiote is what makes Abathur truly special. This skill creates a link between Abathur and any other friendly unit (besides summons and monsters). After you cast this spell on an ally, a “hat” appears above its head. For the duration of the spell, the “hat” and its host become the centre of Abathur’s operations. He receives an entirely new set of abilities to use via the host. Furthermore, the host counts as a hero, and transfers experience to you just as if you were there in person. Use your Symbiote to soak XP from multiple lanes! When it comes to choosing who to Symbiote, try to favor melee heroes with a focus on Assassins, as they are almost always in the middle of the action and can greatly benefit from this ability.

Toxic Nest is an incredible ability: it can be used for pushing as well as giving vision and controlling the map. Use this skill to keep yourself safe by mining chokepoints that enemies might use to gank you. You can also annoy your enemies by dismounting them so they can’t rotate properly to the objectives! If you’re lacking vision to perform long digs with your Z, place Nests to travel more easily to around the map.

The first Heroic ability in Abathur’s arsenal is Ultimate Evolution. By making a clone of an allied hero, you can massively change the tides of battle; try to get the most out of the twenty second duration. Your priority targets are damage dealers, since they greatly benefit from Spell Power and Attack Speed bonuses. This is extremely skill-testing and asks that you understand a majority of heroes in the game, so when the time comes you know how to play properly. It’s worth noting that this ability makes Abathur disappear from the map, so sometimes you can use it to buy yourself time if Deep Tunnel isn’t an option.

Abathur’s second Heroic ability lets him turn any allied minion into a fearsome Monstrosity. This can be hard to deal with when used on a lane that is being pushed hard by enemy minions. Trust me, do not underestimate a fed Monstrosity; it can easily win a duel with a careless hero that tries to defend alone. However this ability is perpetually in the shadow of Ultimate Evolution since it does essentially nothing in teamfights.

Must evolve…

Abathur has diverse talents that he can choose from according to his team needs. For now, I can recommend four different builds that can help grant some insight into how to use “slug” properly. Remember: do not follow builds blindly! Heroes of the Storm is a game of creativity when it comes to talent choices, so try to adapt to the game flow. However, your Heroic ability should almost always be Ultimate Evolution due to its flexibility and additional teamfight presence.

 

Pusher

 

A build that focuses on getting the most out of your Trait. If Abathur is left alone, he can deal tremendous damage to enemy structures. Pros of this build include extremely strong mid-late game, global reach thanks to Ballistospores, possibility to stall early game with M.U.L.E, and solo Mercs after level 16. However, this build is going to have a hard time if your team can’t handle early game or the enemy team defends very well. As always, look out for globals and invisible heroes that want to gank you!

 

Symbiote

 

This build looks to make your autoattack carry into a killing machine with the with buffs offered by Symbiote, but it brings some risk… If you are playing with a friend, you can more or less tell if they’ll manage to unleash the full potential of your buffs. But if you’re playing solo queue, then it’s much more like a Russian roulette! When your carry is a poor player, you’ll have nothing to do since your pushing abilities are limited. If you doubt that your carry will be able to win the game, you can try to switch into Locust talents at levels 13/16/20 for some extra pushing power. Pick Spike Burst talents when you feel like teammates need some more support.

 

Minesweeper

 

A build that was hit with the nerf hammer a long time ago, but kept some of its original feel and is still popular in competitive play. These talent choices are going to make your enemies hate you, so prepare to become public enemy #1 when the game ends. The main idea is to create a minefield spanning the map so that enemies are dismounted, damaged, and slowed wherever they go. This build works best on maps like Dragon Shire or Towers of Doom where fast rotations are important and there is constant movement between lanes. If you feel Ballistospores aren’t needed, try Prolific Dispersal at level 4. Be annoying, give your team vision and slow down rotations. Spike Burst talents are there to provide some extra support to your team.

 

Support

 

This build focuses on supporting your team with the additional healing and shields from Symbiote’s Carapace. Support build requires a lot of jumping between the targets and lanes to make the most out of your first three talents. Simply cast Symbiote on your target, use shield, cancel Symbiote, repeat on others. Thanks to both Regenerative Microbes and Sustained Carapace you can give some extra healing among your team in a short amount of time. After you reach Network Carapace at level 7, try to support your minion waves with your shields, it will boost their survivability by a lot so they can push more effectively. As always, you can consider switching for Locust talents at levels 13/16 if you feel like some extra pushing is needed.

 

Remember, be flexible with your talent choices. Don’t be afraid to experiment and create hybrid builds that provide key utility to your team. Builds presented above are just to give you a general idea of how things work!

 

Symbiotic link established…

As mentioned, Abathur needs a specific team to make the best out of his qualities. When building a team with the slug, try to have final composition including a solid tank, two good DPS heroes, and a healer. Due to his supportive nature, perfect hosts for him are melee Assassins like Illidan, Butcher, Greymane, and Kerrigan, or bruisers like Artanis or Sonya. Heroes like these can dive into the fray and benefit hugely from his buffs. Try to avoid picking Abathur when enemies are going to use heroes like Dehaka, Zeratul, or Falstad, since they can snipe you easily.

 

 

Swarm prepared…

Abathur performs best on big maps with objectives where teams are frequently forced to rotate while leaving lanes empty, like Cursed Hollow, Towers of Doom, Warhead Junction, and Sky Temple. The slug can constantly threaten the enemy team by soaking XP and split pushing so that they’re forced to regroup and defend their structures. Conversely, the worst maps where you can pick Abathur are small ones, where there is less space for him to exploit. Avoid picking him on maps like Tomb of the Spider Queen or Braxis Holdout. If you happen to be on these maps, try to make the most out of them by going for Symbiote- or Toxic Nest-oriented builds to help your team take the objectives!

 

Forces augmented…

Here is a bunch of general tips and tricks while playing Abathur that may help you to improve your gameplay.

 

  • Soak as much experience as possible before reaching level 10; this is the best way to help your teammates early game!
  • Always keep an eye on the minimap so you can react immediately!
  • Place Toxic Nests in key chokepoints to provide vision and slow down enemy rotations.
  • Toxic Nests can draw aggro from enemy towers and keeps; use this to help your allies survive!
  • Place Toxic Nests behind the enemy well to backdoor it, but be careful! After a few times, enemies might try to ambush you!
  • Don’t be afraid to move around the map, but do it wisely!
  • Force the enemy to go back and defend against your pushes to make more space for your team.
  • With Locust build, you can capture Mercenary camps solo after level 16. Practice it first!
  • Recasting Symbiote on the same target is sometimes more efficient than waiting for cooldowns.
  • Try to capture objectives on maps like Dragon Shire, Braxis Holdout, Cursed Hollow, Sky Temple, or Towers of Doom if you feel confident. Your team will be pleased with that sight!

Although Abathur isn’t the best pick for most teams, he’s extremely fun due to his unique playstyle. I hope that after reading this guide, you have some ideas about how to use the Evolution Master… Hope you guys enjoyed! I wish you good luck commanding the slug: bring us back some “WP Aba”! And check back in a couple weeks for the next installment of Nexus Alphabet!

 

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