Li-Ming and the Demand for Nerfs

This is largely an opinion piece, do not take this as fact. I would like to encourage discussion about this issue, and any other issues regarding this article, other articles, or anything else going on in the community. -Onyx

Nerfing heroes is sometimes required, because those heroes can be completely out of control and the best way to balance the game is by nerfing them. But that is not always the best course of action, because that is rarely the situation. Li-Ming and Kael’thas on release, Rehgar post-rework; those deserved nerfs because they were unhealthy for the game.

Unfortunately though, “NERF EVERYTHING” has become a community mentality and the default response for those who want to win without practicing techniques to combat those heroes. This community mentality is only seen in a vocal minority, and this vocal minority is the group that Blizzard listens to because nobody else is vocal about what is happening in the game, and this is a problem.

There are many heroes that are getting unwarranted nerfs because a small group of people complained on the forums or on Twitter. Take Abathur for example; his recent mine nerfs were not needed, and in fact changed nothing, but they were a nerf nonetheless. Why am I writing about this? Why am I worried? Because this mentality can nerf a hero into the ground (see post-rework Nova), and that is not healthy for the game at all.

Players should be looking at heroes who need buffs so they can be used against the more dominant heroes in the game. Players should also be looking at ways to deal with the heroes they complain about.

Li-Ming is a fantastic example of this

Li-Ming is a hero with a high skill cap, and high reward. Yet people keep saying she is “OP” because they face people who know how to play Li-Ming very well, or they just don’t know how to face Li-Ming, so there is STILL an outcry for nerfs when they are not required at all. Li-Ming is in a balanced spot right now, she can be dealt with in both QM and HL.

Let’s go into detail shall we?

Li-Ming’s Magic Missiles (Q) build has recently risen in popularity. It has high single target damage and is relatively safe, except it has four flaws:

  1. Accuracy – Those without extensive practice with magic missiles will have a hard time hitting them (I’m a level 12 Li-Ming and even I miss most of the time).
  2. Survivability – If a hero can get up close an personal (Zeratul, Illidan, Tyrael, Muradin, etc.), she has a hard time escaping and will die quickly.
  3. Body Blocking – There are multiple ways to body block. Minions can body block, structures can body block, players can body block (best if the tank does this, especially if they have spell shield), and summons can body block (Zagara’s zergs, Xul’s mages, Anub’arak’s beetles).
  4. Awareness and Dodging  If you know where Li-Ming is then you know where she is going to attack from. If you know where she is going to attack from, you can react accordingly (whether it be by killing her, scaring her off, or simply dodging).

It was pretty easy to figure out the four problems with the Magic Missiles build, and for the sake of completion and my own OCD, I might as well cover the other builds.

I am personally a fan of the Arcane Orb (W) build which can do a LOT of burst damage to multiple enemies, but hey, it also has some flaws, in fact it has five of them:

  1. Accuracy – Hey look, it’s the same flaw as the Magic Missile build. Hitting an Arcane Orb at maximum range requires a lot of skill, and you need to take into account enemy abilities and movements. Arcane Orb is not exactly a quick moving projectile, so more often than not you have to lead the target, and if you don’t have practice with leading the target you can have problems, especially considering how slow the orb actually is.
  2. Survivability – What’s this? Another repeat flaw? Indeed! Because of the orb build, Li-Ming has very little close range damage, so whenever an enemy gets all up in her grill, they are in very little danger unless she has backup, but even then, there are heroes that can swiftly kill her and escape (Zeratul for instance).
  3. Body Blocking – Holy cow batman, a third repeat? Due to the fact that the orb is a slow moving projectile, and is very large, it can be quite easy to mitigate the damage. Many warriors have spell shield at level 13, and because of that they can just stand there and block for an ally. However summons are also incredibly useful against the orb because all that power will go into a little creature and the spell will go on a lengthy cooldown. Zagara is especially annoying in this situation.
  4. Awareness and Dodging – Okay this is getting a bit ridiculous but don’t worry, this is the last repeat flaw in the article. Again, knowing where she is means you know where her spells are coming from, making it much easier to just avoid her Orb. In an orb build, all her damage potential is in that orb, so if you can avoid it or mitigate it’s damage, she’s useless for several seconds.
  5. Positioning – Yay something new! Now the reason I put this in the orb build and not the missile build is because it is much easier to worm your way through summons, minions, and awkward locations with missiles + orb damage and even Disintegrate if  you have to. But with Arcane Orb, all of your damage is in that spell, so if there is a minion wave or summons, or the enemy tank is positioning well, Li-Ming has to try and get around all that so she can deal damage, it can be quite the chore and sometimes can completely eliminate her from a fight.

I apologise if this is getting a bit long, I promise there is not much left!

The third and final build is the Teleport (E) build which has been the primary build for Li-Ming players since her release, since it eliminates some of her flaws, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. I do admit I am not an expert on this build so my information might be off, but these are what I perceive to be flaws:

  1. Traps and Ambushes – Once Li-Ming gets Diamond Skin (LVL16) players begin to feel invincible, that is because she gets a huge 25% health shield whenever she uses teleport. Take advantage of this! Trick Li-Ming into diving onto a long target and trying to blow them up (it’s best if the target has an escape), and make sure your team is nearby. Once she teleports in, she isn’t getting out, especially if she is stunned. Do this multiple times and the player will either get desperate or get very cautious. Both of those can only benefit you because either way, Li-Ming can be eliminated from fights.
  2. Lack of General Damage – Because her focus will be on teleporting in on enemies, or away from enemies, her Magic Missiles and Arcane Orb wont have any talents, meaning what you see is what you get. Their damage is still nothing to laugh at, but it’s not like you are going to die by taking a volley anymore, so you can take more calculated risks.
  3. She’s in the frontline – Because her main source of damage becomes her teleport, she will try to teleport into your face, get a reset, and do the same to the rest of your team. But because of this, the player can get greedy and goes from being the squishy mage on the backline to being in the frontline, making it a lot easier to focus and kill her.

I know, the teleport build has less flaws than the others, or at the very least these are the only flaws I can see, but as I said earlier I do not know a whole lot about this build so there can easily be more flaws.

Now what was the point of going in depth on Li-Ming? Simple really, to show you don’t have to nerf a hero to figure out how to deal with them. Maybe other heroes should be buffed instead, or maybe the hero in question is completely fine.

Power Creep is something most players and developers do not want to happen, but I personally don’t see why. I find it healthier for every hero to be buffed to become viable and compete with each other, instead of outstanding heroes to be nerfed to the ground so that other heroes might be picked instead, because that simply does not work. Nerfing a hero only means another hero will quickly take their place and nothing will change.

There is one other thing that is driving the nerf mentality though, and it is not healthy. Groups of players presenting opinions as facts does not help anyone. “X Hero is unfun to play against” “X Hero is unfun to play and is auto win”. Opinions are not facts, do not present them as such, all that does is cause dissension and chaos while giving Blizzard the wrong idea of what the community thinks.

Before I sign off, I will acknowledge that I did not address either of Li-Ming’s heroics because I see them as balanced and needing no changes at all. They are simple in theory, simple in practice, and do not require my explanations as to how they work or what to do against them.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this. GL;HF and GG.


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  • Awye

    I’m level 11 Li Ming who almost exclusively plays the teleport build (even before ess of Johan’s removal) and the first 2 of your points are unfortunately incorrect.

    1. Feeling of invincibility: the talent has never provided me this feeling, it is just the point in the game where I go from squishy as fuck to ‘a teleport can save my life’. The psychological aspects are countered by knowing how to play the game, and knowing which heroes you can counter.

    2. Lack of General damage: there is no point in the entire game where I’m like ‘if only my orb did more damage’. The only time you feel slightly weak is the moments before you get your teleport does damage skill (level 7?). Once you have that your damage is on par with the other mages, and feels better. Throw a qw combo then teleport onto them just as they hit for insane burst, follow up with AAs until your qw is back and use your e to teleport around and stay alive. If you have your ult and maybe the teleport range ability you become a mobility god with the 15% life tele reset.

    3.she’s in the front line: well, yeah. But that doesn’t instantly mean that she’s dead, it just means that you have to play her like any other assassin. Zeratul can be killed if he’s stunned in the middle of the pack, just like nova or illidan. Pick your picks.

    This isn’t saying your articles premise is incorrect, overall I agree with you, but the counters to the teleport build could use a little more thought if you are to present them as reasons people need to stop calling for overnerfs of heroes. Maybe also expand the detail past li ming. I don’t see many people crying for her nerfs any more.