What’s the Meta? Kael’thas

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post about a hero that is making waves in the Heroes of the Storm competitive scene. There haven’t been any amazing outliers for a while now, thanks to the frequent balance changes to the game. After the balance change a month ago where Kael’Thas was given a few quests, it took the competitive scene a few weeks and another buff to Kael to make him an all-star once again.


Kael’thas had a very strong showing in the Summer Regional Qualifiers recently. In conjunction with Illidan as a front line damage dealer, the two elves are shredding through enemy teams. It took players a bit of time, but they found a way to turn the “nerf” to a boon. Jokes aside, Kael’thas has edged out Jaina and Li-Ming again as the top mage in Heroes of the Storm.


I want to spend a little more time on this build and what each talent pickup contributes to Kael’thas. A Kael’thas player will use Living Bomb (W) as a primary damage ability against enemies. Flamestrike (Q) is mainly used for minion wave clear and as secondary damage skill against enemies. Gravity Lapse (E) will be used to initiate his combo and stun enemies for your team.

Level 1: We’re picking Fel Infusion. While Mana Addict provides great sustain through increased maximum mana and a powerful defensive cooldown, it is hard to justify the 5% increased damage provided by Fel Infusion. Treat the heal is an incidental benefit on the side. Convection is a cute talent, but Living Bomb is doing to be your main source of damage.

Level 3: Nether Wind allows Gravity Lapse to both gain 30% increased range and cost no mana if it hits an enemy hero. Between empowered Living Bomb not costing mana and Gravity Lapse not costing mana on hit, Kael’thas gains extremely high mana sustain with this talent choice. It’s a no brainer.

Level 7: Gravity Crush is ridiculous. We all knew the damage boost from vulnerability was good, but crush is a 30% damage increase at no inconvenience. The stun provided by Gravity Lapse is critical to him initiating fights for his team, and not it rewards him with 30% increased damage as well! This talent pushes Kael’s damage up another tier and can surprise unsuspecting enemies in lane. The damage spike from levels 6 to 7 is astronomical.

Level 10: Phoenix is almost always the correct pickup due to its ability to zone enemies from objectives and in teamfights. On a short, 60 second cooldown, it can be available for nearly every engagement.

Level 13: Pyromaniac is the first talent we will pick up that effects Living Bomb. It is absolutely insane to think about how much damage Kael’thas is doing with no talents that are directly modifying his primary damage dealing ability. Pyromaniac allows him to cycle through his abilities much faster, thus getting more 30% increased damage Gravity Lapse’s.

Level 16: The second damage spike comes from this talent tier. Sun King’s Fury allows Kael’s auto-attacks to deal a sizable amount of damage to target’s effected by Living Bomb. The damage is more than the explosion damage from Living Bomb, but slightly less than the damage over time effect from the same spell. With this talent, Kael’thas gains amazing sustained damage in a teamfight and has the abilty to melt bosses and large objectives. With Pyromaniac, your uptime with Living Bomb is very high.

Level 20: Burn, baby, burn. Master of Flames allows Living Bomb to chain infinitely on enemy heroes. There are obvious combo potential with E.T.C. and other AoE disables, but the less obvious side effect of this talent is that it completely warps how the enemy team fights. They can no longer safely stand next to each other. In conjunction with Phoenix, Kael’thas causes so much confusion. You will see enemies run around in panic as they try to find a safe spot away from each other and the fire-breathing phoenix.


The goal of Kael’thas in a teamfight is to apply Living Bomb to as many different targets as possible. Damage over time effects in this game do “snapshot”, so by applying Living Bomb to a target that is effected by the 30% increased damage by Gravity Crush will mean that the total damage over time effect will increased even after the Gravity Crush effect wears off. Use Gravity Lapse to stun as many targets as possible and apply Living Bomb to the lowest health target. Send Phoenix between the enemy front-line and back-line in hopes of splitting them up. Flamestrike does a lot of damage, but post level 16 it is always better to auto-attack an enemy than it is to cast that spell on them.

Kael’thas is a kill on sight target when playing against him. He’s no fun to play against and can turn the tide of battle really quickly due to your teammates bad decision making. In a PUG match, Kael’thas dominates with Living Bomb due to the lack of movement coordination in a team. I love this Carbot Animation parodying how powerful he can feel in an uncoordinated teamfight.

Hopefully this overview helped you learn a little more about the Sun King and why he’s shaking up the metagame so much. Leave a comment below on what you think of Kael or what other heroes you think are shaping the metagame and deserves a spot in What’s the Meta.

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