I like numbers and figures, but there are some things that solely relying on Hotslogs does not portray correctly. Illidan is one of these anomalies. Illidan may be in the middle/bottom of the pack in terms of Hero League win rate, but his presence is defining the competitive metagame. He is a durable and powerful melee assassin who requires a very focused team behind him. I hope to write this guide to help everyone understand The Betrayer a little better and what you need to do to support him in a game.
Passive: Betrayer’s Thirst – Basic Attacks heal for 30% of damage dealt and reduce your Ability cooldowns by 1 second.
Q: Dive – Dive at the target, dealing 69 + 4% per level damage and flipping to the other side of the target.
W: Sweeping Strike – Dash towards target point, dealing 124 + 4% per level damage to enemies along the way. Hitting an enemy increases your Basic Attack damage by 35% for 3 seconds.
E: Evasion – Evade enemy Basic Attacks for 2.5 seconds.
R1: The Hunt – Charge to target unit, dealing 262 + 4% per level damage on impact and stunning for 1 second.
R2: Metamorphosis – Transform into Demon Form at the target location, dealing 48 + 4% per level damage in the area. Temporarily increase your maximum Health by 208 +4% per level for each Hero hit. Lasts for 18 seconds.
You can see from Dive, Sweeping Strike, and Betrayer’s Thirst that Illidan is meant to stick to his target. He has the tools to jump onto an enemy, juke around them, and backflip behind them to body block them in place. With 35% increased damage after using Sweeping Strikes and 30% “lifesteal” from Betrayer’s Thirst on all auto-attacks, he can sustain himself very well in a duel. With the addition of Evasion to block all damage from auto-attacks for 2.5 seconds he can seem nigh impossible to kill. Illidan is also one of the safest mercenary clear in the game. When not soaking experience in lane, he can kill a jungle camp and come out with full health. Illidan players want to outsmart and out-box their enemies. He has all the mobility tools to dodge enemy spells, and the defensive utility to dodge attacks he cannot maneuver around. Illidan players tend to want to show off and want the glory of being a “carry”. They want the pressure of having to carry their team on their back and gratitude from their team for winning each fight.
Betrayer’s Best Friends
Illidan cannot stand on his own. He will be stunned, rooted, and destroyed by the enemy team the second he is out-of-place. Illidan is strong in an extended 1 vs 1 engagement, but he begins to lose a lot of steam in an X vs 1 fight. When picked in competitive games, Illidan is always coupled with a very similar supporting crew.
Abathur. Ahhh the classic Abathur + Illidan combo. These two a form a beautiful mutualistic symbiotic relationship. Illidan provides the body that Abathur needs to host to use his attacks. In return, Abathur provides a shield through Carapace, Attack Speed through Adrenal Overload, healing through Soma Transference, and area enemy Movement Speed slow through Envenomed Spines. Abathur can also clone Illidan with his level 10 ability Ultimate Evolution. If you thought one Illidan is bad, just imagine two wailing on your teammates.
Tassadar. Illidan gains plenty of self-healing from his passive and Tassadar’s preemptive shields allows him the time to get to his enemy and deal damage. With Khala’s Embrace, Tassadar can give a permanent shield to Illidan, allowing him to avoid the magical damage he is so prone to. Tassadar can further increase the life Illidan gains from auto-attacks with Leeching Plasma, helping him sustain longer in a fight.
Brightwing. Brightwing brings a massive 20 second shield with the Phase Shield talent and the ability to Polymorph a target. Brightwing brings plenty of healing to the other members of the team, and can burst heal Illidan through a lot of harm. When she gets the Criterize talent at 16, she also increases the damage done to her Polymorph target by 25%, increasing Illidan’s kill potential drastically.
Uther. Uther provides the strongest single, target heals in the game and the ability to reliably pick up the Cleanse talent to remove debuffs from Illidan. Uther can also pickup the Divine Shield ability at level 10, increasing his movement speed by 20% and making him completely invulnerable to damage. Uther has fallen out of favor as a support pick, but he can be very strong alongside an Illidan.
If you see an ally draft Illidan in Hero League, I would highly recommend you pickup up one of the aforementioned heroes. Without strong support behind him, Illidan becomes a much weaker assassin.
You are Not Prepared
Knowing what a hero’s abilities do and what teammates you synergize with is not all it takes to do well. We need to be prepared and have a good idea of what Illidan’s talents do.
This is the build I’ve seen many Pro’s use. The level 13 and 16 talents are flexible and you can change them as needed to counter the enemy team. Marked for Death does a lot of magical burst damage in prolonged engagements and can be more valuable than Fiery Brand. Marked for Death ends up doing more damage than Brand on non-warrior targets, making it a stronger choice the majority of times.
There’s always a big discussion of The Hunt vs. Metamorphosis. The Hunt is a valuable tool to engage on a team’s backline if there are heroes, like Chromie and Li Ming, who are must kill on sight. Metamorphosis gives Illidan the ability to become that much tank-ier in a teamfight and deal more damage. If your team is coordinated, Metamorphosis is a better choice. The Hunt can change pub games but eliminating a key target before an objective is active.
Here’s a great gameplay video from Naventic assassin player Fan. He describes his talent choices for Illidan and shows some complex gameplay mechanics. Both Brightwing and Tassadar were picked to support Illidan to victory this game. The teamfight around 11:45 showcases the power Illidan possesses when he gets ahead and picks his targets intelligently. Fan does not dodge past the enemy warrior and go for the assassins and support. He chooses to hit the targets closest to him with the highest crowd control to take over the fight.
I hope this guide helped you understand The Betrayer a bit better and why he’s making such a splash in the competitive scene.