5 Tips to Improve Your Stukov Play ft Zaelia



Mon 24th Sep 2018 - 6:15pm

Alexei Stukov, former human, now turned Zerg-infested human, is best known for his arc in Starcraft ll Heart of the Swarm. After Kerrigan helps him get revenge on the doctor who infested him with Zerg DNA, Stukov joins the ranks of the new Swarm to repay the favor.

In Heroes of the Storm, Stukov is an offensive Support specializing in locking down enemies in his root/silence combo. He is a little bit squishy, but if played correctly, he can easily be the playmaker of his team. Someone who has shown this multiple times is Team Dignitas’ Support player, Kenn “Zaelia” Rasmussen. He has played the hero with great success both in EU and internationally.

We sat down with Zaelia to better understand what goes on when we see him play the hero, and of course, find out how we can improve as players with this hero.

Zaelia: “I kind of like playing Stukov now, but in the past there was a time where you could only play him with Medivh or Garrosh. In this meta though, after his rework, he is more well-rounded - He’s got more base health and his melee attacks do more damage.”

“The drawback to playing Stukov is that he can’t really save anyone, not even himself. This makes for a bit of a backline playstyle where you just look to land your combo. You can’t really step up and make space for your team, for you will just die.”

The optimal way to spread Healing Pathogen

Healing Pathogen is our Q ability, it’s basically Stukov’s only heal. It provides low sustain healing but can be boosted up by activating his trait. The healing effect spreads from teammate to teammate when they are close enough to each other. The question is though, who should you put the initial application of your heal on to secure value?

Zaelia: “What I have found out is that 90% of the time I alt-cast it on myself. It can be so awkward when you cast it on a damage dealer and they just run away. Other times you cast it on someone and they are barely not in range of anyone to spread it, so you end up chasing your own teammate around. So, most of the time I’ll just cast it on myself and run around to all the other players on my team.”

How to decide between healing and peeling - Trait activation

One of the many fun things about playing an offensive Support like Stukov is deciding when you should try to set up for a kill on an enemy player and when you should focus on keeping your team alive. Is offense the best defense? Zaelia talks us through it.

Zaelia: “Stukov has decent sustain, but you really only pick him for his lockdown potential. Again, he has no way to really save his teammates, his burst healing is simply not enough. So what you want to do is have your heal running on as many members of your team as possible, and then you try to hit your combo which is W -> E -> D (W into Silence into Trait activation to root the enemy player in the silenced area.) Because you are a little squishy, you will often only be able to combo the enemy Tank, but that’s also good, Muradin can’t jump or activate Avatar in your silence, so you just hit the combo on the Tank.”

“Getting value from Stukov is all about using your abilities in the right order. Be patient and look for the right opportunity. All of Stukov’s abilities have high impact, but also have fairly long cooldowns.”

Heroic choice and usage

Stukov is one of those heroes who has seen a lot of play for both of his Heroic abilities over time, but nowadays we mostly only see Massive Shove. Why is that? And are there situations where the AoE zoning from the slaps could be the better choice? Zaelia explains the thought process behind his Heroic choice when he plays Stukov.

Zaelia: I usually go Massive Shove, but there is a situation where I want to go for Flailing Swipe. If the enemy team has a Junkrat, then you can use the Swipe as a counter to the RIP-Tire. The Swipe will push it back and your team can kill it.”

“Massive Shove is the main Heroic choice though, if you don’t hit it in the teamfight your team is screwed. This is the main tool you have to protect yourself. The way the meta is right now, we see a lot of Blaze and Yrel. These heroes want to engage on you, but they both have charge up time on their engage abilities which makes it easy to prepare for a big Shove.”

Synergies and counters

With his specialized kit of abilities, Stukov loves to be paired up with other heroes where he can follow-up on their engages with his combo. But as much as you enjoy certain heroes on your team, there are also those heroes that you never hope to see picked against you. Zaelia points them out for us.

Zaelia: “Synergy is definitely a thing with Maiev and Garrosh, not necessarily together, but those two are good. Garrosh is very tanky by himself, he’s got his own cleanse, and he will throw the enemy Tank out of position so you can follow his combo with your combo. Garrosh is probably the best to pair up with. Maiev is also pretty cool. She will most likely go Warden’s Cage when playing with a Stukov, and landing your combo on the whole enemy team in that Cage is awesome!”

“You don’t like to see Chromie on the other team. The Loop is is hard to deal with because he lacks Cleanse. Other than that, dive heroes are pretty tough if there’s more than one hero coming for you, as you can only Shove one.”   

Best battlegrounds

So many battlegrounds, so many heroes… Where does Stukov fit in? By now, we know that he wants to fight and be offensive, but what battlegrounds allow for this? Are we going for narrow paths where he can land big combos, or maybe bigger maps where the map objective dictates both teams to the same area? Let’s see what Zaelia says.

Zaelia: “Volskaya is definitely a good map for Stukov. The fight around the first healing camp is the ideal place to use his combo and control the area. Volskaya is also a very safe map and pretty snowbally, so if you win the fight at the first healing camp, then you’ll probably also get the first Protector and so on.”

“Other than Volskaya, he is pretty awkward because of his weakness to dive, you can’t ban out all the heroes like Genji, Tracer, Maiev, and Zeratul, so he has a pretty hard time on other maps than Volskaya."

"Before the rework, he was pretty strong on Towers of Doom, but now that you don’t have infinite Lurking Arm his power on the map is not so great. You can’t stop the Sappers for eternity anymore, and you can’t talent into greater range on the ability to zone out the enemy team.”

Zaelia’s Stukov build

Level 1: Low Blow - “Usually I go Low Blow, because with Stukov we just want to blow a hero up. It’s just a little extra damage, the level 1 tier is not very important. You just usually have some poke on a hero before they are CC’d into your follow-up with the combo, maybe the extra damage is the difference between a kill and the enemy walking away with literally no health left.”

Level 4: One Good Spread… - “It’s just too good to not take. The mana, the cooldown reduction, it’s just too good compared to the other options in this tier.”

Level 7: Growing Infestation - “Again, this ability is your main reason for picking Stukov, so buffing it up when you can is usually the best thing to do. This is also a case where it’s just too good to pass up on."

Level 10: Massive Shove - “I wouldn’t even pick Stukov in a game if I didn’t think I could get value from this Heroic, the Junkrat thing we talked about earlier is only a thing if he is picked into your Stukov.”

Level 13: Virulent Reaction - “Always, always, always take this talent! This is where Stukov actually becomes a hero as you unlock his combo. Definitely the power spike for Stukov.”

Level 16: Superstrain - “This is just a bit more healing, but it also helps with his weakness against dive heroes. If you look at a full game of Heroes of the Storm, there’s A LOT of roots and stuns, so this talent is massive value.”

Level 20: Push Comes to Shove/Top Off - “Here it depends on two things; you either go Push Comes to Shove if you are comfortable with your ability to land your Shove, or you go Top Off if you aren’t. Top Off is also good if you are up against massive split damage on the enemy team, like Lunara or Nazeebo.”