Who doesn't want to kill the competition with their favourite heroes? That is the point of the game, after all, isn't it? Well, the pros know best, so here's a chance to get into their heads with this new series, where we partner with professional MLBB players to give you the lowdown on how they play some of their most iconic heroes!
This week, Soul, the current captain of EVOS Esports SG, spills the beans on how to master X.Borg.
First up, here’s a bit about Soul’s background.
He’s been in the MY/SG competitive for a while, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to call him a veteran, since he was with EVOS Esports SG during their Season 2 debut.
Ultimately, the team failed to claim the championship in S2, coming in 2nd as consolation, a feat they repeated in Season 3. Now, Soul has taken up the captain’s mantle and is leading his team into the S4 Playoffs, hoping to break the "2nd place curse".
Soul used to play the marksman role, but has transitioned to a tank/fighter player in Season 4. During the Regular Season, he had an especially high win rate (86% from seven games played) on X.Borg, one of the current meta heroes.
X.Borg is a fighter who deals heavy area of effect (AoE) damage and can sustain well with his passive. Introduced to the game at the beginning of August 2019, a few weeks prior to the start of Season 4, he quickly came to dominate S4’s meta, especially early on where he was the #1 picked hero. Pretty much every team wanted to pick him, and he was hovering at a win rate of more than 50%.
While he fell in terms of pick rate towards the end of the Regular Season, X.Borg remained one of the top 5 picks, and the upcoming Playoffs will likely still see him frequently selected.
During the early game, X.Borg’s primary role is to be a lane bully who out-sustains enemies. As the game progresses, he is tasked to deal heavy damage to the enemy backline in teamfights via diving in and unleashing his ultimate and AoE skills.
1) Think of his passive as a second HP bar (based on his max HP), which absorbs all the damage you take while it’s active. When the Armour HP drops to 0, it self-destructs, and you can control the joystick to make X.Borg roll in a target direction. Note that he’ll be immune to damage while rolling.
While unarmoured, an energy bar replaces his armour HP, and restoring max energy lets him re-equip the armour with 30% of max HP.
2) Dealing damage with X.Borg causes enemies to gain Temperature stacks. At max stacks, enemies drop Firaga supplies, which restore either energy (while unarmoured) or armor HP (while armoured) when picked up.
Comments: X.Borg’s passive makes him deceptively tanky for a fighter, and he can easily turn a battle around even if his HP is low, just by collecting Firaga supplies and dealing constant damage. When paired with lifesteal/spell vamp emblems and items, this passive shines even more.
This is his bread-and-butter damage skill. X.Borg shoots fire in a specific direction and deals physical damage. This does a percentage of your enemies’ HP as true damage if they have max Temperature.
Armourless State: The flames have a longer distance but smaller AoE, and deal less damage.
Comments: This is your main damage skill, so make sure not to miss it. At max Temperature, Fire Missiles also deals true damage, so it’s useful if the enemy team is full of tanks. This skill shines best in long skirmishes.
X.Borg shoots Fire Stakes in a fan-shaped radius, dealing damage to enemies. Then X.Borg pulls the stakes back, also pulling in any Firaga supplies and enemies in the path of this skill.
Armourless State: X.Borg adjusts the Fire Stake launcher, increasing its range but decreasing its width.
Comments: This is your only non-ultimate crowd control (CC) ability. While it DOES deal damage, please don’t waste your cooldowns by blindly spamming it, since you’ll never know when it might come in handy to restore HP or catch a fleeing enemy.
This can only be used in the Armored State.
X.Borg charges forward in a designated direction and stops, then spins around while shooting fire in an AoE, dealing heavy damage and slowing enemies. When the skill ends, his armour explodes, dealing physical damage and a percentage of your target's Max HP as true damage. Using the skill also sets him to the armourless state.
You can use the skill again once activated, to self-destruct immediately.
Comments: Last Insanity is X.Borg’s nuke skill, capable of dealing very heavy damage and slowing enemies, but it comes with the heavy drawback of destroying his armour, leaving him vulnerable after his ultimate ends. Make sure to use it well (refer to the Common Mistakes section at the bottom)!
Despite being very powerful, X.Borg isn’t unbeatable, and he has clear strengths and weaknesses which can be exploited.
1) X.Borg is a lane bully. With his good sustain (if he can pick up Firaga Supplies), X.Borg can easily push enemies out of lane by poking them down and healing if your enemies retaliate.
2) He has true damage on his 1st Skill when Temperature is maxed, allowing him to be useful even against tanks in longer fights.
1) Burst is one of X.Borg’s major weaknesses, since he excels in skirmishing and wants to avoid all-ins early on.
If his armour is destroyed by a burst of damage, he loses his passive shield, making his abilities are weaker in that state, so he can’t use his ultimate.
2) X.Borg has very little crowd control, and enemies with mobility or displacements (knockbacks, knockups, etc) can easily escape from him.
According to Soul, X.Borg is useful in most situations. Being a very powerful hero right now, you should pick him if you have the chance because he can contribute a lot to your team’s performance. Primarily, he is played as an offlane hero, especially in his main role as a damage-dealing fighter or as a support tank that can still deal good damage while being tanky, thanks to his passive ability.
Low mobility heroes.
With his powerful AoE spells, heroes that lack mobility are basically fodder for X.Borg because they are unable to easily escape while he deals them heavy damage. He is especially dangerous for support and mage heroes, with their low HP. His first skill’s true damage means he is also effective against tanks in extended teamfights.
X.Borg can easily punish immobile heroes like Diggie, Minotaur, and Bane if he catches them within his AoE damage radius.
As mentioned, burst heroes (especially a large number of mages and assassins) can easily wreck his HP with their spells, quickly leaving him armourless. Without his armour, X.Borg is vulnerable to further burst damage, and his skills are weakened. In this state, he doesn't have much to offer the team.
Examples of burst heroes that can wreck him are Helcurt, Harith (who has loads of mobility as a bonus) and Gusion.
Marksmen also work well against X.Borg, as they can output more damage in prolonged fights. X.Borg has to depend on his skills to deal most of his damage, which leaves him at a disadvantage if he doesn’t kill the opponent's marksmen with his initial rotation.
Heroes like Granger, Karrie, and Kimmy are very capable of kiting him and outdamaging X.Borg's armour gain.
Crowd control tanks like Grock, Khufra, and Lolita.
X.Borg is already strong on his own, so he isn’t too reliant on team synergies or combos with other heroes to be impactful.
However, if you’re still looking to pick a hero who synergises well with him, Soul's recommendation is to pick heroes with crowd control and/or damage blocking abilities. These are to mitigate his two weaknesses of susceptibility to burst and inability to catch mobile enemies.
Most of these tanks also have zoning abilities, so they can trap enemies while X.Borg burns the enemies to death.
Here are some of X.Borg’s core items that provide synergy with his abilities and role. You can refer to examples of Soul’s full builds in the next section.
Physical attack, spell vamp, and cooldown reduction on an early-to-midgame item. What more could you want?
Provides lifesteal and damage reduction when X.Borg is low on HP, which synergises well with his passive and helps him stay alive longer.
The physical damage and movement speed from this item provide X.Borg with a means of sticking to enemies (which is one of his main weaknesses) and damaging them more easily, and the bonus damage on lower HP enemies is also nice.
Take this if you’re getting beaten up by mages, as it provides a shield (which stacks on top of your passive shield) to avoid their burst. It provides bonus HP and health regeneration, too.
Brute Force Breastplate is useful when fighting physical attack heroes, as it provides armour and HP. The passive, which makes you more durable as you use your skills and basic attacks, is also useful for prolonged skirmishes.
Primarily useful for fighting mages since it provides magic resistance. You can still buy it if you need to constantly dive into teamfights because it provides X.Borg with damage and lifesteal, while also giving him a magic shield when his HP is low.
As a fighter reliant on skills to deal damage, Hunter Strike is invaluable to X.Borg, providing a burst of speed when you hit enemies with your skills, as well as cooldown reduction and a large degree of physical damage.
Build 1 – Used when X.Borg needs more durability, especially when you know battles are going to last longer. There’s no point maximising your damage if you’re not alive to deal it, hence his choice of three tank items.
Build 2 – Use this maximising his damage and burst. This is close to an all-in damage build with only Wings of the Apocalypse Queen considered the true defensive item. Be careful you don't die too early in teamfights. Use this if you have solid tanks in your team.
Build 3 – Use this when X.Borg is the jungler. It's a versatile build which provides a mix of cooldown reduction, durability, and damage. Beast Killer can be swapped out for another defensive or attacking item depending on the late game.
Fighter Emblem tree
Bravery – Physical Attack 3/3
Invasion – Physical Penetration 3/3
Festival of Blood - Provides spell vamp when you deal damage to enemies, which helps to sustain you in teamfights.
Soul uses these emblems because they can provide good teamfight sustain and damage early in the game, even before getting Bloodlust Axe. With Bloodlust Axe, your damage and sustain will spike to crazy levels. The focus of these emblems is on damage and out-living enemies. For him, these Fighter stats bonuses provide enough durability and damage to play his role well.
Building good items alone isn’t enough because you’ll need to know how X.Borg works at various stages of the game, too.
You'll probably play in the offlane, so bully your opponent as much as possible to gain an advantage. Aim to push them out of the lane by making trades and out-sustaining them (THIS IS IMPORTANT).
X.Borg has good sustain, so take advantage of that, and use the jungle camps to gain Firaga Supply charges to regen your armour and energy.
Try to look for fights wherever possible and flank the enemy backline using your ultimate’s charge, since it gives you CC immunity while dashing. Once you dive in, unleash all your AoE damage and kill or weaken their carries, which allows your team to follow up and wipe them out.
In this phase, your role is to create space by standing in the middle of teamfights, using your skills to create pressure and zone enemies. This allows you to cover for your mage and carry, so they can avoid your enemies getting too close while they focus on inflicting damage. At this stage of the game, positioning and initiating teamfights is crucial, X.Borg's large AoE abilities make him valuable even in the later stages of the game. Add to this his ability to inflict true damage, and he becomes relevant in all stages of a game.
During the laning phase, X.Borg’s damage isn’t that high yet, so don’t overcommit to fights and lose out. Instead, try to poke and push enemies out of the lane to allow for farm/push and gaining a lead. He is an independent hero and can handle 2v1 situations to free up your other team members to rotate to mid or bottom.
Your ultimate will self-destruct X.Borg’s armour when its duration ends, leaving him vulnerable in the Armourless State. If you use your ultimate at a bad time, you might find yourself caught out and weakened - helpless as your enemies kill you.
So, if you’re going to charge into the enemy team, make sure your teammates are there to follow up with their own abilities. A good time during teamfights would be after your tank initiates and your enemies are preoccupied. In the worst-case scenario, use your ultimate as a suicide move, if you know you can finish off the enemy with it. There’s no point charging in to just die, right?
Definitely. He’s a very solid hero pick in most situations, especially in terms of sustain and lane bullying, and isn’t hard to learn. But that doesn’t mean you can just pick him up and expect to get Savages left, right and centre - he still has weaknesses. The same applies if you’re against an X.Borg - there is still hope even if you’re having trouble with him.
Regardless, he’s worth buying and trying out, whether you’re a pro or a casual player.
MPL-MY/SG Season 4 Playoffs is happening this weekend at KL Live! Catch Soul in action as the best MLBB teams in Malaysia and Singapore battle for the championship title.