Funny story: when I first started playing Battlerite back in the summer, there was one match where I was playing Iva against a Lucie and some other champ. And as I started firing my Machine Gun, Lucie landed a Goo right under me — and I sat there and tanked the whole thing.
That was before I practiced cancelcasting.
Cancelcasting is one of the most important mechanical skills you must learn. The difference in potential skillcap between a player who regularly cancelcasts and a player who never does is tremendous. Honestly, if you never learn this, I don’t think it’s possible to go higher than G12 except by being boosted.
For those who aren’t familiar, it’s exactly what it sounds like: when you’re casting something, if you hit the cancelcast button before the cast finishes, you stop. This puts the cancelled ability on a 1s cooldown! Also, if you cancelcast an ultimate, you lose all of your energy!
As we’ll see later in this post, this technique has several different uses. But before we go there, let’s talk about setting up your keys so that cancelcasting feels natural.
The Optimal Setup for Cancelcast
I already touched on this a bit when I argued that WASD may not be the ideal keyboard setup, but assuming you missed that post, here’s a quick recap: WASD hinders the number of keys available to play with.
You probably use your index/middle/ring fingers for movement, right? Then that means your pinky and your thumb are rarely, if ever, being used. Cancelcast is an action that you want to be able to activate at ANY time under ANY circumstance, which means it should be on a key that is NOT activated by your index/middle/ring fingers.
If you shift WASD over to EDSF, then your pinky now gets constant access to the A key, and it requires no movement. Your pinky will be resting on that key at all times — as soon as you need to cancel, you just tap it. Easy. If you don’t want to use EDSF, you could probably use Caps Lock instead.
One alternative to this: the Alt key. Depending on the actual layout of your keyboard, you might be able to comfortably rest your thumb on the Alt key 24/7. And since the thumb is only used for your Space ability, it will never be preoccupied when you need to cancel.
There is a second alternative: a mouse button. In another post, user Xcite mentioned that he uses M2 for cancelcast — and it doesn’t get any easier than that. Another user torcher999 uses scroll-down for cancelcast. Both of these are great, and you could even move it to one of the side mouse buttons. Quick and easy access trumps all.
What About Cancel-on-Move?
If you go into the Battlerite settings, you’ll see an option called Interrupt on Move that you can toggle on or off. When this is on, you will cancel any ability you’re casting as soon as you press any of the movement keys. Note that if you were already holding down a movement key at the time you started casting, you’ll have to let go and press again to trigger the interrupt.
The $100 question is whether this option is a good compromise.
Right off the bat, let me say this: some pros do use cancel-on-move, which just shows that using it will NOT hinder you in any way. So if anyone calls you an idiot or a scrub for that, feel free to ignore them. All that matters is that you’re comfortable using it.
That being said, pros who use cancel-on-move ALSO use manual cancelcast, and this is something you can’t escape.
As it turns out, cancelcast does more than just cancel casting — certain abilities can also be cancelled after they’ve been casted. The problem is that cancel-on-move doesn’t work for these, so if you refuse to use the actual cancelcast key, you’re always going to be limited to suboptimal play.
3 Common Ways to Use Cancelcast
Okay, so assuming you know what cancelcast does and you’ve gone ahead and set up your controls to optimize cancelcast usage, we now arrive at the most important part: putting it into practice.
Here are the four main uses, but don’t be fooled: even though the list is short, it will take you a while to master these.
1. Baiting outs and counters.
The most obvious illustration for this would be Jade versus Pearl. Jade can start casting Snipe, aim at Pearl, and cancel just before the cast reaches its end — and most of the time, if you wait long enough before you cancel, Pearl will waste her counter. And if you live in some fairy tale land, you can cast another Snipe at her, cancel right at the last moment, and bait out her Dive as well. She just wasted two important outs and gave you the upper hand.
The beauty of this technique is that it works with so many different abilities and it works against everyone — no matter which champion you’re playing, you can take advantage of this:
Skilled Rooks frequently do this by cancelcasting Rush. Ruh Kaans do it by cancelcasting Shadowbolt. Ashkas do it with Firestorm, Tayas do it with X-Strike, and Polomas do it with Ghost Wolf. You can even do it with your M1, which is really useful because you don’t want to miss or waste a charged M1 on a counter.
2. Getting out of channels and counters early.
Cancelcast plays an important role on the other side of the fence as well — instead of cancelling to avoid a counter, you can cancel to get out of a counter.
Most counters last around 1.2 seconds. This is long enough to catch most projectiles as they hit you, and it can help you stall when you’re in a tough spot. But if the enemy managed to bait your counter, standing around for 1.2 seconds can give them enough time to walk up and set up an attack for when your counter ends.
A real world example: you’re Sirius and you don’t have Celestial Split ready, you’re caught in the corner, and you’re up against a Bakko who just baited you with a cancelled Blood Axe. If you wait out the counter, that’s enough time for Bakko to walk up to you and Shield Dash into the wall. Instead, if you immediately cancel your counter, you might still be able to walk out of that situation and not eat a big burst of damage.
But more importantly, cancelling lets you maximize your pressure and output.
Take Bakko versus Shifu, for example. When it’s time for an M1 trade, a lot of newbie Bakkos throw up Bulwark just as Shifu attacks, and that’s fine because Shifu will be stunned — but that Stun only lasts 0.6 seconds while the Bulwark lasts 1.5 seconds. If you wait it out, the Stun will be over by the time Bulwark ends, and you won’t get a chance to punish Shifu. The trick is to cancelcast Bulwark as soon as Shifu gets stunned, and that lets you get in a free hit or two, or a Shield Dash, etc. (P.S. This is a good example of when cancel-on-move doesn’t work!)
And don’t forget about channeled abilities. Remember my mishap as Iva tanking an entire Crippling Goo while firing off Machine Gun? As soon as the Goo landed, I could’ve cancelcasted and walked right out of there and survived. You might find yourself in a similar situation with Sirius’s Astral Beam, Ashka’s Firestorm, etc. Just cancel and walk away. It’s a critical component when it comes to maintaining good positioning as well.
3. Avoiding CCs and counters + preserving cooldowns.
Now let’s say you’re playing Poloma and your partner is a Shifu. At some point in the round, both of you are putting out pressure on the enemy Croak. And as you’re casting Ghost Wolf, your Shifu decides to Tendon Swing. If you’re reaction is fast enough, you can cancel and avoid breaking the Incap.
This actually happens a lot more than you might think, and the last thing you want to do is accidentally break CCs — especially if it’s an expensive CC that required energy.
Incapacitate, Panic, and Petrify can all be broken by damage. If you’re charging up a Shadowbolt and Lucie happens to Petrify your target mid-cast, then your bolt is going to break it and you won’t be able to capitalize on the 3 seconds of CC. That energy becomes wasted. Same is true for Iva’s Concussion Shot and Shifu’s Tendon Swing.
But this still applies even if the disable didn’t require energy. It might be as big a deal if Freya Storm Bolts an enemy into a wall and you instantly break the incap, but you have to realize that a cooldown was still expended for that disable — and you didn’t capitalize on it.
We can’t forget about triggering counters either! Counters are always bad to hit: it gives charges to Pearl and Sirius, it brings Shifu to you, it turns Freya into a beast. And you really don’t want to hit Bulwarks, Time Benders, or Consumes. Cancelcasting is the answer to not getting a Shadowbolt or Snipe reflected back in your face.
Couldn’t you just turn your mouse away and miss on purpose? Sure, but now your big-damage offensive ability is on cooldown. If you cancelcast instead, you can then recast that big-damage ability just in time to hit them as the CC’s duration ends.
Or imagine you’re Lucie and you’re getting beat down by an enemy Iva. You start casting Panic Bolt, but in the middle of it, Iva uses Jetpack to get away. You could shrug your shoulders and let the cast finish — or you could cancelcast and preserve that valuable cooldown. (Remember, everything in Battlerite revolves around smart cooldown usage!)
This kind of situation pops up everywhere, so it’s a skill that you need to master sooner rather than later.
One specific application of this involves support champions and healing charges. We’ve all been there: a chaotic teammate doesn’t know how to play alongside a healer and constantly makes it impossible for you to heal. If you know you’re about to miss a heal, cancel it! Obviously you can’t stop it once the projectile is airborne, but due to the charge mechanic, you need to make sure every heal is a hit. Don’t waste them.
Share Your Own Cancelcasting Tips
Again, cancelcast is one of those mechanics that has so much depth to it. If you feel like Battlerite’s gameplay is shallow but you aren’t making use of this, then that might be why you feel that way. The increase in outplay potential is HUGE, and mastering this will unlock much of your own potential going forward.
Did I miss anything with regard to cancelcasting? If you have any other related tips to share, please post them below.