After five days of group play featuring the best Heroes of the Storm teams from around the world, the field is set for the final eight teams to compete at DreamHack Summer in Sweden this weekend. With $250,000 in prizes up for grabs, group play went about as well as one may have expected when looking at each of the two groups before the tournament started. All eight of the teams from North America, Europe and Korea advanced to the best-of-five format while China and ANZ failed to do such while looking out-classed along the way.
When the big three regions were pitted against one another in group play, the matches were, for the most part, extremely competitive in a way that hasn’t been seen before in competitive Heroes. North America took games off Korea, Europe played the rest of the world very tightly and cracks were shown in Korea’s armor. It’s a common strategy for teams to hide certain tactics early in tournaments so it may be tough to takeaway too much information from the group play matches, but I was able to come to some conclusions.
The Top Dogs
Record: 15 points, 10-0 map record
What we know: About the same as we did going into the tournament. They’re the best team in the world for a reason and reminded us so by taking 2-0 victories over Tempo Storm, Fnatic and Ballistix while playing less than ideal team compositions. Having their main assassin, Rich, play Sgt. Hammer against the best team in North America not only shows how confident they are in their abilities but how dismissive they are of the rest of the field.
What we don’t know: Gen. G started out the 2018 Heroes Global Championship (HGC) under prepared and overconfident, according to the team, which caused them to drop early matches they probably shouldn’t have. Avoiding complacency and staying grounded are the only obstacles between them and first place in this tournament.
Record: 13 points, 9-1 map record
What we know: They are a serious threat to contend with in this tournament. Coming into the tournament, eyes were on Team Dignitas to take the next step towards closing the gap between Europe and Korea and when they opened up playing one another, it was Tempest who came out on top by a 2-0 score. Dignitas, who is strong at the early game, struggled to hang with Tempest who rotated, soaked experience and pressured their opposition so well. They had a moderate level of difficulty in terms of their group play opponents, but winning is winning.
What we don’t know: Tempest’s only loss in the group stage came against HeroesHearth Esports who didn’t perform particularly well, but well enough to qualify for the best-of-five round. Few teams globally ended Phase 1 of HGC hotter than Tempest so it is likely a blip-on-the-radar, but you never know.
Record: 10 points, 7-3 map record
What we know: Dignitas started off the tournament very poorly, dropped their first three maps before winning the next seven en route to the winner’s bracket. Method and Tempest are both strong teams but if you expected to challenge Korea for the throne, you will need to play better and they know that. They’ll be the first to tell you that as well as their level of self-awareness is off-the-charts. Maybe they just needed to warm up and adjust to the LAN-setting as they regained form quickly to close out group play.
What we don’t know: If those three losses are a sign of issues to come or if the losses are simply the team shaking off early nerves. Their six wins, aside from the one against Method, came against teams that had a combined group play record of (8-22). Not necessarily top-tier opponents but Dignitas is the best squad in Europe for a reason and this weekend will be a big “show me” moment for them as they open up the winner’s bracket against Gen.G on Saturday.
Record: 10 points, 7-4 map record.
What we know: They can hang with every team in this tournament, even the best in the world as they swept Ballistix 3-0, including a victory in a tie-breaker match for a spot in the winner’s bracket. Sunday, however, was an incredibly tough day for them. Tempo started off the day against Gen.G and dropped the match 2-0 then ended the day losing 2-0 to Fnatic. A few teammates took to Twitter to express their frustration regarding how the scheduling was set up after the losses. It’s understandable that jetlag can wear a team down so hopefully some added rest is all they need to play at optimal performance this weekend.
What we don’t know: How do they stand up against the other Korean teams not named Ballistix? Tempo Storm’s play style is very similar to that of the Korean region, now they need to put together big wins against big opponents. Western Clash was a taste of what a deep bracket feels like, now it’s time to put that experience to the test.
The Wild Cards
Record: 9 points, 6-5 map record
What we know: They went 0-3 against the top squad in North America and pummeling on some of the lesser teams in the field. Wielding an incredibly talented roster consisting of arguably one of the best Support players in the world in Magi, Ballistix uses exceptional team coordination to capitalize on any mistakes the opponent makes but thus far it has been them who have been struggling.
What we don’t know: What’s happened to them thus far. If you play a team you’re “expected” to beat, as the number two team in Korea, three times and lose all three, that’s concerning. The competition is only going to get stiffer now that the bottom-feeders have dropped off. Which Ballistix will show up?
Record: 8 points, 6-4 map record
What we know: When they are all on the same page, they’re a tough-out. With a hero pool as deep as anyone in the tournament, they can employ unique strategies that can throw the opposition off and make drafts a next-level mind game. Method took maps off of Dignitas and HHE in the group stage but being able to do it consistently and against some of the best in the world will be tough.
What we don’t know: How their experience playing against Fnatic during HGC league play will help them in the loser’s bracket as they open up against one another. Fnatic took the season series 6-2 during Phase 1, on the other hand, neither team is playing at peak performance currently which makes prior matchups almost moot.
Record: 7 points, 5-5 map record
What we know: They’re good enough to sweep Tempo Storm yet careless enough to give TheOne their only map win of the entire tournament. Fnatic finished second in Europe and were poised to give Dignitas a run-for-their-money before hitting a wall. Under performance, clashing personalities and internal issues led to a roster change for Phase 2. If they are able to put their heads down and give it one last hoorah, it could be a fun weekend for them.
What we don’t know: If they can overcome their internal struggles to come together as a team then they can make a deep run. It’s well-known that Fnatic’s team has some large personalities and it’s caused two players (Quackniix and BadBenny) to leave the roster after the tournament. They wouldn’t be in this tournament if they weren’t as good as they are when they’re meshing. Unfortunately, they’re not at the moment.
Record: 6 points, 5-5 map record
What we know: They are a very scary team to underestimate. HHE wields arguably the deepest hero pool out of any of the teams in this tournament and in the world. Never afraid to break out something weird or wacky, their climb from the Open Division a year ago to the field of eight in the Mid-Season Brawl is one of the best stories in esports.
What we don’t know: If the feel-good story of the group stage can keep riding the magic for a loser’s bracket run. In a perfect world, they can extend a best-of-five long enough to where they will receive enough information about them to put together a unique team composition to secure a series victory. It would be foolish to count out the number eight seed.
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