New Rivals of Aether Organization Brings a Touch of Class to Esports

At Genesis 5, six of Rivals of Aether’s greatest players took to the Sunday stage to fight for the title of RCS champion. among those players we saw the familiar jerseys of organizations like Panda Global and T2 Esports. However, two players in the Sunday finals were wearing the jerseys of a brand new organization, Tuxedo Esports. With 4th- and 5th-place finishes at the most prestigious RoA tournament in history, Tuxedo has already established itself as a powerful brand in the competitive Rivals scene. I caught up with player and co-owner Billy “LBO” Dunmire to discuss the origin of his new organization as well as their plans for the future.

Tuxedo-esports-logo

Live It, Breathe It, and Now Own It

For those familiar with competitive Rivals, LBO is a familiar name. The Zetterburn master has been taking names and producing strong results since the early days of the game’s esports scene. However, LBO never intended to be a top competitor when he picked up Rivals of Aether for the first time.

Having played Starcraft 2 and League of Legends at a high level, he had proven to himself he could be a strong competitor, and had even run Starcraft tournaments. Searching for a break from the competitive grind, he picked up Rivals of Aether. “I started playing Rivals to stay more casual and not get invested.”

While LBO’s plan to stay casual may have failed completely, his competitive career has seen nothing but success. He was quickly picked up by Burrito Esports, and made a splash at several high profile tournaments in 2017. This was where the idea to form his own organization began.

“When sponsors started entering Rivals, our crew and others got people picked up by sponsors so we got a firsthand glimpse of the business side of everything. Over time we found ourselves saying, ‘we could do this and more.’ Eventually we just had to take the leap.”

Suit and Tie

LBO explained that the name of his new organization started with his co-owner, Ryan “Cupz” Belcher. “Cupz is a big fan of penguins. We explored that route of naming but we aren’t a hockey team so it didn’t fit. We wanted to stand out from the crowd and not go for some intimidating scary name meant to sound tough. So I took the penguin idea and went with Tuxedo instead. It’s classy, but our mascot could still be an awesome penguin.”

Whenever a new game begins to develop a competitive scene, new organizations will inevitably sprout up. However, there are two critical factors that set Tuxedo Esports apart from the crowd. First, both LBO and the team’s first signed player, Dolphinbrick, are elite competitors within the scene. This allows the brand to launch with immediate credibility within the Rivals community. However, what’s truly encouraging about Tuxedo is that fact that the organization launched with multiple sponsors.

Brand deals and sponsorship are critical to the sustainability of an esports organization. LBO has already secured partnerships with N3rdabl3.com, a gaming and popculture news and review platform, as well as Iello Games, a titan in the board game industry best known for King of Tokyo, winner of a myriad of industry awards. LBO explained that his preexisting relationship with both companies helped convince them to get on board with Tuxedo Esports. “I write for N3rdabl3 and already have a running relationship with those guys so it’s an easier sell when they already know you’re competent in what you do,” he said. “I also do contracting work for Iello and regularly spend time with the higher ups there as well.”

This networking and salesmanship, combined with the team’s already-impressive competitive resume should have Rivals fans excited about the future and security of the organization. The competitive excellence combined with business savvy closely mirror the origin of one of the biggest names in all of esports, Team Solomid.

Looking to the Future

Despite his new business endeavors, LBO has no plan to stop competing any time soon. “I figure it’s no different than working in your own store,” he explained. “You cut down labor costs and get to handle the business from both ends.”

In between tournaments, LBO and Cupz are hard at work preparing to expand their brand into other games. While the team obviously wants to recruit top talent, they have a much clearer vision for what they want in a Tuxedo Esports player. “Our main priority is to pick up players that are grinders before getting sponsored,” said LBO.” DolphinBrick has been a top player and a super hard worker before ever getting sponsored. Shizblacka, our streamer, was scouted for a month before we decided to go with him. He streams constantly and he did so without a sponsor.”

He went on to explain that above all else, the team is looking for players who display a strong work ethic. They are open to signing teams and players from any game, so long as they can meet those strict requirements.


For more on Tuxedo Esports, be sure to follow them on Twitter. You can also follow LBO directly. My thanks to LBO and the entire Tuxedo Esports crew for the opportunity to learn more about their organization. Having interviewed countless owners of esports orgs, I can confidently say that Tuxedo has all the prerequisites to be a powerful force in the industry.

 

For more Rivals content, check out the Genesis 5 preview series I did over on the Rivals website (featuring LBO and Dolphinbrick), or check out the Ranno fanfiction I wrote last year.

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2017 HGC All Pro Awards

2017 was a remarkable year for the HGC. We saw brand new teams like Roll20, Team Freedom, Expert, and Beyond the Game rise up to challenge the established elite in their region. Europe shocked the world at the Midseason Brawl, and Korea retaliated by once again claiming the World Championship at Blizzcon. With the 2018 HGC less than a week away, it’s time for one final look back at the 2017 season.

 

Today, I’m proud to announce the winners of the 2017 Community All Pro awards. The All Pro award is an extremely prestigious award in traditional sports, recognizing the very best player at each position–the elite among the elite. In an ideal world, this would be an award distributed by blizzard, voted on by every player in each league. However, since that doesn’t appear to be a thing, I took it upon myself to do a community version, so that players in each region could receive some level of recognition for their incredible skill. These players showed that not only could they succeed as members of a strong team, but that their individual skill surpassed every other player at their position.

 

Before we unveil the All Pro teams, let’s meet voting panel:

 

CavalierGuest–Head Coach of Gale Force Esports (voting on NA, EU, KR, CN)

Moonprayer–Esports Writer for tempostorm.com (voting on NA, EU, KR)

Bahgz–Co-host of Trollin HGC (voting on NA, EU, KR)

Khroen–Pro Player for HeroesHearth Esports (voting on NA)

DBSmiley–Staff Writer for HeroesHearth, and all-around smart human (voting on NA)

GranPKT–Pro Player for Tricked esport (voting on EU)

Casanova–Pro Player for SpaceStation Gaming (voting on NA)

LiqiudGG–Host of Trollin HGC and The Nexus Trolls (voting on NA, EU, KR)

 

My thanks to everyone for their time and their votes. One final note–the pro players were not allowed to vote for themselves. With all of that out of the way, here are your 2017 All Pro teams.

 

Korea

Tank: Tsst

Honorable Mentions: The votes were fairly split between Noblesse and Tsst, but MVP Black’s frontliner tipped the scales by one vote.

Support: KyoCha

Honorable Mentions: merryday received several votes as well, but Kyocha ultimately edged out the nomination.

Offlane: Rich

Honorable Mentions: None.

Primary Ranged: Reset

Honorable Mentions: sCsC received one vote, but Reset was the overwhelming winner of the award.

Flex: Jeongha

Honorable Mentions: The votes were fairly split between KyoCha, Sake, and Jeongha, but ultimately the latter took the win.

MVP: Noblesse

While Tsst received more votes in the Tank role, Noblesse was the overwhelming favorite as the Most Valuable Player not only for his talents in game, but also his stellar transition to the coaching role.

 

China

Note: I reached out to every community influencer I could think of who follow the scene in China. Only CavalierGuest was willing to provide his insights on the region. So, the following are his votes. 

Tank: Misaka

Support: Alooffool

Offlane: Wind

Primary Ranged: qianxiao

Flex: MelodyC

MVP: 619

 

Europe

Tank: Breez 

Honorable Mentions: None.

Support: SmX 

Honorable Mentions: Bakery received a single vote, but SmX was the overwhelming winner of this award.

Offlane: Wubby 

Honorable Mentions: None.

Primary Ranged: POILK

Honorable Mentions: It should be noted that most of these votes were collected before Gold Club, so POILK was still able to win the vast majority of votes while still a member of Zealots. Snitch and NiC received a single vote each, but every other vote went to POILK.

Flex: adrd

Honorable Mentions: Snitch and Schwimpi each received a nod, but it was the adrd’s drafting skills combined with his hero pool that gave him the majority win.

MVP: Inconclusive

Every voter had a different nomination for EU’s Most Valuable Player. So, congratulations to:

Quackniix, Zaelia, Wubby, Schwimpi, and adrd.

 

North America

Tank: Justing

Honorable Mentions: There was a single vote for Fury, but every other vote went to Justing.

Support: Jun

Honorable Mentions: Two votes were given to each of Buds and Killuzion, with the remaining majority going to Tempo Storms longtime support.

Offlane: Goku

Honorable Mentions: None.

Primary Ranged: Daneski

Honorable Mentions: Votes were spread across the board in this category, going to Prismaticism, Fan, Kure, and Khroen. However, the tie was ultimately broken in Daneski’s favor. Again, most of these votes were collected before Daneski’s debut with Roll20 at GCWC.

Flex: Psalm

Honorable Mentions: Cattlepillar, Glaurung, Nazmas, and CauthonLuck all received a single nomination, but the name that emerged multiple times belonged to the passionate Kerrigan play of Psalm.

MVP: Goku

Kure, Glaurung, and Justing were all mentioned by the voters, but the Most Valuable Player in North America was overwhelmingly Goku.

 

Congratulations to all of our 2017 All Pro teams. I’m hoping to do this again with a larger voting panel at the end of Phase 1, so if you’re a pro player or content creator, be on the lookout for a message for me towards the end of the split! Look for all of these players to make their 2018 debut as the HGC kicks off this weekend!

DBFZ Pro Circuit Idea: Quest for the Dragon’s Wish

Greetings DBFZ community! I’m really excited to be releasing my first article for this exciting new game. For those that don’t know me, I’ll introduce myself a bit since you’ll be seeing much more of me over the next year. If you don’t care about that and just want to read a cool tournament idea, scroll down to the horizontal line.

Briefly, I’ve been an esports journalist/blogger for 6 years. I used to write for Riot Games covering League of Legends, and have since gone freelance focusing on Heroes of the Storm and Smash Bros. My content ranges from match analysis to player interviews to industry news and speculation. I fell in love with the FGC during LI Joe’s run at Evo 2016, and have been looking for a title in the scene to add to my content pool when Dragonball FighterZ was announced. Having loved DBZ forever, and it being a brand new IP in the scene, I knew this was the game I had to commit to. While I’m new within the FGC, I’m an esports writing veteran and hope to bring my experience and knowledge of other scenes to bear in helping the DBFZ scene grow and prosper.


Essentially, this idea sprang from the following thought: Battle for the Stones was a neat idea that was ultimately a huge letdown…what if it were done well? The idea of themed qualifiers that affected a final event was really interesting, but the power for each stone was poorly conceived and affected the integrity of the tournament as a championship to cap the first wave of Marvel Infinite competition. My goal with this tournament idea would be to create a themed qualification, but leave the competitive integrity of the finals intact. I think DBZ has a perfect theme for this in the Drabonballs. The quest to get a wish granted is what drove the first arc of the Dragonball manga, it seems a fitting theme for the first tournament circuit. Here’s what I propose:

wmat

Qualifiers: Search for the Seven Balls

Seven tournaments in 2018 would be identified as holding one of the seven Dragonballs of Earth. As the balls are usually scattered across the world, ideally these would be spread out to tournaments in Japan, Europe, the US, Latin America, etc. The winner of each tournament would earn a ball, and automatically qualify for the finale. Players may only have one Dragonball, so just like Battle for the Stones, if the winner of a tournament already owns one of the Dragonballs, the runner up would earn the qualification. The eighth and final spot would be given to an online qualifier, representing a lone challenger trying to collect all seven balls for themselves.

Finale: Collect all Seven

Unlike Battle for the Stones, the Dragonballs will not give any advantages. This is a tournament where the greatest fighter in the world will have their wish granted.

The tournament will operate as a standard double elimination bracket. When you are defeated in the upper bracket, you will surrender any and all Dragonballs to the player who defeats you. When we reach grand finals, the player on the winner’s side will already have all 7 balls, and only need to defeat one remaining challenger before they can complete their wish.

It will likely be underwhelming to only have a top 8 as the entire event, so ideally a few additional players will be flown out to play some themed exhibitions during the day–good guys vs bad guys, saiyans vs humans, that sort of thing. After grand finals, a winner will be determined, and they will have assembled all 7 Dragonballs, ready to summon the dragon to make their wish.

The Prize: Your Wish Has Been Granted

For winning the tournament, the champion will receive a significant prize pool, ideally 100k or more. However, they’ve also collected the Dragonballs, so they get to make a wish.

shenron.png

This is where I think a number of sponsors can be brought in, and the player should be given a choice between four wishes, just like the mechanic in the game. These could be things like a new car, a lifetime supply of a food sponsor, some sort of amazing vacation package, the chance to record an announcer pack for the game, etc. It could be really amazing to see someone win the tournament, popoff, get handed a giant check, and then have to bring the Dragonballs to the center of the stage, recite the incantation, and see Shenron pop up on a big screen. The player asks for what they want, and then the dragon’s voice booms out: “Your wish has been granted”.


 

Personally, I love invitationals and closed tournaments in fighting games. Open events are wonderful, and Evo is something special strictly because of the sheer number of entrants, but I think there is something special about a smaller event with huge stakes. It creates interesting storylines, a connective tissue for the fans throughout the year, and provides a unique entry point for casual observers. I have extremely high hopes that Dragonball Fighterz will become a stable in the FGC, and I think as a new IP it deserves a unique method to crown its champion.

Interview with Bakery: Third Ban

Preparing for my big third ban article (which you can see over on HeroesHearth) I reached out to James “Bakery” Baker for his thoughts on the matter. As an outspoken advocate of increasing the number of bans in competitive Heroes, Bakery shared way more insight than I could fit into the article. Because those thoughts still deserve to be seen, I’ve included the interview in it’s entirety here. Enjoy!

bakery

How would you respond to the concerns that there aren’t enough supports or tanks in the game yet?

I feel like most of the concern over Support or Tank chokes in a 3 ban system are at best exaggerated and at worst intentionally misleading. Theorycrafting a situation where one team uses both of their opening bans on Supports, and the other team saw that and thought they should also ban out supports, and then neither team picked a Support in the opening 5 picks, and then both teams banned out two more supports is pure insanity. Realistically you would need 4 viable solo supports, solo ranged damage, and solo tanks. This would account for two opening bans and first pick. Anything more than that is a welcome addition. Even if there were not 4 viable Heroes at times, I do not think that downside outweighs the benefits that a 3rd ban would bring. I believe that we do have 4 viable Heroes for each of those core roles, and I believe that now is the time where 3 bans can work for our game.

Why do you think a third ban is better at the start of the draft rather than mid-draft?

There are 3 main reasons I believe a 2nd opening ban is superior. The first is because I feel the first phase of the draft is where most of the improvements should be concentrated. If you read Twitter or Reddit, you’ll see plenty of people talking about how every game is the same Heroes. Statistically, that’s not true, we have high Hero diversity both in terms of % spread and number of Heroes picked. However, it is true that the first phase of the draft is very often the same from game to game, and even team to team. I feel that a 2nd opening ban would shake things up a bit. The second reason is about oppressive Heroes.

Right now I want to see Garrosh banned every game, he’s just too frustrating to play against and watch, but currently the tradeoff to banning Garrosh every game is that the draft becomes incredibly stale when it happens. I want to give teams the freedom to play around with bans against Heroes with Garrosh, while still being able to flex their other ban to a power ban, target ban, or just another annoying ban.

The third reason is related to time constraints. Heroes of the Storm has an issue where not enough of our audience and players are interested in the draft phase. Despite that, the draft is almost as important as the game itself. We also have the shortest game time of almost any drafting game out there. I believe the target of any draft changes has to be to shorten the draft as much as is possible. If our third ban was added in the middle, that has the potential to add another 60s of draft per team, as both teams will need time to discuss and adapt. If the bans are at the start, the chance of a team already knowing what to ban is much higher, and the amount of things that they need to discuss is much lower, which means we could shave up to 2 minutes off of the draft in some situations by placing the ban at the start instead of in the middle.

Do you think Blizzard should delay adding a third ban to HGC until they can also put it in the client, or is this important enough to move HGC drafting out of the client?

I don’t think the benefits of a third ban at this short notice outweigh the positives that drafting within the client bring, and the negatives of separating the competitive experience from the Hero League experience. We’ll have to see what the HGC schedule is like for 2018, but as soon as there is sufficient time for the teams to adapt and Blizzard are able to get it in the client I would love to see these changes.


Thanks so much to Bakery for sharing his thoughts. Check out the full article here, and be sure to catch the latest episode of Entry Level Esports

 

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What We Learned GCWC Recap Day 7: True Pacifist Ending

The group stage is now over. The teams have all faced each other and the seeds are set going into the bracket stage. We saw some really interesting games today, some heartbreaks, and one of the cleanest games in the history of HOTS esports.

casters

With groups at an end, we will move into a very interesting elimination phase of the tournament that will feature the new support nerfs patch. If that is news to you, or your unclear as to why that change will have such a monumental impact on the tournament, that means you haven’t watched my new show, Entry Level Esports! We aired the pilot episode this week where I broke down all aspects of the situation. Check it out. Don’t worry, this is the last time I’ll plug it, cause it stops being relevant after today!

Fnatic

Today was supposed to be a pretty simple day for Fnatic. Get the 2-0, go home, prepare for the new patch. However, in Game 2 SPT decided to ruin that plan. The surprise Jaina and Sonya caught Fnatic off guard. There are a few key points to examine in this draft. First, SPT fully targeted Breez with their first ban and first pick, taking away Anub’arak and ETC. These moves put Fnatic’s tank on Arthas, which just did not have the typical Breez impact on the game. He made a great tactical play in one fight to zone away Valla, but throughout the game the Arthas was just unable to provide the necessary peel to keep Mene up long enough to win the long fight.

Second draft takeaway was another pick for Mene’s Kael’thas. Fnatic have made it clear throughout this group stage that they have little interest in putting Mene on support. We’ve seen BadBenny’s Rehgar multiple times, and each time it has been just a bit lacking. Likely we’ll see Fnatic move away from double support completely in the new patch. However, there have been reports that Tassadar is even more powerful on the new patch than he is now. Will Fnatic try to flex a Tassadar onto Mene or Benny, or will they be forced to first ban it in every single game of the bracket phase?

Dignitas

Hey look, the second best team in the tournament went 2-0 against the worst team in the tournament. Behold my in-depth analysis!

There really isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been discussed. Everyone on Dig have crazy deep hero pools, the new players are working out great, and I think this team is favored against Ballistix going into the bracket stage. One last thing on Dignitas–go watch Game 2 of this series. Just watch the sheer control and patience out of the EU squad, even with a kill-focused composition. This is a really unique game in HOTS that deserves to be watched. Also Wubby was on ETC, which is neat.

Roll20 Esports

I don’t want to write this section. These games were a bummer. I think Roll20 went into this event with a phenomenal, realistic mentality, but this series had to hurt. The team is very clearly still exploring some stylistic options, and hopefully they’ve collected some good data from these matches.

Game 2 isn’t really worth talking about too much. Justing was a bit off his game and the team just couldn’t close out the first kill in a fight to snowball their teamfight comp. It happens to every team–it happened to Dig in their match against KSV. If one of those kills are actually realized, this is an entirely different game.

However, Game 1 is really interesting. Again, Roll20 controlled the early game, got some really flashy picks, and set themselves up in amazing position to win. And then one by one they lost fight after fight until they ran out of time. What’s really interesting is how little impact Goku’s Leoric had in the mid-late game. Leoric dying is often fine, but only if those deaths create value. None of Goku’s deaths created value. Whether that was misplay on Goku’s part, or problems in the rest of the roster, I’d have to watch the game again to fully comment. All I can say is that I really disliked the pick, particularly with March of the Black King over Entomb. Hindsight is always 20/20, and Goku very clearly had a plan, but that plan never worked out. Credit to CE for investing in an early Dehaka pick to try and get R2e off balance.

Again, the bright spot for Roll20 is that they can consistently control games against anyone up until the late game. The second they break this lategame curse, they will be a strong international contender.We’ll have to wait and see what happens now that they have a moment to collect themselves, learn a new patch, and come back fresh in the lower bracket next week.

Last point to make on Roll20–if you think any of what’s happening this week to Roll20 means that they won’t be the overwhelmingly best team in NA, you are very mistaken. They are playing against the very best teams in the world, and playing them close. The practice they are getting now is so much greater than every other team in NA. They are getting issues exposed that they can correct before the season even starts. Especially with the new patch coming in, Roll20 have such a huge advantage over the rest of NA going into 2018. Meme all you want, but don’t pretend for a moment that this still isn’t the strongest team NA has seen in over two years, possibly the best NA team ever.


Good new to anyone who was concerned, there’s now no excuse to keep Roll20 at 5th in the power rankings. We have a very clear picture of how these rankings play out now. Unfortunately, none of that means anything at all because there’s a giant patch between us and the bracket stage, and all the teams get a fresh start to find new strategies to surprise their opponents.

  1. KSV
  2. Dignitas
  3. Ballistix
  4. Fnatic
  5. CE
  6. Roll20
  7. SPT
  8. BTG

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What We Learned GCWC Day 5: Oof, ow, my core

I really enjoyed today’s games. There were really interesting compositions, different game speeds, and one of the most heartbreaking core attempts I’ve ever seen. There’s a lot to talk about, but before we do, I want to remind you about the ensuing patch changes affecting Gold Club.

goldy

This was a huge topic of discussion yesterday, so much so that I made it the subject of the pilot for my new YouTube series, Entry Level Esports. It would mean the world to me if you took a look at it and gave me your feedback. I think it’s a great explanation of the whole patch issue, and I’m really excited for the show in the future. With that plug out of the way, recap!!

Fnatic

So right off the bat, we need to talk about the Sgt. Hammer pick. Anyone who is calling this a troll pick, or Fnatic “cheesing”, carefully read the following several sentences:

First, no. Fnatic wants to win this event, or do as well as humanly possible. They want a higher seed in the bracket stage and are directly competing with Dignitas for seeding. This series could potentially decide who has to fight KSV in the first round, Fnatic is not going to throw a game away with a troll pick. This is a composition they have practice and hidden from teams before today. Likely, they would have continued to hide it until later in the tournament, but with Hammer banned in the bracket stage now, they saw an opening to get one use out of their pocket strategy and they took that chance.

People see Hammer and immediately think it’s a bad pick, but this composition on Tomb makes a ton of sense. More than any other, this map incentivizes wave clear and zone control. Both Hammer and Junkrat excel at defending webweavers, and capitalize exceptionally well on pushing with the map objective. With an even game or a slight lead, Fnatic’s comp is set up to create long siege opportunities, constant pressure, and snowball a structure advantage.

There’s a critical moment that happens at the start of this game. Everything is pretty even up until a small skirmish around the top turn-in. Wubby gets caught, but manages to escape with just a small sliver of health, and Dig turns the fight around into two kills, a turn in, and an overwhelming lead. All of Dig’s advantage in this game comes from the timing of that skirmish, and how well they capitalize on it. However, all of that hinges on Wubby escaping and Fnatic chasing just long enough to extend into Dig’s collapse. BadBenny noted on his Twitter this morning, that Wubby escapes because he made a bad read on the fight. Instead of Feral Lunging Wubby to secure the kill, Benny finished channeling his turn in. Had he canceled tun in to finish the kill, Fnatic either trades kills or gets an advantage and secures their own turn in. With that, their composition comes online, they obliterate the structures with their backline siege power, and the game plays out completely differently. So, rather than focusing on the composition, we instead need to look at Fnatic’s play.

Overall, Dig was in solid control of both games in this series. Game 1 snowballed away from Fnatic off of one bad play, but Game 2 was a much more methodical affair. Dignitas hit 20 first and very nearly had the stall on Fnatic’s game-winning dragon. It was very reminiscient of their match on Cursed Hollow against Roll20–slightly behind all game, but one bad fight allows them to snowball a sudden victory. I personally also don’t love Fnatic’s team comp in Game 2, but that’s just because I don’t like relying on heroics in my blowup comps. They struggled all game to create isolation and get picks. It took Dig overextending in the late game before they could get a good fight. All in all, not a great showing again by Fnatic, but they once again prove that they have that veteran ability to capitalize on a mistake. Even while they are still figuring out this new roster, you have to respect them all the way until the core explodes.

Dignitas

I don’t know that there’s a ton to say about Dignitas that wasn’t covered in the Fnatic section. Games between these two teams are always so hard to use as data for analysis of anything outside of that specific series. They know each other so well, and always play such close series on LAN. Sort of have to take everything with a grain of salt. They capitalized off mistakes, played a strong slow game on Dragon Shire, and were robbed of their 2-0 by one small misplay. I also hated Dig’s team comp in Game 2, again because there wasn’t enough lockdown to control fights. Half the reason this game was so slow and bloodless was because of the inability of either team to force a fight on their terms until everyone had heroics and whatnot.

That aside, I saw more things from Zaelia that I like, dude is going to be a really good support. Also I don’t think there’s a way to overstate POILK’s skill. There was a discussion on Town Hall Heroes questioning whether Dig would have let Mene go if they knew supports were getting nerfed. Having seen POILK the last few days, I think they are still pretty happy with their decision. At this point, we really just need to see Dignitas in the group stage take another crack at Korea to see how they’ve grown throughout the event.

Roll20 Esports

These poor boys. So close to a completely different scenario for the bracket stage of the tournament. Going up against KSV, no one was expecting wins for NA in this series. Still, there are some interesting takeaways to note.

Game 1, KSV just figured out the counter to Roll20’s draft. The NA squad showed this strategy before in the event, and clearly KSV had a conversation and identified how it could be dealt with. The combination of Illidan and Abathur drastically reduce Roll20’s chances of finding early picks, which they need in order to snowball into control over the beacons. Lucio gives you lots of control in a lane gank, but he does nothing to inhibit the mobility of an Illidan. Without that early lead, Roll20 had virtually no chance to win teamfights, and their losses in the early game effectively made this an impossible situation. Still, R2e had a few cool plays around level 7 to get themselves a lead on the beacon and have a chance at maybe turning it around. Ultimately, this game was lost in the draft, and you cannot get outdrafted by the best team in the world and hope to win.

Game 2 is really interesting. Obviously, everyone is going to talk about the core, and sure, that’s how the game ended. It’s a heartbreaker, it sucks that Roll20 couldn’t capitalize, they need to figure out how to close out situations where they’ve won the game. That said, let’s take a deeper look at how the actual game played out.

The early game was completely controlled by KSV. They managed to get more value pushing a fort than Roll20 did with the first punisher. However, we have to take into account Roll20’s team composition. In the early game, they have almost no lockdown. Their damage stinks, they only have Arthas root to actually lock anyone down–they really don’t have any way to create pressure. Their composition doesn’t actually fully come online until around level 13. They give ground and a level lead through some misplays, but they keep finding ways to keep structures relatively even, and set themselves up to be on even talent tiers when a shrine spawns. The level 13 fight was super close, and then Roll20 actually won the fights at 16 and 20. Their composition did what it was supposed to, and put them in position to actually win the game against KSV.

 

The big question now with Roll20, aside from their late game woes, is how much they’ll continue to play around with their flexible style. One of the reasons I’ve been so high on this roster is the ability for the team to focus their playstyle more with clear strengths and well-defined roles. Having some flexibility does make you stronger, but Roll20 now has players at every position who can dominate their role. I would have really liked to see one of these matches against KSV played with a more standard comp in order for the team to test their raw execution against the best team in the world. That said, it may be that they are using this group stage to focus more on exploring their depth and experimenting to collect data before locking down their preferred pocket strategies.


Roll20 is essentially out of contention at this point for the winner’s side of the bracket phase, but we still have some games to play to resolve the seeding between our top four teams. With that in mind, we see much less shifting in the power ranking today.

  1. KSV
  2. Dignitas
  3. Ballistix
  4. Fnatic
  5. Roll20
  6. CE
  7. SPT
  8. BTG

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What We Learned GCWC Day 4: Dignitas Tho?!

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What We Learned: Day 1 of GCWC

What We Learned GCWC Day 4: Dignitas Tho?!

Today is mostly a day to discuss the future of this tournament and the ramifications of the new patch. That said, some games did happen this morning, and they were amazing to watch. Huge takeaways for all of our teams, and a lot to learn not just for fans, but for the players as well. No more stalling, let’s do the thing.

gold

Roll20 Esports

We have to start with Roll20 today because there’s a lot that needs to be said. If you’re a fan, it always hurts to see your team lose two games in a row to late game throws. If you’re a memer, you’re thrilled with these results because you get to type “NA LUL” like crazy and feel smug and superior while doing it. However, fans of Roll20 should be thrilled with these games beyond belief. Let me explain:

First, let’s get one thing straight–Roll20 was never going to win this tournament. Fourth place at this tournament is a massive win for NA. Gold Club for Roll20 is about finding the gaps in their play, throwing the new roster into a trial by fire, and gaining a ton of experience in preparation for the 2018 season. Obviously the players and organization traveled to China with the intent to win every match, but as fans and analysts, we need to see the bigger picture.

Once you accept this, today’s matches become amazing for a Roll20 fan. You literally have to watch the games in order to understand why because the 2-0 scoreline tells an entirely different story. Roll20 was in complete control of both games basically from minute one. Teams still don’t have an answer for Goku’s Dehaka, Daneski’s Junkrat put in work, and the team’s mastery of the laning phase on both maps was superb. Both games were ultimately lost due to one bad teamfight in the late game. Throws like this happen to every team at some point. It’s frustrating and feels awful for the players involved, but if you’re a Roll20 fan, the fact that the NA squad was able to dictate the pace of both games against Fnatic is huge.

There are a few other takeaways I want to mention. First, it’s a bit disingenuous to just write off both games as late game throws. There were a few key macro decisions made in both games that put R2e in a position to throw. On Cursed Hollow, they had a curse and a 5v4 situation and could not secure a keep. On Dragon Shire, they secured a late game Dragon Knight and walked it down bottom lane where it promptly died before reaching the core. In both situations a potentially game-ending push was thwarted by overly passive play and Fnatic’s strong defense. Roll20 won their games yesterday by starving out BTG and playing some of the most passive games we’ve ever seen from them. However, that strategy is far riskier against a world class team like Fnatic who can take even the smallest mistake and turn it into a victory.

This is why these games have me so excited as an NA fan. Roll20 did not get outclassed. They weren’t just beaten by a better team. They controlled both games and put themselves in a position to win handily. Without those late game throws, we’re suddenly having a conversation about how Roll20 smashed Fnatic and how weak the new Fnatic rosters looks. Basing all of your analysis purely on results doesn’t actually give you any useful data. With these losses, Roll20 have two incredible VODs to rewatch and learn how to close out these games. Closing out a win against a “better” team is among the hardest skills for a shotcaller to learn. These games will be invaluable to Justing’s growth, and Roll20 will level up from these games far more than if Fnatic had lost that last teamfight and R2e had a 2-0 today.

My last point on Roll20 is entirely my own opinion–I feel like there is too much emphasis on Junkrat. Yesterday’s games revealed a potential weakness in Breez’s hero pool (his Muradin) that Roll20 could have tried to exploit. Instead, they focused on using their bans to keep the Junkrat safe and build their comps around him. I think Junkrat is a strong situational pick–one that should only be taken when the draft allows, not something that you should invest resources into making work. Obviously, I’m not seeing their scrim data, maybe Daneski’s Junkrat is murdering kids all day long. However, I’d like to see Roll20 open up to some other strategies that play more to their strengths and set up better for teamfights. To me, the Genji first ban just gives Fnatic too much of what they want.

Fnatic

Taking one quick look through Fnatic’s twitter posts from this morning will reveal everything there is to say about these games. Fnatic got surprised by Roll20’s macro play. They came away with two wins, but have far more to be worried about after today than their opponents do. I can’t remember the last time I’ve ever seen Quackniix picked off so many times in the early game.

Looking at the drafts, we see two more mage games from Mene with double tank and solo support. Fnatic seems to be committing to try and make their double ranged style work. In a fun twist of fate, the new patch may actually benefit Fnatic more than any other team since they are already trying to move away from double support. The next step for enemy teams will be to try and expose Mene’s hero pool. Where does Fnatic go when his mages are countered or banned out?

While both games were obviously disappointing, if Fnatic fans are looking for positives, we see how much the shotcalling and leadership of this squad has remained intact with the new roster. The Cursed Hollow game in particular was a prime example of excellent late game decision making. Fnatic forced Roll20’s boss–the only objective that would demand a response from the NA team. This created the only scenario where Fnatic could conceivably create enough of an advantage to win the game. If they don’t get that teamfight and immediately take the boss closest to Roll20’s keeps, they likely lose the ensuing core attempt and ultimately lose the game to catapult pressure. Even on an off day, Fnatic remains a veteran crew with plenty of experience and knowledge at their disposal.

Dignitas

Holy crap Dignitas. Remember how yesterday was all about Korea still dominating HOTS? Apparently Snitch and friends had a real issue with that notion. They dominated Ballistix in two one-sided games. If you take away the names, Game 2 looks like those early rounds of open tournaments where Cloud9 would just wade through some amateur team, only without the Gazlowe. Every member of Dig made plays throughout this series. If you haven’t yet, go back and watch the Dragon Shire game and see how Wubby and POILK play the gank on top lane. In that same game we see incredible zone control out of JayPL, and some really nice moves out of Zaelia’s Kharazim.

I literally can’t say enough about how good this roster looked today. Both drafts show depth and diversity at every position. POILK can play mages and carries with equal proficiency. I genuinely don’t know how you draft against this team right now. Whatever the team did today to help POILK control his nerves, they need to repeat that exact same process every day for the next year. More and more we can comfortably look at the first game against CE and consider it an outlier with no real reflection on the strength of this team.


We actually have a pretty good idea of where the teams stand at this point. The big factors now are seeing how Roll20 fares against Korea, and if Dignitas can stop their hot-cold streak. Time to make some changes to our power rankings!

  1. KSV
  2. Dignitas
  3. Ballistix
  4. Fnatic
  5. Roll20
  6. CE
  7. SPT
  8. BTG

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What We Learned GCWC Day 3: Kure Finally Shoots Things!

Day 3 over and done, and with it even more questions about the European contingent. We saw Roll20 move into their expected formation, Fnatic continue to search for answers, and Dignitas almost get there like 12 times. All in all, the matches today were really interesting and there’s a lot to get to, so let’s dive in!

gold club again

Roll20

Today was a nice palate cleanser for the North American squad. After a tough series against Dignitas yesterday, they were matched against the third seed from China, BTG. Roll20 took care of business today with two fairly dominant wins.

While some may choose to focus on Justing’s epic 5-man mosh (assisted by Buds) or “NA LUL” at the “failed” core attempt in game two, I see two encouraging takeaways from these matches. First, Roll20’s patient play in both games. After yesterday, as the heavy favorites in this match, there could be a temptation to draft overly aggressive comps, try to force every fight you can, and win both games in under 10 minutes.

Instead, Roll20 took both games slow and methodical. They knew their advantage in both games came from Goku’s mastery of Dehaka’s split push. Both teamfights in Game 1 were created by BTG trying to force pressure against the 4-man because they had no answer to Dehaka. Rather than bring Dehaka in early and force a fight, Roll20 stalled and stalled until BTG stepped out of line, and then pounced.

Looking at Game 2, we see another very methodical affair. Roll20 utilized the strength of their comp to find picks in the early game, and could have tried to snowball a quick game. Instead, they stuck to the Dehaka gameplan. This was a game that was basically impossible for Roll20 to lose unless they forced teamfights that BTG could win. By keeping the map split, threatening the fast rotations with Lucio, and maintaining constant pressure with Dehaka, they just starved BTG of opportunity until the game inevitably ended. Even the “bad core call” fits within this strategy.

Look back at the map at the point when Roll20 loses that core attempt. All the lanes are pushed, there are still guardians in bottom lane, and beacons are a long way off. Even though Roll20 loses nearly every member to the core, there’s nothing on the map that BTG can take to climb back into the game. In essence, the NA teams gets 40% core damage for free, and sets up for a guaranteed win with their next Zerg wave.

Lastly, we actually saw Kure on assassins!  In both games!  He was on a hypercarry Valla in Game 1, and then on Greymane with Daneski’s Junkrat in Game 2. This is the iteration of Roll20 we hoped to see, and hopefully it’s what we will see in their remaining matches. In the end, a good day for NA, but still plenty of work to do, and tough opponents ahead.

Dignitas

I have a feeling Dignitas wanted a different result from today’s matches. These games are the absolute most frustrating to lose against an opponent who is considered stronger than you. Time and again we saw KSV members escape with a sliver of health. Had Dig been able to close out even one of those kills, the whole series could have been different. KSV simply had Dignitas’ number today.

Looking at takeaways for Dig, we saw POILK unveil his Gul’dan and Cassia. The Gul’dan game was a bit rough–we saw a whiffed Horrify and several instances of POILK being uncharacteristically out of position. POILK appears to have a fairly robust hero pool, but today the squad was just unable to bring out their trademark execution.

We really need to see more from his other supports, but I am becoming a fan of Zaelia’s Lucio. His escape at the start of Game 2 showed a deep understanding of what his hero could do. Unfortunately, it was followed up by a bit of overconfidence and getting caught a few times. Outside of that, I think Game 2 was a really rough draft for Dig. If people are interested, I may do another article analyzing the entirety of that draft. However, the short version is that Dig left themselves in an awkward spot with their last pick because they needed a second support, but they had only Wubby’s pick remaining, and needed something that could hold down a solo lane thanks to the early Abathur pick. They took a risk and, thanks to KSV’s refusal to just freaking die, it didn’t work.

Fnatic

So, it turns out that Korea is still pretty good. Sky Temple is a very rough map when you fall behind early, and that’s largely what happened to Fnatic. This was also another game of Mene on Gul’dan in a spot where traditionally the meta would demand a support in that slot. Fnatic had two opportunities with teamfights on objectives that could have turned the game around. In both instances Genji was able to just pour damage into the entirety of the European roster, and Gul’dan’s Horrify was not enough to counteract it. Maybe an Emerald Wind would have worked better? Who can say. The map always makes it a bit more difficult to properly evaluate a draft plan because it can all just go so wrong so fast.

Game 2 was a very strange draft by Fnatic. On Day 1 we saw them relegate BadBenny to a secondary support in order to give Mene his Junkrat. In this game we saw a similar setup with double support, Greymane and Junkrat. However, Benny was put on the Junkrat, with Mene on the Kharazim. These sorts of drafts, having now twice been unsuccessful, create a potential concern for Fnatic moving forward in this event. Ballistix appears to have made a read that Mene and BadBenny both are limited in their hero pools at this stage in the team’s development. By focusing their bans on Breez, they still manage to create an awkward draft for Fnatic while restricting one of the best tank players in the world.

On the bright side, this is something Fnatic is entirely aware of and will be working to solve throughout the tournament. They have experimented with a wide range of styles, strategies, and compositions so far through just three games. We know Benny has a reasonable stable of bruisers having seen his Arthas and Sonya, now the team appears to be focusing on exploring ways to create comfort for Mene. Ultimately, in order for Fnatic to win this event they will likely need to put Mene on Brightwing and have him perform well. However, they are collecting a ton of data that will be useful going into the 2018 season, particularly with the support nerfs incoming. Ultimately, fans who were critical of the Mene pickup have more fuel for the fire, but Fnatic has more data that will better equip them to perform in the long run.


In the first game of the day, we saw SPT take a game off of CE, which further distorts all of our understanding of the relative strength of these teams. It is entirely unfair and ridiculous to try and rank them with any authority at this point, but once again we’re going to do it anyway!

  1. KSV
  2. Ballistix
  3. Fnatic
  4. Dignitas
  5. Roll20 
  6. CE
  7. SPT
  8. BTG

Yesterday I had Roll20 below CE, but I have moved them up for a few reasons. First, I think their win against Dig had more to do with POILK’s nerves and poor performance than it had to do with CE’s strength. Second, they lost a map to SPT, a team which Roll20 handled confidently. Finally, we saw Kure on ranged for the first time in the roster and it looked good. Whether that remains the case will have to wait until tomorrow, but I am encouraged by today’s results enough to give them the boost over CE prior to that matchup.

 

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What We Learned GCWC Day 2: Europe’s Still Good

Another day, another set of Gold Club games in the books. For the most part, today was a series of stomps. That said, there were several interesting things to take away from those one-sided affairs, particularly the final game of the day. In similar fashion to yesterday, let’s take a look at how each Western team performed today.

gold club

Fnatic

Remember when Fnatic was one of the best teams in the world? Yea, that’s still a thing. KSV took the stage first today and dismantled SPT in short order. When Fnatic took their turn at one of China’s candidates, the results were largely the same. Europe’s best team has a control of the macro game that is unsurpassed by any except the very best Korean teams.

What’s particularly interesting about Fnatic thus far is that we’ve had four games, and only one instance of Mene on a support. I’m certain we’ll see plenty of it going forward, but the team clearly values Mene’s strength on his comfort picks, and they’ve shown through the first three games of the tournament that they are willing to experiment with unique drafts in order to put their new flex player in a position of strength. I’m very curious to see how the draft shakes out when Fnatic goes up against Ballistix and Dignitas.

Outside of that, there weren’t many takeaways from Fnatic’s short time on stage today. We saw BadBenny on Tyrael and Sonya, giving us a taste of his bruiser pool, but still showing a preference for tanks over more damage-focused offlaners. Hopefully as the tournament progesses we’ll get to see more options such as Malthael and Dehaka added to Fnatic’s solo lane pool. Everything else was relatively standard from this roster. They’re still really good at playing the video game.

Dignitas

Now, let’s get this out of the way before we go any further. In the battle between EU and NA, there was no contest today. Europe won in convincing fashion with a 2-0. Both games had very rough endings for Roll20, so it is very easy for the casual fan to throw some NA LUL memes around and move on with their day. Additionally, I will naturally have a bit of NA bias in all of my analysis due to the fact that it’s my home region and my favorite region to follow.

Above all else, this series is about learning. I’m not really that interested in just writing “Dignitas beat Roll20 and here’s how it happened.” I want to go a bit deeper. So, obviously today was a success for Dignitas. That said, there are some takeaways that need to be discussed.

Game 1 against Roll20 was an even affair right until the very end. The teams were even in XP and structures throughout most of the game. In fact, right up until the pick on Kure, Roll20 was very much in a position to win the game. What allowed Dignitas to win so suddenly was a superb macro read on Roll20’s decision making. Roll20 had pressured the top lane hard with double bruiser camps. Logic would dictate that you commit a few resources to the top lane for a moment to clean up both camps and preserve as much of your keep defenses as possible, particularly on a map where structure health is so valuable. However, Jaypl and crew recognized immediately that Roll20 would be making a boss play and moved in. Not only did they contest, they went in hard, before Brightwing had time to revive. It was a phenomenal call that shows the leadership of this team is still very much intact with Bakery gone.

Further, POILK executed the final minutes of the game well. It seems that he’s been able to shake off the nerves from his first game yesterday and arrive in China as the deadly ranged threat we know him to be.

That said, both this game and the second one on Infernal Shrines should concern Dignitas fans a bit. The Sky Temple game was very even, and could have been lost had Kure not gotten caught. Game two was an absolute stomp for the first 15 levels, but with a bad call and a messy fight at Roll20’s shaman camp, they allowed NA’s heroes to crawl all the way back to a nearly even contest. By the end, only a heads up play from Snitch kept Roll20 from fully coming back and potentially taking the lead. However, most of the takeaways from today are positive. Snitch is an absolute monster on every hero in the game, his Stukov in Game 2 was a sight to behold. POILK fits into the roster far better than Mene did in the current meta. By the end of this tournament, we may well see the best Dignitas roster in the organization’s history.

Roll20 Esports

Both games today were very tough losses for the NA squad. Game 1 looked extremely promising right up until the end. Roll20 made a calculated risk that unfortunately Dig knew how to answer perfectly. Game 2 is where things seemed to fall apart a bit. Roll20 had no answer for Snitch’s superb Stukov, and just really struggled to deal with the abrupt change of pace between games. That said, the team showed its trademark resiliency and very nearly completed their comeback. If NA fans are looking for positive takeaways from today, I would submit the following:

Dig look to be a solid contender in this event, and Roll20 put themselves in a position where they had an opportunity to win both of these games. More than any other team, this is a roster with the most potential for growth during the event, and as such today has every chance to be a great learning opportunity. Further, no team is undefeated through 2 days, so Roll20 are still very much in contention to make it out of the group stage on the winners side.

One final takeaway from R2e thus far, we still have yet to see Kure on a ranged assassin. Daneski is certainly a capable ranged player, but fans expect Kure to be in the backline making plays for this roster, not relegated to Brightwing and Malfurion. Whether Roll20 are hiding strategies for their later opponents, or experimenting based on data they’ve gathered in scrims, we’ll simply have to keep watching to find out. However, this remains one of the key points to observe as Roll20 progresses through the event.


Before signing off, we should briefly discuss CE. Their Game 2 upset over Ballistix has consequences for our evaluation of every team going forward. Suddenly, Dig’s 1-1 record against them looks far better, forcing us to evaluate Dig higher due to their strong finish in that series. Today, CE showed that if they can create an opportunity and execute, they can contend with the best teams in the world. All of their success in that game stemmed from a single pick on Ballistix’s Falstad, and snowballed from there. Teams will have to respect their aggression going forward and know that if they give CE any opening, they can absolutely run with it all the way to your core.

We now have two data points on each team in the tournament, and know far more than we did yesterday about the relative strength of these rosters. Obviously, this is still nowhere near enough data to properly rank these teams, but let’s do it anyway! To close out today’s recap, here is my GCWC power ranking through two days:

  1. KSV Black
  2. Fnatic
  3. Ballistix
  4. Dignitas
  5. CE
  6. Roll20
  7. BTG
  8. SPT

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What We Learned: Day 1 of GCWC

What We Learned: Day 1 of GCWC

While most were sound asleep, the final tournament of the 2017 Heroes of the Storm esports season began. NA and EU entered this even with questions surrounding every team. Had Roll20 truly upgraded their roster? How would Fnatic address the hero pool concerns with Quack and Mene? Could Zaelia really fill the shoes of Dignitas’ former support, Bakery? Obviously, none of those questions were fully answered this morning. In fact, we won’t really know the answer to any questions about these teams for several months.

gold club

However, the games this morning gave us a sense of where these teams are headed, and how they stack up against global competition in their current state. With Day 1 of the Gold Club World Championship in the books, let’s take a look at what we learned today, and what to keep an eye on moving into the rest of the round robin phase.

Roll20 Esports

In the interest of full disclosure, I have not yet been able to watch the R2e matches from this morning. However, I’ve received several reports of how the games went, and took a look at the drafts for both games, so I’ll be focusing on that in this article.

We still don’t really know how to fully evaluate the relative strength of China. The teams we saw at Blizzcon were not a fair representation of the region, and one game certainly can’t tell us how SPT stacks up against the other teams in the tournament. However, by all accounts Roll20 took care of their business in solid fashion against a team many expect to finish near the bottom of the standings.

What’s especially interesting and encouraging about these matches for NA’s strongest team is the drafting. In Game 1, Goku was on Ragnaros with Kure on Dehaka. This is a composition that was locked away from Roll20 in the incarnation with Glaurung and Prismaticism. Glau doesn’t have a Ragnaros, and his Dehaka always left much to be desired when compared to Goku. Drafting this composition with the old roster would have left all three flex players in suboptimal positions.  With the new roster, the team clearly has a remarkable degree of flexibility which opens up more mind games during the drafting phase. Locking in Dehaka early reveals nothing about the gameplan of the composition for the remainder of this tournament now that the team has two players who can handle the hero confidently. Even if they never show this sort of composition again, every team has to account for it in their preparation. That alone is useful to Roll20.

The second draft further shows a new interesting development with this roster. Looking at the draft in a vaccuum, you would assume that Kure was on Valla with Daneski on Malfurion. However, for this game those roles were reversed. Now, it’s entirely possible that Roll20 was confident they could defeat SPT 2-0 with unorthodox compositions that didn’t reveal any of their plans to stronger teams. However, the flexibility shown here represents a promising start to this team’s synergy. Goku is willing to give away his trademark Dehaka to a new teammate. Kure can take a back seat on the second support and let Daneski play the hyper carry in the team’s debut set. We literally didn’t see Kure play a single ranged assassin in his first series as a member of Roll20. This leads me to feel a sense of humility from this team. They just want to win, and build whatever composition allows them to reach that goal.

Naturally, this is all speculation, but for me what I saw today confirms my feeling that this team made huge upgrades in the offseason.

Dignitas

We know POILK is really good at shooting things. We know that Wubby is very good at soaking things. The big question mark for Dignitas was how quickly Zaelia could adapt to the support role. Throwing the poor boy on Medic in his debut match was tough, and I think Dig got a bit caught off guard by how well CE played in that game. However, they recovered well for the second game. It’s that Game 2 where I think we saw several instances of Zaelia’s potential in the role.

Simply put, he knew how to play Lucio in a competitive match on Tomb of the Spider Queen. His rotations with Genji were on point, he kept himself in position to land impactful knockbacks, and did not overextend into the opponent’s heavy frontline. In particular, the knockback to interrupt Sanctification was a heads up, veteran play that displayed Zaelia’s understanding of his role in the teamfight as well as his in-game awareness as a player. We still need to see what Zaelia can do on more traditional supports (your Rehgars and Uthers) but I no longer have any concerns about his Lucio.

Oh also, POILK’s Chromie was really fun to watch. It was like that Carbot animation where she drops sand all over the place, only in POILK’s case the sand all landed on top of CE’s heads and made them not be alive.

Fnatic

With such a dominant 2017 behind them, it’s difficult for the average fan to see the new Fnatic roster as anything but a downgrade. There are still huge question marks surrounding the new roster, and I don’t know that we really answered them in these games.

We saw BadBenny’s Arthas, which acquitted itself well, but every tank player should have a reasonably good Arthas in their back pocket for emergencies. In Game 2, we saw his Rehgar which, while solid, does not really give us any indication of the depth of BadBenny’s offlane hero pool.

That said, in the first game on Cursed Hollow we did see that this new roster knows how to execute a team composition. The synergy between Mene and Quackniix was excellent. In a meta without double support, that game showed that this roster can challenge the best team in the world and come out on top.

However, that second game on Tomb only served to reignite the fears regarding Mene’s hero pool. Fnatic opted for a double support strategy, but instead of throwing Mene on the Auriel, they put BadBenny on Rehgar in order to keep Mene on his mage. Yes, for the purposes of this analysis we’re calling Junkrat a mage, leave me alone about it. Dreadnaught said it first, go yell at him. Anyway, where was I?

Right, Badbenny on Rehgar. Going back and looking at this game, the team composition is actually really interesting. They have gobs and gobs of wave clear, and a ton of zone control for the turn ins. In a more passive early game, there’s a real chance that this team composition works out and Fnatic has a 2-0 victory in their first match of GCWC.

Unfortunately, they walked right into a KSV composition that was expressly built to blow nerds up in the early game. Between the silences, Arthas roots, Chromie bombs, and Greymane doing Greymane things, Fnatic were overrun in the early game. Johanna team compositions don’t play well from behind, especially with no other reliable lockdown on the team. The loss had little to do with any sort of hero pool disparities, and far more to do with Fnatic simply trying out an experimental composition that didn’t work out. Ultimately, I think the takeaway from this match is that we re-affirmed that these five European gentlemen are each individually very good at playing the video game Heroes of the Storm. How they come together to perform over the full course of a tournament remains to be seen.

The best news about all of this is that we get to learn even more stuff tomorrow!  The production level at this event is stellar, the casters are having fun, and the games are super interesting. Set your alarm, program your coffee maker, and get up to watch these matches!