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.
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!
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?
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.
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.