What You Missed – HGC NA Playoffs

One last shot.

This past weekend four teams entered the HGC Playoffs for North America: Superstars, SpaceStation Gaming, Tempo Storm and Gale Force Esports. Competing in a ladder bracket, these teams fought to keep their HGC 2017 season alive. Once a team lost their best of five series, they were knocked out and their season concluded. The last team standing would earn their tickets to compete at HGC Finals at BlizzCon.   

This is the fourth edition of “What You Missed”, a showcase of HGC North America. It features results, standout performances, and major events over the weekend. For those who are under a time crunch, I’ve selected one game from every series and included the VOD to give you a sense of how that series felt. Enjoy!

SpaceStation Gaming defeated Superstars 3-1

A lot of the SpaceStation Gaming and Superstars series can be boiled down to execution. For Game 1, SpaceStation Gaming put all of their eggs in the wombo-combo basket and it simply paid off. During Game 2, Superstars couldn’t heal enough with Malfurion and Stukov to compensate for SpaceStation Gaming’s Gul’dan and Sonya. Superstars executed well to dominate Game 3 behind Erho’s precision Stitches hooks and Srey’s Entombs on Leoric. Ultimately, the series ended in an anticlimactic fashion during a 13 minute Boss fight on Warhead Junction. SpaceStation Gaming looked clean (except Game 3) and prepared to win this series.

If you only watch one game:

Watch Game 1 on Battlefield of Eternity. SpaceStation Gaming drafted a combo-centric team composition, but pulled it off to set the tone of the series.

Tempo Storm defeated SpaceStation Gaming 3-0

Timing their boot camp for the week leading up to the HGC Playoffs was the best possible route for Tempo Storm, a team that looked like they had lost their identity during the second half of Phase 2. Tempo Storm looked focused and their strategy for the entire weekend was calculated.

Overall, their goal to outlast SpaceStation Gaming using double Supports paid off, and they continued to outlive their opponents during team fights. Additionally, reserving nuclear warheads for just the right time gave Tempo Storm a quick victory in Game 2 on Warhead Junction. It is unfortunate that Equinox misclicked his Zeratul heroic during Game 3, because SpaceStation Gaming looked to be in control on Sky Temple.  

Who to Watch:

Pay close attention to Fury throughout the short series. His Garrosh flips in Game 1 were an integral part in Tempo Storm isolating kills. His crowd control as E.T.C. in Game 2 and Anub’arak in Game 3 were stunning to behold. Fury showcased why he is a (if not the) top Warrior in North America.

If you only watch one game:

Watch Game 1 on Braxis Holdout. The matchup was close prior to Level 10 and stayed that way due to Zerg rushes, but Tempo Storm prevailed in the end.

Tempo Storm defeated Gale Force Esports 3-0

As the longest standing roster in North America, Tempo Storm had a large burden to bear coming into the Playoffs. If they lost, BlizzCon would be the first Global tournament that they missed. To win, they would need to get past Gale Force Esports. Continuing their trend against SpaceStation Gaming, Tempo Storm relied heavily on psalm playing Valla with a double Support to back him up.

Throughout the series, Tempo Storm made a point to emphasize map control. Early in Games 1 and 2, the teams would have prolonged fights, but very few heroes would ultimately die. This left Tempo Storm to decide the fate of each map through stronger team compositions and overall execution of their plan. In the end, it felt like Tempo Storm was the better prepared team that also had more confidence.

Who to Watch:

There was a lot of fire and passion from psalm in the post series interviews on Saturday and Sunday, and for good reason. He demonstrated Tempo Storm’s hunger for victory both outside and during the games. He slung maximum damage on Valla in Games 1 and 2, and his Medivh portals set up invasion after invasion to secure kills in Game 3. For those reasons, keep a close eye on psalm.

If you only watch one game:

Watch Game 3 on Towers of Doom. Tempo Storm broke away from Valla and used psalm on Medivh to constantly control every part of the map through fast rotations.

What’s Next?

The top amateur Heroes of the Storm teams are currently competing to earn a place at the HGC Crucible on October 7th and 8th. Lag Force and Even in Death will be defending their HGC spots at 12 PM PDT on the Heroes of the Storm Twitch page: https://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroes.

What You Missed – HGC NA Week 10

The 10th and final week of Phase 2 for HGC North America has come and gone, giving the 8 professional Heroes of the Storm teams one last chance to practice before the next step. Roll20 esports and Team Freedom are already moving on to HGC Finals at BlizzCon, while Lag Force and Even in Death must fight to stay in the HGC. For the four remaining teams, this weekend was a great warmup for the HGC Playoffs beginning on Friday, September 29th.

This is the third edition of “What You Missed”, a showcase of HGC North America. It features results, standout performances, and major events over the weekend. For those who are under a time crunch, I’ve selected one game from every series and included the VOD to give you a sense of how that series felt. Enjoy!

Gale Force Esports defeated Superstars 3-1

On paper, the first series of the weekend between Gale Force Esports and Superstars should not have been as close as it actually panned out to be. Despite the standings, Superstars showed a lot of life in Weeks 8 and 9 with victories over Tempo Storm and SpaceStation Gaming. On the flipside, Gale Force Esports has struggled lately, losing to the top two teams in North America and just scraping by against Lag Force. Combine recent history with two teams that can get fairly creative with their drafts (I’m looking at you The Lost Vikings), and HGC North America was treated with an entertaining series to start off Week 10. Gale Force Esports rode a few late game team fights to walk away with the win in four games.

If you only watch one game:

Watch Game 4, a back and forth brawl on Infernal Shrines that ultimately gave Gale Force Esports the series.

Roll20 esports defeated SpaceStation Gaming 3-0

Wanting to lock in the #1 seed for North America, Roll20 esports logged in on Friday as a confident team. They had only dropped one game in Phase 2, and their level of comfort was readily apparent in their drafts and the dominant way they won Game 1. Meanwhile, SpaceStation Gaming had substituted Daihuu for Equinox, forcing a shift not only in teamwork, but role assignments as well. Even with the role swaps, SpaceStation Gaming put up a fight in Games 2 in 3. They just couldn’t hold it together long enough to survive late game team wipes from Roll20’s aggression.

If you only watch one game:

Watch Game 3, where SpaceStation Gaming impressed with their map control during the midgame on Infernal Shrines, but Roll20’s team composition was just too strong to beat in the end.

Lag Force defeated Even in Death 3-0

Both of these teams are already headed to the HGC Crucible, but it seems like Lag Force will have a stronger chance at defending their HGC spot in October. Granted, the results of this matchup had no effect, so Even in Death busted out a full Orc team in Game 1 before swapping to more traditional drafts. Lag Force held a firm grip on each game using aggressive calls for teams fights. They secured kills early and often to win their final series 3-0.

If you only watch one game:

Watch Game 3 for another glimpse of Lag Force’s double reset team featuring E.T.C., Lúcio, Genji and Li-Ming (Dehaka was swapped out for Leoric for this game).

Team Freedom defeated Tempo Storm 3-2

If you only have enough time to watch one series from Week 10, it needs to be this one. Tempo Storm has clearly been putting in the work to recover from their recent stumbles in Phase 2. When they won in Games 2 and 4, they dominated Team Freedom in the early game and never took their foot off the gas. When they lost in Games 1 and 3, they lost later on over Boss control. Taking Team Freedom to 5 games, Tempo Storm looks very strong as they prepare for the HGC Playoffs this upcoming weekend.

Who to Watch:

Check out Psalm on Kel’Thuzad during Games 2 and 3. Available for the first time this weekend, the Archlich was picked 3 times and banned for another 4 games. Psalm’s ability to gain Blight stacks early to boost Spell Power made him a force to be reckoned with, and a preview for future games to feature the hero. Psalm’s skill even drew a Kel’Thuzad ban from Team Freedom in Game 5.

If you only watch one game:

Watch Game 5, a 30 minute nail-biter on Battlefield of Eternity. Tempo Storm held on with no Keeps and their Core at 44% for 16 minutes, but Team Freedom was able to finish the game off late.

HGC Playoffs

This weekend, the four “middle of the pack” teams will duke it out for one last chance to qualify for BlizzCon. On Friday, #6 Superstars will face off against #5 SpaceStation Gaming in a best of five series. The winner of Friday’s match will play #4 Tempo Storm on Saturday. Finally, Saturday’s winner will play against #3 Gale Force Esports on Sunday. The winner of that match will earn their ticket to compete at HGC Finals during BlizzCon.

Each of these matches will begin at 2 PM PDT on the Heroes of the Storm Twitch channel: https://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroes

What You Missed – HGC NA Week 8

Heroes of the Storm fans wanting to keep up to date with all of the action in the Heroes Global Championship (HGC) must undertake a herculean effort. Each Friday, Saturday and Sunday during a Phase features two best-of-five series, creating a range of 18 to 30 games that could be viewed each weekend. Considering those six matchups are then doubled once you consider both Europe and North America are running during different parts of the day, it takes serious dedication to stay informed with all of the developments for HGC.

Don’t get me wrong, having too many Heroes of the Storm pro matches to watch is not a terrible problem to have. However, I feel like there should be an easier way to get a breakdown of the highlights from the previous weekend. This is the first edition of “What You Missed”, a showcase of HGC North America. It features results, standout performances, and major events over the weekend. For those who are under a time crunch, I’ve selected one game from every series and included the VOD to give you a sense of how that series felt. Enjoy!

SpaceStation Gaming defeated Gale Force Esports 3-0

With a weekend full of upsets and surprises, North America began Week 8 with SpaceStation Gaming handing Gale Force Esports their second loss of Phase 2. Even more surprising was the 3-0 fashion in which SpaceStation Gaming handled the series. Following an under-utilized Sylvanas in Game 1 and a devastating blow to Gale Force Esports on their home turf of Braxis Holdout, SpaceStation Gaming earned every bit of their victory.

If you only watch one game:

Watch Game 3, the closest game in the series on Battlefield of Eternity. Clocking in over 30 minutes long, the back-and-forth nature of Game 3 was a sight to see.

Team Freedom defeated Superstars 3-0

Team Freedom showed why they are one of the top teams in North America by making quick work of Superstars in all three games of the series. Using E.T.C. and Genji, Team Freedom looked extremely comfortable with their team compositions and overall synergy.

Who to Watch:

Daneski displayed excellent control and understanding of Genji’s Swift Strike, while KilluZiion supported Team Freedom extremely well by himself on Lúcio.

If you only watch one game:

Watch Game 2 to see Daneski’s Genji play as well as KilluZiion on Lúcio during Towers of Doom.

Tempo Storm defeated Lag Force 3-2

There seem to be some continued growing pains with the role swap that Tempo Storm has undergone, shifting Cattlepillar to the main Warrior role while moving Fury to the second Warrior and occasional Malthael slot. After a great two wins to begin the series, Tempo Storm seemed shaken by Lag Force’s odd team composition in Games 3 (utilizing Zagara and Abathur). Tempo Storm closed out the series by punishing Lag Force’s slow early game during Game 5 on Battlefield of Eternity.

Who to Watch:

Pay attention to Zuna’s sub for the series, Leonblack. This Warrior player’s confidence had them blending in well with veteran HGC players. They have a great feel for Garrosh’s Wrecking Ball and landed some solid Stitches Hooks in Games 3 and 4.

If you only watch one game:

Watch Game 3, where Lag Force turned the series around to force Games 4 and 5.

Roll20 esports defeated Even in Death 3-1

Roll20 esports has almost always been a terrifying foe to face in the regular season of HGC. Beginning the weekend with a 12 game win streak and facing the 8th place team in the standings, you could have expected Roll20 to dismantle Even in Death. However, Even in Death showed numerous signs of life in the series, despite having to play defensively for Games 1 and 3. Some of their success came from catching Glaurung out, which brought additional Roll20 members trickling in to their untimely deaths.

If you only watch one game:

Watch Game 2. Even in Death came back to end Roll20 esports’ 13-game winning streak on Sky Temple.  

Team Freedom defeated Gale Force Esports 3-1

Gale Force Esports knew they would have a tough opponent for Sunday’s matchup against Team Freedom. Prior to their Friday night loss, Gale Force Esports’ only previous loss in Phase 2 was to Team Freedom in the beginning of July. However, the July results mirrored Sunday’s, a 3-1 loss. In a surprising turn of events, it looks like Gale Force Esports is losing their “Home Turf” advantage over Braxis Holdout, suffering two defeats on the map this weekend alone.

If you only watch one game:

Watch Game 3 for the astonishing (Kaelaris inspired) Core defense, which gave Team Freedom their second victory and served as a turning point for the series.

Superstars defeated Tempo Storm 3-1

Superstars and Tempo Storm ended Week 8 for HGC North America, meaning there was just enough time for another upset. Although Superstars couldn’t get anything going against Team Freedom earlier in the weekend, they were firing on all cylinders against Tempo Storm on Sunday. Focusing hard on map control and taking an early lead set up Superstars on each of their 3 wins. Their use of Lúcio’s speed and overall game momentum brought one-upped the tempo of Tempo Storm.

If you only watch one game:

Watch Game 3. Even though Superstars won the series, this game on Tomb of the Spider Queen was close enough to provide an entertaining matchup between the two teams.

Meta Notes

Heavy emphasis was placed on E.T.C. during Week 8, as he was picked 14 times and banned 8 times with a 79% win rate. Malthael was also picked 14 times and banned 8 times but ended up with a 43% win rate. Finally, Abathur was played 6 times with a 50% win rate, while also getting banned out 7 different times.