What You Missed – HGC NA Week 9

Phase 2 of HGC North America is quickly wrapping up, and Week 9 finalized much of what will be right around the corner for our 8 professional Heroes of the Storm teams. The week was full of clean 3-0 sweeps, and even a few ever elusive and entertaining “reverse sweeps”. Week 9 also locked in the two teams automatically qualifying to BlizzCon in November, while also determining the bottom two teams that must defend their HGC spot during the Crucible in October.

This is the second 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!

Superstars defeated SpaceStation Gaming 3-2

Both Superstars and SpaceStation Gaming came into Week 9 with high hopes after causing some big upsets during Week 8. Superstars defeated Tempo Storm and SpaceStation Gaming swept Gale Force Esports last weekend, making this matchup an exciting one to watch. After strong wins during Games 1 and 2, SpaceStation Gaming made a risky gamble by choosing Nova during Game 3, which Superstars punished. With consistent control during Game 4, Superstars forced a final close map, where they won to complete the reverse sweep.

If you only watch one game:

Watch Game 5, which ended up being the closest game between these two teams on Dragon Shire.

Team Freedom defeated Even in Death
3-0

Hungry for an automatic bid to BlizzCon, Team Freedom showed no signs of letting up on their opponents this weekend. They started with fast wins over Even in Death in Games 1 and 3, but struggled to put anything together in Game 2 until late in the game.  

If you only watch one game:

Watch Game 2 where Even in Death handedly controlled the first 14 minutes of the game, but Team Freedom put together an excellent comeback.

Team Freedom defeated SpaceStation Gaming 3-0

Team Freedom has been a force to be reckoned with during Phase 2 of HCG North America. With this 3-0 sweep of SpaceStation Gaming, Team Freedom improved their Phase 2 record to 15-4. By utilizing double support team compositions in Games 1 and 2, they drew out team fights by simply out-surviving SpaceStation Gaming.

Who to Watch:

Focus on Nazmas during this series, specifically when he played Valla in Games 1 and 2. Nazmas demonstrated just how much damage can be dished out from the Demon Hunter, especially when you land a well-timed Rain of Vengance.

If you only watch one game:

Watch Game 1, a close battle on Sky Temple that boiled down to one last team fight for the win.

Gale Force Esports defeated Lag Force
3-2

Last week’s HGC matches could be characterized by two upsets, but this week’s matches were all about the reverse sweep. Lag Force’s lethal team compositions in Games 1 and 2 were too much for Gale Force Esports to handle, but they couldn’t keep up with the map pressure Gale Force enforced in Game 4. The third and fifth maps of the series were much closer, so the rivalry between these two teams is still strong this late in the year. Despite the final results, Lag Force has demonstrated revitalized energy in the second half of Phase 2.

Who to Watch:

Pay attention to k1pro on Tassadar for his outstanding efforts to zone with Force Wall and interrupt altar channeling. Additionally, watch the level of comfort Fan has on Valla to risk himself securing late game kills.

If you only watch one game:

Watch Game 3, the turning point for Gale Force Esports on Towers of Doom.

Roll20 esports defeated Gale Force Esports 3-0

Serving as one of the marquee matchups for the weekend in North America, the actual competition between Roll20 and Gale Sports Esports was fairly one-sided. A demonstration of the disparity between these two teams can be seen with Roll20’s record-breaking 5:12 win on Warhead Junction for Game 2. Roll20 simply had better rotations and macro play in Game 1 and they won on team fights in Game 3. What’s even more impressive is that Roll20 was able to sweep Gale Force Esports without using two of their most game-changing heroes: Garrosh and Medivh.

If you only watch one game:

Watch Game 1 on Braxis Holdout, where Roll20 took down Gale Force Esports on Braxis Holdout with double Support and slick rotations. If you have an extra 5 minutes, go ahead and check out Game 2 as well for the fastest HGC win.

Tempo Storm defeated Even in Death 3-0

Relying on strong plays from Genji and Medivh, Tempo Storm took a quick 2-0 lead in their series against Even in Death. This prompted a smart shift from Even in Death to ban out both Medivh and Genji in Game 3, which gave them a fighting chance against Tempo Storm. It wasn’t enough, as Tempo Storm kept their wits about them during a long and tough final game to close out the series 3-0.  

If you only watch one game:

Watch Game 3, where Tempo Storm never gave up and recovered from Even in Death’s dominating early game pressure on Tomb of the Spider Queen.

BlizzCon & Crucible Notes

Roll20 esports and Team Freedom have clinched their automatic bids to BlizzCon after their wins this week, along with Gale Force Esports’ loss. The third North American qualifying team will need to outlast all of their opponents during the HGC Playoffs which are September 29th – October 2nd. Gale Force Esports, Tempo Storm, SpaceStation Gaming and Superstars will duke it out for the final spot. Final seeding for the Playoffs will be determined after Week 10’s results.

As for the Crucible, Lag Force and Even in Death sealed their fates with their losses during Week 9. They will defend their HGC spots from the top two HGC Open Division teams the following weekend, October 7th and 8th.

Amateur Meta Trends: August 31st – September 14th

September 5th brought the famous Archlich Kel’Thuzad to the Nexus, along with a plethora of changes to Jaina, Leoric, Chromie and Lt. Morales. While there is still another week before Kel’Thuzad becomes legal in amateur tournaments, his patch signals a major shift in the Warrior and Support fields for the amateur scene. Let’s see how the amateur Heroes of the Storm meta was shaped over the past two weeks!  

Note: The following statistics are based solely on the games streamed during the HGC Open Division and HeroesHype tournaments from August 31st until September 14th. 32 games were analyzed for this article, thus serving as a slice of the overall amateur meta.

Warriors:

Two weeks ago I mentioned a potential rise in the “staple” tanks: E.T.C. and Muradin. I’m happy to say I was right about E.T.C. (especially after the showing he had in HGC NA Week 8) but I was apparently dead wrong about Muradin in the amateur scene.  

E.T.C. stage dove his way to the top of the Warriors chart the last two weeks, showing up in 78% of the games (19 games played, 6 games banned) with a healthy 63% win rate. Muradin only appeared in 2 of the 32 games the last weeks, and he was on the losing side both times.

Dehaka took only a slight step back from 1st place two weeks ago, appearing in 72% of the drafts this time around. He was played 13 times, banned 10 times, and holds a fairly rough 38% win rate. Garrosh’s playmaking potential is clearly apparent to amateur players, as he crashed into the #3 spot with 69% participation (7 games played, 15 banned).

Finally, Arthas and Anub’arak continue to slip as the fourth and fifth most played Warriors respectively. Their win rates are falling just as much as their participation (44% win rate for Arthas, 38% for Anub’arak).  

Assassins:

Greymane is not only the King of Gilneas, but the reigning king of the Assassins here in the amateur scene. Climbing to 81% participation (up from 68% two weeks ago), the Worgen was played in 22 games and banned in 4 others. He’s still a somewhat risky hero to rely on with a 45% win rate.

The next highest Assassin over the last two weeks seemingly wasn’t happy with his recent death in the amateur scene. Malthael climbed his way to being a part of 50% of the drafts at held a 57% win rate. This is quite the climb considering the hero was only part of 15% of the drafts two weeks ago, and matches the recent focus placed on him in HGC.

Valla improved to 3rd place for the damage dealers after being played in 12 games and banned in 1 other. She boasted a 58% win rate and continues to be a major part of the amateur meta. The Assassins field was rounded out by Genji (37% participation) as well as Li-Ming and Lunara (34% participation).  

Support:

With the fall of the Paladin, a Shaman/Gladiator is here to take the Support crown. Rehgar appeared in 97% of the drafts over the last two weeks, missing only 1 game. Additionally, the hero holds a 70% win rate, making him a must-pick healer at this point.

Uther fell to the 2nd spot for Supports with 66% participation (down from 83% two weeks ago). He was picked 14 times, banned another 7 and held a 50% win rate. Malfurion is relatively in the same spot as he was during my last Meta Trends article with 13 games played and 1 game banned.

As always, Tassadar continues to be a major shielding choice with 12 picks and 14 bans, adding up to an 81% participation rate.

Other:

Cho’Gall decides to pop up as more of an influence every once in awhile in the amateur scene, and the last two weeks were no exception. Appearing in 31% of the games, Cho’Gall was played 3 times and banned for 7 games. However, 6 of these bans were against Team Numerics, meaning their opponents have been doing their research.

Amateur Meta Trends : August 11th – 30th

The last three weeks have brought plenty of balance changes to Heroes of the Storm, which will ultimately trickle down to affect the team compositions in amateur matchups. Along with the impending rework of Jaina, Leoric and Lt. Morales, we will see more shifts on the way once the Kel’thuzad patch goes live. There were some major changes to the amateur meta over the last few weeks as the Assassin and Support field balanced out, and the Warrior pool seemingly lost a major hero. Let’s check out the amateur Heroes of the Storm meta for the past three weeks!

Note: The following statistics are based solely on the games streamed during the HGC Open Division and HeroesHype tournaments from August 11th until August 30th. 40 games were analyzed for this article, thus serving as a slice of the overall amateur meta.

Warriors:

When I first started to track the amateur meta a few months ago, it was fun to watch the rise of Stitches and trace it back to HGC in Europe. The Terror of Darkshire has plummeted over the last month in participation, from 69% to 30%, shaking up the Warrior meta and bringing back some old favorites. In fact, the hooks just weren’t landing for Stitches as the hero held a miserable 22% win rate in the 9 games he appeared in.

The top-of-the-line tanks are relatively the same from three weeks ago: Dehaka took over the #1 spot with 88% participation (19 games played, 16 games banned), Arthas rose to 2nd with 70% (21 games played, 7 games banned), and Anub’arak slipped to 3rd with 58% (16 games played, 7 games banned).

Finally, I mentioned three weeks ago that we could see a rise in some of the “staple” tanks, and that’s exactly what we are seeing. E.T.C. claimed the 4th spot for Warriors with 35% participation (9 games played, 5 games banned) while Muradin was right behind at 13 games played with 0 bans. It was a good period for Dwarf, as he was on the winning team 61% of the time.

Assassins:

On the Assassins front, Greymane held onto the top spot at 68% participation (19 games played, 8 games banned), while Illidan took over the second-place spot with his own 19 picks. The famed Demon Hunter was only banned in 2 games and sported a 53% win rate, but didn’t see nearly as much action once the August 23rd Balance Patch went live, which increased The Hunt’s cooldown from 60 to 100 seconds. Genji continued to slip over the last three weeks, settling in at the 3rd highest Assassin choice with 9 games played and 11 games banned.

Valla is still a great choice for damage dealers, as she was played in 15 games and banned out in 2 other, ending the period with a 67% win rate. Finally, it looks like Cassia is on the rise with a 33% participation rate over the last three weeks, being played in 9 games and banned out in 4 others. She will be an interesting hero to watch over the next few weeks.

Support:

As Uther continues to be a focus for balance changes, his role in the Support meta continues its downward slope. The Paladin has dropped from 98% participation a month ago to his current 83% (25 games played, 8 games banned). Rehgar is quickly becoming a prominent healer again at 78% (27 games played, 4 games banned, and Auriel is still a solid choice for the banning phase. Over the last three weeks, Auriel was played 7 times and banned out 21 times.

Rounding out the top five healers was Malfurion at 48% participation (17 games played, 2 games banned) and Stukov with 35% (12 games played, 2 games banned). As always, Tassadar continues to be a major shielding choice with 19 picks and 16 bans, adding up to an 88% participation rate.

Amateur Meta Trends: July 28th – August 10th

While we are a few weeks away from seeing Garrosh attempt to throw his way into the competitive meta, we still have time to see the Assassins field shift with a new priority damage dealer. A few Supports are sitting at an abysmal win rate, and a certain ogre-magi keeps poking his heads into the amateur scene. It’s time to see where the amateur Heroes of the Storm meta is!  

Note: The following statistics are based solely on the games streamed during the HGC Open Division and HeroesHype tournaments from July 28th until August 10th. 42 games were analyzed for this article, thus serving as a slice of the overall amateur meta.

Warriors:

We haven’t seen much change over the last month or so when it comes to Warriors: Anub’arak, Stitches, Dehaka and Arthas have been high priority targets and that hasn’t changed over these 42 games. Anub’arak couldn’t be kept away from the top spot for long, taking the crown back from Stitches over the last two weeks with an 81% participation rate. Dehaka boasted a 73% participation rate, Stitches was at 69% and Arthas at 55%.

The more interesting story for the last two weeks was the glimmer of resurgence from the old “staple” tanks: Johanna, E.T.C. and Muradin. While each of these Warriors only appeared in 8 or fewer games, it’s certainly refreshing to see some old favorites.

Assassins:

The major shakeup over the last two weeks has been Genji’s declining participation. In fact, Greymane has taken over the role of most picked assassin at 74% (25 games played, 6 games banned) shooting past Genji’s 69% (12 games played and 17 games banned). It looks like the recent changes are settling Genji into a more balanced place and stabilizing the meta a bit.

In fact, the Assassins field seems a little more spread out over the last two weeks with Illidan seeing more action (18 games played, 8 games banned) and Lunara rising 18% to be a part of half of the streamed games the last two weeks. Finally, interest in Malthael seems to have dropped like a rock as he plummeted to 14% participation, and lost all 3 games he played in.

Support:

While it may not seem like a large shift at face value, Uther dropped from 98% participation two weeks ago to 90% (32 games played, 6 games banned). He remains the #1 pick for Supports, but Auriel is closing that gap quickly at 88% participation, which is a 10% jump from two weeks ago. Auriel also hosts a better win rate (65%) than Uther’s 53%.

Despite being available for amateur competition over the last two weeks, Stukov was only picked up in 7 of the 42 games and showcased a dismal 14% win rate. Brightwing also held a dangerous 15% win rate over the 13 games she played in. Finally, Tassadar keeps hanging in there with 86% participation (17 games played, 19 games banned).

Other:

As I mentioned two weeks ago, Xul can be a dangerous asset in the right hands and the right situation. This criteria seemingly wasn’t met this week, as the Necromancer was on the losing team 5 out of the 6 games he was played in. Additionally, Cho’Gall keeps daring to make more waves in the amateur scene with a 31% participation rate (4 games played, 9 games banned). The two-headed ogre was even on the winning composition for the Grand Finals of the HeroesHype Amateur Series Week 80 tournament.

Amateur Meta Trends: July 15th – 27th

It seems the last two weeks have given the amateur Heroes of the Storm meta time to even out a little bit. After high value targets like Uther and Genji are picked or removed, the rest of the choices in the Assassin and Support field are spreading out. The same goes for the Warrior role with a closer top three than we have seen in recent memory. Throw a new balance patch into the fray and we should see a small shift in ever-changing meta.

Note: The following statistics are based solely on the games streamed during the HGC Open Division and Heroes Hype tournaments from July 15th until July 27th. 55 games were analyzed for this article, thus serving as a slice of the overall amateur meta.

Warriors:

For the first time in recent memory Anub’arak was not the most contested Warrior in drafts, giving that title to the Terror of Darkshire: Stitches. The Abomination came in at a 76% participation (31 games played, 11 games banned) and ended up with a 58% win rate. Anub’arak was close behind at 71% participation (28 games played and 11 games banned) but his win rate was an even coin flip.

Rounding out the top choices for Warriors were Dehaka (65%) and Arthas (53%). The most common Warrior composition over these two weeks was using Dehaka as a secondary global Warrior in addition to Stitches, Anub’arak or Arthas. Keep an eye on Chen’s Fortifying Brew and Muradin’s health buff over the next two weeks as possible tanks to disrupt the meta.

Assassins:

Genji continues to dominate the first round of bans, being taken away in 39 games over the last two weeks and only playing in 15. At 98% participation, Genji only missed out on 1 of the 55 games analyzed, which remains an incredible feat. We should have a good indicator of how effective the balance patch nerfs are as soon as Wednesday August 2nd during the HeroesHype Tempo Storm Series 2 Finals.  

Greymane held onto the #2 spot at 84% (40 games played, 6 games banned). However, the rest

of the Assassins field completely spreads out after the top 2. Malthael and Valla came in at #3 and #4, but their win rates aren’t very attractive (36% and 26% respectively). The hero to watch in the coming weeks may be Lunara who was banned in 7 games and out of the 11 games she played in, she was on the losing team only once.

Support:

Shocking no one, Uther is still the highest target for Support at 98% participation (32 games played, 22 games banned). Landing Uther on your team didn’t mean success though, as the Paladin sat ended up with an even 50% win rate over the last two weeks. Tassadar also continued to be a favorite at 89% participation (28 games played, 21 games banned).

Auriel held onto the #2 healing spot, but dropped 4% over the last two weeks (from 82% to 78% participation). A majority of the time Auriel was paired off with another healer or a shielding Support (Tassadar/Medivh). Additionally, Rehgar and Malfurion appeared in just over half of the games, often as a solo Support. They both ended with 50% win rates.

Stukov was only allowed in the HGC Open Division Bonus Cup, appearing in 13 out of the 20 games streamed at a 44% win rate.

Other:

Finally, Xul’s rework seems to be quite effective in the right hands. While he was not banned, he was played in 13 games over the course of the last two weeks and achieved a 69% win rate. I believe these numbers will hold steady for the hard-hitting Specialist, as it takes the right situation to warrant a pick.

Amateur Meta Trends: July 10th – 14th

This week saw some large shifts in the amateur Heroes of the Storm meta in nearly every role with the decline of Anub’arak and Dehaka as well as the continued rise of both Malthael and Auriel. Tuesday brought us the Stukov patch, introducing a new Support, large changes to Xul and nerfs to everyone’s favorite bug.

 

Note: The following statistics are based solely on the games streamed during the HGC Open Division and Heroes Hype tournaments as well as Division 1 Chair League games. 44 games were analyzed this week, thus serving as a slice of the overall amateur meta.

Warriors:

Anub’arak looks to be relatively squashed after the Stukov patch was released this week. While he saw an 82% participation rate over the course of the week, he dropped off  sharply in games played on the current patch. Of the 12 games played after his basic attack, health, and Cocoon nerfs, he only appeared in 3 and was on the losing team each game.

Dehaka also continues to slip with a 45% participation rate, appearing in 15 games and banned in 5 others. The one Warrior that teams wanted to land this week was Stitches who was played in 28 games this week with a healthy 71% win rate.

Assassins:

It’s no shock that Genji is still the go-to for Assassins with a 95% participation rate this week (17 games played, 25 bans) and a 64% win rate for those teams lucky enough to snag the ninja. Malthael was the second most prioritized Assassin, appearing in 13 games and banned in 21 other games. Greymane was close behind with a 70% participation rate (25 games played, 6 bans).  

There were some other interesting moves on the Assassins front this week with Kael’thas rising from the ashes to be played in 12 games and banned in 6 others. Addtionally, Li-Ming was played in 17 games with a shockingly low 18% win rate.

Support:

Uther continued his reign as the top Support this week with a 94% participation rate, but only won 40% of the games he was played in. Stukov will likely be going viral in two weeks when he is allowed in the HGC Open Division as well as the Heroes Hype Tempo Storm Series 2 Finals.

Auriel is steadily giving hope to the Support role with an 82% participation rate this week (24 games played, 12 games banned) and an even 50% win rate. Finally, Tassadar finished off the top 3 by being played 13 times and banned out 21 in 21 other games.

Other:

One other note of interest, North America seems to be feeling the aftershocks of Korea’s crush on Cho’gall. The two-headed ogre was played in 6 games this week and banned (in some form) in 4 others. While it’s a fun experiment, it doesn’t seem to be panning out for teams who choose Cho’gall as they saw only a 33% win rate.