NA Weekly Recap – HGC Open Division Cup #1

Let the games begin! The hunt is on! Mgrglmrgl!

Our first cup has come to an end! After 37 teams battled through a best-of-three tournament, we’ve crowned our first cup champions and points leader for the HGC North America Open Division 2018! Here’s a closer look at how the best-of-three Grand Finals broke down game by game between XD and SMV.

Game 1- Battlefield of Eternity

XD Bans – Genji (1st), Uther
SMV Bans – Hanzo, Arthas

XD Composition – Greymane, Dehaka, Lúcio, Muradin, Valla
SMV Composition – E.T.C., Li-Ming, Rehgar, Tychus, Artanis

XD came out with strong rotations and early camp pressure while SMV maintained strong experience soak and even managed to pressure down a tower keeping the experience very close. However, faster rotations by XD led to first blood: 

Even through Level 11 the game was close in experience and after two Immortals all of the major structures still stood for both teams. Despite losing all three Immortals by 12 minutes, SMV showed amazing resolve every time and prevented a tremendous amount structural damage.

Slowly but surely XD extended map control, but SMV did not make it easy for them. At any point one team fight could have changed the way this game was going. 

Unfortunately for SMV, that one opportunity to turn the momentum back never came. A three-for-two exchange and a pick-off shortly after in XD’s favor decided the last Immortal of the match. It also ultimately forced SMV’s hand where they couldn’t manage to defend. This was SMV’s first map loss of the tournament.

Game 2 – Sky Temple

XD Bans – Dehaka, Sonya
SMV Bans – Greymane (1st), Zeratul

XD Composition – Abathur, Lúcio, Jaina, Muradin, Illidan
SMV Composition – Genji, Hanzo, E.T.C., Malthael, Uther

Game 2 started a lot like Game 1; even experience, camp and lane control, and team rotations for kills.

However, the volume got turned up to 11 after the second kill for SMV. That one kill quickly turned into a stolen giants camp and a boss at five minutes, just as the second temple phase was about to start which also went in the way of SMV.


Kill, Camp and Boss = Value

From there on it felt like the “SMV show”. Similar to SMV’s resolve in Game 1, XD stepped up and continually applied pressure and aggression. They attempted team fights, ambushes and tried to wrestle back lane control back with Abathur and Illidan, but their backs were still against the wall. XD was able to defend their Core after it was brought down to 38% to give them a chance to come back.


Team Fight #1


Core Defense by XD

XD quickly took camps, temporarily held control of a Temple and dropped a M.U.L.E to bring their Core health back up. XD knew they could not play passively as everything teetered on the next engagement. That team fight came on quickly and ended just as suddenly. With a three-for-one trade for SMV, an active temple, three catapults and knight camp with a clear path to the Core, it quickly evaporated. SMV had just delivered an equalizer in the series in the form of XD’s first map loss of the tournament.

Game 3 – Tomb of the Spider Queen

XD Bans – Genji (1st), Chromie
SMV Bans – Johanna, Muradin

XD Composition – Hanzo, Tassadar, Uther, Stitches, Sonya
SMV Composition – E.T.C., Greymane, Gul’dan, Stukov, Leoric

This game felt so close and yet so far for SMV. There were moments where you knew they were on the verge of flipping the momentum, but just could not manage to get more than XD out of the encounters.

XD’s pick of Stitches, played by Jin, had significant value with great hooks, and once available, gorges throughout the entire match.

 
Stitches sets up the blow-up of Gul’dan

One play I was excited to see from SMV was Iakona’s Lurking Arm on top of the Stitches after a successful hook. It shut down the Gorge and allowed the teams to disengage. While it wasn’t a tipping point in the game, I have a feeling this is one play that will be emulated in Hero League, Team League and the Open Division cups.

 
Iakona’s Lurking Arm saves the team fight

Impressively, each team weathered the first waves of WebWeavers without losing any forts. Upon the second turn-in for XD, they lost Uther, but SMV chose to invest in re-engaging a team fight; sacrificing structure damage in hopes of turning the momentum. With the five-man investment they lost all three forts and their top keep from the WebWeavers and could not achieve any more kills.


Significant value from XD’s WebWeavers after a re-engage goes wrong for SMV

After losing a series of skirmishes which ultimately brought down E.T.C. and Leoric, XD moved in on the Boss. Gul’Dan, Stukov and Greymane had no choice but to try to go in. Iakona almost had great steal after being hooked into the Boss’ pit and using Flailing Swipe, but was immediately collapsed on by XD. Capturing the boss and having killed four of SMV’s players, the game was over. XD had won.

 
SMV’s Last Stand

Throughout this tournament both teams displayed amazing depth of Heroes of the Storm: team rotations, decisive calls, camp and lane control and team fights. These teams are already starting to understand each other and are willing to make bold calls and strategies in the moment. I suspect we will see these two teams duking it out again soon and I for one can’t wait.

All of us at HeroesHype are excited to see how all of the teams will learn from each other and drive towards challenging the HGC teams in the Crucible. This year’s North American Open Division is filled with talented players and really shines a light on how far the scene has come and how much further we can go.

And that’s a wrap! XD takes the cup and 120 points to take top spot on the ladder of the HGC NA Open Division! For a breakdown of points visit https://heroeshype.com/naopen/ and click the “Standings” tab.