Welcome back to Cup #2 of the HGC North American Open Division! This week’s semifinals were a treat in that we welcomed back three of the four teams from Cup #1: NA LUL, XD and SMV. Newcomers to the Top 4 were Cereal Killers. Welcome! For a second week in a row, it was XD was pitted against SMV in the Grand Finals.
Game 1 – SMV vs XD – Cursed Hollow
XD Bans – Genji, Tychus
SMV Bans – Tyrael (1st), Abathur
XD Composition – Greymane, Uther, Li-Ming, Malthael, Muradin
SMV Composition – Hanzo, Dehaka, E.T.C., Lúcio, Tassadar
Each team balanced their rotations and soaked experience so that neither team really start taking an early advantage. Both teams were feeling each other out, staying patient and in control, waiting for that first mistake.
XD showed great awareness to weigh Malthael’s participation between joining in on the fight over the first tribute and soaking experience in the middle lane. This balance is what kept them even so what close in experience after capturing the first tribute while Dehaka was in the top lane soaking experience for SMV.
SMV was the first to get to Level 10 and found an opening for a Boss invade while giving up the second tribute to XD. While XD rotated to deal with the captured boss, SMV moved back to capture theirs. They also knew where the next tribute was spawning defensively while XD dealt with the second Boss.
SMV went on the claim the next two tributes and the first Curse of the match. Early into the Curse XD lost the Keep wall on the top lane. The first Curse ended up claiming XD’s bottom keep and SMV immediately called to take XD’s Boss which forced XD into a Level 14 to 16 team fight:
Forcing a talent tier advantaged fight, SMV takes three-for-nothing
After XD lost three in that team fight that spread from XD’s bottom Boss, across the mid lane all the way up to their giant camp, SMV stole that camp and XD was not able to deal with the giants before they lost their top Keep.
SMV was able to maintain so much map-wide pressure with Dehaka and their first Curse it snowballed into a two level lead. The amount of control SMV ripped from XD allowed them to claim both Bosses again with no chance of a counter-play from XD.
The second Boss led the way to the Core and the final team fight.
Three-for-nothing exchange as SMV takes Game 1.
This wasn’t a combat-heavy match; only 7 kills and all were for SMV. SMV’s lane dominance enabled them to rotate freely to the Bosses time and time again. This took its toll each time and never allowed XD to play out their aggressive team composition and take a team fight, let alone the space to create any opportunities. Malthael was only able to do so much to counter the experience soak, but could not necessarily handle the pressure Dehaka was able to apply with his global influence.
Game 2 – Infernal Shrines
XD Bans – Alexstrasza (1st), E.T.C.
SMV Bans – Hanzo, Tychus
XD Composition – Tyrael, Malthael, Lúcio, Kerrigan, Jaina
SMV Composition – Greymane, Genji, Johanna, Rehgar, Medivh
SMV came out with a slight edge with the neutral camps by claiming their siege camp as well as the camp at the bottom lane. This was a little surprising to me given how clean and crisp XD’s rotations had been for controlling mercenary camps throughout the previous tournament and this one. SMV definitely took the lesson from last week and looks just a little more tight in the early game before the first Shrine.
With the first Shrine, XD strikes first, second and third blood and the first Punisher. The first Punisher typically doesn’t get much more than the Fort wall, but this was the full wall as well as half of the Fort’s health. Things went from rough to bad as XD collapsed on to Greymane to quickly add to the kill tally. There was a beautiful boop coming from Nintorii as Lúcio to remove Greymane’s opportunity to escape through Medivh’s portal. This kill definitely looks more like the return to form for XD as we saw them last week.
As the second Shrine began, the fight over the Punisher was a massive back and forth exchange in the team fight as well as objective control. Surprisingly only one hero ended up falling as both teams were fully engaged shortly after the Shrine was activated by XD. It was a close race with XD reclaiming the objective lead in the low thirties after Greymane died and too much pressure forced Johanna to back out of the fight. All the while, XD had their shaman camp push through the top Fort of SMV. With the Punisher’s death, SMV was clinging to their last Fort with less than half health and a two level deficit to claw back from.
SMV’s opportunity to move back into striking range wouldn’t take long. XD cleared their shaman camp but did not immediately capture it. Medivh scouted this out and was able to get his team to commit to pushing down XD’s bottom Fort with Greymane knowing that XD could rotate to deal with him. Kerrigan and Tyrael tried to engage on Greymane but the rest of SMV had gone to support Greymane resulting in Kerrigan, Tyrael and the Fort dying. Because of this experience booster shot, both teams hit Level 16 close enough to each that XD wasn’t able to capitalize on its lead going into a team fight before or during the next Shrine phase.
XD had killed 30 skeletal defenders leading up to the third Punisher before the team fight even began. Even with a great Leyline Seal for SMV to try and set up a re-engage, TalkingTrees’ Kerrigan showed off just why the hero is so good on this map and team fights.
XD makes a pivot and turns the fight around
Kerrigan’s shields allowed her to clinch a double kill while her teammates would clean up two more members of SMV. Not only did SMV lose the objective but the spawn timers had gotten long enough that their top Keep’s destruction was a foregone conclusion.
While both teams rotated to catch an edge and an opportunity to engage, SMV was finally able to claim XD’s mid Fort. This will be important in just a couple of minutes.
In the top lane, the fifth and final Shrine started much like the others; XD on top of the Shrine farming a fair amount of skeletal defenders before SMV decided to engage. SPOILER: You’ll want to watch this clip at full speed and then about twenty more times at half-speed watching every single player:
The Fight of the Tournament
SMV had had enough. They table-flipped the entire match and pulled out a team fight that should be plastered all over Reddit. With a four-for-nothing exchange, they gave up on the objective; making the all-in call for XD’s core. They rotated all the way to the bottom lane to start clearing the bottom Keep with 20 seconds before the last member of XD would be reviving. Had that mid Fort still stood, the rotation would not have been possible and the game would have gone on! But, the call ended up being the right one. SMV was able to clear the bottom Keep and dive on the core to end the series 2-0 for SMV.
SMV takes their first cup victory and stands tied at the top of the HGC NA Open Division with XD. I do believe this is the start of a beautiful rivalry between these two teams! However, don’t count the other Open Division teams out just yet, there are many more cups to come and we will have to see who improves and adjusts with the meta the best. For a breakdown of points visit https://heroeshype.com/naopen/ and click the “Standings” tab.