I asked the question last week wondering whether or not SMV could have back to back to back Cup championships and that possibility was snatched from them in the Top 8 by Team Nightcare. After losing to SMV in Cups #1 and #3, this upset shows how far Team Nightcare has come and that they have what it takes to hang out at the top of the HGC North American Open Division. This week we even welcomed Rouge et Au, of notable Heroes of the Dorm presence the last two years, to the Semifinals.
Game 1 – Volkskya Foundary
Team Nightcare Bans – Maiev, Tyrael
XD Bans – Malthael (1st), Uther
Team Nightcare Composition – E.T.C., Greymane, Abathur, Alexstrasza, Tracer
XD Composition – Malfurion, Blaze, Jaina, Johanna, Cassia
Right out of the gates XD obliterated E.T.C. thirty-three seconds into the match.
Team Nightcare would secure a counter-pick shortly thereafter, but for the next several minutes XD was able to continue to control the map, slowly claiming more territory and structures. After scoring seven more kills and maintaining better lane soaking, XD went into subsequent team fights two levels up, multiple times.
The turnaround kills starts the landslide that is XD
Team Nightcare’s pacing seemed to be thrown off continually and they scraped together any camp they could capture trying to re-claim some lane control and an opportunity back into the game. XD would utilize their two level lead from level twelve through to eighteen, only dropping it down to a level-and-a-half lead for only a short period of time.
If I had to describe this game in a single word, I would call it, “surgical”. Eleven kills to one, all Forts standing, multiple fights forced with a talent advantage and not even one objective given up to Team Nightcare; you can’t ask for a more precisely executed game.
XD rolls on winning game 1.
Game 2- Battlefield of Eternity
Team Nightcare Bans – Blaze(1st), Abathur
XD Bans – Maiev, Tyrael
Team Nightcare Composition – Malfurion, Malthael, Hanzo, Kharazim, Muradin
XD Composition – E.T.C., Greymane, Genji, Uther, Alarak
Game 2 was much closer until later on, but this time everything started going the way of Team Nightcare. The first two kills and lane-soaking with Malthael provided a full level lead.
As soon as Team Nightcare secured that lead, due to an amazingly close Dragon’s Arrow landing before a Divine Shield could protect E.T.C., they kept their heads and caution drove their play.
The Divine Shield lands less than a second late after an interrupted Mosh Pit
This level-headed play was exemplified by Team Nightcare in a few attempts where XD tried to force a fight by invading mercenary camps, but Team Nightcare never took the bait and allowed XD to take the camps.
Similar to last game, the level-and-a-half lead was held onto with a confidently tight grip on XD’s throat. With tensions high, Team Nightcare claimed their third immortal and marched towards XD’s top keep:
1, 2, 3, 4, aaaaaand 5.
After managing three very fast kills under the immortal and XD’s keep, Team Nightcare had more than enough firepower to destroy XD’s core.
Ladies, gentlemen, murlocs, orcs and divine creatures, we got ourselves a Game 3!
Game 3 – Towers of Doom
Team Nightcare Bans – Maiev, Tyrael
XD Bans – Malthael(1st), Hanzo
Team Nightcare Composition – Dehaka, E.T.C., Uther, Li-Ming, Cassia
XD Composition – Malfurion, Greymane, Blaze, Tychus, Johanna
Again these teams matched each other to within a half-level through Level 8. A heavy four man rotation on both teams struggling to lock-in control of the bottom lane. All the while Dehaka and Blaze rotated between mid and top lanes as Kala said, trying to “out wet noodle each other”.
The team fights were carefully approached by each team and neither team’s composition seemed to have a leg up over the other. As Team Nightcare was forced out of fights around the Altar phases, XD found better positioning to take more Altars slowly building momentum.
These fights over multiple Altar phases were so close and Team Nightcare got edged out by the slimmest of margins. To give a sense of how close these objectives were overall, there were only five kills twelve minutes into the game and it was split two to three in XD’s favor, while Team Nightcare held the experience lead. This was a very close Game 3 on a map that could turn around with staggered deaths in the late game or with conscientious manipulation of the boss and bottom lane control.
It took an extended struggle over the bottom Altar and XD breaking out four of their ultimates to get Team Nightcare to dive in with their own Divine Mosh combination response. Unfortunately for Team Nightcare, the Powerslide into Mosh Pit created a lot of space and XD wedged themselves in between the split off E.T.C and Dehaka from their backline. Johanna hit a crucial Condemn that only exasperated that space and kept Li-Ming and Cassia from taking advantage of the Mosh pit on Malfurion.
The tilting point of the match.
After that fight, XD ran away with map objectives: the Boss, both bottom sapper camps and an uncontested Altar capture. Team Nightcare applied pressure for the rest of the game knowing that the next Altar phase could be their last.
The last stand.
Team Nightcare would snatch a kill on Malfurion, but XD turned it around for four kills taking any hope Team Nightcare had and smashed it into a thousand pieces.
XD would take Game 3 and the Cup!
Return to Glory
After two weeks of missing the summit, XD has returned to claim another cup and to the top of overall standings, surpassing SMV by 35 points.
As it impacts the top of the ladder for the next cup, I feel obligated to include the following roster changes. While neither team has disbanded not all replacements had been announced by Wednesday evening. On Wednesday, it was announced that TalkingTrees and Homi of XD would be replacing Iakona and Prismaticism on SMV. As long as three members stay the same on the roster, this will not affect the standings of the two teams.
For a breakdown of points following Cup #4 visit https://heroeshype.com/naopen/ and click the “Standings” tab.