The returning regional powerhouses start off the year on top heading into the inaugural HGC season. As the only returning squads from the 2016 season, the three teams leading our rankings from North America and Europe should be no surprise.
We've broken our rankings down into three tiers: Titans, Contenders, and Underdogs.
The Titans are the top teams we expect to do well throughout the season. We were unanimous in our rankings for both regions with the exception of a single vote for B Step above Gale Force in North America.
The Contenders category consists of teams we consider to be in the best position to contest the top teams for a spot in the first Clash. Again, we were nearly unanimous in these rankings.
The Underdogs consists of teams that we just haven't seen enough from yet. The bottom two teams from each region will be forced to stave off HGC elimination against the top tier teams of the Open Division in the Crucible, and these squads could possibly be in danger when the Spring Season concludes.
| Quackniix |
|The top three teams in the region—Fnatic, Misfits, and Dignitas—are always contesting one another, but Fnatic appears to have all of the momentum heading into the 2017 season. Quackniix and his boys became the first Western team to take down MVP Black and even went toe-to-toe with Ballistix during BlizzCon. They've shown remarkable progress in Europe during 2016, and we don’t expect that trend to stop.|
| Blumbi |
|Misfits are right in the mix of the top three in Europe. Despite coming into the Spring and Summer seasons strong last year, they only narrowly missed a trip to BlizzCon after losing to Fnatic in a nail-biting tiebreaker match. They have the longest standing roster in the region, and with a chip on their shoulder, they looked poised for revenge in 2017.|
| Bakery |
|Out of the top teams, Dignitas gets the low rung on the ladder simply due to recent roster changes. They boast a total of four regional championship wins last year, the best results in the region, but the revolving door of tank/flex players in the last few months has set them back considerably. Nonetheless, Zaelia has already proven himself a fine acquisition. Fans can anticipate a long, hard fought battle among the juggernauts of Europe throughout the year.|
4. Team expert
| bLaDe |
|Formerly Two Bees Determined, Team expert features a steady roster with several well known names in the European scene. Anchored by former Team Dignitas flex player, adrd, and his outside-the-box drafts, Team expert looks like one of the few Contenders that could actually steal a spot in the first Clash from the top three. They’ll be a team to watch out for.|
5. Diamond Skin
| chriZplosion |
|Diamond Skin is another squad to keep on the radar. After being benched, former Liquid player Cris set out to prove he could qualify for HGC over his former team—and succeeded. Merging with ePunks, a fairly successful (but underperforming) team, Cris brought just enough top tier skill and shotcalling to push Diamond Skin up in the rankings and make them a real challenger for the top spots.|
| MichaelUdall |
|Gale Force eSports has come off a disappointing Fall season that ended without a BlizzCon ticket, but they’ve made some impressive roster moves by adding both Fan and Equinox. With a BlizzCon Champion in Fan and a brilliant shotcaller in Equinox, Gale Force is looking stronger than ever.|
| CauthonLuck |
|The most controversial team in our rankings is Tempo Storm. Although winning the past two regionals, and although we agree that they are top tier in the region, we still think they are a bit overrated. They display some of the best chemistry in the West, but their individual talent levels are not on the same level as Gale Force eSports or Team Naventic.|
| Zuna |
|Naventic has had a ton of potential since early 2016 but have failed to live up to that potential due to various roster swaps. Some of the best players in the region (erho, McIntyre, Fan) have joined and left Naventic throughout 2016, but they have maintained a strong squad throughout. If they want to succeed in 2017, they need to buckle down with their current roster and find their identity.|
4. B Step
| KingCaffeine |
|Formerly sponsored by Denial eSports, B Step looks like Cloud9 2.0. There is an amazing amount of professional competitive experience on their side between former BlizzCon Champions KingCaff, k1pro, and iDream, and the recent addition of McIntyre pushes them to the next level. They are a team to watch out for when it comes time for the first Clash.|
5. No Tomorrow
| Casanova |
|The second pick to contest the top spots goes to No Tomorrow. erho is arguably the best tank in North America, and supported by several top notch assassin/flex players, the team looks strong. Casanova is a relative newcomer to the competitive scene and might be a weak link, but No Tomorrow looks like they might make an impact in the league.|
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