We’re coming to the end of an era with the introduction of Heroes 2.0, and it only seems fitting to take a look back at the history of the game and recognize the names that have made Heroes of the Storm esports the thrilling experience that it has become. The team game aspect of Heroes of the Storm makes it impossible to accurately pinpoint the skill level of individual players, so this list focuses on the greatest teams.
The criteria for this list is:
- Overall achievements
- Impact on the metagame and playstyle
- Consistency over time
Let's celebrate the best of the best, the Greatest of All Time!
Team Liquid has been invested in the HotS scene since the very beginning, all the way back to the Technical Alpha. Initially, they ran a North American team which had less-than-noteworthy results, and in 2015 they moved eastward to Europe.
It was the summer of 2015 that put Team Liquid on the map. The organization acquired El Nexo, a Spanish team spearheaded by Durán brothers LucifroN and VortiX, in early spring. The new team completely and utterly dominated the region over the next six months, racking up enough gold medals to cover the wall.
Liquid was well-known for their creativity and mastery of macro strategies that included Abathur or The Lost Vikings. Individually, each player had several signature heroes which allowed them to outplay almost anyone in small skirmishes and made target bans ineffectual. Though they started to lose steam in October/November during the rise of the double warrior meta, they will always be remembered for their back-to-back DreamHack victories during the summer.
Their latest incarnation with the former Misfits squad shows promise, and with an undefeated record so far in HGC, it’s quite possible Liquid might find themselves back on top again.
Simply put, Cloud9 did the impossible when they won BlizzCon 2015. They defeated the Europeans, they defeated the Koreans, and they took a world championship title. After struggling for so long against Tempo Storm in North America, they finally overtook their rivals and surpassed them in leaps and bounds. To this day, no North American team has ever been able to achieve the same results as Cloud9 between August 2015 to March 2016.
What makes Cloud9’s gameplay special is the way that they achieved their success. At a time when the metagame revolved heavily around beefy double-tank frontlines and big teamfights, Cloud9 opted for clever strategies to abuse the constant deathballing of other top teams. Without a doubt, their opus magnum was the “undying composition” against Team DK at BlizzCon, in which they ran a Murky/Leoric strategy to distract the Koreans while Abathur slowly finished off keep after keep.
Dignitas doesn’t have a Cinderella story. They didn’t go on an unnaturally long winning streak or go out in a blaze of glory winning a huge title. They’ve just simply been strong and consistent, even in the face of numerous setbacks.
Formed in late 2015 as Team Bob?, Bakery and pals got really good really fast. The team excelled at the double warrior, teamfighting metagame that was in vogue at the time, and they quickly became one of the best in Europe. In 2016, they showed magnificent progress and secured their spot among the top three.
Their one downfall has been a revolving door of tank/flex players every three to four months. Wubby, AlexTheProG, and Atheroangel (twice) have all passed through Dignitas and slowed their progress. Nonetheless, what separates a winning team from a losing team is the ability to recollect, reset, and win anyway—and that’s just what Dignitas did.
Despite mediocre performances on the global stage against Koreans, Dignitas has always managed to rise to the top regionally and secure championships even a month or two after adding new players. In 2016, they won more gold medals than any team in any region, and their latest win at the Western Clash once again has them poised for great things in 2017.
Remember Team No Limit? They’re back! Originally a collection of rejects from other teams, L5 came together under the leadership of Noblesse and sCsC and quickly became the premier team in Korea. The MVP Black/Tempest rivalry was still fresh in everyone’s mind, so most people weren’t paying attention to L5, but they snuck up out of nowhere and took Super League Season 3 from MVP Black in fairly convincing fashion.
That wasn’t the end. They went on to win the Fall Global Championship at BlizzCon and then the Gold Club World Championship less than a month later. In the span of three months, they went from being a noname to a team with the cleanest mechanical and decision making skills in the world. They are the only team to have won three premier international tournaments in row.
While MVP Black barely eclipsed them during the Eastern Clash, there’s still plenty of fight left in the Lost 5 as they continue to search for a sponsor and fight for another title in the HGC.
Without a doubt, MVP Black deserves the top spot. They’ve been through multiple incarnations, but their play has remained overall steady and consistent. Their dominance both regionally and internationally spans two and half years and encompasses multiple trips to China, Europe, and the United States and over $750 thousand in prize money.
MVP Black’s history can be broken up into three segments: the Lockdown era, the Rich era, and the post-Rich era. The Lockdown era between early 2015 through the end of the year was characterized by several regional wins with only one notable loss to Team DK during Super League 2015. At the time, they were considered the best team in the world, but their absence from BlizzCon set them back in terms of tournament results.
In 2016, Rich joined MVP Black after Lockdown left to start Tempest with his brother, and MVP Black become by far the most dominant team of all time during the spring season. Rich’s spectacular mechanical play combined with a more aggressive, more coordinated playstyle resulted in an insane 41-map win streak over the course of three high profile tournaments. Compared to the rest of the world, Black was miles ahead in every respect, and it’s unlikely that any team will ever be so dominant for such a long period of time.
As the year wound down, MVP Black began to show some cracks after losing to Tempest in an embarrassing 4-0 sweep in the Super League finals and then to L5 the next season. While Black was still at the top, they just couldn’t close a tournament anymore, and it didn’t help that Rich was continually stuck on relatively low impact heroes like Chen, Leoric, and Medivh. Black ended the year with a row of silvers and bronzes—for them, a shameful display.
Exit Rich, enter roster shuffles. Just before the HGC started in 2017, Black lost its two star players, Rich and Sign, and Ttsst and Reset were promoted from Miracle. Without Rich, many viewers wondered if Black could have the same impact, but the team has adapted accordingly. Instead of the brute force, hard engage playstyle they popularized during the Rich era, they rely on smart, patient macro play reminiscent of the Lockdown era. They place a huge emphasis on global pressure and split pushing while patiently absorbing overaggression from Korean teams still used to the Rich-esque style of gameplay.
Their recent victory at the Eastern Clash finally settled all doubts about their form. MVP Black is back and ready to rock. Will this year be better than last? Unlikely. But Black will probably still continue to top the charts with outstanding plays, brilliant macro, and genius strategies like they always have.