Week 6 Recap
HGC Europe Brackets and schedules on Liquipedia
HGC North America Brackets and schedules on LiquipediaHGC is back! There were a lot of ups and downs this week, but it's great to be back with Heroes of the Storm action five days a week!
The North American matches this week can be characterized as a bunch of one-sided sweeps. Tempo Storm and Gale Force eSports came back from the break in full force, looking as dominant and consistent as ever. Team 8, on the other hand, did not do so hot. With two back to back losses, Team 8 will have to put in some serious work if they want to stay on top of NA in the second half of Phase One.
No Tomorrow and Team Naventic look like they've turned a corner. Despite sitting at rock bottom in the standings, they both came out strong this weekend and shook things up. It's going to take the rest of the season to climb out of relegation territory, but they've already shown that they're making steps in the right directions.
In Europe, there were several close and intense series this weekend. Team Liquid, formerly playing for Misfits, were the undisputed champions of HGC at the start of the year, but they showed some surprising fragility against Tricked eSport. Conversely, Team Dignitas seems to have finally come together at the Western Clash, and their dominance continued the first week back.
In the lower divisions, the storyline is centered on Playing Ducks and Team expert trying to make a dent in the top three. In line with their recent improvement, Playing Ducks continued to play surprisingly well this week. In sharp contrast, Team expert's normally confident play faltered this week; when playing standard, they looked lost, and even when they pulled out insane picks, it just didn't resonate the same way as it did in the first few weeks.
Friday, April 14
Fnatic [3-1] Team expert
Team expert dominated most of the early game on Braxis Holdout with double 100% Zerg waves. However, with a couple of risky boss plays Fnatic managed to even the scales. As Fnatic secured a late game Zerg wave, it looked like expert’s defeat was imminent, but a pick-off on two members of Fnatic allowed them to push the Core first and take the first game.
Sadly for Team expert, the first game was the only one where they managed to grab a win. For the rest of the set, Fnatic out-rotated expert and bludgeoned them to death with crisper teamfighting. As usual, expert displayed a wide variety of drafts including a surprise Gazlowe pick on Sky Temple. However, despite flavorful drafts, expert couldn’t keep up with Fnatic.
Team Liquid [3-2] Tricked eSport
The favorites started off as expected. With a couple of early takedowns, Team Liquid stayed ahead on talents and pushed their advantage at every opportunity to take a quick first game. However, Tricked started to turn things around in the second game on Towers of Doom. After an even early game, a crucial pickoff on darkmok combined with a sick Gust from ethernal swung the game in the favor of Tricked, who maintained their lead to the very end.
The rest of the series continued with both teams alternating wins. First Team Liquid dominated the teamfights on Infernal Shrines and raced to the Core, then Tricked combo’d the curse with a late game boss on Cursed Hollow for an easy win. The last game proved to be a real nailbiter. Tricked secured the first three immortals, but Team Liquid kept up in experience with some crucial takedowns. On the fourth immortal, Team Liquid finally reached the tipping point and pushed all the way to the Core for the win.
Gale Force eSports [3-0] Team 8
GFE won the series 3-0, but the real highlight here was GFE's surprisingly crisp macro play, no doubt a lesson learned from EU teams at the Western Clash.
Team 8 began the series with map pick in exchange for giving up Arthas. After recent buffs, the Lich King is having a notable impact on HGC, especially for GFE. Team 8 tried to get a Medivh/Varian portal burst combo going on Battlefield of Eternity, but GFE was incredibly slippery. Team 8 took the match to Infernal Shrines where they ran a triple warrior composition. Unfortunately, running Gul'dan as the solo damage cost them dearly in terms of pushing power and waveclear—so much that they nearly lost to four catapults while trying to push GFE’s keep.
On Game Three on Braxis Holdout, GFE ran a Chromie with a surprising last pick Zagara to mirror the Nydus Network macro strategy that Super Perfect Team ran at the Western Clash. Team 8 again ran a triple warrior composition with Gul'dan/Malfurion, but even with the counter side soak from Glaurung's Dehaka, Zagara was able to constantly push the lanes. The result was a brutal 3-0. GFE simply played better macro than Team 8 on every map.
Team Naventic [3-0] B-Step
Naventic threw a B-Step a curveball in the first game on Tomb of the Spider Queen with an uncharacteristic late game comp to counteract the insane burst comp of Jaina, Ragnaros, and Judgment Tyrael. While B-Step blasted Kenma off the face of the earth shortly after reaching level 10, they faltered in the later stages and failed to secure takedowns. Naventic continued to bully B-Step and keep the pressure on, eventually securing boss and level 20 to finish the game with 19:00 webweavers.
B-step had trouble from the beginning of this game. Kenma was able to get back on the Lucio, a hero who rewards aggressive playstyles and allows him to set up plays for his team, so it didn't take long for Naventic to grab a huge lead after securing two forts and a three level lead. B-Step were forced to take fights down a talent tier during the mid game, and eventually they succumbed to the macro pressure of Naventic.
Naventic once again took control of the draft on Battlefield of Eternity. B-Step was out of answers and forced to put aPm on Kharazim. Naventic answered with a Lunara and Leoric to whittle away the Arthas/Muradin front line and blow through Kharazim’s sustain rather quickly. Eventually Naventic took a favorable fight three levels up which resulted in three takedowns. From there, they pushed onto the Core with catapults at 15:00 to win the series 3-0.
Saturday, April 15
Synergy [3-1] beGenius
Synergy has always been known for their relentless aggression, and they immediately put it to good use in the first game on Cursed Hollow. They continually forced fights and looked for opportunities to combo the pushing power of Sylvanas and the boss. However, the defense of beGenius was solid, and they punished Synergy several times for their aggression. Ultimately the game came down a single pickoff in the late game in favor of Synergy, which snowballed to a curse and boss to end the game.
On Tomb of the Spider Queen, the French team fared no better. From the start, Synergy was in control of turn-ins and secured back to back webweavers. After being forced into a bad fight over the boss in the late game, beGenius could not hold and had to concede the game. As all hope seemed lost, an opportunity arose for beGenius to take back the series on Sky Temple. After a weak early game, they swung a mid game teamfight in their favor and from there on displayed superior teamfight coordination, allowing them to take their first game of the series.
It looked like beGenius had managed to tilt their Russian opponents, but just as quickly as hope appeared, it vanished again. On Infernal Shrines, Synergy simply outplayed their opponent at every turn and put the final nail in the coffin.
Team Dignitas [3-0] Playing Ducks
Team Dignitas simply rolled over Playing Ducks in the first game on Braxis Holdout. By utilizing the double global mobility from Falstad and Dehaka, they won every single objective without missing any soak. Even with Ragnaros, the third Zerg wave was too much for the Ducks to stop.
In the second game on Tomb, Team Dignitas managed to keep tabs on the turn in points at all times and stall—even with Ragnaros when necessary. Unable to turn in, Playing Ducks could do nothing but defend until Dignitas forced a fight with a talent advantage to close out the game. The story repeated itself once again on Infernal Shrines, where Dignitas outplayed the Ducks at every objective until they secured victory.
Superstars [3-2] Team Freedom
What an incredible series to get us back into the HGC action! Initially, the series started off with a surprising 2-0 for Superstars, putting Team Freedom on the defensive. However, with their backs against the wall, Team Freedom turned the series around on Braxis Holdout with a triple warrior comp supported by Lunara/Auriel. At this point, Freedom's teamfight coordination shined and eventually allowed them to take a 10:00 keep off Superstars and eventually win the game.
Afterwards, Team Freedom ran an Arthas/Abathur composition in an insanely close game on Towers of Doom. Freedom went all the way down to one HP on their Core, but they mounted a comeback and eventually secured the game with a breathtaking late game teamfight.
Despite the closeness of the previous matches, Superstars found their stride again on the final map, Sky Temple. They were in complete control of the game, but there were moments where it looked like they were unnecessarily risking their advantage by fighting on the same talent tier or baiting the boss. The game went quite late considering the lead for Superstars, but a risky invade allowed them to finally close out the game and win the series 3-2.
Tempo Storm [3-0] No Tomorrow
No Tomorrow put up a fight against Tempo Storm, nearly securing the win on Towers of Doom in Game Two after knocking Tempo's Core down to three HP. In typical Tempo fashion, the former Murlocs struggled in the early game, but when it was time for late game teamfighting, Tempo flipped the "go" switch with an insane fly-Gust play from CauthonLuck.
In the final game on Sky Temple, Tempo again gave up kills in the early game, but the pressure got to No Tomorrow in the mid game and forced a strange 4v5 Arthas flank near the boss pit that upended their lead. The final teamfight of the game was carried by Psalm's ridiculously good Kael'thas play.
Sunday, April 16
Team Liquid [3-2] Playing Ducks
Playing Ducks looked dominant in Game One on Battlefield after drafting a Medivh composition to counter Team Liquid’s Tassadar pick. They continued to dominate on Towers of Doom as well with a remarkable Divine Storm/Judgement setup until Hasuobs baited Tyrael’s Judgement through a portal and into a fort. Liquid regained initiative from there, and the Ducks seemed to lose confidence. It all came down to an altar spawn with Playing Ducks on match point. In the final moments, HasuObs made a clutch play saving Splendour with Ley Line Seal and allowed Team Liquid to clean up the fight and take the victory.
Playing Ducks didn’t let up, however. A remarkable half hour game on Infernal Shrines ensued, culminating in Liquid holding off a 29:00 punisher without a keep. But Playing Ducks capitalized on their two globals to force catapult pressure onto Liquid’s Core, dropping it low enough for SportBilly’s Falstad to fly in and finish the job.
Nande’s hero pool was exceptionally diverse throughout the series, including busting out Zagara on Tomb of the Spider Queen. In addition to Zagara, the Ducks went all-in on waveclear against the double support composition out of Liquid. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to pressure the way they were expecting, and Liquid rode out the game to a comfortable win. Liquid brought out a special Vikings pick in the final game on Cursed Hollow. Although they had a shaky start, Liquid began to take complete control as they bullied Playing Ducks with constant lane pressure and objective control before ultimately overwhelming them for the win.
Team Dignitas [3-2] Team expert
Team expert gave Dignitas a taste of their own medicine in Game One with a Stitches/Tyrande/Kael’thas combo. Due to some excellent hooks from BadBenny, expert swiftly took the lead. Dignitas responded in kind on Dragon Shire with some new preferences for Zul’jin and Abathur. Dignitas was patient and methodical in their teamfighting until they found the perfect moment to take a fight and close out the game.
Snitch and Mene continuously swapped Zul’jin and Sylvanas between them throughout the rest of the series. On Braxis, expert took back the momentum with Sonya, Varian, and Greymane into Arthas/Lucio by continually punishing Dignitas for overextensions. Bakery was on Lucio in every single game in this series, and he broke it down on Battlefield of Eternity with some masterful play.
In the last two games, expert’s drafting and talent builds seemed to suffer—a Varian solo tank on Battlefield, a poor Kerrigan build on Infernal Shrines, etc. Fans cried out for the Mad Scientist to bring out something crazy, but perhaps after the Fnatic series they wanted to keep things more standard. Unfortunately, the prioritization of Sylvanas and Zul’jin on Battlefield and Shrines allowed them to exploit the objectives and ride out their advantages to take the series.
No Tomorrow [3-1] Team NaventicNo Tomorrow looked like a different team in this series compared to their play in the first half of Phase 1. With the exception of Game Three in which Zuna led Naventic to victory with excellent Ragnaros play, No Tomorrow looked confident and in control throughout the series.
The end of Game One was riveting. After a back and forth game, No Tomorrow committed to boss at the same that Naventic started to pressure a keep. No Tomorrow hesitantly “feigned” a medivac back to their Core to defend but instead split their team and almost lose the game as a result.
TalkingTrees played an impressive Alarak in Game Two. Paired with Malfurion, No Tomorrow combo’d their way through the immortal siege to secure an impressive 10:00 Core.
Tempo Storm [3-0] Team 8
Back with a vengeance after falling to Team 8 in the Western Clash, Tempo Storm looked dominant in every game of the series. On the first map, Tempo got an early lead and relentlessly pressed their advantage for the rest of the game. In Game Two, they continued their dominance with a three-man takedown and snowballed the rest of the game to a 9:00 victory.
Psalm’s commanding Valeera play was the story of Game Three. With the help of some Abathur symbiotes, he punished every overextension from Team 8 and consistently won trades against Glaurung’s Zeratul. Without much effort, Tempo Storm dispatched Team 8 in a quick 3-0, leaving Team 8 with two harsh losses this week.
Week 7 Preview
By: Larkin and EsportsJohn
If there's a theme for Week 7, it's the sorting week for mid tier teams. We got most of the action-packed matches last week, so now things are settling down for a bit as the schedule allows for teams in the lower rungs to make some progress up the ladder.
Aside from Tempo Storm and Team Liquid, who are both sitting at the top of their respective regions by a fair margin, everyone is scrambling for a position in the top six. With the Crucible approaching only four weeks from now, teams in the bottom four are starting to feel the pressure while mid tier teams are looking to cement their lead and fight for a spot in the Mid-Season Brawl. From this point forward, every game counts.
Friday, April 21
- beGenius vs Fnatic
- Synergy vs Tricked eSport
Saturday, April 22
- Playing Ducks vs Fnatic
- Team expert vs Tricked eSport
Sunday, April 23
- beGenius vs Team Dignitas
- Synergy vs Team Liquid
While there aren’t any showstopper matches, Week 7 is a big opportunity for the mid table teams to assert themselves over their immediate rivals. Tricked eSports will be facing off against both Team expert and Synergy, and the winners of these series will definitely create some momentum for the teams challenging for top four. For expert especially, it is a must win. Synergy vs Tricked will likely be one of the closest of the week’s series, with Synergy looking to continue their strong start. Should expert also close out the win against Tricked, it may spell early disaster for Alex & co. as they will sink to a substantial deficit. Tricked looked fantastic against Liquid, though, so they could score wins in both series. Overall, it’s too close to call.
The top three from the first half of the split are in action against lower ranked teams this week, with Dignitas up against beGenius and Liquid taking on Synergy. Things don’t get any easier for the Playing Ducks either, as their only match is against Fnatic on Saturday. The big three should all win out these series comfortably to continue to assert themselves as the leading trio of Europe.
However, Playing Ducks has been looking great recently. Fnatic open next weekend with a series against beGenius, which they should win comfortably, but that could lead to overconfidence when facing the Ducks the next day. Should Synergy manage to ride the momentum and beat Tricked, they might feel Liquid are vulnerable too, especially having watched their flimsy opening games against Playing Ducks. Liquid started to pick things up by the end of that series, but if they start that poorly again, they may suffer for it. beGenius definitely has the hardest weekend of all; they need a miracle if they want to come out with a win next week.
Friday, April 21
- Superstars vs Gale Force eSports
- Team Freedom vs B-Step
Saturday, April 22
- No Tomorrow vs Gale Force eSports
- Team 8 vs B-Step
Sunday, April 23
- Superstars vs Tempo Storm
- Team Freedom vs Team Naventic
With the double defeat of Team 8 last week, it's now a head to head fight between Tempo Storm and Gale Force eSports for the top spot in North America. GFE has looked shaky in the past, but if they can cement their lead against mid tier teams like Superstars and No Tomorrow next week, they'll be in excellent shape for the rest of the season. Tempo Storm, on the other hand, has continued to stay consistent throughout the first half of the year and looks like they're poised to go the Mid-Season Brawl already.
For mid tier teams trying to make a dent in the rankings, it's a big week for Superstars and B-Step. Superstars arguably has the most difficult week to date, playing against both GFE and Tempo Storm, but if they can take a win off either team, they will significantly improve their chances at a grab for third place. Similarly, B-Step will have a tough match against Team 8 which directly affects their ranking.
This is a big week for Team Freedom, too. If they can overcome their opponents next week, they'll finally be able to crawl out of the bottom three and establish themselves as a solid mid tier team. No Tomorrow and Naventic have the same obstacles to overcome, but it's going to be a long and arduous journey to dig themselves out of the hole they dug earlier in the season.