Week 6 Recap
By: robadobah/PROlane and Midseasons
HGC KR Brackets and Schedules on Liquipedia
HGC CN Brackets and Schedules on LiquipediaAs is standard for the first few weeks of the season, the games this week sorted teams into their general power rankings and provided a measuring stick for how they'll do in the future.
In Korea, it's quite clear that L5, MVP Black, and Tempest are still way ahead of the pack. For the most part, they crushed through their weaker, clearly defenseless opponents in Week 6 and looked dominant as ever. MVP Miracle, however, began the road to redemption with a clean sweep of Team BlossoM. It's not a huge win for them, but it's finally putting some points on the board for the underperforming team.
Meanwhile, the Chinese scene is still being shaken up. The HGC teams have looked remarkably evenly matched with the exception of Start Over Again and Keep It Simple, who have had trouble securing any wins. eStar Gaming and Super Perfect Team come from previous seasons with strong results, but CE, RPG, Xteam, and HotS Lady are not far behind. CE and RPG in particular are making some splashes with their decisive and explosive play. They might actually be able to steal the top spot from the seasoned professionals on eStar or SPT if they keep performing so well.
Friday, April 14
MVP Black [3-1] Tempest
The return of HGC Korea saw Eastern Clash Champions MVP Black face off against the third ranked Tempest. The series was closely fought, particularly in the early game, but the dominant Black showed greater poise in teamfights and were able to wrest control of the game once they had access to Heroics.
Tempest’s decision to first pick Auriel in Game One was countered by Black picking a crowd control lockdown composition. Led by Ttsst’s Arthas, Black combined Howling Blast with Entangle and Zombie Wall to brutalize members of Tempest. Through the powerful sieging capabilities of Nazeebo and Ragnaros, Black was also able to effectively push to victory with the webweavers and keep Tempest’s protect-the-Valla composition permanently pinned back in defense.
Tempest had strong showings early in the second and third games but were unfortunate to come away with only one win. A late Probius pick by Tempest enabled them to control Sky Temple, and everyone seemed to be in sync with Sign’s ETC. In oppressive fashion, Tempest controlled the flow of the game and prevented Black from ever making a comeback.
However, this was not the case in Game Three. A strong early game by Tempest was marred by miscommunication in later teamfights. Tempest were able to generate a pick several times, but impatience, particularly by Sign’s Varian, led to overextensions which allowed Black to effectively turn around losing fights and regain control of the map. KyoCha’s Murky was also an important feature, destroying structures and ballooning Black’s level lead when ignored.
Black allowed both Tassadar and Zarya to slip through bans in Game Four, to which Tempest responded by picking both heroes paired with Tracer, but the composition was bottlenecked into doing only one thing. Black were easily able to close out the series with good discipline in switching up their focus to non-shielded targets.
MVP Miracle [3-0] Team BlossoM
MVP Miracle redeemed themselves after a disappointing first split by easily dispatching a hapless BlossoM. Miracle was in full control throughout the series, ending the first two games in under 10 minutes. They played a methodical but equally dominating style on Sky Temple in Game Three.
BlossoM’s lackluster performance was exaggerated by several basic drafting errors. The worst of these came in Game Two when they picked up Cho’Gall early on Infernal Shrines but neglected to ban out Tychus. The result was Cho’Gall being zoned out from even approaching fights and Miracle winning the game off the second Punisher.
Saturday, April 15
GG [3-0] Raven
Still yet to win a set in HGC Korea, Raven came up against the mid-tier GG and once again were outclassed. GG’s Hooligan got his hands on his trademark ETC in all three games and continuously set up winning fights for his team.
Raven had a good showing in Game Two on Cursed Hollow but showed the same problems they were plagued with in the first half of the split: being unable to transition early and mid game victories into meaningful advantages. Raven also brought out the Cho’Gall in Game Three, and although they had marginally more success than BlossoM, they were still unable to make a dent in GG’s defense.
L5 [3-0] Mighty
L5 continued their win streak in HGC Korea after fending off a decent challenge from Mighty. The series was punctuated by great L5 playmaking throughout the mid game and an ability to expose even the smallest error in order to gain control of the game.
Mighty had a strong composition based around SDE’s Tracer in Game One and had opportunities to win the game, but the team made a crucial error in diving L5’s bottom fort. L5 were able to turn the tides and set the game in their favor. Noblesse pioneered a Muradin build specifically geared towards Battlefield of Eternity, picking up all Storm Bolt talents and Haymaker. The build allowed him to generate picks during fights and isolate targets away from the protection of Mighty’s Tassadar.
Game Two on Dragon Shire was dominated by NaCHoJin’s Falstad generating immense global pressure. He repeatedly ganked Thrall and ensured that L5 had permanent control of top lane. Once top was won, he roamed to bot lane and made a huge Mighty Gust play on four Mighty members in order to win a fight and gain full control of the game. Mighty’s support player NaSang showed great mechanical skill throughout the game by continuously interrupting the ETC’s Power Slide, but it was not enough to win the game. L5 kicked into full gear in the last game, massacring Mighty in the early game and driving home a straightforward win.
Sunday, April 16
L5 [3-0] GG
After a disappointing yet impressive second place finish at the Eastern Clash, L5 was back in league action and ready to continue their perfect run in Phase 1 of HGC. Heading into their series against GG, L5 had only dropped two battlegrounds throughout the entirety of HGC, and this series wasn’t going to change that.
Simply put, the games weren’t close. L5 dominated all three maps with decisive rotations and superior mechanical play and quickly swept GG 3-0.
Tempest [3-0] Team BlossoM
While Tempest versus BlossoM was bit more competitive than L5 versus GG, it still wasn’t much of a contest. Like Europe, the top three in Korea are just a step above the rest.
Team BlossoM had a decent start in multiple games, but when the fuel met the fire, Tempest stepped up and delivered big plays to turn teamfights in their favor. BlossoM looked strong on Infernal Shrines up until 11:00 when Tempest turned the tides and delivered three consecutive five man wipes to secure both battleground and series victory.
Monday, April 17
Xteam [3-1] HotS Lady
This series was a demonstration of small victories. HotS Lady conducted themselves well for a team of their weight class and prevented Xteam from taking a truly decisive advantage, but Xteam showed their superior skill through subtle advantages. A keep wall for a fort here, a two-for-one trade there, etc...all added up to inevitable victories in each game.
HotS Lady was able to score one win after a teamfight beneath their immortal on Battlefield of Eternity, but it didn’t stall Xteam’s momentum. The next game was the most one-sided, and Xteam finished the series with a decisive boss call, leaving Hots Lady’s efforts in vain.
eStar Gaming [3-0] RPG
Realistically, this series was always going to be a long shot for RPG. Regardless of how good the young team has looked so far, eStar is the pinnacle of the region, and the gap between the teams is great. Still, RPG performed better against the undefeated eStar than any other team to this point. Throughout the first game on Dragon Shire, RPG showed they could counter eStar’s Mosh Pit engages, whether in the early or the late stages of the game. In all three matches, RPG held the lead more than once, and even when behind, they did an excellent job of staving off eStar before eventually buckling.
eStar played at the top of their game this week. The weaknesses from previous weeks have been smoothed out, and their synergy is tighter than ever. We called out TiGer previously for some weak Falstad play, but this week switched him out for Tumi, and the difference was significant. His Falstad play was so good that eStar held onto their level advantage In the second game on Infernal Shrines, despite RPG’s early lead in both kills and structures. While it’s charitable to say RPG defended against eStar better than anyone else has, eStar might have been playing with their food.
Even so, the final game on Sky Temple remained too close to call, even after RPG showed they could contest a [urlhttps://clips.twitch.tv/ScaryExcitedEelGivePLZ]late game boss[/url]. While the week’s results secure eStar’s first place position, RPG took it down to the wire and look like a real contender in coming weeks.
Tuesday, April 18
Super Perfect Team [3-2] CE
This wasn’t just the closest series of the week—it was the closest of the entire season to date. CE approached the series with the same aggressive posturing they’ve shown all season, but SPT was too confident to be intimidated. Even when the wins were decisive, the two showed how evenly matched they are.
In the first game on Towers of Doom, canjian’s Probius zoned SPT away from the objectives to win, but teamfights outside of those choke points went in SPT’s favor. The third game on Dragon Shire was another example of how close the teams are in skill. After entering the late game, both teams reached level 17 at the same time despite the fact that SPT had not gotten a single kill and CE had not destroyed a single structure.
With the teams so close in ability, the games were ultimately decided by sustain and support play, surviving through everything from talent disadvantages to high-damage cooldowns. This was where CE faltered in the final game. They drafted Auriel alongside a Colossus Smash Varian, and though they were able to burst down isolated targets, their lack of survivability would cost them teamfights.
SOA [3-2] Keep It Simple
SOA’s curse of not winning a single game finally came to an end with this series, but KIS made them work for it.
The first game on Cursed Hollow was disastrously one-sided in KIS’s favor. Pomi’s Medivac play left SOA helpless, and lacking any mobility of their own, SOA was three-steps behind every move and sluggishly responding as KIS took objectives. But KIS followed up with a truly bizarre draft for Braxis Holdout, letting SOA take the holy trinity of Tassadar/Auriel/Valla uncontested while they focused on their own attempt at a combo: Lúcio, Zul’jin, and Uther. By rolling Taz’dingo into Divine Shield into Sound Barrier, KIS placed all their hopes on an immortal Zu’jin, but their team lacked any engage to keep SOA in place for the damage.
SOA looked dominant the rest of the series. KIS seemed devoid of any synergy with each member playing largely on their own, and SOA’s power play continued into Infernal Shrines and Dragon Shire. On Dragon Shire, their Diablo-based comp bullied KIS around the map, but an unfortunate fight put SOA on the back foot and gave KIS much-needed momentum to swing the game in their favor.
Each team now had their first series victory in sight in the fifth game on Wardhead Junction. Everything was decided by a final fight over boss in which SOA came out the victor.
Week 7 Preview
By: PROlane and Midseasons
As we move into next week, the big story is how well the middle tier teams will do against their superiors. Teams like MVP Miracle, Mighty, and Xteam will face big challenges next week, and how they do will determine their chances for the rest of the season. If they can't secure some wins here, they'll be destined to simply be the gatekeepers for teams looking to break into the top four.
Meanwhile, the top teams have a lot to lose. With the exception of L5, who is practically in an unloseable spot right now with a 9-0 record, all of the top teams like MVP Black, eStar Gaming, and Super Perfect Team, have a lot riding on this weekend. They are favored to win against their opponents, but if they misstep or have a bad weekend, the effects could be disastrous leading into the later stages of the split.
Friday, April 21
- Raven vs MVP Miracle
- GG vs Team BlossoM
Saturday, April 22
- MVP Black vs Mighty
- Tempest vs L5
Sunday, April 23
- MVP Black vs MVP Miracle
- Raven vs Mighty
For must-watch content this week in Korea, make sure to check out Tempest vs L5 for an Eastern Clash semifinal rematch. L5 got the best of Tempest back in mid-March with a 3-0 sweep, so look for Tempest to come into the series with a chip on their shoulder looking to prove their worth.
MVP Miracle has a lot to prove after finishing the first half of the season with a dismal 2-5 ranking, and this week is pivotal for swinging their fortunes into a favorable light. Their first match against Raven should be a piece of cake, but considering how much they struggled against them in Week 3, it's hard to feel 100% confident in Miracle.
After that, it's the MVP rivalry between Black and Miracle. Black is the heavy favorite heading into the series, but Miracle is looking for redemption in the second half of the split. Expect another grudge match.
Monday, April 24
- RPG vs CE
- HotS Lady vs Start Over Again
Tuesday, April 25
- Keep It Simple vs Super Perfect Team
- eStar Gaming vs Xteam
The standings were volatile this week, but things are much more stable now. The upcoming series will be a collection of underdog matches, but even upsets won’t change the rankings much.
There are some interesting matchups coming next week. RPG is impressive for a 1-2 team, and it will be great to see their unique style contrasted with CE’s. HotS Lady and SOA are the closest-ranked teams that will be facing each other, and while Hots Lady has performed better than SOA, the momentum after this week is firmly in SOA’s favor.
CE, SPT, and Xteam all have 2-1 records now, but Xteam’s weaker map score puts them in fourth position, just outside of the coveted top three. eStar is a giant blocking their path, but Xteam has the most to prove. If rankings change at all next week, it’s likely to be here, depending on whether eStar can 3-0 Xteam or not.