Power Rankings 2017
Bracket and schedules on LiquipediaIt's finally time for the first full international tournament of the year, the Mid-Season Brawl! Just like we did with the Eastern and Western Clash, we've made a list of the best teams headed out to Sweden this week.
Our panel consists of five regional "experts" who have been watching and writing about the games all season; in the future, we may expand this panel to include more noteworthy opinions. While it may seem pretty unoriginal that our list ended up grouping each region together with a very black-and-white KR > EU > CN > NA > minor regions hierarchy, we actually had widely varying opinions on the strengths of each team. Fnatic, for instance, had a high of 1 and a low of 6. Other teams had similar spreads, but that is perhaps the widest.
A large part of why these power rankings may not be 100% accurate is due to the regional shakeup at the beginning of the year and the relative lack of international competition in 2017. China in particular is a very different (and quite possibly weaker) region compared to early/mid 2016. In addition, the presence of fairly new and untested teams like CE, Roll20 Esports, and all of the minor region teams makes it much more difficult to assess how established teams will do against these newcomers and vice versa.
Consider this power ranking a baseline for future predictions of international events. We are more than willing to accept the fact that we were way way way off, but boy do we love being right .
The competition begins in
|L5 is the undisputed champion of the world right now. After forming last fall, they have been on a streak rivaled only by MVP Black's spring 2016 performance. After coming out of nowhere and winning Super League Season 3, they went on to dominate BlizzCon and GCWC back to back. The only black mark on their so far immaculate record has been a narrow loss to MVP Black at the Eastern Clash.|
Known primarily for their inhuman mechanics and insane aggression, L5 just constantly attacks. When they're behind, they find a way to gain even the smallest advantages and pile them up into a lead. When they're in the lead, they never lose control. It's a roster that has seemingly no weaknesses at all. Except one: they will sometimes get overly aggressive and tunnel. Against a mechanically proficient team like MVP Black and Fnatic who can absorb the aggression while playing the macro game, L5 struggles to get the marginal advantages that their playstyle is built on. MVP Black abused this during the Eastern Clash, and will probably do so again.
Still, their dominance cannot be undermined. Despite playing against far inferior teams all season (except MVP Black), L5 ranks number one on the charts and has a very high chance of winning the Mid-Season Brawl.
|2. MVP Black|
|MVP Black still holds the title of most consistently dominant team in Heroes of the Storm history. No one even comes close. From mid 2015 all the way to now, MVP Black has always sat at the top of the leaderboards, amassing an astounding 7 gold medals in international competitions and several more in regional competitions.|
After some roster changes at the end of last year, MVP Black looks like a new team. Without the crazy aggression of Rich and Sign, Black's playstyle has mellowed out considerably. Instead of relying on their impressive teamfighting skills to win everything, Black has taken a step back to focus more on the macro game. Heroes that create global pressure like Falstad, Dehaka, and Zeratul have become staples in their repertoire, and Genji is slowly becoming a favorite too. In many ways, it resembles the Lockdown-era of MVP Black but with the added consistency of players like Ttsst and Reset.
The momentum is in favor of L5 going into the Mid-Season Brawl, which is why Black sits at number two. Still, Black can find weaknesses in even the best teams in the world. L5, Fnatic, Dignitas, and the Chinese teams are also contenders for the crown, but if anyone can find a way to dismantle them and take home the crown, it's Black.
NOTE: This will be merryday's last tournament before retiring and returning to college, so make sure to cheer extra hard for him! (Edited: incorrectly stated that merryday was going into the army)
|Fnatic has been slowly improving over the last year and a half. Instead of just trying to bully teams with strong teamfighting like they did early on, they have adapted an incredible macro sense as well, making them the cream of the crop in Europe.|
After narrowly losing to Team Dignitas at the Western Clash, Fnatic got their revenge in the European circuit by topping the charts at number one. Since their first loss of the season to Team Liquid earlier this year, they have not lost a single set in the league, making them one of the favorites going into the Mid Season Brawl. Whether their success in Europe will translate into a big win in the Mid Season Brawl remains to be seen, but if any team is capable of taking down the Koreans, it's Fnatic.
Fnatic runs just shy of second place in the power rankings due to MVP Black's incredible success at international events, but a big win here could catapult them straight to the top of the rankings.
|4. Team Dignitas|
|No one thought Dignitas could win the Western Clash; their European rivals Fnatic and Misfits were consistently better throughout the regular season, and Dignitas was still struggling with their newest roster addition. But in standard Dignitas fashion, they won anyway.|
Though they’ve been less consistent over the season, the talent in the team is undeniable. Sometimes they looked unstoppable, and other times they looked extremely vulnerable—but every time they struggled, they came back stronger. We can only expect them to be even better at the Mid-Season Brawl after continuing to improve their draft and individual play during the playoffs.
Dignitas has a wide selection of pocket picks and strategies including Abathur, Tracer, The Lost Vikings, and Stitches/Tyrande compositions. They have a fondness for less common heroes like Sylvanas to Zul’jin as well, and the flexibility and depth of their hero pool makes them a potent threat in a lengthy tournament setting. Their trademark teamfighting will be the crux of their gameplay and will decide whether they win big or strike out.
Dignitas ranks decisively below Fnatic in our rankings due to their mixed success. While it would be foolish to bank on them winning the whole thing against the Koreans, it would be even more foolish to dismiss them out of hand. If they can build up momentum at a live event, they can beat anyone.
|5. eStar Gaming|
|They may have fallen to second this season, but eStar still represents China's best. At the beginning of the year, the Chinese scene underwent a tumultuous series of roster changes as ZeroPanda disbanded. Combined with the retirement of xiaOt, NccCc, and several others in the previous year, China as a whole got a lot weaker, and eStar has been searching for a new identity.|
And it seems they found it. Lucien and SW770 form the team’s warrior/support backbone and create a strong chassis to build their drafts on. Of all the Chinese teams, eStar comes closest to Western teams in terms of metagames, probably because they’ve had so much international exposure. They have experience with double (even triple) support and Zarya pushing comps as well as a variety of Chinese classics, so they have a lot to choose from on the international stage
After taking MVP Black to a Game 5 at the Eastern Clash, eStar’s performance this season has been consistent and steady. Only CE was able to defeat them in a full series. Both their international and regional pride are on the line now, and eStar is out to prove that they’re more than the second-best team from the second-best region.
eStar has a slight edge over CE when it comes to international events, which is why they’re ranked higher. We’ve yet to see how the new Chinese scene ranks compared to Europe, but we expect that Fnatic and Dignitas will be out in force against the relatively untested Chinese teams.
|6. Super Perfect Team|
In place of CE, third place Chinese team Super Perfect Team will be heading to Sweden to participate in the Mid-Season Brawl. One of the favorites going into this season, SPT was quickly upset by newcomers CE and fell just shy of taking second in the league. Despite their low ranking, the current roster is good enough to take on any Chinese team including eStar.
SPT has undergone more roster changes than probably any other team on earth. However, their insane turnover has finally produced a solid roster capable of reaching the top of the standings. After ZeroPanda disbanded, all star assassin player melodyC joined the roster to fill out a budding team. Combined with the aggressive play and masterful mechanics of Misaka and Wings, they quickly jumped into the spotlight during the spring season.
If you could define "standard" play in China, it would be SPT. Valla hyper carry strats? Check. Zagara on Braxis Holdout? Check. Random Cho'Gall compositions? Check. They are the stereotypical attack-all-the-time type of team that constantly looks for skirmishes and outplays. However, against the Korean teams in the Eastern Clash that could deflect that aggression and out-teamfight them, SPT failed to adapt and made a timely exit from the tournament.
Will that be the case here? Probably. Despite playing as well (if not better) than eStar at times, SPT lacks the consistency necessary to make it deep into this tournament. But you never know what will happen with China.
+ Show Spoiler [CE] +
eStar Gaming has been a dominant team in their region for some time, and when their closest rivals Zero Gaming disbanded after the Eastern Clash, it seemed eStar would easily sweep the league. But CE changed everything. A quiet presence in China since December, CE showed early on that they could take decisive games off established teams and carried that momentum to a first place finish during the season.
Though unfamiliar to international audiences, CE should not be underestimated. Their flex players Paradise and canjian have broad hero pools that allow the team to draft almost anything, so no matter what metagame becomes standard at the Mid-Season Brawl, CE can adapt accordingly.
Their obscurity cuts both ways; CE is untested against non-Chinese teams, but they’re also less familiar to Western opponents than the likes of SPT or Xteam. Given their meteoric rise, their performance against European teams in particular will help determine just how strong China is compared to the rest of the world.
CE comes in just below eStar in the rankings solely due to their lack of experience on the big stage. While Xuyu, canjian, and Paradise are seasoned veterans, the Mid-Season Brawl will be the first international tournament for the team. Whether they succeed relies heavily on how they handle nerves and adapt to the regional differences in metagame.
|7. Tempo Storm|
|Tempo Storm is out to prove themselves at the international level. Since forming in late 2016, the roster has quickly become the best and most consistent that NA has to offer. However, North American teams have woefully underperformed at the international level since BlizzCon 2015, the current Tempo Storm included.|
Competition in North America has been close between the top three teams—Tempo Storm, Team 8 (Roll20 Esports), and Gale Force eSports—and while Team 8 did upset Tempo at the Western Clash, Tempo’s immaculate consistency carried them through the second half of the season with a perfect score.
Tempo hasn't shown any games since May 13th, so they have the option to bring out some sneaky strategies or off-meta picks to throw their opponents off guard. Against titans like L5, eStar Gaming, and Dignitas, they’ll need something up their sleeve. If Tempo can manage to get on some comfort picks, maybe they can go toe-to-toe with the European teams, but when it comes to the Eastern teams, Tempo will struggle against the crisp mechanics of Korean teams and unique drafts from the Chinese.
North America ranks rather low in our standings, but we hope we're proven wrong. Tempo should be able to make it through the group phase by edging out the minor region teams, but their shot at an international title will probably end there.
|8. Roll20 Esports|
|Recently picked up by Roll20 Esports, the former Team 8 squad is looking for a chance to put North America on the map. They showcased a diverse set of strategies backed by individually stunning play at the Western Clash, and while they did slump in the second half of the season, they’ve still proven that they can play competitively on a good day.|
The team finds itself in the middle of a group of death with MVP Black, Fnatic, CE, and Nomia. Glaurung's shotcalling is incredible and thrives on maps like Infernal Shrines, but it may not be enough against top tier teams like MVP Black who do everything well. Even Nomia poses a real threat, so Roll20 will have to play at the top of their game just to survive the group stage.
Roll20 is unfortunately reliant on a handful of comfort picks, particularly Justing’s Diablo and Glaurung’s Zeratul and Medivh. The combination of these picks forms the backbone of Roll20’s drafting and allowed them to clean house during the playoffs, but without their comfort picks, the team may struggle and take an early exit out of the tournament.
Roll20 ranks just below Tempo Storm purely due to their inconsistency in the second half of the season. History has shown that they can play just as well or better than the first North American seed though, so it really depends on whether or not they show up on gameday.
|For a minor region team, Nomia is amazing. They rocked the boat at the Western Clash with some outstanding individual play that almost took down Misfits and Team 8. Unfortunately, despite their notable mechanics and smart decision making, the coordination of major region teams was just too much to handle in an extended series.|
Heralding from the land down under (Australia and New Zealand), the core members of Nomia—robadobah, Benjamin94 (FAT94), and Arcaner—have been at the top of the scene for a while and represented the region at numerous international events. More than any other team out there, Nomia is hungry to improve and prove their worth, and their resolve is steel. Though they did face a crushing defeat from Morton's List only a few weeks ago, their regional stumbles likely won't affect them on the big stage.
Nomia usually focuses on their playing their own game and sticking to a handful of comfort picks like Zeratul, Zarya, and Anub'arak, but they'll need to step it up at the Mid-Season Brawl. If other teams draft well against them and deny those comfort picks, Nomia will likely struggle to keep their head above the surface. Then again, they've surprised us before.
Nomia ranks #1 out of the minor regions due to their impressive performance at the Western Clash. There's a lot of experience on this team, and if they play their best, they can certainly upset one of the major region teams.
|10. Soul Torturers|
|Ah Taiwan, you beautiful beautiful region. In every international tournament, everyone doubts you but you always surprise them. From regional giants GIA to Please Buff Arthas (PBA), Taiwan has always been a literal wildcard region, and Soul Torturers will probably continue this trend. |
Comprised of former PBA members GoDDog, ZoLa, and Scroll combined with a few newcomers, Soul Torturers embodies that wild and unpredictable spirit of Taiwan. They have a wide hero pool to pick from and a giant array of strategies to use, so it's hard to anticipate what they'll bring to the Mid-Season Brawl. One thing is for sure, though: they love playmaking heroes like Genji and Valla. Expect to see some flashy plays by GoDDog and booy005 if they can get their hands on comfort picks.
Soul Torturers did quite well against their competition during the qualifiers, but they struggled a lot against Taiwan's Eastern clash representative Team Face Check. They managed to beat their rivals 3-2 in the finals, but it was closely fought. Given that the level of TFC is fairly low compared to the Chinese and Korean teams at the Eastern Clash, it's hard to imagine Soul Torturers doing much better at the Mid-Season Brawl.
Nonetheless, we ranked them as one of the best minor regions, second only to Nomia who has shown definitive success so far this year. How they match up to North America is unclear, but if the past is any indicator, they will give NA a run for their money.
|11. RED Canids|
|RED Canids is a revival of the old Big Gods/Burning Rage team. After a poor showing at BlizzCon last year, Burning Rage went separate ways, but at long last the Brazillian gods Vieira, JSchritte, and Typhex are back together.|
The Canids struggled quite a bit against their rivals Steamrollers Encore during the regional finals, but a decisive pivot toward double tank compositions combined with hyper carry heroes like Cassia and Nazeebo helped them secure victory in the end. With Typhex back in the driver's seat, LatAm's representative is likely to take very aggressive and decisive fights. The more patient teams in Europe and Korea will do just fine against their relentless aggression, but North America may end up floundering against it.
LatAm has had a plethora of problems in the past such as visa issues, jet lag, and stage nerves that kept them from playing at their full capacity. This is the first time in a while that the best of LatAm will all be at an international event, so if they can keep calm and play their game, we're in for a treat. Are they expected to make it out of groups? Not really, but they can definitely pull an upset.
|Last in our rankings, we have DeadlyKittens from Southeast Asia. Historically, Southeast Asia has been the weakest of all the regions (except in cases where ANZ has flopped). Despite their relatively solid mechanical play, the coordination isn't quite there, leading to a lot of messy and unnecessary teamfights.|
DeadlyKittens is a reformed Imperium Pro Team (IPT), the SEA team that played at BlizzCon and GCWC at the end of last year. Zeys and Mirr are both outstanding players from Singapore who have been in the scene for a long time. Their flexible hero pool and solid mechanics combined with the best players from the Philippines has created the strongest SEA team since Relics in late 2015.
The team tends toward solid meta picks like Muradin, Malfurion, Arthas, and Zarya, and like many Eastern teams, they also have an affinity for Valla over Greymane. Their drafting is solid but their execution is questionable, and on the international stage, you need to have near perfect execution to deal with the threats coming your way.
DeadlyKittens is not expected to make it out of groups or cause any big splashes. We love watching Southeast Asia play, but it's hard to imagine them making any headway against the big league teams from the rest of the world.
The format for the Mid-Season Brawl is unlike anything we've done before in Heroes esports. Last year, all international events had a weird double group stage with random seeding in the second round. I've not only criticized this format for being largely RNG-based but also for demoting minor regions to second seeds and forcing them to play double the games if they ever wanted a shot at the final bracket.
Luckily, all that has changed this year. Blizzard has adopted a point-based round robin system with two groups of six. Each matchup will be a Bo2, and teams that go 2-0 in the series will be awarded three points. 1-1 ties will give each team one point, and 0-2 losses will result in zero points. Teams that dominate the series will quickly rise up through the standings while teams with average performances will struggle in the middle rankings.
The top four teams in each group will be seeded into a large double elimination bracket with Bo5s. The team that makes it to the grand finals through the upper bracket will start the series 1-0 against their opponents in a Bo7. This is designed to make up for the fact that the team who progressed through the upper bracket didn't lose a single game and should have a minor edge going into the championship-deciding series.
I could go through and explain why all these things are good things, but suffice it to say that it is a HUGE improvement from last year's format. The absolute best teams will be in the grand finals, without a doubt.
Always Bet on Black
Super Perfect Team
Right off the bat, I have to rule out DeadlyKittens. As much as I love SEA, DeadlyKittens have no chance against this level of competition, and I'd be very surprised to see them take even a couple of games off their opponents.
With the 3-point rule which favors teams that dominate their matchups in mind, MVP Black and Fnatic are expected to come out on top, especially if they can stomp SPT or Roll20 early on. Super Perfect Team is a great team but usually fail on an international level, so there's a good chance the two giants in the group can get a walkover.
The third and fourth places are going to be in high contention between SPT, Roll20, and Nomia. Roll20 has good enough drafting to hold their own and deflect any potential threats coming their way from SPT and Nomia, so they're expected to take the lead here. Nomia relies more on their mechanics and comfort picks, but if they're allowed to play the way they want to play, they could also start to pull ahead. It all depends on how well each team plays that day. If Roll20 or SPT play mediocre games all weekend, it could spell disaster for them.
- (1) MVP Black and (2) Fnatic advance to the winners bracket
(3) Roll20 and (4) Super Perfect Team advance to the losers bracket
Without a doubt, L5 is the favorite to win this group. The only team that might seriously give them trouble is eStar, given their history as a hindrance to Korean dominance. Everyone else should be a 2-0 sweep for the Korean titans.
Second through fourth are harder to determine considering the relative strength and consistency of Tempo Storm, Dignitas, and eStar, but intuition says that Dignitas is the strongest of the three. It may be a lot closer than expected due to the 3-point rule, but if Dignitas shows up, they can easily grab a few extra points and boost themselves up to second place. eStar and Tempo Storm are both good teams, so it should be a tight race for final bracket seeding. At least everyone can rest assured that a minor region upset probably won't occur. Maybe.
- (1) L5 and (2) Dignitas advance to the winners bracket
(3) eStar Gaming and (4) Tempo Storm advance to the losers bracket