Aaron Blackman – Blizzard
Over the past month, teams have rested and practiced, eagerly awaiting the day that HGC would return with Phase 1 Part 2. During that time eight teams traveled to Katowice, Poland to compete at the Western Clash, where Team Dignitas narrowly defeated Zealots to claim the championship. Two weeks later, eight teams from Asia made their way to Taipei, Taiwan, where Ballistix came back from the lower bracket for revenge to defeat KSV Black and take first place.
These offline international events were filled with upsets, exciting matchups, and unique strategies that will shape the next part of HGC. Teams are now fixing their gaze on the Mid-Season Brawl and must adapt to shifts in the meta due to balance changes as well as what found success at the Clashes.
Sonya Strikes Back
Over 91 games between the Western and Eastern Clash, Sonya was played 3 times. After her rework was applied and enabled for HGC play this Week, she saw action in 46 games and was banned in 10 others. It was almost as if the floodgates were instantly open for the Diablo Warrior, winning 59% of her games across all three regions and always serving as a secondary Warrior alongside the likes of Garrosh, E.T.C. and Tyrael.
Matic “Zarmony” Mikec from Zealots provided some perspective on the highlight of Sonya’s rework. “Her Level 4 talent Battle Rage is awesome. It helps a lot in doing camps while also giving her additional sustain which she was lacking before in teamfights since you can’t always whirlwind freely”. Zarmony fought well with Sonya this weekend, winning all four games he played the Barbarian in. “The Level 20 Composite Spear also allows for some great flanking options in late game” he added.
After the adoption of Blaze as a versatile off-laner, Sonya slipped out of many team compositions in favor of the Firebat. With more changes on the horizon, the priority for Sonya may be short lived. Zarmony provided his thoughts on where Sonya and Blaze will be after balance changes are applied to HGC play, “…with the incoming nerfs Blaze should remain in the meta and still be a great pick even with him being changed slightly in the same patch as well.”
The Infested Admiral’s Ascent
There were many echoes of the Western and Eastern Clash metas going into Week 6, but Stukov became even more of a priority as a Support this week, serving as the second most picked Support in both North America and Europe. When asked why Stukov had gained so much traction in the current meta without receiving recent balance changes, Team Freedom’s Jerome “KzN” Tanguay had a simple answer, “I think we all know why. Shad from Zealots showed us the way.”
KzN added, “A lot of teams knew the hero was good but didn’t know how good he was until Shad played out of his mind at the Western Clash. His 13 root talent and his short cooldown displacement heroic makes him really strong.”
However, Stukov isn’t currently popular in every major region. The Zerg infested Support was played only twice and banned once throughout HGC Korea’s 23 games in Week 6. “My guess would be that they execute engage composition better than any region in the world, making Stukov’s life really hard.” KzN explained.
Other Notable Highlights from Week 6
- The leaders of the three major regions struggled during their opening match of Week 6: In HGC Korea Ballistix narrowly defeated Tempest 3-2, while in HGC Europe Team Dignitas had to reverse sweep to fend off Team Liquid 3-2. Finally, Tempo Storm lost their opening game against LFM Esports, but came back to win the series 3-1.
- Maiev continues to be a threatening presence as either a first ban or first pick, as she appeared in 97% of the games across Korea, Europe and North America combined. Her success rate was sporadic over the weekend, winning only 38% of the 21 games she was played in.