HGC Digest Week 9: Return of the Kings

Aaron Blackman – Blizzard Entertainment

Since winning the HGC Finals at BlizzCon, KSV Black have played second fiddle to the likes of Tempest and Ballistix in HGC Korea. They began 2018 by losing to Tempest 0-3 and since then, have held onto 3rd or 2nd place in the standings. At the Eastern Clash, Ballistix came back from the bottom bracket to defeat KSV Black 4-3 in the Grand Finals, creating another setback for the 2017 champions.

Following the Eastern Clash, KSV Black came out swinging in Part 2, defeating each team in HGC Korea 3-0, including Tempest in Week 8. Their final hurdle was Ballistix this week, and while the final results also read 3-0, the series was intense to watch. As the newly crowned first place team in HGC Korea, KSV Black outmatched Ballistix in both their drafting and execution.

Drafting to Their Strengths

In each of the three games played on Sunday, KSV Black chose the battleground, targeting some of their very best maps. Game 1 on Battlefield of Eternity was the closest battleground between the two teams as KSV Black boasted an 8-1 record on the map over the 8-2 record for Ballistix. Drafting a surprising Fenix as their primary damage dealer, KSV Black also grabbed Falstad for Im ‘Reset’ Jin-woo as their final pick to counter Ballistix’s experience soaking Abathur.

KSV Black chose Tomb of the Spider Queen for Game 2, a map they held a 6-1 record on, and a map Ballistix had yet to play during League Play in 2018. By drafting Tassadar, Tracer and Fenix instead of a solo laner, KSV Black forced Ballistix into an awkward spot with Sonya. In each draft, KSV Black wasted little time with their picks, a level of confidence few teams in the world tend to show.

Executing the Game Plan

KSV Black prioritized a strong front line in Game 1 to help protect Fenix, Kang ‘Ttsst’ Oon-sung played his undefeated Garrosh and was supported by Jeong ‘KyoCha’ Won-ho on Blaze. Lee ‘Rich’ Jae-won picked Purification Salvo for Fenix’s heroic ability, which deals extra damage to enemy heroes who are slowed. Pairing this along with Fenix’s Level 7 talent Combat Advantage was the foundation for devastating damage against slowed heroes.

Reset’s Fenix build for Game 2

The slowing status effect was easy to find, as nearly every hero on KSV Black’s team could assist Fenix in applying it. This included Blaze’s Oil Spill, Falstad’s Hammerang and Mighty Gust, as well as Garrosh’s Groundbreaker and Wrecking Ball. Although Fenix is not perfectly suited for Battlefield of Eternity, KSV Black synergized the bonus damage on slows so well they were able to focus on winning early game team fights against Ballistix instead of burning down the Immortal.

Game 2 was easily the closest map between the two teams, with Ballistix leading in experience for the majority of the 20-minute game. With runaway Webweaver turn ins and Kim ‘ScSc’ Seung-chul hitting a better stride on Genji, Ballistix was in control of the map. However, KSV Black had more ranged weapons to poke with Rich on Tracer and Reset on Fenix, drawing out early Sanctifications from Park ‘Hooligan’ Jong-hoon. In the end, KSV Black epitomized the idiom “Give someone an inch, and they’ll take a mile” as they marched into the Ballistix base:

This stunning series positioned KSV Black with the #1 seed from HGC Korea for the Mid-Season Brawl, assuming they continue their tear on Saturday against Team Ace.

Other Notable Highlights from Week 9

  • Thrall continues to be a growing focus in HGC Europe, seeing 12 games played in Week 9 and one game banned. However, his win rate dropped from 60% in Week 8 to 42% this week as he was more commonly picked up by lower ranked teams. HeroesHearth Esports also used Thrall this week in two of their three wins against Tempo Storm as an effective counter to Blaze in the solo lane.
  • Raynor made his HGC 2018 debut this weekend when Leftovers included him in a bold draft along with Samuro in their match against Fnatic. Unfortunately for Leftovers, the Marshal in his current form was not enough to stop Fnatic from claiming the 2nd place ticket to the Mid-Season Brawl.
  • Simplicity had a strong weekend in HGC North America, going 6-0 with victories over Gale Force Esports and No Tomorrow. These wins afford Simplicity some breathing room and a spot in the HGC Playoffs, rather than the Crucible.