Dylan Walker, Blizzard Entertainment
Ballistix took home the trophy at the Eastern Clash—and, in doing so, have secured an additional slot for another Korean HGC team at the upcoming Mid-Season Brawl. Team Dignitas did the same, meeting the high expectations placed on them to perform at the Western Clash admirably. With that in mind, teams move on to Part 2 of Phase 1 and the race to attend the Mid-Season Brawl. Here’s what you need to know about our first weekend back:
Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes in North America
SpaceStation Gaming has parted ways with their roster. Starting in Week 6, they will play under the No Tomorrow banner. Due to personal circumstances, Jason “Jason” Mei is also stepping down from the team. Should he wish to return to the HGC in any way, it wouldn’t be until September. Replacing him temporarily will be Shawn “Jin” Boyle, from the three-time Open Division cup winning Team XD.
Elsewhere in North America, Simplicity Gaming will also be using Kyle “Prismaticism” Belaiche as a temporary replacement for Aaron “erho” Kappes, who has been suspended for the remainder of 2018. Prismaticism is best known for his time on Roll20 Esports.
Displacement is the Name of the Game
Double tank was the most popular team composition at the Eastern Clash, with Garrosh overtaking Tyrael and Blaze as the most popular tank in 24 games —a stark contrast to his eight appearances in Katowice. Coordinated Garrosh players tossed their enemies with Wrecking Ball (E) into a well-timed Groundbreaker (Q), locking opponents in place long enough for teammates to collapse. Over the course of the tournament, Warlord’s Challenge (R) was repeatedly used to taunt squishy enemy Heroes into compromising positions.
Another discrepancy between the Clashes was the prioritization of Junkrat in the Eastern meta. He was picked nine times at the Western Clash (with a 77% win rate), while he made 22 appearances in Taipei (to a 59% success rate). The Frag Launcher build was the most popular and saw the most success. Junkrat’s Rip-Tire (R) made all the difference in team fights, as enemies were forced into making a split-second decision on whether wasting their ability cooldowns on the tire was correct.
Team Dignitas vs. Fnatic—Saturday, March 24 at 9:00 a.m. PDT / 6:00 p.m. CEST
Expect Fnatic to put up a serious fight over the next five weeks, as they will be hungry to defend their title at the upcoming Mid-Season Brawl. While this roster is loaded with raw talent, they had a rough showing at the Western Clash, with Rodney Anyani “SonicLeBeast” Kwaku subbing in for primary shot-caller and team captain Dob “QuackNiix” Engström. They were able to post clean wins over Team Freedom and HeroesHearth, but fell 3-1 to Tempo Storm before being eliminated by Zealots 3-0.
Even with Quackniix back on the battlefield, this is Team Dignitas’ series to lose. They’ve looked truly unstoppable since their post-HGC Finals roster change, thanks in part to Joshua “Snitch” Bennett stepping up in a major way. Keep your eye out for his Junkrat—a Hero he went 5-0 on in Katowice.
Team Twelve vs. Team Freedom—Saturday, March 24 at 2:00 p.m. PDT / 11:00 p.m. CEST
Team Twelve had a respectable showing at the Western Clash, defeating Method 2-0 before taking Battlegrounds off of both Team Dignitas and Zealots. Team Freedom did not fare so well, losing 2-0 against both Fnatic and Zealots. While qualifying for the Mid-Season Brawl will always be the goal for these teams, flying to Poland, boot camping, and coming home empty-handed is discouraging to say the least.
If North America takes its cues from the Eastern meta, expect to see Team Twelve put Justin “Justing” Gapp on Garrosh (assuming opponents let him through the draft). Justing maintained the highest win rate with Garrosh over the course of HGC 2017—and with Garrosh back in the meta, it’s safe to assume he’ll continue tossing his foes to certain death over the next five weeks.
Tempest vs. Ballistix—Friday, March 24 at 4:00 a.m. PDT / 1:00 p.m. CEST
This Eastern Clash rematch will see our champions square off against Tempest, who went undefeated in online play during Part 1 of Phase 1. While it’s likely both teams will make it to the Mid-Season Brawl, only one can walk away with the victory here. After the insane mechanical display that Ballistix exhibited in Taipei, it’s likely they’ll continue their winning trend into Week 6.
An Epic Battle Lies ahead
The Mid-Season Brawl will be returning to Sweden this year, with $250,000 in prize money on the line. The race for qualification and seeding begins this weekend, you can catch all the action right here at playheroes.com/esports when the games go live.