Image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.
Katowice will play host to Blizzard’s Western Clash for Heroes of the Storm on March 2. Eight teams will be in attendance – four from North America and four from Europe – to fight for their share of $100,000, as well as bragging rights over the other region. Teams will battle it out in an eight team double elimination bracket over the course of three days. In this piece I’ll highlight the teams you should be looking out for to take home the crown.
Dignitas have been the strongest team in Europe by far – and once their stats are compared to the rest of the world, they still stand head and shoulders above the rest. For starters, their team KDA is the highest of any team in the world right now. This, along with the fact that they have the lowest time spent dead percentage, shows just how disciplined they are as a team and understand when not to overstep their mark. Having only dropped one series throughout the first five weeks to a very hungry Zealots roster, Dignitas are the clear favourites to claim victory in the Spodek Area for the second time.
Much like Dignitas, Tempo Storm have only dropped one series thus far and that was to Team Freedom early on in the season in a tight five game series. Recently from Tempo, we’ve seen some innovative comps that play to their strengths – most notably Psalm’s Kerrigan – and that’s something which other teams need to be careful about when drafting on maps such as Dragon Shire. Everyone of Tempo’s player are arguably the best in their position within North America and the region’s hopes rest on their shoulders.
Fnatic have a tough bracket for this event, but their very experienced roster should be used to the trials of events by now. Having to play a wildcard of Team Freedom, who have been the underdogs before and found success at previous tournaments and then into Tempo Storm is no easy road to the finals for them. Having pulled out some very “European” drafts in week five of HGC, it’s something which their opponents need to keep on top of. Running triple global on Dragon Shire and a stun composition involving Tyrande simply shows their flexibility and their prowess on these dynamic compositions.
Team Twelve are, honestly, a bit of a wildcard, and they face a tough round one matchup vs Method. Currently sat in second place in NA HGC with a 5-2 record, Team Twelve have also showed that they are willing to try some interesting compositions out. Week four, they pulled out a front line of Arthas and Stitches, two tanks which don’t see much play at all. Week three they tried out a combo of Ana and Samuro on the newest map Volskaya and unfortunately didn’t find much success. However, these attempts alone once again highlight that they have some initiative during drafts and are able to theorycraft effectively to catch opponents off-guard.
As noted already, the first round match for Method is against Team Twelve and it could be the closest match we’ll see on day one. Two very close teams results-wise, Method’s stem from very polarising series’. Not one of Method’s matches has gone to a full five games; either they win hard or they lose hard. Their drafts tend to be very standard which could lead to their demise as a lot of teams have shown willingness to try new things and experiment. Should they have not been testing compositions in scrims, their drafts could be easily exploited throughout this tournament.
Freedom have the tough task of playing Fnatic in the first round. The core of both of these teams met at Blizzcon last year although it’s fair to say that this Freedom roster is a little weaker than their last showing against Fnatic. Freedom have looked somewhat impressive, giving Tempo their only loss of the season, yet then losing to Space Station, a match they should really be winning. If Freedom are on their game, they can certainly challenge a run through the lower bracket and look to meet their 5th/6th seed.
When Zealots are good, they are really good. It took them a while to get back into the groove of HGC, taking losses to lower ranked teams. But once they found their footing, they started to surprise everyone. Handing Dignitas their only loss and taking the win against Fnatic too, the backend of phase one has treated Zealots kindly. Hopefully this momentum will carry on into the Western Clash as they have Tempo Storm waiting for them in round one.
HeroesHearth are the newest addition to the NA HGC, making their way through the Crucible and have not looked back. A surprise team to make it to the Western Clash, HeroesHearth have the toughest round one game against Dignitas. Just making it to Katowice alone is a big achievement and now this team can play with nothing to lose. If anyone is going to cause an upset in Poland, it’s likely to be HeroesHearth.
The Western Clash will be played with the introduction of the new hero, Maiev, who is likely to shake the meta up and create a lot of uncertainty throughout the draft and the play. Be sure to catch all the action on Twitch.tv/BlizzHeroes starting on March 2 at 11:00am CET.