Round 2 of the Heroes of the Storm HGC Western Clash began today with a very lackluster showing by North America. HeroesHearth Esports, the NA top seed, was relegated to the lower bracket the previous day by Europe’s fourth seed and fan-favorite Tempo Storm was completely knocked out the first day. This left third seed Team Freedom as the last chance for North America in the upper bracket where they would have to face off against Leftovers in the quarterfinals and either Team Dignitas or Method if they managed to advance to the Semifinals.
The first round of the day featured the tournament favorite, and EU top seed, Team Dignitas against third-seed Method, who knocked out Tempo Storm the day prior.
Team Dignitas (EU1) vs Method (EU3) Match 1
Map: Volskaya Foundry
Dignitas: Yrel, Maiev, Johanna, Malfurion,
Method: Muradin, Fenix, Deckard, Sgt. Hammer, Blaze
Method clearly drafting a strong frontline to protect their combo of Deckard and Sgt. Hammer. Early on, Method tried to focus pushing bottom while Dignitas rotated taking, but they get punished by a great rotation and lose both Blaze and Deckard.
Things continue to go poorly for Method as they setup Hammer on the first objective only to get forced off and lose two heroes in the process. After grabbing the early level 10 lead, Dignitas easily pushes down Method’s top fort with the protector and extends their lead.
After the protector falls, Dignitas rotates to the mercenary camps while Method takes the bottom fort. Seeing the opportunity, Dignitas pushes top and nearly finishes the Keep. Already in control, Dignitas claims the second objective and uses the protector to finish top and pressure mid keep.
With completely control of the map, and a level lead of 17 to 13, Dignitas pressures bottom but Maiev is caught out of position. However, Dignitas manages to turn the fight and finish off Muradin. This allows them to take the final objective and march to the core.
Team Dignitas (EU1) vs Method (EU3) Match 2
Map: Infernal Shrines
Dignitas: SGT Hammer, Yrel, Maiev, Stukov, Johanna
Method: Diablo, Alexstrasza, Fenix, Zarya, Sonya
Try to mix things up this match, Method drafted a very interesting triple-warrior composition with Zarya. This gives their team a lot of survivability to hold objectives at the cost of burst damage. Early on it pays off as Sonya, Zarya, and Diablo easily bully Dignitas while Sgt. Hammer and Fenix fight bottom. Despite winning the objective, the Punisher doesn’t deal a whole lot of damage to Dignitas’ top fort and Hammer traded some damage on Method’s bottom fort.
Both teams hit level 10 around the 6-minute mark as Fenix is silenced and caught out for the first kill of the game. Soon after, the second objective spawns bottom and Fenix dies again, however, Method takes out Maiev and secures the objective. This time they destroy the bottom fort and then rotate top to clean up that one as well.
Despite taking two objectives back to back, Method only had a slight experience lead due to Dignitas playing a consistent macro game. Dignitas then concedes a third objective top to push lanes and clear mercenary camps. Method’s Punisher threatens top keep but a perfectly placed Massive Shove by Stukov sends Sonya halfway across the map and Dignitas is able to hold back the push.
Shortly after, the fourth objective spawns bottom. A great initiation by Maiev leads to a Fenix death and Method can’t answer. Dignitas marches through bottom lane with the Punisher to take out bottom keep, but minions finish of Dignitas’ top keep.
Relatively even at this point, Dignitas manages to pick off Zarya and manages to secure the fifth shrine, which destroys the top keep. Another shrine spawns bottom and both teams clash once again. Method forces Dignitas off the points and pushes bottom lane with the Punisher and attempt to take the core. However, catapults manage to outrace Method’s push bottom and Dignitas takes the win. Zaelia on Stukov played a major role in this match with multiple well-placed Shoves that turned around key team fights.
Team Dignitas (EU1) vs Method (EU3) Match 3
Map: Cursed Hollow
Dignitas: Raynor, Diablo, Uther, Dehaka, Zeratul
Method: Yrel, Maiev, Kharazim, Tyrael, Illidan
In a last-ditch effort, Method drafts a full dive melee comp thinking they wouldn’t have to worry about a backline. However, Dignitas counters by picking up Uther and Zeratul who have great tools for countering the dive.
Similar to the first game, Dignitas takes control and never lets go. Raynor picks off Yrel in top lane just before the Tribute spawns and secures the objective without contest. Dignitas then delays capturing their knight camp until the second Tribute spawns. This forces Method to clean up mid lane while Dignitas gets another free objective. Then Illidan gets picked off giving Dignitas level 10; Method concedes the third Tribute for a huge Curse only 7 minutes in.
The rest of the match plays out in similar fashion. Method players get picked off multiple times in a row before key objectives and Dignitas grabs their boss, which pushes in the bottom keep. Dignitas then rotates to the fourth Tribute and onto Method’s boss, however, Method catches them out of position and take out both Raynor and Zeratul.
It looked like Method might finally getting its act together. Dignitas was allowed to grab their fifth Tribute in a row and rotated to Method’s boss camp just as they finished taking it. Despite having the Grave Golem on their side, Method still loses Yrel, Illidan, and Maiev. Due to still having their top fort, Dignitas basically ignores Method’s boss and takes their own. Method goes all in one last time in bottom lane but gets wiped allowing Dignitas to end the game.
Despite the series seeming quite one-sided, Dignitas ranged player Vilhelm “POILK” Flennmark said they never stopped respecting their opponents. Method’s draft second game clearly gave them some trouble, but Dignitas stuck to playing their style and managed to pull out a close win.
Leftovers (EU4) vs Team Freedom (NA3) Match 1
Map: Dragon Shire
Leftovers: Greymane, Blaze, Deckard, Maiev, Muradin
Team Freedom: Kharazim, Garrosh, Fenix, Dehaka, Medivh
As the last North American team in the upper bracket, Team Freedom was expected to have a rough time with EU’s Leftovers. In the first match, both teams came out aggressive at level one and traded a death mid lane. Freedom’s Dehaka dies early in top lane and Leftovers capitalizes with a big knight push to quickly clear the fort.
The rest of the early game is relatively back and forth until a fight ensues below mid lane where Greymane and Maiev fall to give Freedom the level 10 Heroic advantage and the first Dragon Knight. Freedom pushes with the Dragon Knight and Greymane falls again just after the timer ends. Both teams decided to soak and rotate mercenary camps until Freedom hits 16.
Still a tier talent behind, Leftovers decided to start a fight just below middle lane and pay the price with Blaze and Muradin. This gives Freedom the opportunity to grab the second Dragon and extend their lead to two levels. While pushing bottom with the DK, Medivh and Garrosh get caught out of position but Freedom still manages to pick up four kills despite losing two players early.
After the Dragon Knight ends, Freedom regroups, grabs the bottom knight camp, and pushes down the keep. With their hefty experience and structure lead, Freedom starts playing even more aggressive and Greymane is picked off mid lane. This gives Freedom a third Dragon Knight, which they use to march to the core and end the game.
Leftovers (EU4) vs Team Freedom (NA3) Match 2
Map: Battlefield of Eternity
Leftovers: Deckard, Fenix, Garrosh, Blaze, Thrall
Freedom: Yrel, SGT Hammer, Medivh, Muradin, Rehgar
This time around, Freedom drafted around Sgt. Hammer with a tanky frontline and Medivh to provide an excellent source of vision during Immortal clashes while Leftovers grabbed a fairly standard comp. Early on, eight heroes fight top while Blaze and Yrel duel bottom. Both teams rotate on their Shaman camp before the first Immortals spawn. Medivh gets caught out of position before Yrel rotates up, but spawn timers are so short he gets back in the fight in time to help Freedom secure the first objective.
Both teams hit level 10 shortly after the second set of Immortals spawn and throw a ton of heroics at each other but no one drops. Leftovers engages on Freedom’s Immortal and trade Garrosh for Yrel. After a bit of posturing, Medivh is picked off and Leftovers take the Immortal, which pushes top fort.
Afterward, Leftovers attempts to take top mercs, but Freedom pins them between a wall for a 4-0 skirmish. This gives Freedom the level 16 advantage as the third set of Immortals spawn, but Leftovers are able to stall until they catch up. There’s a bit of dancing around the Immortals until Garrosh falls and Leftovers is forced to retreat. Freedom takes the Immortal and pushes down bottom keep with it.
Freedom hits level 20 just as the fourth objective spawns and nearly clear it while Leftovers soak to catch up. Leftovers manage to hold off Freedom for a bit, but their early damage allowed them to eventually claim the objective. While Leftovers battled the Immortal top, Freedom rotated bottom and pushed down the core.
Leftovers (EU4) vs Team Freedom (NA3) Match 3
Map: Volskaya Foundry
Leftovers: Muradin, Fenix, Maiev, Malfurion, Thrall
Freedom: Blaze, Alexstrasza, Sgt. Hammer, Garrosh, Li-Ming
This time around, Leftovers decided to shut down the Medivh with an early ban, but Freedom still drafts a Hammer composition. As the teams rotate through the mercenary camps, Leftovers gank Blaze bottom lane and grab the big support camp top. Freedom tries to setup on the first objective, but Leftovers hit level 7 first and take down Garrosh to control the point. Freedom tries to reengage once Garrosh gets back, but a clutch play from Maiev allows Leftovers to burn down Garrosh and Li-Ming. Leftovers easily take top fort, and the level 10 advantage, with the protector, which forces Freedom to soak experience to catch up.
The second objective spawns just after 9 minutes when both teams hit level 13. The teams trade a few Heroic abilities, and Freedom is forced to retreat and heal. Freedom reengages but get split and Garrosh and Blaze fall. With a commanding lead, Leftovers clean up Freedom in a 5-0 team fight and take the win.
Leftovers (EU4) vs Team Freedom (NA3) Match 4
Map: Tomb of the Spider Queen
Leftovers: Yrel, Jaina, Muradin, Stukov, Greymane
Freedom: Fenix, Deckard, Garrosh, Genji, Leoric
A few early skirmishes result in deaths on both sides, but rotations remain relatively even on both sides as they hit level 7. Freedom gets the initial Webweaver turn in and a slight lead. Leftovers gets their turn in while down Heroic talents. Freedom gets a pick on Greymane that allows them to easily clear the Webweavers and get two more kills on Stukov and Jaina.
Leftovers try to start a fight as Freedom gets their second turn in, but Jaina misses Ring of Frost and they’re forced to disengage. Freedom pushes top with their Webweavers and get picks on greymane and Muradin, which allows them to fall back and claim an easy boss. Choosing to soak instead of push, Freedom gains a level 16 to 13 advantage.
Freedom presses their advantage with a third turn in and pushing in top keep. As Freedom attempts to back out, Leftovers starts a fight but Freedom goes 3-0. With the hero and level advantage, Freedom easily destroys the core to win the match and series.
The upper bracket for the HGC quarterfinals has come to a conclusion with Team Dignitas and Team Freedom as the victors. Despite North America being the underdogs, Freedom has still managed to hang on and is taking things one match at a time. We’ll have to see whether they can keep the momentum as they face the tournament favorite Dignitas.
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