A Champion is Crowned in Katowice
Team Dignitas showed up to play this weekend. Winning three best-of-fives in a row against the three best teams that the West had to offer – they are your Western Clash Champions! We have our winners, and their team captain James 'Bakery' Baker. He was kind enough to answer a few questions:
You played three best of fives in a row today,and went from nearly dropping two games to Team 8 to beating Fnatic. Where was the turnaround?
Bakery: “I think the Cursed Hollow game against Misfits, as soon as we lost that game we became the team we knew we could be.”
What does it mean to you and your team to have won IEM Katowice two years running now?
Bakery: “Katowice last year was my first ever tournament win. Even I didn’t think we would win here, something inside me refused to believe that we couldn’t.”
How much of the win do you attribute to Dunktrain’s coaching?
Bakery: “The strategy used in the first two games against Fnatic was something totally managed by Dunktrain. When that didn’t work out in game three he was able to really come in and 'untilt' us and help us believe again.”
Is it safe to say the addition of Zaelia has worked out?
Bakery: “Definitely worked out.”
What was the thought process behind pulling out Stiches in the grand final?
Bakery: “Stitches is a hero that JayPL has always been amazing on. We play well with him because he gives you control and that is what we’re about as a team. He’s obviously out of the meta so we knew we could get whatever composition we wanted with him. We were very confident him coming into this tournament.”
Will Tyrande and Kael’thas return to the pro scene after what we’ve seen here?
Bakery “That’s a tough one. If they do it’s going to be a very sudden thing and be very short lived until people find a counter for it.”
Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Bakery: “Huge shout out to our fans in Poland. There was a special dedicated group that were here when we were doing great and when we were doing poorly shouting 'Dignitas!' very loudly and I can’t thank them enough for that. Also thanks to Team Dignitas and all of our sponsors.“
Bakery and the rest of Team Dignitas reminded everyone why they are considered the “old guard” of the Heroes of the Storm scene. Here is how it all went down:
Misfits vs. Fnatic
In a clash of titans, Fnatic and Misfits duked it out on stage at IEM Katowice in front of a crowd of hungry Heroes fans. When these two teams met in the regular season Misfits squeaked out a win in game five, giving Fnatic their only loss of the season.
Things were a little different this time around as Fnatic brought the heat right out of the gate. They took the first two Battlegrounds with ease, displaying some stellar Greymane play in map two. In fact, Greymane was drafted on every Battleground in this series.
It was the third Battleground that turned heads on Tomb of the Spider Queen. The early game was firmly in Fnatic’s control, but a disastrous fight occurred in the top lane in which Misfits massacred three members of Fnatic, and pushed their advantage by getting boss and two back-to-back waves of Web Weavers. After destroying all of their opponents keeps, Misfits fended off a failed core rush from their opponents. With their own throne clinging to life at 7% health, the Germans marched across the Battleground to win the game and keep themselves alive in the series.
However, in game four, Fnatic won thanks to a stellar draft. With the stun and burst damage combo that comes with the pairing of Chromie and Varian, members of Misfits were being deleted left and right. This win moved Fnatic into the grand finals and gave Misfits their first loss since the beginning of the HGC.
Team 8 vs. Team Dignitas
The last North America versus Europe matchup of the tournament was actually much closer than expected. In game one, Team 8 went toe to toe with Team Dignitas, trading evenly on Battlefield of Eternity and winning fights with some calculated Mosh Pits thanks to Justin 'Justing' Gapp. However, in the late game Team Dignitas struck while the American’s were split and pushed for the Core.
In the second game, Team 8 maintained a solid lead on Cursed Hollow. There were some moments where Mike 'Glaurung' Fisk shone on his staple Zeratul, lurking bot lane and managing a solo kill on Joshua 'Snitch' Bennett’s Falstad. However, another late game team fight went the way of Team Dignitas and despite their best efforts, Team 8 found themselves down 2-0.
In the final match of the series, Team Dignitas drafted a rarely seen Kerrigan and Kael’thas. Together the two locked down Team 8’s Heroes for what seemed like an eternity on Infernal Shrines. Kerrigan’s shrine control and early game presence guaranteed her team an early lead. While Team 8 showed signs of life, earning a few picks here and there, Team Dignitas remained in the driver’s seat the until the end.
Misfits vs. Team Dignitas
The series started off with a tense game on Towers of Doom. Misfits outclassed Team Dignitas, winning engagement after engagement with the use of Medivh’s Ley Line Seal.
In game two on Cursed Hollow, Team Dignitas took matters into their own hands, putting Thomas 'Ménè' Cailleux on Chromie. With the time walker's poke, Team Dignitas danced around the Tributes delaying long enough to choose their engagements carefully. In a hairy boss fight, Team Dignitas wiped Misfits who were trapped in the tree line of the Grave Gollum’s Graveyard. Off of this quarrel, Mene and company pushed in for the win. Misfits was there to greet them however and aced Team Dignitas before rushing across the map and destroying their opponents' Core unperturbed. This was the second successful Core defense of the day by Misfits.
Similar to game one, game three featured Dennis 'HasuObs' Schneider hitting four and five-man Ley Line Seals on Medivh. Despite these highlight worthy plays, Team Dignitas found themselves with a comfortable two level lead after demolishing Misfit’s top keep. In their first “clean” game of the day, Team Dignitas brought the series back to 2-1.
Do or die now for Team Dignitas. Sky Temple was the Battleground in which they were meant to find redemption. With Mene on Chromie once more, they bursted Misfits down through the use of Temporal Loop. With game five on the horizon, Team Dignitas pushed for the Core with the boss after a pick on Muradin turned into a multi-kill.
Bear in mind that Team Dignitas was shut out 3-0 in yesterday’s Semifinal. With the pressure on in the final elimination match of the Western Clash they looked like a different team entirely. The drafts for game five we’re incredibly different from the rest of the tournament. Team Dignitas went for Kael’thas and Tyrande while Misfits chose to bust out the first Alarak of the tournament.
The CC on the side of Team Dignitas lined up Misfits under the stuns from the Immortals for messy team fights full of displacement and lockdown. An insane wombo-combo came into play in the final moments of the game with Team Dignitas lining up Ley Line Seal, Starfall, Phoenix, and a swing of Ragnaros hammer in Molten Core. The aftermath allowed them to move onto the grand finals against the final boss, Fnatic.
The Grand Finals: Fnatic vs. Team Dignitas
The grand finals started off with a bang as Team Dignitas locked in Stiches and dominated the early game on Tomb of the Spider Queen as Jerome 'JayPL' Trinh landed hook after hook. The pressure never let up. Fnatic had to play in fear of Stitches' hook which enabled their opponents to walk all over them right up until the very end. After throwing the meta right out of the window, Team Dignitas crushed Fnatic in game one.
The festivities continued onto Towers of Doom. Stiches was again on the playing field coupled with Mene’s Kael’thas to follow up. JayPL landed hooks that had our analyst scratching their head. This is a team that seemed lifeless just one day before when Misfits knocked them into the lower bracket. Despite Fnatic’s best efforts, Team Dignitas ended Towers of Doom with the score reading 24-0.
Just when you thought the Stiches charade was over, Team Dignitas locked it in a third time on Infernal Shrines with Tyrande and Kael’thas. This time however Fnatic brought out Lucio who helped their high damage draft run circles around the abomination and his friends. Fnatic not only had endless disengage for this game, but Team Dignitas seemed to have little follow up for Stiches hook. Fnatic moved with the punisher to the core after a string of picks granted them entry.
Finally on the board in the series, Fnatic played standard on Sky Temple while Team Dignitas relinquished the Stiches in favor of Varian. His Charge combo’d with Malfurion’s Entangling Roots kept target in their place while Mene’s Chromie dished out massive damage. However, Fnatic had superior initiation, and was able to choose the fights they wanted to take. With the exception of a sneaky boss, Fnatic stayed in the lead for the entire game after level 10. A fight right outside Fnatic’s mid keep earned them the four kills they needed to end the game and bring the series to a game five.
Team Dignitas won rotations in game five on Dragon Shire with the global presence of Dehaka and Falstad. A midlane fight taken by Team Dignitas led to a Dragon Knight that took Fnatic’s mid-keep early. Team Dignitas then proceeded to sneak a Dragon Knight and do a greedy core rush that was secured by a gust by Snitch.
Check in with us next week as we look at the biggest winners and losers at Katowice and look ahead to the Eastern Clash.