This past weekend saw colossal HGC series between the first and second place seeds in each of Korea, North America, and Europe. These matchups crowned three number one seeds who are now headed to the Mid-Season Brawl next month. All the remaining teams in the HGC have work to do if they want to make it to Sweden now. Here are the headline matches from Week 9.

L5 show the merits of Illidan

The leader of the Illidari was center stage on Sunday in Game 4 of L5 vs. MVP Black. Down two games, the Korean overlords used the power of the Betrayer to solo their opponents’ core and force a Game 5 that they won handily.

This win solidifies L5’s place at the Mid-Season Brawl. After losing to MVP Black in the semifinals and finals of the Eastern Clash, many doubted that L5 would be able to keep their perfect record alive headed into this series. After this win, they are the only team in the entire HGC to maintain a perfect record headed into Week 10. However, with MVP expected to sail through the Mid-Season Brawl bracket, L5 will need to dig deep to make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself. A thrilling victory by L5 is just what this rivalry needed.

Fnatic punches their ticket to DreamHack Summer

After his team beat MVP Black this past weekend, L5’s Warrior player, Do Jun ‘Noblesse’ Chae, sat at the analyst desk and gave his early predictions for the Mid-Season Brawl. “I think going to the semifinals will not be too hard,” Noblesse said. “I think China and NA are among the weaker regions but I think Europe has been really climbing up.”

This newfound respect for Europe from the best of the best in Korea comes on the heels of Fnatic’s performance against MVP Black in the finals of the Fall Championship. Fnatic put on a show again this Sunday, completing a reverse sweep against Team Dignitas. With this win they have clinched first place in their region and qualified for the first international event of the HGC — the Mid-Season Brawl at DreamHack Summer.

Fnatic was not present at the Summer Championship last year at the same venue, which stung especially hard since all five members of the team call Sweden home. With a much more demanding path to such an important event, Fnatic are a different team this time around. Looking at their last result on the international stage since then, it’s safe to say that they should pose a substantial threat on their home soil.

Europe is upset central

Lower ranked teams in the region are on the rise as Phase 1 of the HGC ends. Team expert — who have been on the cusp of taking a series off one of the top three teams since Week 1 — finally accomplished just that. They were able to close out a fifth map against Team Liquid, securing them the fourth seed in the playoff bracket.

The bigger upset perhaps came from BeGenius, the last place team in HGC Europe. BeGenius looked alive on Sunday when they shut out Tricked esport 3-0. This win comes on the heels of their upset last week against the Playing Ducks. Unfortunately, this mini streak come a bit too late as BeGenius will nonetheless be going to the Crucible. With the form this team has found, though, it’s looking more likely that they’ll proceed to Phase 2.

Tempo Storm proves they are the best team in North America

In the final major match of the weekend, Tempo Storm outsmarted Gale Force eSports’ peculiar draft strategies and was able to walk away with a 3-1 victory, securing their first place finish in North America and a bid at the Mid-Season Brawl. At the Western Clash, Tempo Storm fell apart against Team 8 in the lower bracket after taking a 3-0 beating from Fnatic. The team has a long road ahead of them if they want to best that performance at DreamHack Summer.

As for Gale Force, they will enter the HGC Playoffs with a high seed, and duke it out against the likes of B-Step and Team 8 for the final North American spot at the Mid-Season Brawl. More information on the HGC Playoffs and the stepladder bracket can be found here.

Congratulations to L5, Fnatic, and Tempo Storm, who have qualified alongside Nomia from the Australia & New Zealand region and Team ConBox from Southeast Asia as the first 5 of 12 teams for the Mid-Season Brawl. Be sure to check back in with us later in the week as we continue to reflect on Week 9 and look ahead to the HGC Playoffs. 

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