Week 5 in the HGC was full of both heartbreak and elation as we locked in the final teams for the Western Clash in Kiev. Following their jaw-dropping performance at the Mid-Season Brawl, Fnatic will be the team to beat this time around. In this post, you will find a brief introduction to each of the teams hoping to that they're up to the task, but before we get into it, we are happy to unveil the first-round matchups for our double elimination bracket at the Western Clash.
Fnatic vs. RED Canids
Tempo Storm vs. Team Liquid
Gale Force eSports vs. Nomia
Team expert vs. Team Freedom
Reigning Western Clash champions Team Dignitas won’t be in attendance in Kiev, even though they won their final series against Tricked esport 3-0. This marks the first international Heroes esports event without the British stalwarts in the game's young competitive history. Following their win this weekend, Team Liquid will represent Europe in their stead, and will start the tournament facing off against Tempo Storm in a series that promises to deliver. We will dive deeper into these first-round matchups as we get closer to the event. For now, meet the teams in contention in Kiev.
Fnatic – Europe #1 Seed
The Mid-Season Brawl champions have been on a dominant run since defeating Team Dignitas in the grand finals at DreamHack Summer. Since then they’ve been unstoppable domestically, that is until this past weekend. In an upset that flabbergasted our European casters, the Playing Ducks, the last place team in the European HGC, managed to down the undefeated Fnatic 3-1. Despite the loss, Fnatic are still the favorites to win the Western Clash convincingly.
Team expert – Europe #2 Seed
The last Western Clash featured Fnatic, Team Dignitas, and Team Liquid from Europe. With Team Dignitas out of the running for the moment, there is room for new blood. Team expert proved themselves worthy in Phase 2 by rolling over every team except for Tricked and Fnatic. They also lost out to Team Liquid this past weekend in an incredibly close series that went the full five maps. Team expert are known for executing extremely unique drafts and utilizing niche heroes. They are undefeated with Abathur, Malthael, and Valla so far in Phase 2.
Team Liquid – Europe #3 Seed
Team Liquid has had a rough go of things since the last Western Clash, which they entered as the favorites. They missed their opportunity to attend the Mid-Season Brawl by a hair after losing to Team Dignitas in the final round of the Phase 1 Playoffs. They exacted revenge on Dignitas early on in Phase 2, winning 3-0, but went on to lose to both Zealots and Tricked esport. This inconsistency may prove worrisome for Team Liquid at the Western Clash.
However, it’s worth noting that Team Liquid boast the longest running five-player roster in the HGC, and they’ve been on top of the west before when they made the semi-finals at the Summer Championship in 2016. The time to mesh has long passed, which is a clear advantage they’ll have over newer teams like Freedom and expert. If anyone is capable of upsetting Fnatic at the Western Clash, it’s Liquid.
Gale Force eSports – North America #1 Seed
Gale Force didn't put in a great performance at the last Western Clash, thanks in part to a tough bracket draw. They looked great in the second half of Phase 1, but lost out to Roll20 in the final round of the Phase 1 playoffs. In their time off during the Mid-Season Brawl they picked up both John Paul ‘KingCaffiene’ Lopez and Keiwan ‘k1pro’ Itakura from B-Step. This change has seemingly been what the team needed to take their game to the next level. They defeated both Tempo Storm and Roll20 esports in Phase 2, losing only to Team Freedom. It will be interesting to see how much of an impact Gale Force can make on the international stage.
Tempo Storm – North America #2 Seed
At the last Western Clash, Tempo Storm were struck down by both Fnatic and Roll20. At the Mid-Season Brawl they showed improvement after taking a Battleground off Team Dignitas and besting Taiwan’s Soul Torturers to make it out of groups. Since then they’ve struggled a bit at home, which may be thanks to a shrinking skill gap in North America. Watch for Tempo Storm to bring out Kael’thas when the time is right, as Harrison ‘psalm’ Chang currently has an impressive 100% winrate on the Hero since the HGC began in January.
Team Freedom – North America #3 Seed
Of all the teams attending the Western Clash, Team Freedom are by far the most improved. This is a team that barely avoided the Crucible in Phase 1, and are now heading to their first international live event just five weeks into Phase 2. In this most recent run, they have defeated both Gale Force eSports and Roll20 esports in convincing fashion. This improvement might be attributed to the addition of Heroes of the Dorm champion Yusuf ‘Kure’ Sunka. Kure is the teams resident Genji player, a Hero on which he has a 66.7% winrate.
Nomia – Australia & New Zealand
Nomia is everyone’s favorite underdog. At the last Western Clash they stunned the crowd by winning the first Battleground of the tournament against #1 seed Team Liquid. At the Mid-Season Brawl they got even further, after surviving a deadly group that included the likes of Fnatic and MVP Black, making them the first team from ANZ to ever make it out of groups at an international Heroes esports event. This time around they’ll be out for blood with even more experience under their belt. They will be seen as veterans compared to the likes of Team Freedom and Team expert. Underestimate Nomia at your peril.
RED Canids – Latin America
RED Canids are back after a rough go of things at the Mid-Season Brawl where they went home without winning a Battleground. Juan 'Jschritte' Passos and team captain Matheus 'Typhex' Santos return now with the same roster except for Diego 'haMtarO' Victoriano who has since left the team. In his place will be newcomer Túlio 'Tulin' Chebli. We will see if this iteration of RED Canids have what it takes to upset the rest of our western teams.
Admission to the Western Clash is free, and all are invited! Make sure you check out this week's casters announcement and keep it tuned right here to playheroes.com/esports as our coverage of the Western Clash is just beginning. We will have an analytical look at the first round matchups along with player interviews, and of course another declassified Captain’s Scouting Report.