Defending the Throne: The New (and Familiar) Faces of Korea
New teams Winners and Re:Zero made it through the Korean Crucible this past weekend, each defeating Team RRR and Raven 4-0, respectively. We welcome these new rosters to the HGC and look forward to watching them compete.
Overall, it’s been a whirlwind year for Korea, which have fallen from grace in the hierarchy of competitive Heroes of the Storm. This is in sharp contrast to 2016, when MVP Black and Ballistix dominated every single international event they competed in. It seemed like the reign of Korea would last forever, until the powers that be in Europe caught up to them within the new structure of the HGC.
Adjustments have been made, though, and you’d be wrong to think that these teams are just going to roll over when tasked with taking down the likes of Fnatic and Team Dignitas at the HGC Finals. The event marks the first time this year that Korean superpowers MVP Black, L5, and Tempest will all be at the same international event.
Since this time last year, MVP Black has lost Ji Hoon ‘Sign’ Yoon to Tempest, and Tae Jun ‘merryday’ Yi has formally retired. Jae Won ‘Rich’ Lee left the team after the Fall Championship but returned shortly after the Mid-Season Brawl. Rich’s return has brought with it good results, as MVP Black are the only team at the HGC Finals that have gone undefeated in Phase 2.
MVP Black won the first Eastern Clash of the year, fell in the semi-finals of the Mid-Season Brawl, and came in second to L5 at the second Eastern Clash in Taipei. MVP Black will be looking to settle the score with Fnatic, who knocked them out in the semi-finals of the Fall Championship last year. Having tasted victory at the Spring Championship in April 2016, this star-studded roster have been looking to retake the throne ever since.
Back to defend their title, L5 also have some new members. After the Mid-Season Brawl the team lost Chae Do 'Noblesse' Jun and Jin Su 'NaCHoJin' Park before enlisting the help of up-and-coming talent Jong Hoon ‘Hooligan’ Park and Hyun Tae ‘SDE’ Kim. The new L5 stomped the competition at the most recent Eastern Clash, defeating MVP Black handedly 4-1 in the grand finals and taking home $30,000.
Most closely related to Team Dignitas, L5 tend to perform better on LAN than they do online. Captain Seung-Chul ‘sCsC’ Kim spent the majority of his early career playing competitive StarCraft II, retiring in 2014 to pursue Heroes of the Storm. Ever since making the switch, his prize-money earnings have soared thanks to his passionate, mechanically minded teammates, who enable him to succeed in out-microing his foes on the battlefield. While L5 fell to Team Dignitas at the Mid-Season Brawl last time the East met the West, expect them to not go gently into the night at BlizzCon.
Forever third in the region, Tempest have closed the gap after trailing behind MVP and L5 for the better half of a year. After narrowly missing out on qualifying for the Fall Championship last year, Tempest has maintained a firm handle on the bronze-medal spot in Korea, even upsetting L5 in Phase 2.
Brothers Chin ‘Hide’ Gyeong-hwan and Chin ‘Lockdown’ Jae-hun will be looking to prove themselves once and for all against the rest of the world at the HGC Finals, having not had a chance to compete at an international event since the Summer Championship. Tempest came in third at both Eastern Clashes this past year, and will now be tasked with taking down the likes of Roll20 esports, Team Dignitas, and the Red Canids in Group C—what is now known as the “group of death."
Earlier this week we chronicled the narratives for our European teams as well. Follow our HGC Finals coverage on the major players in attendance right here at playheroes.com/esports.