What We Learned: The Western Clash

Dylan Walker, Blizzard Entertainment | March 5, 2018

Once again, Team Dignitas has won the Western Clash—but there is more to this result than meets the eye. IEM Katowice saw unfavored teams taking Battlegrounds and series off the giants that have dominated western regional rivalries for years now. Here are the biggest takeaways from the Western Clash:

Zealots Are a World Class Team

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The fourth-place seed Zealots from Europe started their tournament run with a 0-2 loss to Tempo Storm. After that, things seemed to start clicking for Adrian "adrd" Wojcik and crew, and the Zealots blew past Team Freedom 2-0, Team Twelve 3-1, Fnatic 3-0, and a rematch against Tempo Storm 3-1. The miracle run was capped off with a 4-3 loss to Team Dignitas, a result no one should be upset about.

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Zealots showed their flexibility throughout the tournament, playing 20 different Heroes for the final series alone in a variety of drafts that demanded coordinated execution. While it may not have been enough to take down Team Dignitas, it was a promising display nonetheless. The best example to point to for the raw potential of this roster would be their victory over Team Dignitas on Cursed Hollow, a game Zealots finished with only a single death.

North America Has Improved Significantly

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At last year’s Clashes, it was clear that Europe was the stronger region—there were many shutout series, and the top three spots at every international event constantly eluded North America. While the grand final at the Western Clash was Europe vs. Europe, the rest of the bracket saw North America step up in a big way. HeroesHearth took a Battleground off Team Dignitas, Team Twelve shut out Method, and Tempo Storm sent both Zealots and Fnatic to the lower bracket.

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Drafting seemed to play a major factor from the beginning, with North America prioritizing meta picks ahead of comfort choices, such as Mike “Glaurung” Fisk’s Zeratul or Harrison "psalm" Chang’s Kerrigan. The execution wasn’t always clean, but North America stole 13 Battlegrounds from Europe—a clear sign of improvement compared to the single Battleground the region managed to take against their regional rivals at IEM Katowice last year.

Team Dignitas Are Still the Best in The West

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Team Dignitas have shown that practice makes perfect. They are now the favorites headed into Part 2 of Phase 1 and the Mid-Season Brawl beyond that. They’ll be watching the Eastern Clash soon, as will every other team with dreams of competing at the Mid-Season Brawl. Be sure to check back right here at playheroes.com/esports for plenty of Clash coverage coming at you over the next two weeks.