2018 marks the beginning of a new era in ANZ Heroes of the Storm esports, and we’re now past the halfway mark of the inaugural season of HGC ANZ Premier. We’ve seen several close games, epic plays, some funny moments, and big news in the form of Nomia being acquired by Mindfreak.

There’s a lot on the line. Teams throughout the region are rallying to win the lion’s share of the $40,000 AUD prize pool and the opportunity to face the Copa America champion at the Intercontinental Clash in Rio de Janeiro next month.

As we approach the conclusion of the regular season, our awesome talent took a moment to reflect on the season so far. Here’s what they had to say:

Skimmy

36377109355_7b88e614db_k.jpg

Favorite moment of the season so far?

Mindfreak (formerly Nomia) vs. Crimson on March 15. Mindfreak are the team to beat, as they remain undefeated this season and continue to showcase their team's illustrious history. This series was incredibly close, with one kill swaying the outcome either way, and represented the best attempt to upset Mindfreak’s dominating streak.

Biggest Surprise?

SupaFish from team Downfall playing in Hong Kong, at the airport, on his laptop, making plays. That's not clickbait; it was so entertaining to watch and cast.

Prediction – Who do you think will be the top two teams going to Rio?

Mindfreak and Crimson. Every week, I've remained undeterred that these teams are the best, and unless a massive upset happens, I can't see that opinion changing.

Phoenix

gl.jpg

Favorite moment of the season so far?

The upset victory that Downfall took over Crimson in week 2. It was completely unexpected, and a real eye-opener for the league.

Biggest Surprise?

Downfall’s victory over Crimson was also the biggest surprise of the season so far for me.

Prediction: who do you think will be the top two teams going to Rio?

As for who I think will be going to Rio, I think Mindfreak is certainly going as the no. 1 seed. They're just way too far ahead at this point. As for the second team, I think it’s toss-up between Crimson and Outlaws, and the loss that Crimson took against Downfall made me question their chances. I think in a straight matchup, Crimson has the advantage, so I think they'll qualify as well.

Vandie

Vandie.jpg

Favorite moment of the season so far?

It had to be Week 5, when Downfall Gaming were up against QM Warriors. When they last met, QM Warriors managed to cause an upset by emerging victorious after a closely contested Game 3 on Battlefield of Eternity. This time, we saw them go head-to-head for Game 1 on Infernal Shrines. Downfall had one of their players playing from Hong Kong (see above), and a technical issue meant one of their players was unable to re-join in the final few minutes of the game.

What happened next?  A hero was born in the form of Leoric bot. Downfall managed to hold on and win some team fights with the bot, looking to make a comeback, before one last decisive fight by QM Warriors sealed the deal. If you had to rewatch any series from the games so far, watch this set—it won't disappoint!

Surprise of the season?

Biggest surprise is how strong Mindfreak has been this season. I was expecting Crimson, Outlaws, or Downfall to take at least one map off them, but so far, all teams are yet to crack this impressive lineup. It reminds me of the Nomia of old, when they were completely undefeated in ANZ for so long.

Prediction: who do you think will be the top two teams going to Rio?

I think Mindfreak and Crimson will be the two teams going to Rio. Mindfreak’s place is pretty much secured with their hard work in the first half of the season, meaning that even if they drop a few sets, they’ll still maintain their top spot. Crimson’s biggest competitor is Outlaws, and they have previously gone head-to-head, with Crimson managing to win the set 2-1. Crimson, however, did drop a surprise set to Downfall Gaming in the past, so they can’t let their guard down.

Disconcur

disconcur.jpg

Favorite moment of the season so far?

Conya from Downfall Gaming had a great moment where he completely changed the outcome of a fight against Crimson Gaming. Crimson had just dropped a Warden's Cage to trap four members of Downfall. It was looking pretty bad, but Conya waited out the use of their abilities (like Tyrael’s Sanctification) and then ripped a massive RIP-tire straight into them. It was a massive turn in what otherwise would have been a one-sided engagement.

Biggest surprise?

The biggest surprise and upset of the season goes to Downfall Gaming and their win against Crimson Gaming in Week 2. Crimson are favorites to come second, and while Downfall had performed well in the preseason, no one expected them to beat Crimson 2-0. Downfall’s win was a bit of a shock to the scene, and it really showed that they could take out a top team in the league.

Prediction: who do you think will be the top two teams going to Rio?

You would be silly not to put Mindfreak (previously Nomia) at first place. They are currently undefeated, and I really don’t see anyone changing that. Second place is currently a battle between Outlaws and Crimson Gaming. Crimson has performed incredibly well all season and have had more decisive victories, even with their defeat to Downfall Gaming. If I must pick a team, though, I will say it will be Crimson Gaming going to Rio.

KitFox

kit.jpg

Favorite moment of the season so far?

The first half of the season has blown my expectations away—week after week, the games have delivered. My favorite moment was the Immortal veering off its path and attacking the middle gate on Battlefield of Eternity (Week 1, Crimson vs. Aztech). You just can’t buy that sort of comedy, and luckily it didn’t cost Crimson the game.

Biggest surprise?

The other thing that surprised me is team Downfall. These guys came out of the blocks with all guns blazing, taking it to the top teams and vying for a top-three spot. Definitely keep your eyes on them in the second half.

Prediction: who do you think will be the top two teams going to Rio?

Who can catch up to MindFreak and Crimson? These two teams have broken away from the pack and are constantly trading blows at the top of the table. It’s a possibility that Outlaws or even Downfall may come in as a wildcard with an upset victory, but I expect to see MindFreak and Crimson representing the ANZ region against LATAM at the Intercontinental Clash.

Tune in every week at 7:30 p.m. AEST Tuesdays and Thursdays to http://www.twitch.com/blizzard_anz