This year I attended the Eastern Clash in Taiwan, the Mid-Season Brawl (MSB) in Sweden, the Western Clash in California, and the second Eastern Clash in South Korea, witnessing performances by many of the teams on this list firsthand. When deciding the order of these power rankings, I considered many factors such as regular-season results, total number of LAN qualifications, roster changes, and past performances at offline events.

The playing field is ruthless this year but knowing what I know and seeing what I’ve seen, this is my personal power ranking for the HGC Finals.

12) Luna Meow

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It would come as a surprise to many people if Taiwan’s Luna Meow survived BlizzCon Opening Week, even after both of their impressive Horizon Clash wins this year. The team has brought on new members Wei-Hao “IMmORTaL” Wang and Ming-Hsuan “BakeCheese” Tsai to aid them in the challenge, but it’s a tall order for fresh faces to make an impact at an event this stacked. There is something to be said about playing with nothing to lose, but any team that would lose to Luna Meow would be second-guessing themselves for the rest of the show.

11) TheOne

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China’s second seed has posted a few notable results this year, placing second overall in the region and taking a battleground off Team BlossoM at the Eastern Clash and Fnatic at MSB. TheOne certainly have it in them to break the mold, but they’ve traditionally struggled to post results at international tournaments.

10) MindFreak

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Australia & New Zealand’s Mindfreak is a talented (and loveable) team with a fair amount of offline experience who have simply not found wins at international events outside of stealing away a few Battlegrounds here and there. Mindfreak were able to defeat TheOne during the MSB group stage and have won both Intercontinental Clashes this year—but looking at their history on paper it’s hard to say they’ll break through to the main stage.

9) Beyond the Game

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Beyond the Game have grown significantly since their appearance at BlizzCon last year. They were, in my opinion, the best Chinese team at the most recent Eastern Clash. Ultimately, they were eliminated in Incheon by Team BlossoM in a 3-0 result, but the series was much closer than anticipated. Presuming they bring the same fire they had at the Eastern Clash, it’s likely Beyond the Game will turn some heads at BlizzCon Opening Week.

8) Team Liquid

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Team Liquid also have leveled up their game since missing out on qualification to MSB. Taking on ANZ’s Liam "Arcaner" Simpson seems to have worked wonders for their confidence, although it didn’t seem to help their results at the Western Clash, where they left without winning a map. Their auto-qualification to the HGC Finals was well-earned, but their absence from the majority of LAN events over the past twelve months places them below Tempo on the list.

7) Tempo Storm

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It’s been a hell of a year for Tempo Storm, who finished fourth at MSB in a run that included multiple wins over the Korean powerhouse that is Ballistix. Shortly afterwards they lost Harrison "psalm" Chang but maintained an even footing in league play. All seemed well until they landed a disappointing last place result at the Western Clash (alongside Team Liquid). Tempo Storm, like many others on this list, have shown a propensity for upsets at events such as these, but it’s hard to place them above HeroesHearth, who fared better at the Clash and snagged the top spot in the region this time around.

6) HeroesHearth

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HeroesHearth have appeared at every major event of the year and now have qualified for the HGC Finals as the No. 1 seed from North America. They’ve done some damage to international opponents along the way, including Battleground wins against Team Dignitas, Ballistix, and Tempest, and series wins over both Method and Team Liquid. They’d be above Miracle on this list if it wasn’t for the blow that comes in the form of Taylor "Arthelon" Eder’s departure. His replacement, Cesar "Homi" Peterson, is a talented player and it’s likely he’ll live up to or exceed expectations in Anaheim—but with no LAN experience to speak of it’s difficult to put them any higher here.

5) Miracle

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Miracle are a solid Korean squad who are totally capable of upsetting teams ranked above them on this list. Jin Su "NaCHoJin" Park, who won the Fall Championship at BlizzCon 2016 with Ballistix, is joined here by Tae Hoon "Sniper" Kwon, who competed at BlizzCon 2015 with Team DK and placed second at 2016’s Spring Championship with TNL. They have the chops to survive Opening Week, but with three-fifths of the roster new to the pressure of international competition and the roar of the BlizzCon crowd—it’s likely Miracle won’t measure up at the main event.

4) Leftovers

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This mostly Polish squad has usurped the powers that be over the last six months. They are the only team that has taken a series off Team Dignitas since the Mid-Season Brawl, and that came after meeting Team Dignitas in the Grand Finals of the most recent Western Clash. Their off-the-wall hijinks speaks to their innate knowledge of the game itself, and they seem to fire up well on LAN. While they’ve yet to challenge Eastern opponents, I think it unwise to underestimate the Leftovers in Anaheim.  

3) Tempest

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Tempest are a team of seasoned veterans and have placed within the top three at every event they’ve attended this year. Their run at the HGC Finals will be heavily dependent on how well they fair in Group B, aka the group of death. Tempest have yet to achieve the same level of success they had in the summer of 2016, but they are one of the most consistent teams in attendance and are, in my opinion, the team most likely to upset Team Dignitas or Gen.G in the playoffs.

2) Team Dignitas

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Team Dignitas haven’t brought their best game to BlizzCon since 2015 and even then, it wasn’t enough. Winning both Clashes was incredibly impressive, especially when you consider that they didn’t drop a map at the most recent one. Taking the Korean overlords to a seventh map at MSB definitely sent a message as well, but Jerome "JayPL" Trinh announcing his retirement after this event, combined with the near-immaculate results of their nemesis knock them down a notch. They are still the best hope for the West to dethrone the East in terms of international play, but I know better than to bet against the next team on the list at this point.

1) Gen.G Esports

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The Gen.G roster is legend at this point, having been the best team in the world off and on since Heroes was released. They are looking to be the first team to win back-to-back BlizzCons—and it’s safe to say they are on track to do so based on their tournament and league placements since claiming the HGC Finals trophy last year. Even at the Eastern Clash in Taipei, the only tournament they lost all year, the grand finals played out the full seven Battlegrounds. That was before they won the next Eastern Clash without dropping a map, clapping back to answer Team Dignitas’ flawless run with one of their own.

Will the HGC Finals be another Gen.G victory? Or is it time to crown a new champion? Let us know what you think on Twitter by tagging @HeroesEsports and using the hashtag #HGC. We’ll see you at the show!