The Dust Has Settled: What We Learned from HGC Finals

Dylan Walker, Blizzard Entertainment
November 6, 2017

The HGC Finals are over, and MVP Black have reclaimed their title as the best team in the world. Where does that leave us? Well, for starters, it’s time to review what we’ve learned.

Seven matches made up the playoff bracket after Opening Week. We saw a number of teams punching above their weight as each and every one of the competing rosters did their best to make history on stage at BlizzCon. Let’s take a look at the most notable performances.

North America Grows in Power

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Compared to last year, North America should be considering this BlizzCon a win—all three teams made it out of rather difficult groups. While they ultimately could not place ahead of Europe, there were still some memorable moments.

Except, perhaps, for Team Freedom’s series against MVP Black.

MVP Black, the eventual HGC Finals champions, moved past Freedom in the first round with relative ease. If anything, the mostly Canadian roster will have learned from their time in California, and bring a new level of play when they return next year.

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It was Tempo Storm who delivered the first real statement at the HGC Finals when they stole Towers of Doom away from Fnatic with a smart Medivh and Garrosh combination. This allowed Tempo to run circles around the Swedish superstars. The win is especially sweet for Tempo Storm, who suffered a rather humbling 40-0 loss on Towers of Doom against Fnatic at the first Western Clash earlier this year. While Fnatic were able to close out the series at BlizzCon, it’s clear that the roster of Tempo Storm has gained significant traction since IEM Katowice.

While Tempo Storm’s performance against Fnatic was cool, it wasn’t quite as flashy as Roll20’s upset win over Ballistix on Battlefield of Eternity with Samuro. The Blademaster saw little to no play during the regular season, but played a pivotal role in forcing a win on the biggest Heroes esports stage of the year.

Europe Is a Little All Over the Place

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Europe had a rather interesting showing at the HGC Finals. Team Dignitas (the team I predicted to win the tournament) went out in the quarterfinals 2-0 against Team expert. Team expert went on to fall to MVP Black in a fairly one-sided 3-0 series. This side of the bracket felt like something of a gaff—Team Dignitas traditionally performs well on the international stage, while this is the first true global event for Team expert to speak of.

On the other side of the bracket, Fnatic showed a devastating level of consistency (outside of the dropped map to Tempo Storm), moving past a Korean team in the semifinals and falling in the grand final to another Korean team 3-1 (just like last year). While they were able to stand tall over Ballistix, their grand final opponents from last year—MVP Black—exacted their revenge in the grand final this year after Fnatic knocked them out in 2016. The tables turned a bit, but Korea again held fast.

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Only Fnatic were able to show the same level of play that Europe exhibited at the Mid-Season Brawl, but it was not enough to take home the title. It’s expected that the region will create something of a super team in the roster acquisition period, to guarantee at least one horse in the running for the trophy next year.

South Korea, the Rightful Kings

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With only two Korean teams in the playoff bracket, it looked more likely than ever that the trophy would go to a Western squad. Ye of little faith!

Ballistix started out shaky in the playoffs, moving past Roll20 Esports 2-1. While a win is a win, nothing could have prepared them for the freight train that was Fnatic in the semifinals. It was clear to see that if nothing else was accomplished at BlizzCon, Fnatic wanted revenge on Ballisitix—and they earned it 3-0. The former world champions will be given another shot against Fnatic at the Gold Club World Championship at the end of the month.

That brings us to MVP Black—and what a team. Rebuilt on the shoulders of Won Ho ‘KyoCha’ Jeong and Jung Hyuk ‘Sake’ Lee after the team’s last international win at 2016’s Spring Championship, the reformed roster is hands down the strongest team in Heroes esports. While we spent a great deal of time hyping up Jae Won ‘Rich’ Lee, some of the biggest plays at BlizzCon came from Jin Woo ‘Reset’ Im, who rained down relentless death and destruction as Li-Ming (and other Heroes).

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MVP Black have reasserted themselves as the best team in the world—for now. Is this the beginning of another MVP Dynasty? Or was BlizzCon the result of a few bloodthirsty Koreans out for revenge after falling short at the Mid-Season Brawl? Perhaps the state of roster changes in Europe caused these Western teams to not play to their full potential—or maybe they did, and it just wasn’t enough this year.

One thing is for certain: The HGC has elevated the skill level, the stakes, and the glory that comes with being a world champion.

In the coming weeks, we will take the time to reflect on the past year and some of the most hype-worthy moments, as well as give honor to players deserving of recognition. We will also speak with the pros and learn what they think about the changes coming to the tournament realm soon, and of course, announce the final rosters for HGC 2018 at the end of the acquisition window.

At the end of the month, we will also begin our coverage of GCWC that will unfold over the course of two weeks in December—more details will be available soon. There will be plenty to talk about as we head into Season 2, so check back here often at playheroes.com/esports for all things HGC.