Ultimate Evolution: The Most Improved HGC Teams of 2017

Dylan Walker, Blizzard Entertainment
November 13, 2017

With the inaugural year of the Heroes Global Championship (HGC) coming to a close, it’s time to look at who has come the farthest from where they started. There are three teams who are easily the most improved over the course of the year, and it’s time to pay homage to those who have made the biggest transformations in the league.

Team expert

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To Bees Determined (TBD) were a group of misfits outcast from great rosters of the past. Together, they competed for glory at various events over the course of the 2016—with little to show for their efforts.

TBD were among the first teams to qualify for HGC Europe, and quickly earned a sponsorship from Team expert. The young roster of experienced veterans performed spectacularly in Phase 1, coming in just behind Team Liquid and Team Dignitas (in fourth place overall). Throughout regular league play in Phase 1 and Phase 2, Team expert stole Battlegrounds and series from rosters ahead of them in the standings, earning their place at the second Western Clash of the year in Kiev (where they were the runners-up).

This hodgepodge of random players even ended up qualifying for BlizzCon, knocking out Soul Torturers, Super Perfect Team, and Team Dignitas before being eliminated by the eventual tournament winners, MVP Black. Team expert have transformed from a group of leftovers into an international threat, and a superpower capable of doing real damage.

Team Freedom

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These patriots made a name for themselves this year. Not to be underestimated, Team Freedom has earned their spot towards the top of the North American standings after an outstanding performance in Phase 2 that saw them vault from the middle of the pack to the top of the ladder. In Phase 1, Team Freedom finished 5-9. In Phase 2, they ended the year with an 11-3 record—only dropping series to Spacestation Gaming, Tempo Storm, and Roll20 Esports along the way.

Together, this roster has earned over $100,000 in prize money over the past year, and is positioned to make a splash in 2018 as well. Team Freedom were able to defeat China’s Beyond the Game twice at the HGC Finals, and also managed to take a game off Fnatic with a standard composition featuring Leoric and Abathur.

Team Freedom’s high prioritization of Auriel likely played a role in their downfall at the HGC Finals. They picked the Archangel of Hope more than twice as much as any other team in attendance, but only managed a 40 percent success rate with the Hero. While it’s not the only reason that Team Freedom didn’t post a better result at the HGC Finals, the preference may be outdated in the current meta.

Roll20 Esports

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After starting the year down a player, Roll20 Esports defied all odds by earning their spot at the first Western Clash. It was no fluke, as they would also make a name for themselves at the Mid-Season Brawl and the HGC Finals. Roll20 are one of three North American teams that have taken maps off of Europe, and the only North American team to find (repeated) success against Korea.

While they have parted ways recently with Kyle ‘Prismaticism’ Belaiche and Mike 'Glaurung' Fisk—and there are likely more changes to come for the North American scene—it’s important to appreciate the scope of what this roster went through. They were the last team to round out the eight teams competing in the North American HGC, which led to their original name, "Team 8." While many were expecting the Lag Forces and Gale Forces of the league to find great success, it was Roll20 that ended the year in the number one spot on the standings.

They went on to make history for the region, becoming the first North American team in two years to defeat a Korean team—dispatching Tempest in Group C at the HGC Finals.

While multiple teams showed improvement this year (Tempo Storm, Mighty, Team BlossoM, BTG, Team Wish, Tricked esports), these are the three that defied all odds and surprised everyone when they earned a seat at the main table among the eight best teams in the world. Later this week we will be paying homage to some of the best plays of the year, as well as crowning an MVP of the 2017 season. You can catch all the action right here at playheroes.com/esports and on the official Heroes esports Twitter and Facebook.