North America Spring Regional Recap
Congratulations to Cloud9, our reigning North American Champions!
This weekend eight of the top North American teams gathered in Burbank, California to compete for one of two available spots in the Heroes of the Storm Global Championship in Seoul, South Korea at the beginning of April.
Panda Global, Team Nom, King of Blades Alpha and Team Blaze fought their hardest and took their respective opponents the distance in best-of-three matches, but in the end it wasn’t enough. After these four teams were eliminated in the group stage, four remained to duke it out in the semifinal bracket: Team Naventic and Tempo Storm from Group A, as well as Cloud9 and COGnitive Gaming from Group B.
Semifinals Round One - Cloud9 vs Tempo Storm
Old North American rivals, Cloud9 (C9) and Tempo Storm (TS) faced off in the first semifinal set. After trading their first two games, TS opted to battle C9 on Tomb of the Spider Queen. With TS selecting their battleground of choice, C9 was given first pick and chose Rehgar. Though the Shaman of the Earthen Ring is typically viewed as a must-have in Cho'gall compositions, TS still elected to draft a Cho'gall comp, replacing Rehgar's support role with Uther instead. C9 used this unconventional drafting strategy to their advantage and made relatively quick work of TS in the elimination match, pushing the core of TS before Storm Talents were attained.Semifinals Round One VOD - Cloud9 vs Tempo Storm
Semifinals Round Two - Team Naventic vs COGnitive Gaming
For the first time since the Heroes Rising finals, Team Naventic (NVT), formerly Bob Ross Fan Club, lost the first game in a set. COGnitive Gaming (COG) did not win quietly in-game or outside of the Nexus. However, there is a reason that NVT is thought of as one of the best teams in the world; their quality shone through in the two subsequent victories, which we’re capped off with an Illidan/Tyrael composition on Sky Temple. After NVT executed their lethal push in game three, the players turned to howl victory cries across the stage before walking over to shake hands with COG’s players. Zuna's Illidan was relentless throughout the final game, and COG simply didn’t have solutions to the problems that he presented across the map all game long. Though they were eliminated, the innovation shown in these matches proved what strong competitors COG have become in a short period of time.
Finals – Team Naventic (NVT) vs. Cloud9 (C9)
Heading into the Spring Regional, two teams were widely perceived to be a cut above the rest, and at the conclusion of the weekend, Cloud9 and Team Naventic lived up to their well-deserved hype.
Having only clashed previously during Heroes Rising in January, Cloud9 and Team Naventic were expected to duke it out once more in Burbank. Both teams dropped a few games during their weekend runs, but neither lost their composure as they stood up to the challenges presented by their opponents.
The first game of the best-of-five finals took place on Dragon Shire, a favorite battleground of NVT. Both teams appeared to be drafting into rather standard compositions until Chen was selected by C9 with the last pick of the draft.
The game played out evenly until C9 was able to capitalize on a few missed Devouring Maws by NVT McIntyre's Zagara. C9 skillfully displaced their opponents with Chen’s Wandering Keg courtesy of iDream before KingCaffeine’s Muradin delivered a Haymaker to turn the tide in C9’s favor. C9 won the race to 20 and ended the game shortly thereafter as the 20-minute mark was reached.
During the draft of game two, NVT decided to return to a hero who had worked for them in recent games: Illidan. Known to be incredibly lethal on large maps, Illidan proved to be a game-deciding Hero pick this tournament. When Blackheart's Bay was selected for the next battleground, NVT Zuna was ready to show C9 that they were not prepared.
Similar to game three versus COG, NVT's synergy around Illidan was executed perfectly. The support from NVT Kenma's Brightwing and NVT McIntyre's Tassadar made NVT Zuna's job look simple as he danced around C9 in team fights with ease. With a three-level advantage, C9's core was destroyed efficiently in under 15 minutes.
With the best-of-five set now tied up at one game apiece, the third draft for Battlefield of Eternity started and NVT made a fatal error. C9 is too good of a team to fall for the same strategy twice in a row, but NVT began drafting into back-to-back Illidan comps. This second time around, though, C9 found a way to survive the deep dive from NVT Zuna and exploited it throughout the game.
C9 has been around the Heroes scene for a long time and with time comes experience. They reached deep into their repertoire to pull out some old-school solutions to the problems that NVT was presenting. In a surprise pickup, C9 DunkTrain chose to forego Uther’s Divine Shield in favor of Divine Storm as his chosen heroic, a talent rarely encountered even in Quick Match games. However, the support master put on a Divine Storm workshop and showed how it can be used collaboratively with Zeratul's Void Prison. Although they fell behind early and lost multiple Immortals to NVT, C9 was able to put together a lethal push before they hit the 25-minute mark to win the game.
C9 was now just one game away from claiming the title of Regional champion as they headed into the fourth draft, yet the pressure did not alter their play at all. The reigning world champions were saving a newly refined strategy for the final game of the tournament. Although they had played no-tank compositions a few times earlier in the tournament, NVT had yet to face C9 without C9 KingCaffeine on one of his comfort picks such as Muradin or ETC.
The squad that C9 rolled out for game four featured Sonya as the only Warrior as C9 KingCaffeine elected to play as the Assassin Thrall. Every time we saw C9 KingCaffeine playing as something other than a tank throughout the tournament, he was playing as Thrall and seemed comfortable. His prowess with the Orc Warchief was on display once more against NVT, and his Sundering Heroics were on point throughout the game. Add this newly introduced playstyle of C9 KingCaffeine to the elite Falstad play of C9 k1pro and the devastating Li Ming of C9 Arthelon and, as NVT can now confirm, you will find an insane amount of damage. C9 brought NVT's core from 100% to 0% in a matter of seconds and, with their final push, C9 were crowned the North American Champions!
Not only does Cloud9 win the title of North American Champions and qualify for the Global Championship, but with their first place finish they also earn a first-round bye when they arrive to compete in Korea!
The next step in the road to the Global Championship will take Cloud9 and Team Naventic to Seoul, South Korea, where they will face off with some the world's most dangerous teams in April. MVP Black, Fnatic, and eStar are expected to be among the teams representing their respective regions, all of which will do whatever it takes to bring the championship home. Currently the title of World Champions resides in North America and both C9 and NVT plan to keep it that way.