In a first for Heroes HGC on the 12th and 13th of May we had a four-team minor region vs minor region tournament, where the top two teams from the Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) region travelled to Brazil to take on Latin America (LatAm). Each region’s teams played each other with the winner of each series then playing to decide who went to the Mid-Season Brawl. At first glance it seemed strange; why fly two ANZ teams over at considerable expense for one to knock the other out? Couldn’t they have an ANZ vs LatAm semi-finals so we got a better judge of how the regions compared? Or couldn’t they just have played each other back home and the winner travel to Brazil to save Blizzard money?
Explanation came and it transpires that the LatAm region is actually two regions, Central America and South America and so it made sense for them to have their final at the Intercontinental Clash. Fratres represented Mexico and Encore esports represented Brazil. As for the two ANZ teams playing each other (Mindfreak and Crimson Gaming) based on the tournament performance it was just a matter of when they faced each other. It was either going to be in the semi-finals or finals and it’s a better storyline to have a Brazilian team versus an ANZ team in the finals and keeps the LatAm viewers interested.
Vandie and Skimmy cast from their own homes at ungodly hours from a clean feed. There were some technical issues, like dead air, sound synchronisation and low sound levels, that plagued the weekend because of the linkup between a LatAm main cast and Vandie and Skimmy casting over the stream provided from Brazil. Despite those issues, it was an admirable effort from the casters and I loved the combination of Vandie and Skimmy who worked well together despite the early start for them.
You certainly got the impression that effort had been made to give the Intercontinental Clash a great production for the LatAm region. They had a couple of casting teams at the studio, a decent host, capable translators and three of the best trophies I’ve seen in Heroes esports: solid craftsmanship and locally sourced wood and steel with a slickly produced making-of video, it blows away some of the other trophies HGC has produced.
Two best of 7 series played on the Saturday between both ANZ teams and both LatAm teams with both winners taking part in a best of 7 finals on the Sunday to decide who get the ticket to Mid-Season Brawl. No losers bracket but a best of 7 series helps alleviate any chance of a surprise result where a favourite gets beaten by unexpected strategies. It also allows for a shorter tournament than if there were losers brackets. As it is, the first semi-final gave us the closest series and what I am sure would have been the finals if the ANZ teams didn’t play each other in the semi-finals.
Crimson Gaming (3)
Encore Esports (4)
Encore Esports (1)
Encore esports were worlds ahead of Fratres winning 4-1, yet they still were beaten decisively by Mindfreak in the finals. The only series which was close was between the two ANZ teams, it was an amazing series full of good plays and amazing cleanses from Vanilla, Mindfreak’s star support; it is heartening to see that there are two good teams in ANZ. Also heartening was the sportsmanship and comradeship of Crimson Gaming who came in to scrim with Mindfreak on the morning of the finals despite being knocked out in order to help Mindfreak.
The league format has done wonders for the ANZ region strengthening the region with repeated regular play. The format has worked and I can only think the region will go from strength to strength. ANZ looks like the strongest minor region now especially with both the SEA region and Taiwan looking decidedly mediocre in the Horizon Clash.
This bodes well for ANZ at the Mid-Season Brawl as they should be more competitive now, having had more regular practice against more capable teams. The old Nomia (many members of which are now Mindfreak) did well previously at international events, taking a game off Team Liquid at the first 2017 Western Clash. However, they are in a very tricky group with Gen.G (formerly KSV), Ballistix Gaming, Fnatic and Tempo Storm. It’s likely they will not get out of the group, but it is possible if they can take a game off Fnatic or Tempo Storm that they could qualify. ANZ certainly has the best chance of getting out of the group they have had for a while now.
It’s good that the minor regions have another LAN and it goes some way to addressing the issues with losing spots for the international events. Though in an esport like ours, where resources are definitely not limitless, is it a good use of money to fly two ANZ teams over to Brazil to play each other? It would have been more cost effective and efficient to have the ANZ winner flown over alongside Skimmy and Vandie. It would also have created less technical issues for the English broadcast and given better production for us English viewers.
I have come around to the format of two LatAm teams playing each other in the semi-finals as LatAm is effectively two regions and two ANZ vs LatAm semi’s would have just given us two stomps anyways. It was good for both ANZ and LatAm to get the exposure of an Intercontinental Clash and I enjoyed watching, so please let's have another one. Just don’t have it at the same time as your massively promoted Heroes of the Dorm tournament.
Congratulations Mindfreak and good luck in the Mid-Season Brawl!
Hoofit has been following Heroes Esports since 2016 and has enjoyed watching and writing about Heroes especially since HGC has come about. He is fortunate enough to have gone to 2 events live and met some great people at those events. He has followed Team Liquid since they were mYinsanity and still supports them despite their recent downturn. Having graduated from an English university he now works there to fund his need for Heroes of the Storm merchandise.