Mid-Season Brawl – Playoffs Day One – Analysis & Recap


The Mid-Season Brawl has come and gone but in its wake the echoes of incredible team fights and failed core attempts resonates still. Time to break it all down and see if we can make sense of the madness that was.

Ballistix vs HeroesHearth Esports

Ballistix came out the gates looking strong. On Towers of Doom, Ballistix used the global advantage of Dehaka to consistently stay a step ahead in experience and dominate the team fights. It was a 20 kills to 2 drumming that ended with a 4-level difference and Ballistix capping every tower on the map. In Game 2 on Dragon Shire, HeroesHearth seemingly woke-up and delivered a performance that showed exactly why they were a top 8 team. Their macro play was exemplary; selecting E.T.C. in the offlane role was a nice adjustment to the first game and Arthelon’s Maiev play impressed as he found multiple picks that gave HeroesHearth an experience advantage and an opportunity to tie the series:
Unfortunately for NA fans, the magic died quickly thereafter. HeroesHearth performed admirably on Tomb of the Spider Queen, keeping pace with Ballistix throughout the early and mid-game. Ballistix, however, comboed a Web Weaver turn-in with an early pick on Gul’dan into a massive push in the top lane for the win. In Game 4 on Battlefield of Eternity, Ballistix stepped on the gas and exterminated HeroesHearth in the team fights, netting 16 kills to 2. 3-1 Ballistix.

HeroesHearth Esports - Analysis and Takeaways

For HeroesHype Esports, it was a rough exit to the tournament, but the growth of this team over the past year cannot be overstated. This is a team that has come from the Open Division to place 8th in a World Championship - in a year. Truly spectacular. Their performance at the MSB revealed aspects of their game-play to iron out in Phase 2 of the HGC. First, tighten up their macro play; they have a tendency to get loose during the mid and late-game and give back leads amassed in the early-game. Second, the roles of Arthelon and McIntyre seemed to cross paths during the tournament with McIntyre playing Tracer in some games, forcing Arthelon to the offlane role. Unfortunately, that’s not ideal for HHE as McIntyre is one of the best offlaners in the world and there was a notable performance drop when Arthelon took over. I’m certain Arthelon could master Tracer if he only had an ho… I’m not going to say it. Seriously, this isn’t a condemnation of Arthelon. McIntyre is that good. Finally, I have to believe their team fighting synergy will only improve over the next phase as they continue to grow as a team. HeroesHype Esports should walk away from this tournament proud of their accomplishments with clear goals heading into the next phase.

Method vs Fnatic

EU vs EU never seems to disappoint in these circumstances. This match-up delivered the goods. Game 1 on Tomb of the Spider Queen lasted 31 and a half minutes. It was spectacular. Method dominated the entirety of the game. But Fnatic managed to find picks (mainly on Jaina) early in the fights and keep Method from putting them into checkmate. With Method attempting to turn-in for what would surely be a game ending Web Weaver, Fnatic got two kills and rushed through the bot lane:

I would expect nothing less out of an EU versus EU match-up...

Game 2, Fnatic drafted a Stitches comp on Volskaya Foundry. It didn’t work. Method controlled the map the entire game. With a Level 20 talent advantage and the Protector, Method landed a couple kills and finished the core. Game 3 was on Dragon Shire, and after Method captured a 3 minute Dragon Knight, it was not looking good for Fnatic. When Method captured another Dragon Knight a little past 6 minutes in, it looked real bad for Fnatic. That is, until things didn’t look so bad:
Then SmX did this:
And just like that, it was Fnatic claiming the first keep of the game in the bottom lane. Fnatic ended up staying a bit too long and Method nearly wiped them in the ensuing chase. Method claimed bottom keep. Tie game. With both teams sitting on win conditions in the bottom lane, it was Fnatic who got the kills and the final Dragon Knight to seal victory and save their tournament life.
In Game 4 on Towers of Doom, Fnatic drafted a solo-heal Abathur composition. It worked. Once Fnatic hit level 10 they dominated the map with incredible macro-play. They pushed advantages and patiently waited on cool-downs to find favorable engages. Once Fnatic hit level 20, Method was forced to engage without their storm talents during an altar phase. That ended about as well as one might expect. Fnatic forced a Game 5.
The scene for this equalizer match would be Battlefield of Eternity. This one got wild. Fnatic essentially won the game at the 15 minute mark by pushing with an Immortal and taking the core down to 7%. Except they didn’t win and Method proceeded to execute a perfect defense of their core by keeping Fantic on their own side of the map. Back to back team fights went in Method’s favor and at the 19 minute mark they had captured a full shield Immortal. In one of the most tense moments of the entire series, Method laid siege to Fnatic’s core for nearly two minutes with both teams trading out heroic abilities and bending back and forth until something snapped:
Fnatic completed the reverse sweep and took the series 3-2. Amazing set of games.

Method - Analysis and Takeaways

Method’s Mid-Season Brawl performance was admirable considering this squad will look a whole lot different in the next phase. Their early matches in the group phase were impressive but their performance waned as the tournament went on and competition stiffened. Still, a top 8 finish is nothing to sneer at. In Phase 2, only Cursen and Nic will remain with Atheroangel, BadBenny, and adrd joining forces. It’s hard to pin any expectations on this squad without seeing the new group in action. I will say that both Nic and Cursen played extremely well in the MSB; hopefully, the new team will gel quickly and give themselves a chance to make the Western Clash.

Gen.G vs Team Dignitas

Gen.G looked to carryover their momentum from the group phase and continue executing at a higher level than every other team in the tournament. In Game 1 on Dragon Shire, Gen.G displayed the dominance that put them on this incredible run by taking an early lead and strong-arming Dignitas every step of the way. With a 3-level lead and a Dragon Knight, they captured the bottom keep and pushed the core to 45%. But Dignitas held serve in their own court and landed the kills necessary to stave off defeat. In fact, they made it really close landing a few more kills and eventually overtaking Gen.G in experience and claiming a bottom keep for themselves. Unfortunately, Dignitas was too far behind and a 23 minute Dragon Knight in Gen.G’s favor was the final straw. Still, it was a good showing from Dignitas considering how far behind they fell early on.
Infernal Shrines for Game 2. This time Dignitas kept it close all game, but instead of relying on their team fight prowess, Gen.G simply out macroed Dignitas with superb rotations and map control. Dignitas never really found an opening and despite more kills, 5 to 4, it was once again Gen.G standing over a broken core.
Game 3 would be played on Tomb of the Spider Queen and this match offered a glimpse into the future. This games had it all: excellent team fighting, back and forth macro game-play, and suspense as both teams pushed into level 20. It was Dignitas who seemed to have the upper hand downing the first two keeps. But at this stage of a game, it only takes one team fight to turn everything upside down:
3-0 to Gen.G and the sterling record holds for another series. Dignitas would move to the lower bracket for a match-up with Fnatic and Gen.G would wait for the victor in the Tempo Storm vs Tempest match-up.

Tempest vs Tempo Storm

In the last match-up of Day 1, Dragon Shire was the pick for Game 1. This was a game of intense macro-play as both teams demonstrated their understanding of the map mechanics and with almost 21 minutes logged, it was 2-1 kills in favor of Tempest, but Tempest had also been able to pressure structures better than Tempo Storm. It only took one good engage for Tempest to put the finishing touches on this one:
Things started to go downhill fast for Tempo Storm in Game 2 on Volskaya Foundry. Game 1 was a heartbreaking loss, but Game 2 was a backbreaking loss. Tempest simply controlled the map from the beginning. 9 kills to 0 and a 3 level lead made for a 16 minute victory for the Korean team.
Game 3 on Towers of Doom, Tempo Storm made the decision to move away from the Maiev pick (drafted in games 1 & 2) after Tempest let them have it and clearly knew how to deal with it. Didn’t matter. Tempest looked like the better team, grabbing the early experience lead and consistently winning trades. 12 kills to 5. 3-0 for Ballistix.
Tempest would move on to face Gen.G. in the winner’s bracket final while Tempo Storm would fall back to the loser’s bracket to fight a familiar foe in Ballistix.
Stay tuned as I break down all the playoff action from Day 2 and the Finals.