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

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Day Two of the Mid-Season Brawl Playoffs was another amazing day of intense action. There’s a lot to cover here, let’s get to it:

Ballistix vs Tempo Storm

Straight into Towers of Doom for Game 1. Ballistix, unlike Tempest, did not want to deal with Psalm on Maiev and banned it right away. Having already beaten Ballistix in three consecutive maps, Tempo Storm was brimming with confidence, quickly taking an experience advantage after a couple kills. For the first 12 minutes of the game Tempo Storm looked to be in complete control; however, Ballistix knew they needed to make something happen, and they did:
And just like that, Ballistix was back in the game. Then they turned it in their favor:
Ballistix continued to pick Tempo Storm apart and completed the comeback for the win. Game 2 would bring the first Braxis Holdout map pick of the tournament. For Tempo Storm it was like a recurring nightmare. Once again they grabbed the early lead, and again it fell apart in the late game:
Staring down the barrel of elimination, Tempo Storm went to their comfort map pick of Dragon Shire in Game 3. This was a great game all around. Tempo Storm squeaked out a lead in the mid-game and managed to keep the Dragon Knight out of Ballistix’s hands. As Tempo Storm reached level 20, they found the fight they needed to close it out:
Game 4. Cursed Hollow would also make its first appearance in the tournament and it was a good one. Nerves seemed to play a role as both teams made some questionable decisions with rotations and chasing for kills. Ultimately, the game came down to the late game team fights:
Tempo Storm would then capture their boss and push the top lane:
Oh boy. Game 5. Infernal Shrines. Hold onto your butts.

Heroes of the Storm history is being made in this series…

Dreadnaught
Ballistix drafted an old favorite, taking Valla and Auriel together, while Tempo Storm drafted an almost identical composition to their Game 4 comp. The gravity of this match was apparent from the first objective when Tempo Storm made the decision to give it for free while they soaked experience. While Tempo Storm patiently waited for Heroic abilities, Ballistix took the slight lead in experience and kills. Ballistix’s composition simply out-sustained Tempo Storm at every period of the game; early, mid, and late game. But Tempo Storm never gave up and when they lost someone in a fight, they retreated and did something productive on the map. So that after defending two core attempts by Ballistix, they laid siege to Ballistix’s middle keep and then kept on going:
If you’re looking for a series to go back and watch from start to finish, you can’t go wrong with this entire set. The result marks the first time Ballistix have finished outside the top 4 at an international event and the first time a North American team would finish in the top 4 of an international HGC event.

Ballistix - Analysis and Takeaways

Ballistix’s performance at the Mid-Season Brawl consisted of two tales: one in which they went 9-5 versus the field, and the other where they went 2-6 vs Tempo Storm. If you take away their two wins from their minor region opponent and the Chinese team, that’s 5-5. It was a rough tournament. The results are disappointing for Ballistix and reveal some clear weaknesses for the team to address in Phase 2. First, Hooligan’s tanking pool needs to improve. When he wasn’t playing Garrosh there was a noticeable drop in his performance, especially on Anub’arak. Second, of the three Korean teams, Ballistix appeared to have the weakest macro gameplay. That will have to improve if Ballistix expects to move up the standings in the international events.

Team Dignitas vs Fnatic

Fnatic got this one going with an impressive 9 kills to 1 victory on Infernal Shrines. Dignitas struggled to find kills while Fnatic continually out-traded them, eventually putting Dignitas into a corner where they had to engage:
Game 2 was played on Tomb of the Spider Queen and Dignitas looked much more in control. They pressured structures and got the early experience lead, allowing them to open up the map. This time, it was Dignitas forcing Fnatic into a disadvantageous engage on the boss:
1-1, tie series. Game 3 on Volskaya Foundry was a classic EU vs EU match with a lot of back and forth.
Despite losing their keep, Dignitas kept the game alive with a quick pick on Diablo, forcing Fnatic to retreat to their side of the map. Dignitas postured for the healing Camp and Fnatic decided they weren’t going to give it for free:
Just like that, Dignitas had turned the series in their favor. Towers of Doom, Game 4. Towers of Doom consistently produces some of the most tense Heroes games in professional play; this was no exception. Hanging on to their tournament life, Fnatic played well and gave themselves an opportunity to win, however, Dignitas was on another level, both figuratively and literally, and the talent advantage at level 20 was too much for Fnatic to overcome:

Fnatic - Analysis and Takeaways

Fnatic, like Method, had an up and down performance. There were moments of brilliance mixed with questionable decision making. The team synergy just wasn’t there in their most important match-ups and thus the reigning MSB Champions walk away from this tournament outside the top 4. In Phase 2, Fnatic will welcome back scHwimpi to the roster while also adding the relatively unknown Hero League ladder god, LastHope. While Quacknix and BadBenny exit the roster. scHwimpi is one of the best flex and carry players in the world, but little is known of LastHope so that all eyes will be on him as he joins a team that expects to be in the mix at every tournament. Expectations couldn’t be higher for a single player on a new team.

Gen.G vs Tempest

Game 1 on Battlefield of Eternity.
Another team fight would go Gen.G’s way, and with 17 kills to 4, take Game 1. In Game 2 we head to Tomb of the Spider Queen. I don’t know what to say anymore, Gen G. is just so good. This game lasted 12 and half minutes. Gen.G dominated like they have all tournament:

These guys are just straight up cheating… that is insane!

Khaldor
Game 3 on Towers of Doom was merely a formality. Gen G. got the early kills, took an experience lead and simply never looked back. 3-0 and the perfect record continues. Gen.G easily moves to the Championship final. Tempest, meanwhile, awaited the results of the next match to see who they would play in the lower bracket final.

Team Dignitas vs Tempo Storm

Game 1 on Dragon Shire and this was a seesaw of a match. Neither team was giving an inch and 14 minutes in, neither had yet captured a Dragon Knight nor had any structures been destroyed. With the constant threat of a Dragon Knight capture looming, we finally got some fireworks:
The kills would allow Dignitas to push through the bottom lane and claim the first keep of the game. With bottom lane pressure on their core, Tempo Storm simply could not find the kills necessary to turn the tide in their favor and Dignitas utilized the bottom pressure to prolong a fight over the Dragon Knight, eventually capturing it for checkmate.
Game 2 on Volskaya Foundry and Dignitas was too much for Tempo Storm to handle. Dignitas’ rotations were faster and more efficient which produced an early experience lead. Dignitas controlled the items on the map, won the objective, and snowballed:
With their tournament life hanging in the balance, Tempo Storm drafted an Abathur composition on Towers of Doom. Unfortunately, Tempo Storm never managed to get a leg-up on Dignitas and Dig leveraged their early game advantage to put Tempo Storm in a desperate position at the 11 minute mark:
3-0 to Dignitas who move on to play Tempest in the lower bracket final.

Tempo Storm - Analysis and Takeaways

North America should hold its head high. For the first time since the inception of HGC an NA team placed in the top 4 of an International event. It was a special performance and proved that the North American region had a strong contender on the world stage. This was the best team North America had ever formed. Unfortunately, the high of an amazing performance quickly wore off with news last week that Psalm, their flex and carry, would be retiring from HotS to pursue a career playing Fortnite. Ultimately, whatever improvements Tempo Storm was looking to make as a team in Phase 2 will now take a backseat to the very real need of finding a replacement for one of the best players in the world. It’s hard to see this next phase as anything but a massive challenge for Tempo Storm to remain on top of the region.
Day 2 was incredible but these finals… if you missed them, I’m sorry. But also, recap incoming.
ouroboros

I received an alpha key back in August of 2014 and have been hooked on Heroes of the Storm ever since. I love playing, talking, and writing about HotS. Hit me up on twitter @ouroborosHotS.