Rozai’s HGC Game of the Week: Dignitas vs Zealots Game 3 (Phase 1 Week 5)


The HGC 2018 season has already delivered a collection of high intensity matches. We’ve seen dramatic 5-game series, upsets galore, the extension of 2017 rivalries, and the creation of brand new ones. 2018 is proving to be another great year for Heroes esports, which is why I’ve started this new article series to honor my favorite game each weekend. I’ll discuss drafts, highlight special moments, and discuss the significance of the game in relation to the season as a whole.

When considering my favorite match each week, it’s important to understand my point of view as an esports fan. While I have my personal favorite teams that I’m rooting for each week (Wubby fan boy right here), my greatest allegiances are tied to the strength of the league as a whole. Nothing gets me pumped more than a tense 5-game series or the chance for an underdog to beat out the top team, even if my favorite team is at risk. I enjoy seeing teams grow and adapt each week, and the progression of the league. I also find it empowering to the average Heroes of the Storm player that any team can beat anyone if they play their best game.

All this to say, while there were some fantastic series this weekend (shoutouts to Fnatic vs Team Liquid, HeroesHearth Esports vs LFM, and Method vs Tricked Esports), my favorite match was Game 3 of Team Dignitas vs Zealots.


Team Dignitas is one of the undisputed titans of the HGC, and have retained that status since its inception. The 2017 season was one intense rivalry between Dignitas and Fnatic, as it seemed like the two teams were a sizeable cut above the rest of the European scene. Each encounter was more dramatic than the last, with Dignitas claiming 1st place in the Phase 1 Western Clash with a 3-2 victory over Fnatic. Fnatic came back with a vengeance in the second half of Phase 1, winning every match in the winner’s bracket of the Mid-Season Brawl to ultimately beat Dignitas 4-3 in one of the greatest Heroes of the Storm series of all time. As BlizzCon 2017 rolled around, the stage was set for Dignitas and Fnatic to have their long anticipated LAN rematch, only to be interrupted by Team Expert’s surprising upset against Dignitas in the quarter-finals.

After the aptly named “rosterpocalypse” post-BlizzCon, Dignitas looked as if it would be the dominant European force. Their first showing at the 2017 Gold Club World Championship would prove that assumption as their last match against Fnatic resulted in a 3-0 victory. Picking up Wubby, without a doubt the greatest solo laner in the world, was a massive upgrade. Fast forward to weeks 1-4 of 2018 HGC Phase 1, and Team Dignitas would only drop a single map in their 3-1 victory over Team Liquid. Going into their Week 5 series against Zealots, they were sitting comfortably with a well-earned 18-1 map record and 6-0 match record.

Zealots is one of the best working examples of the HGC’s Crucible system. Since their successful climb out of the Open Division in 2017, Zealots has rightly earned in their spot competing against the top team in the European HGC. The team ended 2017 Phase 2 in 4th place, formerly under the ownership of Wish esports.

After the 2017 roster swaps, it was hard to gauge whether the losses and acquisitions would net a positive for Zealots. The loss of POILK to Dignitas was certainly a sizeable blow, as he has proved to be one of the most talented ranged assassins in the game. GranPkt moving to Tricked Esports also necessitated a role swap for Shad into the healer position. In return, Zealots picked up two very strong players in adrd and Cris, who in their respective ranged flex and ranged carry positions are some of the most impressive players to watch.

The first four weeks of the 2018 HGC showed mixed results for the Zealots, with tough losses to Method (0-3), Tricked Esports (1-3), and Team Liquid (2-3). They had a close series against Diamond Skin, winning 3-2, and dominated Leftovers in a 3-1 victory. Their most surprising victory would come in a best of 5 series against Fnatic, which gave fans hope for the Zealots’ potential.

With their 3-3 record, the Zealots’ hopes of traveling to Katowice for the Western Clash rested in an upset victory against an undefeated Dignitas. A victory which they would ultimately seize.

I have selected Game 3 for this week’s breakdown for its significance in the grand scheme of the league and its resulting implications on draft and gameplay. After losing this map, Dignitas was behind in map score for the first time in the season. This was also Dignitas’s first showing on Battlefield of Eternity this season, so it was a great to see how they fared.


Link to the full game

With their map pick, Zealots elects to take Team Dignitas to Battlefield of Eternity. As previously mentioned, Dignitas had been untested on BoE this season. It is worth mentioning that these teams obviously scrim every map as much as possible, so it is not as if Dignitas is unpracticed at BoE. That said, Zealots may have recognized Dignitas had not been selecting BoE in their previous matches for a reason. They seeked to exploit that in this game. By comparison, Zealots had played on the map 5 times this season with a 60% win rate.

1st Ban


(Click the card to see draft discussion on the flip side)

1st Ban- Blaze

Dignitas had not banned Blaze once this season until this moment. While I had expected them to possibly take Blaze in the first pick for Wubby, who has shown exceptional usage of him (85.7% winrate), Dignitas clearly had no intention of using him or allowing him back into the hands of Zarmony. In the previous game on Sky Temple, Zarmony’s Blaze play (83.3% winrate) was downright impressive.

2nd Ban


2nd Ban- Tracer

This was the third game in a row that Zealots would ban Tracer again Dignitas. Considering their opponent, this was a very wise ban. The Malfurion-Tracer combo in the hands of Zaelia and POILK had absolutely decimated every other European team thus far.

1st Pick

Genji (1)

1st Pick- Genji

Snitch is without a doubt the best flex player in the world. To that end, of his sizeable HGC hero pool of nearly 40 heroes over the past year, Genji is is third most played boasting a 62.2% winrate. The Genji pick-up is a no-brainer for Snitch, who excels at capitalizing on long-winded team fights around the Immortals. Genji’s mobility also offers great facility around the relatively small map size of BoE. Lastly, Genji is a strong counter to Hanzo, who is a popular pick on BoE and a favorite for Cris.

2nd Pick

Hanzo (1) & Uther (2)

2nd Pick- Hanzo & Uther

Hanzo’s racing potential on the Immortal is down right ridiculous. Furthermore, his scatter arrows gain a lot of value on the many corridors in the center of BoE. Cris is also proving to be one of the most capable Hanzo players in the league.

The Uther pick kills two birds with one stone by removing a synergistic pick for Genji and adding CC to lock him down.

3rd Pick

Lunara (2) & Dehaka (3)

3rd Pick- Lunara & Dehaka

Lunara is often picked as a counter to Uther, as the damage over time from her poison will pressure Uther’s mana pool and long cooldowns. This will necessitate another support or pseudo-support pick from Zealots to make sure the team isn’t whittled down for Genji to capitalize upon. Taking Lunara and Genji also takes the pair away from Zealots, who used this combo to defeat Dignitas in the previous game.

3rd Ban


3rd Ban- Malfurion

Zaelia has shown expert usage of Malfurion to this point. Malfurion is also one of the strongest supports in the pro scene right now, with a pseudo-Cleanse, roots, and Twilight Dream. Zealots are looking to take Tyrael in the later stages of the draft to provide the pseudo-support necessitated by the Lunara pick. Zealots does not want Malfurion to get through, fearing a well-timed Twilight Dream could ruin their hopes of using Sanctification.

4th Ban


4th Ban- Medivh

Adrd is one of the most notorious Medivh players. This is one part respect ban and two parts logical for the draft. Medivh, particularly in the hands of adrd, provides many counters to what Dignitas has already selected. Polybomb, Portal, and Force of Will hard counter many of Genji’s efforts, while a solid Force of Will & Portal combo will protect anyone dragged by Dehaka.

4th Pick

Sonya (3) & Tassadar (4)

4th Pick- Sonya & Tassadar

Much of Zealot’s success in this series came down to Zarmony’s ability to match Wubby in the solo lane. When considering solo lane matchups for Dehaka, there were a variety of options left on the table after the Blaze ban. Malthael would have been a nice matchup for Dehaka, though Lunara and Genji would have his life miserable. The same can be said for Leoric. With this pick, however, Zarmony is not just looking to stay on pace with Dehaka, but also attempt to harass Lunara and Genji. The Sonya pickup allows just that, as we would see him opt in to a rare pick up of No Escape at level 16, allowing him to stick to a target as much as possible and overcome the slows from Lunara.

Tassadar’s shields provide a buffer for the poison damage from Lunara and disincentivizes Genji from diving. He also has positive synergy with both Hanzo and Sonya, who would build into their basic attacks this game.

5th Pick

Anub'arak (4) & Lucio (5)

5th Pick- Anub'arak & Lucio

I personally wasn’t sold on the Anub’arak pickup. Dignitas certainly needed the stuns and Cocoon to handle the Sonya pick. He also has great synergy with Malfurion and Genji with a Burrow Charge + Root + Swift Strike combo. I felt that between Tassadar and Hanzo, Zealots already had the tools to handle Cocoon. Perhaps the Anub’arak pick was to deny it from Zealots, who were already flush with CC and dive to counter Lunara and Genji.

We had not seen any of Zaelia’s Lucio since his considerable performance at the Gold Club World Championship. Lucio is a solid pick for this map, with many opportunities to take advantage of Wall Ride. He also gives more mobility to Lunara. With Malfurion and Uther gone and Rehgar too susceptible to the comp of Zealots, Zaelia did not have any remaining healers in his pool that he had played more than once this season. While support chokes are not really a thing, support choking against a specific player certainly has its merits.

As the match pans out, outside of a preemptive Sound Barrier, we would see that Lucio does not have the tools to handle a full Wrath of the Berserker + Poisoned Spear + Seismic Slam combo. On top of this, Zaelia would only activate Sound Barrier twice this game, both too late to have any impact on the outcome of the match. Despite my love for Lucio, I believe this pick was the weak link in the draft. Zealots drafted well to make this happen.

6th Pick

Tyrael (5)

6th Pick- Tyrael

Between Uther, Tassadar, and Tyrael, Zealots have more than enough healing, armor, and shielding to buffer against Lunara’s damage and disincentivize Genji from diving in. Mopsio, Shad, and adrd did a great job of alternating their cooldowns to make sure any instance of poison damage was managed by their 3 levels of protection. Mopsio would go on to have many well-timed Sanctifications, negating much of Wubby’s efforts to use Drag or Isolation. With Sanctification, Zealots is now comfortable to play more aggressively on Dignitas’s Immortal, rather than play too defensively.

Draft Summary

Genji- Snitch
Lunara- POILK
Dehaka- Wubby
Anub’arak- JayPL
Lucio- Zaelia

Draft Summary

At the end of the draft, Dignitas has a good core of heroes they are comfortable on, which is usually enough to edge out a victory even if the draft isn't superior on paper.

The only (somewhat) draw backs to this comp are the Lucio and Anub'arak. Anub'arak gets shredded by Hanzo pretty easily. Lucio, as we will see, does little to protect Lunara from Sonya's full combo.

Draft Summary

Hanzo- Cris
Uther- Shad
Sonya- Zarmony
Tassadar- adrd
Tyrael- Mopsio

Draft Summary

Zealots did well to pigeonhole Zaelia onto Lucio. Additionally, their whole comp works well together as long as they rotate abilities efficiently. They fine tune this over the course of the game to great effect.


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This first skirmish around the Immortal is a solid metric for identifying the health percentage considered actionable by Dignitas for a hard engage. Mopsio drops to about 40% health, having not received attention from adrd or Shad for some time. Dignitas seizes the opportunity for a kill, taking down Shad in the aftermath. Zaelia executes a great flank on JayPL, but ultimately succumbs to the rest of Dignitas. Zealots will look to improve their rotation of shields and healing in the rest of the match.

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Dignitas commits 5 to the Immortal push, knowing that if Sonya comes back to defend, Wubby can Brushstalker down to get an experience advantage. Wubby stays a little too long, being delayed by Mopsio, which allows Zarmony to trade structure experience. This was great counter-play from Zealots, with the exception of poor communication of Genji and Lucio’s absence on the mini-map. This led to Zarmony staying 2-3 seconds too long and dying Dignitas’s rotation.

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While there is not a lot of action in this clip, this minute of gameplay is critical to keeping Zealots in the series. Zarmony makes sure he is on top of the solo lane soaking to stay on pace with Wubby, which prevents Dignitas from their traditional tactic of running rampant with a 2-3 level lead.

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With Genji showing in the bot lane and Dehaka showing in the top lane, Zealots take the opportunity to pressure a team fight. Wubby misses a critical Isolation and his Drag is blocked by a well-timed Sanctification from Mopsio. Zarmony’s Wrath of the Berserker + Poisoned Spear obliterates Lunara’s health pool. Zaelia’s Sound Barrier is too late to make a difference.

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In this clip, Wubby goes for a nice flank against adrd, but misses the drag. Zaelia rotates to the team but is intercepted by Wubby with an Isolation. This leads to his death and the commitment of a heroic from Tyrael. While it’s impossible for Zarmony to see what we see as the audience, he should have seen this on the minimap or their should have been some communication from Zealots to warn him on his rotation back. If Zealots wants to improve their standing in the second half of Phase 1, this is one area they could look to improve. This was the second instance of poor minimap communication in this game.

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With Zealots Immortal at 600 health, I was surprised when Dignitas backed off when they did. While they wanted 16 before their next fight, most of the heroics from Zealots were on cooldown, namely Sanctification. This gave Zealots a window to trade Immortal damage and secure a double kill, weakening the Immortal push from Dignitas.

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Perhaps having learned a lesson from his minimap mishaps earlier in the match, Zarmony flips the switch and executes a brilliant Sonya combo from behind a wall against POILK, again catching Zaelia too off guard to save her with Sound Barrier.

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With all members up and a healthy Immortal pushing against a fort and keep, Zealots are in a position to easily secure 20 with one push. After noticing Dehaka is counter pushing bot, they use this as more incentive to aggressively push.

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With 20 secured, Zealots can now take a fight to end the game. Wubby’s Isolation was overlapped by JayPL’s Cocoon, which was subsequently burned by Psionic Storm. A well-timed Divine Shield bails Mopsio out from a collapse from Dehaka and Anub’arak. The Tyrael and Tassadar shields continue to compliment the healing and armor from Uther, negating any and all attempts from Snitch to turn the fight with Dragon Blade. Wubby lands a good Drag on Mopsio, but Snitch’s Swift Strike was on cooldown, leaving only Lunara and Anub’arak to follow up. Freed from the Drag, Mopsio activates Sanctification, securing the fight and the game for Zealots.


The HGC is at its best when good drafting and solid gameplay can lead to a victory for any team. Zealots achieved that in this series. While their play was not perfect, Zealots are looking strong as they’ve ever been and have a clear path towards improvement. Due to good match preparation from Zealots, Dignitas not only found themselves playing on maps in this series they’d not played on all season  (BoE and Volkskaya), but were also effectively matched in experience throughout.

Dignitas is the type of team to accept defeat in stride, as Snitch lamented, “Throughout the season, I’ve pushed the idea that we don’t want to be a team who slips up or gives up games for no reason. Yesterday, we let both ourselves and the fans down. We will work hard to fix our mistakes for the upcoming Western Clash.” JayPL would go onto praise the Zealots, “Respect them please. I think there is a reason they won against both Fnatic and us.” The sportsmanship and perfectionist mindset showed by Dignitas is a clear case of why they are the best in the league. Losses such as these are important for patching up the loose ends in strategies so that teams can come back stronger for the next match. While I think it is safe to say Dignitas had an off day, Zealots certainly stepped up their game. GG to both teams!