by: Anne Elise Morrigan
It’s fall. That means the traditions of leaves changing colors, apple cider tasting better as it gets colder, Twitter users spending a month celebrating Halloween, and all of us wondering how the hell Tempo Storm failed to get the automatic bid to Blizzcon for the second year in a row!
On to the predictions!
Friday, September 28th:
I don’t want to be super negative, but Endemic was underwhelming in Phase 2. With the drama that happened with the collapse of Gale Force Esports (who have disappeared as an organization altogether), somehow, Endemic landed Kure and Danski, probably the best two acquisitions in the roster swap period, and they could never find a consistent identity. They would beat Team Freedom in a sweep and a week later get swept by LFM and drop a match to No Tomorrow. Role swaps towards the end of the season, and this is a team still searching for an identity. At the same time, LFM, just narrowly missed ending up in the Crucible. Had they not beaten Endemic in a sweep, and managed map wins off of HHE and Team Freedom, their loss to Simplicity would have them fighting for their spot. That being said, these are teams of pros, and on both sides, there are guys who know how to get it done. Every member of Endemic has international experience and for LFM, while most of them are new to the pro scene this season, Fury comes with lots of experience to help his team. Expect a close series, but I think that the experience of Endemic will come through. Endemic wins 3-2.
Friday, September 28th:
You sometimes forget about Team Freedom. It seems like their roster just sneaks under the radar, but this has been one of the most consistently solid teams in NA since Phase 2 of 2017. That said, Part 2 of Phase 2 has not been kind to Freedom; even with a win over Tempo Storm and a close loss to HHE, Team Freedom also has losses to Endemic and very close rival Octalysis. Their third place finish at the Western Clash is marred by a 4-3 record with only a +7 map score. By comparison, Octalysis has the same overall record as Freedom but a +15 map score. Which version of Team Freedom shows up? The one that beat Tempo Storm, or the one that got swept by Endemic? Sadly for Endemic, it won’t be the latter, but I also don’t think it will be the former. Team Freedom wins 3-2.
Saturday, September 29th:
Has any team been better in Phase 2 Part 2 of 2018 than Team Octalysis? This meta is entirely theirs and you have no idea what is going to come out of them in each draft. They’ve gone 6-1 since the Western Clash with a 20-6 map record, so that means they went from a +1 in Part 1, to a +15 in Part 2. This level of growth is amazing. Aside from a 3-2 loss to HHE that Octalysis was actually ahead in 2-1 after 3 maps, this team has been the best team in NA since August 25th. They have redefined the meta, and every other team seems lost when they have to draft against Octalysis.
Two things that are going to be really amazing after this match:
1) People will have to shut the fuck up about running double specialists.
2) Yrel is more than a solo lane tank; she can main tank.
— Biased Horde Lady Anne Elise Morrigan (@anne_elise) August 25, 2018
To top it off, Octalysis just last weekend dominated Team Freedom and finished the series with their trademark, patent pending, solo tank Xul comp, complete with double support, two games in a row! Team Octalysis is the scariest team in the world right now because no one seems to have a ready answer for their controlled insanity, and you can bet that includes Team Freedom. Octalysis wins 3-1.
Sunday, September 30th:
So, let’s get this out of the way – Tempo Storm without Psalm is not the Tempo Storm we knew. While Fan and Glaurung may have been bigger names to one degree or another, Pslam was consistently one of the most impactful players in NA. You cannot overstate how important he was to this team. ViN has done a great job, but the change is noticeable all through Phase 2. Tempo came back from the Western Clash with a very disappointing finish (they were a favorite to make it to the winner’s finals facing an underestimated Leftovers team in the first match), but they started Part 2 with a statement win against HeroesHearth to secure, for the time, their top spot. Then, they dropped matches to both Team Freedom and Team Octalysis, the latter being a sweep, to officially abdicate the throne in NA. This is nothing new. In 2017, they finished 4th in the standings in Phase 2, went to the playoffs, collected themselves, and swept Spacestation Gaming (No Tomorrow) and Gale Force Esports (Endemic), to punch their ticket to Blizzcon.
But they had Psalm.
Against Octalysis in Part 2 of Phase 2, Tempo Storm had no answer for two double support comps, and a solo support Abathur comp with Valeera and Samuro in a game that has to be seen to be believed:
Now, I have been a Tempo Storm fan since this team was formed as the new Murloc Geniuses. I still think this is one of the best teams in NA, and one of the more potentially competitive teams in the world. But it’s not their year. Octalysis wins 3-2.
Now, this last match could absolutely go the other way, and I am actually hoping that it does, but either way these playoffs in NA are going to be nuts. Every match has the chance to go the distance, every team has a lot to play for. When you pair this with the EU playoffs, this weekend is looking like you should call out of work, put it on the big screen, and forget that pleasant fall weather we are currently having here in the midwest.
Not that I will be doing that.
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