The Spring season saw the Korean powerhouse MVP Black take the tournament in dominant fashion, and many were expecting them to continuing their winning ways and take Summer as well. They did not seem to tower above all other teams as they did in Spring, with recent results and the drastic improvement from other teams giving hope that the mighty shall in fact fall.
There were a lot of familiar faces, with most of the teams having a second shot at international glory, and the newer teams coming in with a lot of expectation at the backs. The tournament had the same structure as the Spring Championship, with two group stages into a single elimination bracket, with the number one seeds from North America, Europe, China, and Korea skipping the first group stage.
Group Stage #1
Group A: Negative Synergy(Australia and New Zealand). X Team(China). Renovatio I(South East Asia). MVP Black(Korea)
Three of the four team in the first group were at the Spring Championship, with Negative Synergy and Renovatio I returning being the most dominant teams in their region, and MVP Black still looking like one of if not the best team in the world. It was only a surprise loss to Tempest in the Korean regionals that put them into the first group stage.
During the Spring Championship, the Negative Synergy and Renovatio I representatives found themselves in the losers match playing for their tournament life, and in that instance, Negative Synergy came out on top. The very same matchup occurred in the Summer, but this time it was Renovation I who was able to come away with the win. Despite this, Group A went with little to no surprises to it, with MVP Black and X Team sweeping through it without much of a challenge from the smaller regions.
Group B: mYinsanity(Europe). Please Buff Arthas(Taiwan). Gale Force Esports(North America). BigGods(Latin America)
mYinsanity and BigGods made a repeat appearance on the global stage, but with the massive shake up in North America, Gale Force Esports are new to such a big stage, and it seemed to show. After each team had played their first series, it was starting to look as though group B might be in store for some peculiar results.
mYinsanity didn’t disappoint, as they swept through the group, but even though Gale Force Esports managed to beat BigGods in their first series, it was not entirely convincing. Please Buff Arthas ended up being one of the biggest surprises of the tournament, as they were not only capable of taking a game off one of the bigger regions, they were able to take the entire series and book themselves a spot in the second group stage.
Group Stage #2
Group A: eStar Gaming(China). Please Buff Arthas(Taiwan). MVP Black(Korea), Team Naventic(North America).
Naventic and eStar came in as the top seed from their respective regions, but it looked as though they would be fighting for second place in the group as they were unfortunate to be given a resurging MVP Black.
After the first games were played, two things were quite obvious: that MVP Black is overwhelmingly strong, and that Please Buff Arthas is severely outclassed. Despite a surprising game loss to eStar, MVP closed out the group with an 8 minute stomp. eStar didn’t let that affect them too much, as they were able to defeat Naventic and snuff out the last hope for North America.
Group B: Tempest(Korea). Team Dignitas(Europe). mYinsanity(Europe). X Team(China).
Even though Tempest is still a fairly young team, they have been able to do what no other team has been able to do all year, and that is provide a challenge for MVP Black. They showed their strength as they beat X Team and then mYinsanity 2-0, ensuring that both Korean teams made it to the playoff stage with the best possible seeding.
What was left was a battle of two of Europe’s best, as the war between Team Dignitas and mYinsanity has been one that has raged on for most of the year. Even though Dignitas had the higher seed, it was clear who was the better of the two, as mYinsanity won 2-0 both times.
mYinsanity vs MVP Black: The best of Europe put up a strong fight, managing to take a game off the Korean powerhouse, but in the end it was an expected result that MVP Black would take the series and book themselves yet another spot in the grand finals of the Global Championship.
Tempest vs Estar Gaming: A very back and forth affair, trading wins at first, and it was looking as though Estar had the upper hand. In games three and four though, the Chinese aggression came back to bite them as they overextended with a lead, and Tempest was able to capitalise on this. Tempest took the series 3-1 and booked themselves a rematch with MVP Black.
The last time the two Korean teams met, it was in the final of the Korean regionals, in which Tempest caused the biggest upset win in Heroes ever, winning 4-0. Prior to that loss, you had to look back almost half a year to find MVP Black’s previous loss of a series. There were expectations that their loss to Tempest was an outlier and that the final rematch would go in favour of MVP Black.
The final started out on Battlefield of Eternity, a map that MVP has shown time and time again just how good they are on it, their stomping of eStar being proof of that. That’s why it was a bit of a shock that not only was Tempest keeping up with them, but they actually managed to take the first game, putting a lot of doubt into MVP Black and their fans.
The series just kept on getting better and better with each game, as MVP Black took the next two and put themselves in the position of only needing one more win to take the championship.
Game 4 was played on Dragon Shire, a map that favoured MVP Black’s play style and for most of the match they were in control. There were also a lot of questions levelled at the draft from Tempest, wondering if Li Ming as a solo damage dealer would be enough. For most of the game it looks as though a doomed draft all but handed the championship to MVP Black, but then the series took another turn.
Just when it looked like MVP Black were going to walk into the base of Tempest and end the game, a few key kills game Tempest the momentum they needed to start turning fights. After spending most of the game with their backs to the wall, Tempest started to turn the game around when it mattered the most, making the most of Li Ming’s ability to reset the cooldown on her abilities after a kill, outputting the damage that was sorely needed. After a few key fights, Tempest was able to take the game and force the final to go the distance, going all the way to game five in what is arguably the best series of professional Heroes of the Storm ever played.
The last game of the tournament was to be played on Towers of Doom, a unique map that would stretch the strategic minds of both teams to the limit. MVP Black drafted a solid team composition with a lot of the most popular heroes of the tournament, while Tempest had a high risk, high reward team comp that also had ample global presence.
For the first 5-10 minutes, it was very back and forth, trading blows, but at the same time Tempest was gaining small advantages through solid use of Falstad and Brightwing’s ability to be all over the map within a moments notice.
Mid to late game teamfights was where Tempest really started to make the most of their team composition, as they were able to protect the Greymane long enough for him to maul the MVP lineup. With this they were able to take some crucial fights that allowed them to take control of the map and from there never let go.
The result was not one that was a complete shock, but the twists and turns that the final series took left many short for breath. It was everything that a fan of esports would want from a final, and it couldn’t come at a better time, with questions surfacing about the longevity of Heroes of the Storm. With a new champion, competition is only going to be getting better and better, and the stories that have been started as we head into the next season are going to make things very interesting.