Three Times the Charm

The main story of the weekend was the next clash in the long-lasting saga between the top two teams in HoN: compLexityGaming and Trademark eSports. Over the past four months they have gone through every single stage in a rivalry and have now become an instant classic.

There is no love lost between these teams—especially the captains. The rivalry has featured lopsided victories for both coL and tdM; replacements like Tralfamadore or pallet stepping in, iNsania drafting, and the two teams taking the rivalry to the 1v1 turf, ending in a zaihilation.

Add to the drama the fact that coL got obliterated and outplayed by tdM on the biggest stage HoN has to offer. All of this made the latest match an absolute treasure of HoN.

The newest installment in the rivalry had boiling points all over the place, ranging from connection issues and refusals to reschedule to accusing the opposing team of ghosting after a long pause. To elaborate on that matter, after bkid displayed the first connection issue on the first map, after which the game was paused for a long period of time. In the middle of that pause, Mynuts received messages from HoNCast viewers, that apparently Franzzii’s name had appeared in the viewer list in the chat. Snide remarks about ghosting wards and leveling the score were made, but in the end coL reassured tdM that they were absolutely not ghosting. A man is only as good as his word and so far Franzzii has never appeared to be a shady competitor who uses “Performance Enhancing Streams” to gain an unfair advantage.

Even more spice was added to the bowl after compLexity Gaming left the second map without saying “gg” at any stage of the concede vote or beyond. The animosity on both sides was growing. Even a simple thing like a remake because of server issues led to a two minute discussion about the pros and cons of that remake, until an admin came down with the ruling. A lot of talk, a lot of madness, a lot of hate—the rivalry isn’t relenting anytime soon, with both teams at the top of their game.

By the way, these two teams actually played a full Heroes of Newerth match as well, believe it or not. In the end the result was the same as it was in Sweden and as it was in the HoN Tour Qualifier with, tdM reigning supreme over coL. The “Three-peat” went to the new sheriff in town.

Gary Johnson 2012 Gets a New Campaign Helper

Sorry, but I just can't resist sloppy political puns with Gary Johnson still having this name for their team. Either way, the projected pools for the squad around Senator swindlemelonzz, Governor Zfreek, Kanzler KheZu and Tre Kronor Skyzoe have a new member in their party and they went to work with his support. The team looked like a safe bet to reach the HoN Tour Winner’s Bracket Finals in the first cycle even without the Australian addition, but with sLiCKz bringing his unique skills and tremendous talent to the team, they look nearly unstoppable.

Signs for that dominance were visible in their run through the Winner’s Bracket when they dismantled Pikachu and then just walked into the Bakery and came out with a broken Kookiez. Fortune Bakery had a great and probably unexpected run through the tournament, but they now have to bring their talents to the Loser's Bracket, as V0TE was just way too strong for the new team.

But Gary Johnson is not elected yet and several swing states are still up for grabs, as the communication and refined strategies are not quite there just yet. With sLiCKz joining the movement just a couple of hours before the HoN Tour Diamond Division officially kicked off, they are currently relying on the immense skill that every single individual player has.

This team should be even better and stronger down the stretch once they get on the same page and can predict the movements and reactions of their teammates. The results they’ve delivered so far are just a glimpse of the possibility this team has—after all they have one of the best drafters in the game with swindlemelonzz, two terrific and scary carries with Khezu and sLiCKz, one of the “Kings of the Jungle” in Zfreek and an awesome suicide laner with Skyzoe. What can possibly go wrong, except personal conflict?

Fighting Through Adversity

Other major storylines this week included how the two “questionable” top teams would deal with recent adversity:

With QsQ coming off a very disappointing DreamHack Winter performance, how would the team respond?

How would Tt eSports adjust to losing their undisputed leader in sLiCKz? wyt` took over drafting and Ensoe had to step into the giant footprints that the Australian left behind.

Both teams went through “hell” in the first round of the Winner’s Bracket. QsQ not only lost but got completely routed by Fortune Bakery. Tt eSports suffered a similar fate, as they went down hard against Domain of Pain, featuring Jeppins—the same Jeppins who fought side-by-side with them at DreamHack.

Both promising and high-profile teams struggled and had to go into the elimination match, fighting for their status and the right to remain in the Diamond Division.

Tt eSports proved they can win without their star carry sLiCKz, as they played quite an impressive set of matches against the Swedish opponents from Pencils to avoid elimination. QsQ was tested even harder as they had their back against the wall after going down 0-1 against Vitriolic Gaming. The Gold Division seemed to be calling and the team that shot onto the scene in impressive fashion had to overcome their first real crisis. They showed high morale and mental toughness as they came back from the deficit to win the game and send Vitriolic packing.

Both teams went on to win in the second round of the Loser's Bracket, both 2-1 after hard-fought series against Pikachu and One Trick Pony respectively. They solidified themselves in the Top Eight at least, clearing some question marks with their good performances.

The toughest challenges are still ahead of the teams as they fight to regain the high status they recently held. Before DreamHack Tt eSports was considered a top three team with chances to run the table and defeat every single opponent at any given time. Now they have to find a completely new identity without their shining star. Still components like Wytaliba, Riser_, LeonBlack` and Moiravus are not to be overlooked and Ensoe or N4RUTO could be solid additions for the roster, but the spot as an absolute elite team may have left with sLiCKz.

The same tough road is ahead for QsQ, who have to overcome the bad showing at DreamHack. The promising thing about this squad is they stick together through thick and thin and didn’t push the panic button after the first setback on the glorious path to greatness.

Continuity unfortunately is not linked to competitive HoN often, but QsQ is making it work and seems to have a certain amount of success with it. I applaud them for sticking to their guns and remaining together as a squad without getting into debates about members being on the hot seat or a shake up needing to happen. QsQ will stick to their five-man roster of NoVa, NoX,
Style, Jonassomfan, Malle, and their scouting methods courtesy of Insomnia. They seemingly did everything right before DreamHack, which could have been a hiccup in an otherwise well-oiled machine that is starting to run again.

Diamonds are Forever—Or Not

The last real big story in the game was the departure of four teams into Gold already. The first day of competition already had “Judgement Day” included for three teams. The first one came right after the tournament officially opened, when Experience Gaming didn't show up to play Gary Johnson in the first round of the Winner's Bracket. That not only kicked xP out of the Winner's Bracket, but out of the entire cycle and therefore the entire Division, as they forfeited both matches by default.

Joining them on the elevator down are Vitriolic Gaming and Pencils. Neither team could win a single match in the Double Elimination Bracket and must prove themselves in the Gold Division. Vitriolic actually was haunted by the QsQ project, as both their losses came against teams from that community. They first lost to QsQ 777 in the initial Winner's Bracket Showdown and then lost a nail-biter against the QsQ team around NoVa. The bad omen for them: QsQ 007 awaits in Gold.

Pencils, on the other hand, found their masters first in compLexity Gaming and then in Tt eSports, going down without winning a single map in the process. The team around SweetPro and PabloMcDad has to regroup, find their inner strength again and power through the Gold Division to once again be in the Champions League, where they should be judging by the results they had before the DreamHack break.

Don't Wake the Bear, But Please Wake DoP

I almost forgot this little story from the weekend—apparently Domain of Pain is not able to set their alarms to an appropriate time. Or there are some stars aligning that prevent DoP from hearing alarm clocks.

Two days in a row they were either dangerously close to or had to forfeit a HoN Tour match. First, the match against Tt eSports was in jeopardy because fan favorite AngryTestie (RexxcarVroom) was missing for a long period of time. Eventually they played the game and won against Tt eSports, advancing to Round 2 in the Winner's Bracket.

Then on day two DoP had to forfeit their match against Dendis jungldevos because Emperor was missing. Apparently he had missed his alarm and therefore was not able to make it in time. This is the second time sleep has cost DoP a match—in the Qualifier, Testie overslept and could not attend the scheduled match against compLexity Gaming.

Still, despite the fact that they had to forfeit, some signs point in the right direction. According to a forum post by Emperor, the team will now start with a regular training schedule and will actually scrim and invest more time in refining their team play and coordination. That is one of the greatest results from the weekend, as the team possesses huge potential and a very large talent pool. With actual practice and some effort they could easily challenge some established teams down the stretch. If they work on their in-game performance and a method to actually wake up for HoN Tour matches, I am hoping for the best from those guys.

Winners and Losers

Last but not least I will present the three winners and losers from this weekend in Heroes of Newerth. Just to clarify ahead of time, before drama starts to evolve around this section, loser does not mean that the teams in this category are bad or anything along those lines; it just means they didn't have the best weekend and have lost some ground to other teams.

The winners are undeniably Trademark eSports, Gary Johnson 2012 and Fortune Bakery. tdM showed once again they now have compLexity Gaming’s number after trying to catch up to them for such a long time. Now that they are the hunted team, they still came up big against coL, returning from a 0-1 deficit to turn the game back in their favor.

Gary Johnson did not only win online, but the acquisition of sLiCKz “offline” was a huge step for V0TE toward becoming a very strong powerhouse with members spread all across three continents, which could pose some server discussions at same point. The team has found their roles, they look ready to roll and they can display their skills next Saturday in the clash against tdM—another top-team rivalry with tdM is brewing.

The last winner of this week is clearly Fortune Bakery, who all of a sudden find themselves among the six greatest team in the first Diamond Division cycle of the HoN Tour. Going into the match we all knew this team was no joke, but some question marks about form and performance against the absolute elite were existing. They answered most of these questions with wins over QsQ, QsQ 777 and a good performance against Gary Johnson.

The losers of this week are compLexity Gaming, Tt eSports and the Swedish squad of Pencils. compLexity had to admit defeat against Trademark eSports for the third straight time and did not just lose a tournament match—they also lost their aura of being an irresistible force on the servers. They have positive records against every other team in meaningful tournaments, but their nemesis beat them again—time for revenge?

The second team in this category has lost a player, not a significant match. Still, losing a “Hall of Famer” (If HoN had a Hall of Fame, sLiCKz would be on the first ballot!) is a crushing blow to every team. A personal change dumped them from being a top three team to just being a really good team in the eyes of most community members, and they have a tough road ahead until they are back in the discussion.

The last loser of this week is Pencils, unfortunately. This team possesses an impressive roster with great players like PabloMcDad, SweetPro, former NASL-Champion Reelo, established supporter fajN` and the underrated Flensmeister.

All that talent wasn't enough to win one single map in the first cycle of the Champions League, and the team is taking their talents to South Beach—actually to the Gold Division, but it sounded catchier.

I am still convinced that this crew has the talent, the skill and the poise to become a great team in Europe and the World, but first they have to avenge this setback.

- Sören "Fantasy"