Good morning and welcome back, dear friends of competitive HoN! It has been a while since a major tournament with plenty of money and fame on the line has been played, but the waiting is now over. The Open Qualifiers for the World Finals 2017 in Bangkok have concluded and eight teams managed to do the first important step towards the HoN event of the year in Asia. Now they are set up for the Playoffs and here they will have to prove that they have what it takes to represent the NA/EU in Thailand.

The two Open Qualifiers that were played the past two weekends were full of exciting matches and a few surprises, with several well known players making new teams to take a shot at the chance for a journey to Bangkok and the possibility to win some of that 4,000,000 Thai Baht that make up the prize pool this year. So before we move on to the actual Playoffs, let's take a look at our contenders:



[FrL]Freelancers
Standing out among the teams that made it through the first Open Qualifiers is certainly this team, Freelancers. Not only the team captains [coL]BeaverBanger and [coL]WhaT_YoU_GoT will remind you of the old Nullstone team, the other players, [coL]FuzzySloth, [coL]`Oscar and [aQnO]n1xn4t3l0n also sound very much like that old team, plus those Complexity tags on the first players make it seem like the old girl is back in town for this event at least. They went through the Qualifier Bracket like a hot knife through butter and did not allow any of their opponents to win a single point. It seems that this team has the hots for Thailand and they are a clear favourite to win a spot for the World Finals.

[BE3R]Team Beer
Not only sounding delicious, but also offering a quality selection of players, Team Beer may be an instant favourite for a lot of fans out there. Captained by [BE3R]`Makke and with [BE3R]Xibbe, [BMG]Boxi, [BE3R]m`iCKe and [BE3R]iNsania as the players, they have a collection of the best players from top teams of the past at their disposal. Even though they haven't really played in this combination in any previous Tournaments, they did well in the Open Qualifiers from the very first moment and finished both of their matches without losing a game to their opponents. Looking at the sheer potential of this team, you can bet a beer or two that these guys will be going to the second weekend at least and have a good chance to get that spot in Thailand.

[DRz]Team Druidz
Have there been any Playoffs for World Finals in the past years without a Team Druidz? Just like in the past, the Team Druidz name is present again and this time, [DRz]D_Dekster is the team captain, leading [DRz]Papa_Divine, [DRz]Gagi333, [DRz]RaZerPK and [DRz]asaf8 into glorious battle. They may not have very famous names in their lineup, but their lineup is strong and effective, allowing them to qualify for the Playoffs with three clean wins. This team is the big unknown in the Playoffs, so be ready for potential upset wins. If Team Druidz keeps on playing like this, they may have to start thinking about what sunscreen to buy in two weeks.

[ECx]Evil Corporation
"I know those guys", you might have said right now after reading their team name. And indeed, it is still the old Evil Corporation we have known for the past few years, still with most of the members from back then. And as expected, they are under the leadership of [ECx]Z4NE and [ECx]ImbagirI again, with [ECx]Nir, [ECx]Tankafett and [ECx]Mr`Trumpsta making up the rest of the roster. During the Open Qualifier 2, they only lost one game to the team with the cutest team logo in all of HoN, [FnoH]Frog No Hippo, while winning the other two matches they had to play without a loss. Not much else to say about them, it's still basically the old team that did so well in the past and they certainly go into the Playoffs as one, if not the favourite to get the spot for the World Finals.

[SwBR]Swedish Brs
Next team that made it via the second Open Qualifiers are the guys from "Swedish Brs". Led by captain [SwBR]GirlStealer`, the team has a few celebrities to offer, among them the dreaded Devourer Grandmaster of the past, [SwBR]Superkge. [SwBR]fajN`, [SwBR]Titoito and why_so`mad are also on the team, making them an interesting contender in the Playoffs. During the Open Qualifier, they did beat two teams, although the matches were relatively close, both [TBrz]Team Brazil and [NARK]TEAM NARK were able to take a game off of them. Overall this makes Swedish Brs look a little less intense as some of the other teams that won their matches in a clearer fashion, but with SuperKGE at their disposal, they should not be underestimated.

[trap]Gucci
Everyone who followed the last two HoN Tours will remember most of the members of this team. Not the most high profile players, but excellent newcomers, who forced the old elite to work hard for every match. Now in this new combination, who knows what they are capable of! Led by [22]Kluckmuck and [22]ImbaPingu, the other players in the mix are [22]Canondwarf, [22]Tassi` and [22]henkz`. After three matches, with only the one against [QM]Question Mark forcing them to concede one game to their opponents, they came out pretty well and they are certainly capable of much more. In the end it will depend on many factors, but these guys are certainly good for a surprise or two!

[Rea]Reason Gaming
Speaking of known names, the current name of this team must ring a bell for all experienced HoN fans. Known in the Open Qualifiers as "Secret Weapon", they now under the flag of Reason Gaming and are looking forward to take on anything standing in their way to Thailand. [URL=][/URL], [Rea]ArchiTigeR leads the group, a very experienced captain and player, and with him, [xDis]Ramenski, [Rea]Zephyranthe, [Rea]Woff`it and Sy`RoX will fight hard to earn a spot in Thailand and HoN history. With ArchiTigeR fielding another team this year, one can expect good fights from them, as it always has been so far. Their Open Qualifiers performance was decent, but [DooM]DooMBringers and [A5]Alive were both able to take a game off of them in their matches, so they do still have some room for improvement. Don't expect them to win the Qualifiers, but don't be too surprised either if they do well.

RoadToThailand
The last team that made it onto this list and who qualified through the first Open Qualifiers are the guys from Polymorph. They are not last because they were "less good" than the other teams, the only reason is that their team name was still being decided while this article was written, so it came last. The team is led by [Hex]King`Nicke and [KNX]RATtoss, baltazar`], [Opai]PlatyChris and a certain unknown player only known as “Alfons” so far will make up the rest of the team.
Their performance in the Open Qualifier 1 was quite impressive, as they defeated two teams without dropping a game, and one of these teams, [trap]Gucci, qualified later via the second Open Qualifiers. This makes RoadToThailand a good candidate for going into the second week at least - if they manage to get a little more organization into their competitive activities.


And that's the eight teams that will fight it out for the next two weekends. The Playoffs will be a Double Elimination BO3, just like the old Diamond Cycles, so there will be plenty of action on all four days. And of course the games will be casted, Teltook, Matthewmatical and possibly Trulte will bring us close to the action on Honcast, just like old times. Sound good? Then see you on Saturday at 12:00 EST / 18:00 CET, when the first matches will be played! The Bracket could not be more exciting, with Freelancers versus Team Druidz, Gucci vs Reason Gaming, Evil Corporation versus Swedish Brs and Team Beer versus RoadToThailand. Good luck to all teams and players!


BlahC
After many years writing about esports in HoN and especially Hontour, BlahC is still not having any kind of life outside of this, so he writes about the esports lives of other people in 2017 as well. Shoutout to Inklin, Ace, Breaky, Beef, Fantasy and Jeremy’s two sheds!

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