What to Watch: Fight or Flight

Blizzard Entertainment
April 19, 2017

While reaching the Mid-Season Brawl is the goal for all the teams in the HGC, some teams competing in this weekend’s matchups are fighting solely for survival — with the daunting prospect of the Crucible also looming in the near future.

The Crucible will run immediately after the Mid-Season Brawl, where the best teams from the Open Division will face off against the two lowest placed teams from the HGC. Here are the HGC matches you won’t want to miss this weekend in Korea, Europe, and North America:

Tricked esports vs Synergy – Friday, April 21 at 11:30 a.m. PDT / 7:30 p.m. CET

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Scoring a win here is of great importance to both rosters. If Tricked and Synergy perform as expected against the rest of the teams in the HGC from now until the HGC Playoffs, the results of this match could very well dictate who enters the Crucible and who can breathe a sigh of relief.

In two matchups against Team Liquid in Weeks 5 and 6, Tricked look up to snuff, taking their opponents to a fifth Battleground on both occasions. Synergy hasn’t performed quite as well, getting shut out by Team Dignitas, Team Liquid, Fnatic, and Team expert so far this season. The last time these two played in Week 3, Tricked came out on top with a 3-1 victory. 

Tempest vs L5 – Saturday, April 22 at 4:00 a.m. PDT / 12:00 p.m. CET

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This is the true barn burner of Week 7. It has been clear since the beginning that MVP Black and L5 are neck and neck for the first place spot in Korea, with Tempest close behind. Tempest took a game off both teams in the first five weeks, but lost to L5 in the upper and lower bracket at the Eastern Clash. Being that L5 eliminated Tempest at the event, there is a revenge factor to take into consideration here.

L5 looked great last weekend against GG and Raven, but those teams aren’t on the same level as Tempest. While both teams are shoe-ins for the playoffs, this match will factor into who finishes first in the standings, an accomplishment that comes with automatic qualification to the Mid-Season Brawl.

Playing Ducks vs Fnatic – Saturday, April 22 at 9:00 a.m. PDT / 5:00 p.m. CET

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Playing Ducks are looking hot after taking Team Liquid to a fifth map last weekend. Christoph ‘Cris’ Gowitzke and the Ducks spent the three week break boot camping together in Germany. “While we prepared most for Team Liquid and Team Dignitas during the boot camp, we want to show some decent games against Fnatic,” Cris said.

A win here could secure Playing Ducks better seeding in the playoff bracket and help them avoid the Crucible — and, while defeating Fnatic may seem unlikely, the Playing Ducks have a plan. “Because of our record, the main focus now is to at least win against the bottom three teams and stay in the HGC so we can step it up for the next half of the year,” said Cris.

Team Freedom vs Naventic – Sunday, April 23 at 4:30 p.m. PDT / 12:30 a.m. CET

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Mirroring the Tricked esports vs Synergy matchup on Friday, Naventic vs Team Freedom is a keystone match for both teams. Assuming both teams perform as expected for the rest of the season, winning here could mean safety for at least another six months.

Naventic sure likes to keep things interesting. While they’ve underperformed for most of the 2017 HGC campaign, they came out of the gate swinging last weekend with their 3-0 win over B-Step. However, in their second matchup of the weekend against No Tomorrow — the last place team in the league — Naventic lost 3-1. Given the inconsistency around this team, it’s hard to see them making much of an impact in the playoffs, even if they manage to scrape together some wins.

Team Freedom is similar in nature. While expectations surrounding the team weren’t as high, they have also shown inconsistency. Their first five weeks were a roller coaster —they upset Gale Force eSports, but also lost to No Tomorrow just two weeks later. Both Freedom and Naventic have a high skill ceiling in this matchup so preparation will be key.

If you fancy yourself a mathematician you can head on over to the standings page to see for yourself just how close the race for the Mid-Season Brawl has become.