Great Expectations: European Teams Look to Make History at HGC Finals
With the HGC Finals just around the corner, it’s time to take an in-depth look at the teams and regions vying for the trophy. This year Heroes of the Storm will have its own stage at BlizzCon, and will feature 16 of the world's best teams duking it out for $1 million USD in prize money.
For the first time ever, Europe is favored to win over Korea (and the rest of the world) in Anaheim. To understand how we got here, journey back with us six months to the Mid-Season Brawl in Sweden where Fnatic and Team Dignitas met in the grand finals of the HGC’s first international event.
While Team Dignitas did not win the Mid-Season Brawl, they did take the first Western Clash prior to that fateful night at DreamHack Summer. And who did Dignitas beat to take home that Western Clash trophy? Fnatic. They defeated them in the grand finals at IEM Katowice thanks to some heads-up drafting and incredible play on the part of Jerome ‘JayPL’ Trinh and Thomas ‘Ménè’ Cailleux. Everyone stepped up at the Western Clash for Team Dignitas, including newcomer Kenn Øster ‘Zaelia’ Rasmussen, who has now had proper time to mesh with his teammates ahead of the biggest event of the year.
And despite losing at the Mid-Season Brawl, Team Dignitas more than proved their worth during the course of the tournament, defeating L5 (twice), MVP Black, and Soul Torturers, and trading maps with Tempo Storm, before falling to Fnatic in a heartbreakingly close finals. And yet, this is the last real point of comparison between the power levels of these teams, because Team Dignitas failed to qualify for the most recent Western Clash. Online, Fnatic wins a potential rematch handedly, but LAN? There, Team Dignitas seem to be the only Western team that can hold a candle to the Swedes.
It was in fact the all-Swedish team of Fnatic that secured the trophy and title of "best team in the world" on home soil at the Mid-Season Brawl. Fnatic went on to dominate the Western Clash in Kiev, winning the tournament without dropping a map. Although their rivals Team Dignitas were not accounted for at the event, Fnatic spent their time in Kiev simply flexing on how far ahead they are compared to the rest of the Western world at the moment.
There are only a handful of teams that can make Fnatic break a sweat outside of Team Dignitas. At the HGC Finals, expect this shortlist to include the likes of MVP Black, L5, Roll20 Esports (keep those fingers crossed, North American fans), Team expert, and possibly CE or SPT.
Team expert are the third European representative at the HGC Finals. A lot of eyes are currently on the team, as both of their other EU counterparts have already proven themselves against Korean teams over the course of the last year. Team expert has their work cut out for them, though, as they will need to take down L5, SPT, and Soul Torturers to escape their group. Assuming everything goes as planned, they are favored to survive their group behind L5, granting Team expert a chance to prove themselves against the other seven HGC teams that will take the stage at BlizzCon.
A notable detail: All three of these teams are planning on boot-camping in South Korea ahead of the competition in Anaheim. Europe may be ascendant in the HGC, but evidently there's still something in the water in Korea.