The professional esports league for Blizzards popular MOBA, Heroes of the Storm, is now halfway through its 2018 season, with the most recent tournament, the HGC Western Clash, just concluding. The best four teams from North America, and the four best teams from Europe, gathered at The Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California, to battle it out and determine the champion of the Western Clash. After the first day concluded, just four teams total remained. Team Dignitas, Method, and Lefovers from EU, along with Team Freedom being the last NA team left. At the end of the day, only one team was left standing, and it was none other than Team Dignitas, who went on to sweep every set in each match up en route to winning the Western Clash.
— Heroes Esports (@HeroesEsports) August 13, 2018
The first match of the day was set between Team Dignitas and Team Freedom, playing on the Dragon Shire map. Team Freedom started out strong, controlling the Dragon initially and wiping out most of Dignitas in the early going. However, Dignitas came back and took the first game. The second map took place at the Tomb of the Spider Queen, where Dignitas dominated Freedom, winning the match without any eliminations. The third map was at The Towers of Doom, a fan favorite of many HotS players. Once again, Freedom came out with a high ferocity and almost beat Dignitas in the match. However, they were shut down yet again, sending Team Freedom to the Losers Bracket, and granting Dignitas a trip to the Grand Finals in the Winning Bracket.
Speaking of the Losers Bracket, the two teams who remained in it since yesterday, Leftovers and Method, were about to take the stage. Little did we know that we were about to witness the best series in the tournament. Matches one and two were on the Battlefield of Eternity, and the Infernal Shrines respectively. Method proceeded to pummel Leftovers in both matches, including one match where Leftover team member, Bl3kitny, picked Kerrigan, an Assassin Hero who is not in the current meta. Leftovers were on the brink of elimination, but lead Warrior team member, Mopsio, had other plans. Leading his team into the third match, The Towers of Doom, Leftovers proceeded to decimate Method and take the fight to them.
In the fourth match on Volskaya Foundry, things got a little crazy. Method did not want any sort of comeback, as they attempted to snuff out the flames of Leftovers remaining fire, picking off Deckard Cain within one minute of the match starting. Method had a commanding lead, until one crucial moment, where Mopsio charged in as Diablo, taking some punishment until his teammates came to help out with the Support Camp, overtaking Method and picking them off for a near team wipe. After that, Leftovers kept a brisk pace to stay safe, until Method attempted to end the match by going straight for their core. Leftovers took a gamble, and went right to Methods core with the full team, making it a race to see who would destroy whose core first. Leftovers came out victorious with barely any health left on their core, but a win is a win. At the deciding fifth match on Braxis Holdout, Leftovers took control as once again Mopsio led his team to victory and winning the series completing the reverse sweep.
Unfortunately, Leftovers had little time to rest, as they now had to contend with Team Freedom in the final match of the Losers Bracket to see who would be facing Dignitas in the Grand Finals. Leftovers, once again, decided to throw the meta out the window and picked Cho’Gall, a hero that requires two players to control, and sending the fans into a frenzy. Despite this, Leftovers not only man handled Freedom in that match up, they then went on to win the next two games, the Battlefield of Eternity and Infernal Shrines respectively, stunning Team Freedom and knocking them out of the tournament.
This catapulted Leftovers into the Grand Finals, where they took on the seemingly immortal Team Dignitas, who came into this with one win already due to them advancing through the Winners Bracket. While there was hope for Leftovers to pull off an upset, it wasn’t meant to be. The first map took place on the Battlefield of Eternity, where Dignitas picked Greymane, an Assassin hero that hasn’t seen too much play in the tournament. Leftovers started out fast and tough, as they showed that they were not a team to be taken lightly. However, Dignitas came back and regained control of the match, eventually gaining the victory. In the second map, Volskaya Foundry, Leftovers threw caution into the wind when team member Bl3kitny picked Gazlowe, a Specialist hero who has never been picked in recent tournaments, causing the audience to go crazy. Maybe Bl3kitny just likes to cause chaos with his hero choices. However, Dignitas was unnerved by this, as they proceeded to stomp all over Leftovers and win the match.
Facing a familiar situation, Leftovers needed a win to stay alive. In the third map, Cursed Hollow, Dignitas member JayPL, picked Stitches as the final hero in the games draft, surprising everyone as he is usually accustomed to Johanna. Mopsio picked his favorite Warrior, Muradin, and lead his team to an early thrashing of Dignitas. Just like before, Dignitas calmly marched through the match until they slowly regained control. Ironically, it was due to JayPL’s Stitches that became key to Dignitas, as his hooks were hitting all targets it came into contact with, hooking them back to his team for an elimination each time. Leftovers appeared to catch a break with a Boss push, but it mattered not as Dignitas member, Snitches, was able to dispatch it with ease. Once Dignitas started a Boss push of their own, it was only a matter of time. The team pushed behind the Boss as they squandered the remaining members of Leftovers and clinched the victory and with it the 2018 HGC Western Clash Championship. Team Dignitas was presented the HGC Western Clash Trophy right after, to thunderous applause.
After the match, I sat down with JayPL to discuss his decision to pick Stitches and how his accuracy with the hooks helped his team to win the Grand Finals.
mxdwn: Your hooks were on point, and I think that was key to winning that final match, but were you confident in picking Stiches?
JayPL: So for Stitches, the thing was, I was only playing Johanna. So, I was just so upset because the hero is actually really good. You can do anything, but shes’ just not friendly to play, you know? So, I had the last pick, and I told my teammates, I think I want Stitches, and they were like, “um”. So I pick Stitches and there wasn’t really any grief towards me. I felt that Stitches was the best play for me. I know that with Stitches, we would win 95% of the time. When I picked him, I knew that he would work for the competition and all the team fights. So yeah I felt confident with Stitches. Actually I was really sad at first because it didn’t seem to match up right away, but between the mid and late game, every hook seemed more important and it made every difference in the match.
mxdwn: Well either way it made the difference, especially when you were hooking Fenix and taking out there ranged hero. Thank you for talking with me and congratulations on winning.
JayPL: Thank you very much.
For their efforts, Team Dignitas took home $30,000 out of a $100,000 prize pool. The rest was spread out to the runner ups. Leftovers was given $20,000, Team Freedom got $15,000, and Method was awarded $10,000. In addition, Dignitas’s triumph adds yet another spot for Europe in the HGC Finals, which will take place at Blizzcon 2018 later this year. The Western Clash may be over, but HGC will continue their tour with the HGC Eastern Clash, which is scheduled to commence from August 17-19, in Incheon, South Korea, to determine which other region will take a spot at the HGC Finals.
(Photo taken by Alex Levine)