Nydra's Minutes: G2, Alliance open ESL Trinity Series with an all-EU star clash
Read Nydra's primer on the first week of competition at the premier team league in the latest "Minutes" column.
$150,000 are on the line for the ESL Trinity Series, the first major Hearthstone team league in the west since ATLC.
It’s a star-studded line-up for ETS, both in terms of players and teams, making it the tournament to watch for the next seven weeks. The powerhouse trio of G2 Esports took the last major team league and are largely regarded as the #1 team in Hearthstone, but the scene has developed much since 2015. Major esports organizations long tenures in other disciplines such as Virtus.pro and Alliance have entered the space.
If winning ATLC was already an ordeal for G2, ETS is going to be a much bigger challenge, with the action starting January 18, 19:00 CET
Highlight match #1: G2 Esports vs. Alliance
Time: January 18, 19:00 CET
There isn’t a more accomplished roster than G2 Esports in all of Hearthstone. Its players have gone on to break records and achieve what others can only dream of. Unchanged since its foundation, the roster went on to be the first to two DreamHack titles and two HCT Championship titles through Dima “Rdu” Radu and Thijs “ThijsNL” Molendijk, respectively, and have unprecedented team-work ethic and practice habits.
But as pointed out, the scene is different in 2017 and a major contender for the best team in the world is Alliance. The Swedish organization ventured into Hearthstone through Jon “Orange” Westberg and subsequently picked former world champion Sebastian “Ostkaka” Engwall and veteran Harald “Powder” Gimre to form a formidable trio.
Highly vouched for by captain Orange, Powder is looking forward to ETS as his best chance to “redeem” himself of multiple second and top four finishes and finally bring a gold home. In spite of his sporadic tournament appearances as of late, the former SK Gaming player is a recipient of praise and respect from his team-mates.
“Powder is probably better at Hearthstone than me at the moment,” said Orange during an episode of GosuGamers’ Hearthstone podcast “The Innervated”. Orange himself has had a fruitful winter, taking his second SeatStory Cup championship in December and following it up with a second place from WESG Grand Finals for a total of $80,000 in prize winnings in under a month. If what Orange claims is indeed the truth, Powder will be a driving force behind Alliance’s successes.
Highlight match #2: CompLexity vs. Cloud9
Time: January 19, 19:00 CET
Ever the bridesmaids, never the brides. A fitting logo for CompLexity Hearthstone. An exemplary school for talent, CompLexity has been directly responsible for the rise to power of such household names such as David “Dog” Caero (currently part of Liquid) and Jan “SuperJJ” Janssen, a multi-LAN champion.
Outside of SuperJJ, however, CompLexity is still looking for its really big hit. Simon “Crane” Raunholst is a GosuAwards winner and a player whose potential has been talked about for a long time, but his competitive successes have so far been limited, though a DreamHack silver is nothing to scoff at. Rogue specialist and an unorthodox deckbuilder Tugay “MrYagut” Evsan, on the other hand, has had even less tournament experience but is trusted CompLexity management. He was, after all, signed much for the purpose of being a team-league warrior. Even the CoL banner-bearer SuperJJ has been outshined by other Europeans in 2016, notably fellow German Sebastian "Xixo" Bentert and World Championship grand finalists Pavel "Pavel" Beltukov and Artem "DrHippi" Kravets.
In their first match, CompLexity’s talent and promise meet the grizzled veterans of Cloud9. The North Americans have lined-up a trio of unpredictable, genius-level deckbuilders, including Blizzcon and WCA champion James “Firebat” Kostesich, Druid revolutionist and Mage expert Cong “StrifeCro” Shu and who-knows-what-he-will-play-today Drew “TidesofTime” Biessener.
Although G2 vs. [A] arguably has more star power, the coL vs. C9 has far more entertainment potential and will answer many more questions. Will Firebat spring back and start winning championships again after a low-key 2016? How far can Mage go coupled with the deep experience of StrifeCro should he be in top form? What will having two crazy engineers in MrYagut and TidesofTime in one place create? What new tricks will control and combo god Crane show?
Nydra’s week one predictions
Although this can be read as a strong European bias, there might be not much success for North America coming into week one, just purely based off previous tournament results and nothing else. After all, we’re yet to see how each team performs in ETS’ pick-ban 9-deck format, what are teams’ particular strengths and weaknesses in relation to the tournament structure and how in-form each of the 24 players is at this very moment.
NA’s best chance is the LG vs. Team Liquid face-off on Thursday. LG are hailing in as the best on-paper roster from that region, boasting the best swiss performer of 2016 in Frank “Fr0zen” Zhang, two-times DH finalist Keaton “Chakki” Gil and old-timer Paul “Zalae” Nemeth – a line-up easily ahead of Liquid’s semi-dormant trio of Yevgeniy “Neirea” Shumilin, Dog and especially Jeffrey “Sjow” Brusi.
Alternatively, NA can hope for a draw with EU in week one should Cloud9 upset CompLexity, another reason to highlight that match in particular. Unfortunately for Tempo Storm, they have drawn the short straw in their week one fixtures and will have to face Virtus.pro's monstrous line-up of two Blizzcon finalists and a WESG bronze medalist later in the second match of day one.
Who will win the highlight match on day one?
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