Nydra's Minutes: How the Trinity Series finalists are matched?
It’s bizarre every time an invitational tournament generates more hype than a major, even if Hearthtone has always catered more to popularity than anything else. But there’s nothing odd in this particular case as the ESL Trinity Series goes against the ONOG SXSW Major, fully expecting to be the event to watch this week.
Trinity Series easily reinvented how Hearthstone leagues are presented. Building on top of the basics that Archon’s ATLC defined, ESL’s brainchild came upgraded with more features, better desk banter and unmatched production. In three days, it will be in the books.
Trinity Series will be severely missed, there’s no doubt about that. The group stage alone offered seven sweet weeks of competition, where stories developed and dreams were crushed. The powerhouse of G2 Esports could not believe getting left behind after a fantastic start. The Swedes from Alliance suffered through two 0-6 losses to finish bottom of the table, despite having a roster that should’ve delivered. Tempo Storm were daring in their Hunter and Warlock play and gave the viewers some of the most entertaining matches in the league, only to miss the playoffs on tiebreakers. Team Liquid—whose players barely stepped on the competitive stage the past year—pulled together and conquered the group stage with flying colors.
As we marvel at the beauty of the league, we take a last gaze at what lies ahead. By Saturday, Hearthstone will have a new king of teams.
Photo: Ben Cotton / DreamHack
Family against family: Team Liquid vs. compLexity
Team Liquid vs. compLexity is a curious match-up right off the bat as two thirds of Liquid’s roster previously competed under the black-and-red of coL. David “Dog” Caero, now a frontrunner of the horsehead, was once compLexity’s star child who almost conquered DreamHack Summer for his former team. He was the first truly successful apprentice of the coL school, before Jan “SuperJJ” Janssen inherited the throne.
Before Dog would don the blue-white, another coL player made the jump to Team Liquid. In April 2015, Jeffrey “Sjow” Brusi, a StarCraft 2 pro gone card-slinger, left complexity after a six-month stint, shortly after he won his first and only tournament gold.
Today, Dog and Sjow not only go against their former team-mate and manager, but also the two talents which filled their shoes in compLexity.
The latter have lots to prove. CompLexity has been shooting for some sort of high honors since the roster was revamped in 2016, but its story has been one of promise more so than actual accomplishments. SuperJJ carried the coL banner proudly into battle but he was more or less alone. For all his sparks of brilliance, peer-praise, GosuAwards and that DreamHack Valencia silver, Simon “Crane” Raunholst remained in that murky sub-category of players whose potential overshadows their results. Tugay “MrYagut” Evsan, on the other hand remained primarily a streamer, although his signing into compLexity was done specifically so that the organization has a potent roster for team leagues.
CompLexity’s results in Trinity Series balanced on the edge of elimination, too, and not until the very last matches of the very last week was their playoffs spot secure. CoL edged out Tempo Storm by the virtue of tiebreaker, having won a mere three games more and despite having a worse game difference (-2 for coL to Tempo’s +2).
There’s no doubt compLexity’s roster is set for greatness—it would be uncharacteristic for the organization if Crane and MrYagut aren’t fully unleashed during their tenure there—but Trinity’s top four and especially
old compLexity Team Liquid are nothing to scoff at. Liquid topped the table of a league which hosted the dream-team trios of G2 Esports and Luminosity Gaming. They’ve been playing fantastic Druids, Rogues and Priest and have lost only two matches whole season, one of which a 5-6 defeat to the league’s second best team, Luminosity Gaming. They overpowered compLexity the previous time they met, even if coL played without SuperJJ and still took it to ten games.
“New is always better,” a famous Barney Stinson line states. CompLexity better believe and hope that’s true, because the numbers are well in favor of Liquid.
Prediction: Liquid 6-5 compLexity
The bear and the memers fair: Virtus.pro vs. Luminosity
There’s no telling how this match will go. Luminosity deservedly finished in the top two of the league, after living up to their super-team status that their roster of US’ very best players suggests. With G2 Esports out of the picture, Luminosity remain the team in the league which most talks, laughs, jokes, practices, banters and competes like family.
During their Trinity Series tenure, Luminosity not only set trends—such as introducing Tempo Mage back to the world—but also excelled in a post-nerf Hearthstone. Where other teams had mixed successes with the cut-down Shaman, Paul “Zalae” Nemeth piloted it with ease to contribute to LG’s 6-2 victory over Cloud9 in the final day.
LG is also home to the statistically best Trinity Series player, Frank “Fr0zen” Zhang. Although he finished the group stage with 68% win-rate, Fr0zen at once pushed north of 73%, proving once again from the position of the best swiss player of 2016 that where he excels is at marathon-like competitive schedules.
If there’s anything befuddling about LG is why their match score isn’t higher, at least on par with Liquid’s. And while their losses to G2 Esports and complexity were unsurprising at the time, it’s their loss to Virtus.pro in week six which could be seen as an upset and which raises questions for these teams’ second encounter tonight.
Judging by their early league performance, Virtus.pro should not have been in the top four, but theirs is a story of a true comeback. Considered a top three team, VP instead started the league with a series of struggles. Their communication was lacking. Their practice regimens were admittedly inferior. Their deck gambits, such as Artem “DrHippi” Kravets’ Freeze Mage did not pay off. In fact, DrHippi himself struggled in these early days, despite being the most accomplished player on the team. What early-week victories VP had were thanks to Raphael “BunnyHoppor” Peltzer, the last person on the team one would expect to carry.
But redemption came for VP, and, boy, was it glorious! BunnyHoppor continued to carry but past week six his star team-mates found their stride. Ole "Naiman" Batyrbekov’s Warlock won five in a row against Luminosity Gaming, giving them a tease to what might happen tonight, and DrHippi’s Mage finally showed its true colors, all-killing compLexity into a 6-2 submission. Virtus.pro had started playing as they were always expected to.
As Shaman is no longer as strong as it used to be, there are ways the teams can try and counter each other during the ban phase. Warrior will almost certainly be benched, but where to next? Dragon Priest has made a rise through the tier ranks and is one of BunnyHoppor’s main decks. Luminosity have seen their Shaman left open by teams who’ve thought they can beat it and have paid for that. DrHippi has been traditionally known as Mage expert, but is the class threatening enough to warrant a ban—a question valid for Fr0zen and his Tempo Mage, too.
Liquid vs. compLexity might have more history behind it, but VP vs. LG is certainly the power match of the semi-finals.
Prediction: Luminosity 6-4 Virtus.pro