HGC 2017 NA Power Rankings: End of Week 4
Tempo Storm, Team 8 and Gale Force eSports are North America's representatives for the Western Clash.
- Tempo Storm
- Team 8
- Gale Force eSports
- B Step
- Team Freedom
- Team Naventic
- No Tomorrow
My Power Rankings going into next week
1. Team 8 (5-1)
Results this week: Defeated Team Naventic 3-0
Despite the erroneous standings from Blizzard, Team 8 won't be the #1 North American seed at the Western Clash unless they finish with more wins than Tempo Storm, because Tempo Storm beat them head to head.
Nonetheless, they have been North America's most consistent team from week to week. Their Game 2 win against Team Naventic was especially impressive to watch, as Team 8 dominated Team Naventic from start to finish while almost ignoring the map objective. It's refreshing to see a team that knows what the strengths and weaknesses of both their own composition and that of their opponents.
Most thought Team 8 would be facing relegation at the end of the Phase 1. Instead, they will be at worst the 2nd North American seed at the Western Clash. What an absolutely amazing performance from Team 8 so far - hopefully they keep it up!
2. Gale Force eSports (4-2)
Results this week: Defeated Tempo Storm 3-0
What better way to secure your spot at the Western Clash than with a 3-0 destruction of the previously unbeaten Tempo Storm? Fan of Gale Force eSports said that they planned every draft and game versus Tempo Storm, and I have no problem believing that after watching the games. Everything clearly went exactly according to plan, from Q build Gul'dan as the main damage dealer on Braxis Holdout to Protect the Hammer Composition on Cursed Hollow.
The challenge with Gale Force eSports is consistency, something that has been a struggle for the team so far in HGC 2017. In some of the matches, they look like North America's best team by far, while in others they look quite average. However, this might be a difficult problem for them to solve, particularly considering this team prides itself on being 4 flexes and a support. Will European teams be able to exploit this vulnerability at the Western Clash?
3. Tempo Storm (5-1)
Results this week: Defeated No Tomorrow 3-0; Lost 0-3 to Gale Force eSports
Just to be clear here: they are still on track to be the #1 seed in North America for the Western Clash and are qualified for the event already. That's pretty much the only good news for the team this week. Well, that and Psalm dominated No Tomorrow with his Valeera play.
Now for the bad, which is legion. First of all, the rest of the set against No Tomorrow wasn't quite as smooth sailing as in Game 1. But the real disaster was their match against Gale Force eSports - we're still waiting for them to show up...
You might be wondering why they aren't ranked #1, considering they are still on track to be the #1 seed in North America for the Western Clash. The trend of being very weak on new patches is part of the reason, considering the Western Clash is likely to be played on the upcoming Lucio patch. But the real reason for their poor ranking is probably best highlighted by Game 2 of this weekend's match against Gale Force eSports.
Unpopular opinion incoming:
Gale Force eSports ran a "Protect the Hammer" composition, an old school composition that should be relatively straight forward to beat - particularly when you have Diablo, Zeratul, Falstad and Ragnaros. However, not only did Tempo Storm not beat that composition, they lost to it in less than 10 minutes! I wish I could say that Gale Force eSports played brilliantly, and certainly they had some very sharp rotations, but the truth is Tempo Storm just played exceptionally poorly.
Zeratul didn't get off any impactful Void Prisons, Falstad misused his Mighty Gust heroic, Ragnaros's Sulfuras Smash did nothing to Sgt Hammer and Diablo went Lightning Breath... completely ignoring the insane Void Prison synergy of Apocalypse. What were they thinking?
Fan played SGT.Hammer, and you might be tempted to say his play was masterful. In reality, it looked like bronze level SGT Hammer play. He would blithely stay sieged whenever Tempo Storm engaged on to him. Yes, Fan picked Resistant, which makes Hammer hard to kill when rooted or stunned in siege mode, but that doesn't excuse taking free damage. It felt unbelievable that Tempo Storm could not punish a stationary hero with Ragnaros and Zeratul. That is to say, punish SGT. Hammer while not losing the majority of their team in the process.
Bottomline, this was truly a meme worthy defeat. Did I mention that Psalm used to be unbeaten in HGC on Zeratul?
To those who say that Tempo Storm just didn't care about the outcome of this match, please remember that the standings don't reset after the Western Clash. Only the #1 North American team will directly qualify to the Mid Season Brawl without playing in the playoffs, and this match against Gale Force eSports could wind up being the difference between being the #1 North American seed and playing in the playoffs.
Perhaps I should honor the head to head and rank them #1...but I can't bring myself to do it this week, because then I'd be admitting that the #1 North American team gets destroyed by the most basic of "Protect the Hammer" compositions. This is so embarrassing.
4. B Step (3-3)
Results this week: Defeated Superstars 3-2
So Superstars had a sub for Faye this week in Nightmare. Nonetheless, B Step quickly found itself in an 0-2 hole after they lost Game 1 and threw a big lead in Game 2. B Step won the next two games, but soon found themselves in a no win situation when they ran out of structures and were down to just their Core on Battlefield of Eternity against a much better off Superstars team.
B Step somehow won several teamfights, and somehow won the Immortal but had to defend against a Superstars core rush. They survived with just 2% left on their core.
While it is too late for B Step to make it to the Western Clash, they have shown marked improvement from where they were at the start of the season. If they continue to work on their drafts and gameplay, they just might reclaim their former glory as one of North America's top teams and make it to the Midseason Brawl.
5. Superstars (3-3)
Results this week: Defeated Team Naventic 3-0; Lost to B Step 2-3
Almost everyone beats Team Naventic nowadays. Nothing more to say here.
It's really impressive that they were inches from beating B Step with a sub. While the match loss will be a tough pill to swallow, the team can hold its head high knowing that they played really well and are in position to be a contender for the 2nd spot at the Mid Season Brawl in the playoffs.
6. Team Freedom (2-4)
Results this week: Lost to No Tomorrow 1-3
It looks like Team Freedom isn't very comfortable with the Valeera patch yet. But the problems seem to go far beyond that, as the team has taken a massive step back in terms of game play and decision making. In previous weeks, they were showing a lot of coordination and playing like a veteran team that shot calls decisively and makes adjustments in the middle of a match.
This week's match against No Tomorrow told a totally different story: they played like a rookie team that hadn't played together very much. Players were constantly caught out of position and abilities were not used the way you would expect from a coordinated team. They play Team 8 next weekend, so they need to fix these issues, and fast.
7. Team Naventic (1-5)
Results this week: Lost to Superstars and Team 8 0-3
Like I was saying in the Superstars section, everybody beats Team Naventic nowadays. I don't know why, but it seems like the team has largely forgotten how to play the maps or draft as well as they used to. Many teams show significantly better understanding of the maps than they do, dominating them in terms of macro play and in draft. This leaves Team Naventic with one option: brawl and hope for scrappy hero picks.
With some of the better mechanical players in North America, you might think this could bail them out of a couple of games, but the truth is it is hard to win games when you are constantly behind in team levels.
It's time for the once proud team that considered itself the best team in North America to confront a painful truth: that they will likely face relegation in the Crucible. They should study up on teams in the North American Open Division, because one of those teams is certainly going to study up on Naventic and unleash macro-based compositions that aim to play the map. Should they be good enough to execute that strategy, they could run rings around Team Naventic if the once all-star squad doesn't shore up this massive weakness.
8. No Tomorrow (1-5)
Results this week: Lost to Tempo Storm 0-3; Defeated Team Freedom 3-1
Well, congratulations to No Tomorrow: they finally earned their first win of HGC 2017 by defeating Team Freedom 3-1. It seems there are signs of life after all, but plenty of work remains to be done. Tempo Storm was able to dominate them with Valeera, a hero they admitted they were just trying out, and their support player suddenly played Falstad in one game against Team Freedom and had some terrible flights that got him killed. Memorably, he even managed to die twice in a span of like 30 seconds mid way through the game. Ouch.
But No Tomorrow might have a chance to be competitive in the future, so long as Erho can keep up the improved warrior play that we saw against Team Freedom and in the qualifiers but has been missing for weeks.
The HGC 2017 action continues Friday, February 17 @ 18:00 CET / 9:00 am PST on the Valeera Patch
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