Out of the Ashes: Interview with Arcaner

Australian Heroes of the Storm player Arcaner

Interview by: EsportsJohn


Table of Contents


On October 26th, Australian team Reborn prepared for their first match in the BlizzCon group stages. Having flown across the globe, the boys were settling down and trying to get in the zone after a week of practice and travel. Four members of the team had already gone through this rigorous feat of endurance and disorientation in previous global championships, but for young flex player Liam “Arcaner” Simpson, this was the first time on the global stage.

Their first game was rough and ended in defeat. Stubbornly, Reborn rallied around an all-in Illidan composition for the second game, but were defeated again, this time in draft before the game even began. Subsequent losses caused them fall out of the tournament with a dismal 0-4 record. In retrospect, there were many valuable—albeit harsh—lessons learned that day for the Australian team, but now the future of ANZ rests on how the players move forward from their loss.

A few weeks after BlizzCon, Arcaner reached out to me and asked to do an interview. “I was looking for a platform to voice my large concerns about the future of minor regions, and ANZ in particular,” he told me. As the interview process continued, we began to talk more broadly about his personal performance and plans for 2017. What emerged was not only his concerns for the HGC format and the future of the ANZ region but also a small glimpse into the mind of an improving player. It’s difficult to define what it takes to “make it out” and meet success in a minor region, but one can easily admire the ambition of a player who is only spurred on by defeat. Arcaner is that sort of player.

On BlizzCon

Let’s be honest, your performance at BlizzCon was subpar compared to what you’ve shown in ANZ. Was there any particular reason for the team’s disarray?

Our performance was definitely a shock to the team. Going into the event, we had confidence in making it out of groups [based on] our scrim results at BlizzCon. I think the first mistake we made was that we had expectations which distracted us from being objective about our games, and we didn’t commit enough resources and energy into the drafts and our preparation in general.

During our games, our drafting was terrible—we weren’t building strong or easily executable comps, and we weren’t target banning specific heroes that we should’ve been banning. On Tomb specifically, it showed that we had no prioritisation on wave clear, and even when Denial first-banned Johanna, it didn’t occur to us that we were going to get squeezed out of it.

In-game, the team atmosphere was entirely off, and it felt like there was no energy, belief, or desire to win the games.

Did the Expulsion Zone ban on Zarya affect the team’s drafting strategy?

We understood that Denial weighed priority on Zarya in their drafting, but with the Expulsion Zone ban, we concluded that it was a hero that could be dealt with and wouldn’t be popular during the tournament. Nevertheless, I revise that mindset as a mistake—we should have respected that specific comfort of theirs by banning it in the second phase or adapting our drafts to deal with it, which we didn’t.

How did you personally deal with the loss at BlizzCon? You came to literally the other side of the world and only got to spend a few minutes on stage. Did that bother you?

After the loss, I was extremely depressed and went straight back to our team’s practice room and started queueing Hero League to practice my role swap to support, which is my main role whenever I’m a free agent. I think I played about 100 games in a week and a half, so my response to the loss was one of deep desire to improve and never let a bad performance happen again.

ANZ team Reborn at the HGC Fall Championship at BlizzCon

Photo Credit: Blizzard

Playing Bo3s was pretty sad, as we only got to play four games for the entire tournament. But there was plenty of other stuff to do to make the most out of the trip, so I was still very happy.

What was it like to scrim with the other teams at the Global Championship? Did you learn any valuable lessons from the top Korean or European teams?

It was challenging, efficient, and fun. We got to scrim eStar, Dignitas, PBA, Imperium Pro Team, and Fnatic. We learnt a lot from the scrims, and especially against Dignitas, we began to understand what it takes to be a tier above the Western teams. They played with a lot of control and seemed to play more Korean than they did Western.

You stated pretty explicitly that “NA looks quite weak” during the team intro video. Even though you lost, did you still feel that was the case when you played Denial at BlizzCon?

What I’ve grasped from the event and our result is the importance of context when assessing teams, players, and metas. Retrospectively, the assessment I developed of North American teams was founded upon the analytical comparison of their strength in relation to Europe and Korea. Specifically speaking, Denial’s performance at both of their American regionals when they had an early or mid game lead was precarious. Astral Authority consistently gave me the impression that they understood how to maintain a lead on their American opponents with their engagement and macro decisions—they were always in control. My reasoning for stating NA is weak was due to the comparison of mechanical play of Astral’s players versus the European, Chinese and Koreans—and for Denial it was the more apparent existence of macro and shotcalling mistakes.

Learning from BlizzCon, I’ve altered my previous mindset, and I now look to start comparing the strength of teams to my own—and with that stated, no, NA wasn’t weak. I have a wealth of respect for the region, and what I admire about Astral and Denial is their drive and passion to learn from each international showing and improve. I’m looking forward to watching them during the first split of HGC 2017.

Aside from participating in the tournament, what else did you do at BlizzCon? Did you get a chance to get out and see the city or eat some American food? Disneyland?

We went to Disneyland as a team, but aside from that, we weren’t doing much tourism. I enjoyed the American burgers.

At BlizzCon, we attended the opening ceremony and mostly stayed around the player lounge to watch the HotS games.

Be honest, how bad is the jet lag coming from Australia?

Actually, I didn’t have any jet lag when I arrived in the US. I don’t think my team did either. For me, it was pretty horrendous when I returned to Australia. I remember the first day back at home, I had a 3pm nap and woke up at 3am, and since then my sleep schedule has been ruined with lots of early mornings—I’ve never been so confused haha.

On the HGC Circuit

Minor region issues aside, what do you think was the biggest problem with HGC in 2016? Do you think the 2017 format will fix that issue?

The most substantial complication with HGC in 2016 was the disparity in skill between the East, the West, and Wildcards that developed as a consequence of dissimilar HGC structures. The East received league systems that nurtured teams and reinforced team stability and competitiveness. The West dealt with one-day qualifiers and regional finals that hindered the existence of long term rosters and limited player’s tournament experience. As a result, their mechanics and overall team strength [was hindered].

HGC 2017 bandages the wounds in the West and enables more teams to thrive with financial support and competitive opportunity but does not immediately bridge the gap in team strength. The idea of equal opportunity is what I am passionate about, and I’m sincerely happy for North America and Europe to be rewarded with a league system.

A relatively less significant problem is the international tournament format. We’ve encountered the identical two-phase group stage into single elimination playoffs repeatedly—and it’s getting stale. It’s not ideal to be having Bo3’s in a Swiss format group stage; if it were a round robin, it’d seem warranted. I’d push to witness Bo5’s become baseline in international tournaments and for more experimentation to be done with engaging formats that mix first and second seeds differently. Group stages could become intricate, and playoffs could start at quarterfinals.

Blizzard changed the residency requirements back to six months. Do you think this strict region lock is good or bad for Heroes as a whole?

I think it reinforces the notion that Blizzard wants each region to be explicit in the players that represent it. It’s clear they want to stray away from some form of international player transfer system—or maybe their reason is they don’t want Korean players dominating within any region besides Korea.

The system is understandable. The six month residency lock is strict and does its job of keeping players isolated. I disagree with the idea, but it isn’t like we would see many international transfers occurring if there were no region lock. Players would probably have to fund it themselves, as not many sponsors would want to invest so much money during an early period of Heroes esports.

It seems the people most affected in a bad way would be the minor regions and the teams who don’t make the cut in major regions that have the most competitive relegations (Korea or EU).

Let’s try a thought experiment. If a team like Burning Rage had enough money to move to North America and participate in the league after six months of practice, how well do you think they’d do?

I believe that Burning Rage would make great use of the opportunity to play in NA, and I know that JSchritte and his teammates would be impassioned by the thought of moving. I feel like they are strong and unified in their goals, and I would expect them to place high enough that they’d make it to the Clashes and Brawls.

There will be a distinctive lack of offline events next year (down from 19 in 2016 to just 6 in 2017). Given that it won’t affect the ANZ region much next year, do you have an opinion on that?

I think the more offline events, the better. But with the introduction of salaries and the league systems, there must be some form of compromise from another avenue. Maybe we will see more offline events later down the track once the league settles in and Blizzard makes some better returns for Heroes Esports.

Blizzard mentioned that minor regions can look forward to “local competitions” that feed into international tournaments. Do you think that means there will be more events during the year? Or does that pretty much mean exactly the same thing for minor regions?

To me, it means exactly the same as what 2016 has been—except for the information we received about our prize pool for the year being converted into AUD from USD, which is a loss of about 30% in the prize money.

What is your opinion on the East and West Clashes? Do you like this format better than a full-scale global event?

For ANZ, we are a part of the West, so we will be facing three NA teams, three EU teams, and the LatAm team.

I like the idea of East and West clashes, but I would like to see the second clash be West vs East instead of NA vs EU again. It’s a bit depressing that we will only get to see the Eastern teams twice next year, as we have a great relationship with them. I’m excited to see if the East and West develop their own metas; it’d be cool to see which one is stronger going into the Mid Season Brawl.

On ANZ Region

We’ve talked a bit before about how it’s impossible to make a living as a gamer in Australia because of the lack of money currently available. Do you feel this is mostly the fault of the game developers? Or does the country need to develop esports more?

In regards to the county’s development, a problem is Australia’s culture and stance on gaming. Growing up, kids are told to go outside and play sports and do outdoor activities over other hobbies. There’s an emphasis on physical activity, which creates a pessimistic response to staying indoors and gaming. Because of this, we don’t have as big of a proportion of gamers, and those that are [gamers] refrain from being competitive and stay casual. Another problem is our infrastructure and internet. Not being able to stream because of my internet speed is depressing and a limitation to our potential careers in this industry.

What is the biggest issue plaguing the ANZ region in terms of competitive play? What solutions could you offer to solve this problem?

The biggest issues at the moment are population, sponsor investment, and viewership. The ANZ region is in a chaotic place at the moment, and part of me thinks that a lot of the players in the region do not deserve the amount of investment and rewards Blizzard gives out. When I sit down and try to brainstorm the players who care about the game as much as I do—who care about international results and want to become a great teammate for a great team—I can’t think of more than a few.

Reborn lifts the trophy at the ANZ regional final

It’s depressing to be a part of ANZ. We’ve had multiple organizations and people come to help and organize events, to build the scene back up and inspire us, and it’s met with a lot of disrespect, negativity and trolling.

It would be a refreshing concept to have a clean slate of players come into the competitive scene to replace the current population—or for the current players to have a drastic change in attitude and behaviour. However, I want to emphasise the importance of increasing our region’s [gaming] population as a good solution to all of its issues.

You said yourself that there are very few gamers in ANZ. Perhaps a league system starting with only 4-6 teams and maybe ramping up over time if participation increases?

There are only two other competitive teams in the region, and one of them is pretty unstable right now. I don’t think investing in a league system will be worth it, and it’d be a miracle to get six serious teams signing up for it.

Blizzard has been doing a lot of marketing and advertising in a bid to re-sell this game, so I really hope that we get some new players coming into the scene. One we get a higher number of competitive and serious teams then we can think about implementing a league system and discussing the idea of salaries for players.

Are there any third party weekly/monthly tournaments in ANZ similar to Go4Heroes or ZOTAC?

Not at the moment, but there is a rumour that there will be some next year. Disconcur from ANZ Heroes organizes a lot of the events, and we have another organization called Gamestah who did a lot of work for the scene this year.

Despite some of the other minor regions suffering, Taiwan seems to be doing well. Perhaps it has to do with their ability to play on Chinese or Korean servers?

I attribute PBA’s success to three things. Firstly, I think that keeping a stable roster has been key to their improvement in international results; they really understood how to take advantage their situation. As long as they stay together, regardless of whether or not they had a bad international showing, they can still dominate their region and have a guaranteed place at Sweden and BlizzCon. They can keep their mechanics fresh and begin preparing a specific meta for the international stage and doing research and a lot of observation into NA/EU/CN opponents.

Which leads to the second reason for their success: their own powerful meta. An advantage to being in a minor region is that [major region] teams are less inclined to critique or even pay attention to the meta a minor region team like PBA develops. Call it ego, laziness, or overconfidence—Astral Authority disrespected PBA’s meta. [PBA’s] Auriel and Zeratul comps did well, and a lot of teams butchered their drafts against them.

Lastly, I think PBA’s ability to scrim and play on Korean servers is really beneficial and leads to their players being mechanically superior to other minor regions. I’d go as far to say that ZoLa had the best performance out of all the supports during BlizzCon.

This might be an impossible question to answer. If an ANZ team could reach the level of a Korean team like MVP Black or Ballistix, how would they do it? What would need to change?

It’s clear that there would have to be great mechanical improvement and a drastic change in attitude and mindset in order to beat Koreans. We’d have to move to Korea and play in Super League with a long term goal in mind during scrims and after bad results. It’d begin with a few seasons of low placings in Korean tournaments before eventually climbing to the top; and it’s almost impossible. But if there were a way to do it, it lies in Korea.

If Blizzard still can’t get together an organized schedule and stream next year, where can we go to keep up with events in ANZ?

Next year, I’ll be posting on Twitter regularly about dates of our tournaments so people can tune in and watch my team and me play, if I end up having one in time.

@ANZ_Heroes is a good place to follow events too.

On Future Plans

A few days ago, Benjamin announced that Reborn was breaking up and going their separate ways. What happened? Can you give us any details on the future of the players?

This is very complicated, and I cannot provide the correct answers at this moment regarding the future of the team’s players. When you come out of a tournament with a performance completely opposite to what you expect, it makes you more critical and analytical of every aspect of the team. We have to ask ourselves the difficult questions, and we need to ensure that moving forward into 2017, we have a unified team in regard to friendship, competitive mindset and goals, and performance.

It’s all very uncertain at the moment, but there may be a few players taking a season’s break from competitive HotS.

Not to bring back any bad memories, but how do you stay motivated to keep playing after an 0-4 defeat on the global stage? What makes you want to come back next year?

I think the motivation comes from the same goal that I brought coming into BlizzCon. My personal goal was to prove my skill internationally. It was something that I was very nervous about coming into BlizzCon because ranged flex wasn’t my best suit. But I was confident in my Illidan play and therefore really unhappy and disappointed in myself after the Cursed Hollow game vs Denial.

ANZ player Arcaner

Photo Credit: Blizzard

What makes me want to come back next year is to prove my skill on support and develop myself as a great pro player.

Since you don’t have regular scrims in ANZ, what does a normal practice schedule look like for you?

It’s usually about three hours per day [in total] waiting in queue for Hero League, and another two hours of playing it. And then two to three hours of replay analysis or draft practice. Every other day, I might have a two to three hour scrim block.

Do you have any specific practice goals you want to work on before next season? Any particular performance goals for 2017?

At the moment, I’m working on getting my support mechanics back to normal and putting a large amount of time into practicing drafting, which I do for one to two hours a day outside of scrims. For 2017, my goal is to be regarded as one of the best supports internationally—hopefully I can do it.

Any last words? Any shoutouts?

Shoutout to all of my in-game friends from other regions who have given me advice and helped me grow—you know who you are. I want to thank the team at Blizzard for a great trip to BlizzCon—I will never forget it. Also, a sincere thank you to all the casters and international players who cared about my team and me, whether it be casters putting in the effort to study us and get to know us or the pros who approached and talked with us during BlizzCon. It means a lot when people put in this effort, so thank you.

And lastly, thank you to those who support my team and our region, whether you are fans in Australia or around the world. We appreciate everything. I want to apologize to those I let down at BlizzCon. I’m sorry for underwhelming plays, but I will do everything I can to improve and be the best ♥.


EsportsJohn is a freelance journalist on a mission to give minor regions exposure and make esports a worldwide community. You can follow him on Twitter or help support him on Patreon.

Korea Dominates BlizzCon Opening Week

The analyst desk at the Heroes of the 2016 Storm Global Championship in Anaheim

Written by: EsportsJohn


Table of Contents


The opening week of BlizzCon has been full of ups and downs for players and fans alike, but one thing is certain: Korea is king. Some teams are performing better than expected, some are performing far worse, but the Korean teams MVP Black and Ballistix look invincible.

Once again, the world finds itself in an arms race against Korea. In StarCraft, we bred foreigners designed to beat Koreans, many of which failed miserably. In League of Legends, we cheered “TSM” with all of our hearts only to come face to face with yet another all-Korean finals. And now we find ourselves in a similar position with Heroes of the Storm. Who can beat Korea?

Korea, The Undisputed King

Let’s be real here. Korea dominated Opening Week.

MVP Black bullied their way through the first group stage by bludgeoning Burning Rage to death and swatting Denial away like an insect. Then they went on a rampage against Dignitas and Please Buff Arthas (PBA) in the second group stage and advanced to the playoffs with an undefeated 8-0 record. Overall, they have over four times more takedowns than deaths with a record of 122-28 and have ended several games before Level 20.

MVP Black's KyoCha onstage at the 2016 Heroes Global Championship in Anaheim

The road for Ballistix has been shorter but just as bloody. Like MVP Black, they dispatched Denial seemingly without effort before moving on to extinguish Fnatic’s flame 2-0. Their numbers are equally as intimidating with a 37-8 record and a flawless 4-0 record.

We are unbelievably lucky that the Korean teams were seeded into different groups and couldn’t eliminate each other, and now they sit on opposite ends of the playoffs bracket. Truth be told, an all-Korean finals is pretty likely.

North America’s Fall From Grace

With Cloud9’s massive victory over Team DK at BlizzCon 2015 still fresh in our minds, it’s easy for North American fans to feel confident heading into the Global Championship. It has been a roller coaster year, but the core players from C9 are back at BlizzCon under the name of Denial; what could possibly go wrong?

Well, opening week has made it pretty obvious that NA is weaker than we ever imagined. Denial was able to take out Reborn, the weakest team at BlizzCon, with ease but struggled a lot against Brazilian team Burning Rage (BR). Though they managed to come out of the ordeal 2-0, it was a hard-earned victory against a team without their primary shotcaller and playmaker. Had Typhex been able to attend BlizzCon and play with BR, it’s doubtful Denial would have even made it out of the first group stage. For a team that boasts three former BlizzCon champions, they haven’t played anywhere near their full potential.

Denial eSports onstage during the HGC Opening Week

Astral Authority (formerly Murloc Geniuses) hasn’t quite found their stride either. Despite being more or less dominant in North America over the past few months as Gale Force eSports and Naventic declined, Astral wasn’t very impressive in their one series against PBA. PBA’s rather aggressive, skirmishing style unmasked the mechanical failings of Astral and quickly unraveled their usually carefully studied strategies. The series could have gone either way, but if Astral Authority couldn’t beat PBA, they have no chance against Korean teams.

Astral faces elimination against Dignitas at BlizzCon, but based on their previous games, it’s unlikely that they will have the chops to take on the best non-Korean team at BlizzCon. Both teams will need to play out of their minds if they want a shot at the semifinals; a finals appearance is entirely out of the question.

The Fall of China

North America might be very weak compared to their 2015 counterparts, but no region has fallen further than China in the past few months. Once considered the second best region in the world, China is no longer the powerhouse it used to be. The Fall season of Gold League was depressingly mediocre due to a massive wave of retirements and team dissolutions. In particular, the second best team in China (EDG) disbanded, and eStar’s key member xia0t retired from gaming (though he still runs the team).

ZeroPanda looked fairly decent through Gold League and was likely to do well at the Global Championship, but so far they haven’t really delivered. Their series against Fnatic was disappointing; they just looked completely disarrayed and unprepared for the European team.

eStar Gaming at the 2016 Heroes Global Championship in Anaheim

Due to visa issues, three members from eStar joined up with two members from Super Perfect Team to create a makeshift team to represent China.

On the other hand, eStar shouldn’t have even been at this tournament. Instead, perhaps one of the worst Chinese teams pre-Fall season, Super Perfect Team (SPT), qualified through Gold League following an incredibly sloppy performance against eStar in the loser’s finals. Visa problems again plagued the Chinese teams, and three members of eStar were mashed together with two players from SPT (similar to the BraveHeart team we saw last year). As expected, the impromptu team did not do well and dropped out in the first group stage after losing to PBA.

PBA, The Dark Horse

Please Buff Arthas has been all over the standings this week. They surprised everyone at the Summer finals by becoming the first minor region team to ever make it out of the first group stage. Many people attributed it to Gale Force eSports being jetlagged and exhausted, but the team has continued to prove that they are no joke.

PBA at the 2016 Heroes of the Storm Global Championship in Anaheim

ZoLa brought his stuffed penguin to the event, which some claim contains the power to beat NA.

They had a fantastic, close series against Fnatic and absolutely wrecked their Eastern counterparts, IPT and eStar. In the second group stage, they also went toe to toe with Astral Authority and brought the American team down with a 2-1 score. It hasn’t been a perfect road for them, but they’re giving it all they’ve got and it shows. They have a decider match left against either Astral Authority or Dignitas; either way, their chances of making it to playoffs are looking better than originally expected.

PBA is quickly becoming a crowd favorite. They may not be the Hero we want right now, but they’re the Hero we deserve.

The Losers

Unlike PBA, the other minor regions have not been very successful. Burning Rage put up a good fight, but without Typhex, they simply couldn’t make a dent in MVP Black or Denial. Meanwhile, Reborn and IPT were eliminated first with dismal 0-4 records.

When it comes to the Australian team Reborn, it’s clear that they were not prepared for this tournament. Mistakes in rotations, map control, and even basic mechanics showed up in their series against Reborn and Burning Rage. Their coordination was also substantially lacking in several major teamfights. One of the biggest problems with ANZ is that they have very little quality practice, but at least Reborn has a big chance this week to tune up their skills with other regional teams before next season.

Reborn at the 2016 Heroes Global Championship in Anaheim

As for Imperium Pro Team (IPT), there’s not much to say. On paper, they are a SEA region super-team. Zeys and Mirr, best known for their performance on Relics and often holding some of the top spots on the North American ladder, joined up with the best of SEA’s Summer representative Renovatio I. However, their performance was far from dominating. PBA was far superior, and even the crippled eStar still managed to walk over IPT without too much effort.

Burning Rage at the 2016 Heroes Global Championship in Anaheim

We analysts never expect minor regions to do well at global competitions, but there were some obvious disconnects at BlizzCon that made even the most dominant teams in their respective regions look pathetic on the global stage. One can only hope Blizzard has plans to revitalize the minor regions that struggle so much and bring them back into the forefront of the global scene next season (without utilizing a region lock).

Europe, The Only Chance

Who can beat Korea? The only hope lies with Europe. To date, only Team Liquid (Duran brothers era) and mYinsanity (Misfits) have been able to take a game off of MVP Black, but there’s still a small hope that Europe can light the torch for an upset. Both Fnatic and Dignitas haven’t had the best year, but they have proven some level of dominance in their region and looked fairly decent during Opening Week.

Fnatic’s performance so far at BlizzCon has been nothing short of spectacular. They struggled a bit with the upstart Taiwanese team PBA but managed to finish off both Chinese teams 2-0 without breaking a sweat. Ballistix destroyed them in Game 1, but Fnatic was on the brink of tying up the series in Game 2 on Towers of Doom before a disastrous teamfight.

Fnatic beats eStar Gaming at the 2016 Heroes Global Championship in Anaheim

Dignitas also put up a decent fight against MVP Black but fell a bit short. There’s no doubt that the last-minute retirement of AlexTheProG threw a wrench in their practice regimen, but at least the team is familiar with Atheroangel’s playstyle and can adapt to his role quickly. The roster change may prove disastrous for Dignitas in the end, but they are likely to stride out over the NA team Astral Authority on the opening day of BlizzCon.

An over-the-shoulder view of Snitch during the 2016 Heroes Global Championship in Anaheim

Black showed no respect at all for Dignitas—an attribute which may be their eventual downfall—and made several risky plays that paid off only through pure mechanical skill; Ballistix was only slightly less cocky. With another week to scrim and learn the Korean teams’ secrets, Europe may have an actual shot at a 3-2 victory in the semifinals, especially if Korea is underestimating them. There’s even a chance, albeit a very small one, that they could win the whole thing. But probably not.

Games to Watch

MVP Black vs Denial eSports G2 on Braxis Holdout

7/10 In true Cloud9 fashion, Denial brought out the unorthodox picks to try and throw MVP Black off. Denial picked up Solo support Tyrande to aid in the team’s cheesy stun train combo and Dehaka for the global presence. Denial held onto the beacons during the first phase splendidly and looked like they were going to put up a good showing against the Korean powerhouse.

Denial eSports vs Burning Rage G2 on Tomb of the Spider Queen

7/10 Burning Rage took complete control of the early and mid game with fantastic rotations and CC layering. Teamfights in general were top notch with each team baiting out Heroics/combos and each team adapting from the previous fight.

Dignitas vs MVP Black G1 on Tomb of the Spider Queen

6/10 Dignitas drafted a questionable composition into MVP Black’s double tank/Gul’Dan/Auriel composition. Nonetheless, control of the early webweavers went over to Dignitas, and they were able to knock down a few buildings before MVP Black’s insane teamfighting went into effect.

Astral Authority vs Please Buff Arthas G3 on Sky Temple

9/10 Two incredibly well matched opponents going at it. This series wasn’t without some mistakes on either side, but the finale was tense.

MVP Black vs Please Buff Arthas G2 on Towers of Doom

4/10 NOVA

Fnatic vs Ballistix G2 on Towers of Doom

9/10 Two fantastic teams went toe to toe on Towers of Doom. This was the first time we’ve seen Korea bleed at the Global Championship. If not for a disastrous final fight, Fnatic might have taken this game.

MVP Black vs Burning Rage G1 on Infernal Shrines

6.5/10 If you enjoy pure and utter destruction, this game is for you. MVP Black dominated from start to finish, winning the game at a near-record time of 7:16.


EsportsJohn is awaiting the day when minor regions won’t get shafted in every major esport. You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.

Road to BlizzCon: Fnatic

Fnatic celebrating after a win at Gamescom

Photo Credit: ESL

Written by: EsportsJohn


Table of Contents


Fnatic ride into BlizzCon with the momentum of a team on their first big break. 2016 has been a year full of hard work and dedication, but it’s not quite over yet. Fnatic will need to play better than ever if they hope to defeat their regional rival Dignitas or the Korean or Chinese powerhouses for a Top 4 finish. When it comes down to it, Fnatic’s inexperience on the world stage will be a huge factor in whether they can put up a good showing or go home early. In any case, Europe’s younger brother has finally grown up and now has a shot at the throne. Will they pull through?

Origins

Fnatic’s roots in the scene go all the way back to the Alpha in late 2014 with a roster headlined by former SC2 players NaNiwa and SaSe. The roster unfortunately disbanded almost immediately following their 2014 BlizzCon showmatches, but the organization decided to stay involved in the scene and a new roster was formed in January of 2015 with AceofSpades, Lowell, Fred, Shinobu, and Kesil.

Nothing of real note happened during this timespan for Fnatic, and they had a long series of transformations to undergo before they would become the championship-quality team we know today. Lukewarm results over the next few months led to changes; Fred, Shinobu, and AceofSpades left and new players Breez and Ménè were brought in. Wubby also originally joined the roster at this time, but his career would take several twists and turns before he ended up back on the team.

Fnatic’s results weren’t impressive during the 2015 Heroes World Championship (HWC) events. They placed rather poorly at the European Championship in Prague due to their relatively poor understanding of the double Warrior metagame that was in vogue and the time and missed their opportunity to go to BlizzCon 2015. Cracks began to form and an end-of-the-year roster change became necessary again.

The Fnatic we’re more familiar with was beginning to form. Kesil, Lowell, and Wubby left and the team was reformed around Breez and Ménè. Two outstanding players who managed to grab the 8th qualifying spot at Prague under the wildcard team Pirates in Pyjamas, Quackniix and Smexystyle, knew Breez from a small Swedish team they had formed together in early in their Heroes of the Storm careers. Based on the players’ surprisingly good performance in Prague, Fnatic knew these two would be good additions to the roster. To fill in the gaps, they also picked up Shad for their next major tournament, DreamHack Winter. To the surprise of everyone, the new Fnatic roster dominated DreamHack and took first place against Team Liquid, then-undisputed the king of Europe.

Fnatic wins their first trophy at DreamHack Winter 2015

Photo Credit: DreamHack

At the end of 2015, Fnatic finished strong and looked like a contender for 2016, but two other giants were also forming: Team Dignitas (formerly Bob?) and mYinsanity. Throughout 2016, these two teams would prove to be a thorn in Fnatic’s side by preventing them from reaching the Global Championship multiple times.

Fnatic’s 2016 Run

On paper, the scene in Europe this year has been characterized by a power struggle between the two regional giants mYinsanity (now Misfits) and Team Dignitas, with a score of underperforming teams in the lower echelons of play competing for a spot in the regional semifinals. There’s no doubt that Fnatic held the definitive third place spot in the region, but most of this year has been spent ping-ponging between the two giants, unable to clench a spot at the Global Championships until now.

It seems crazy to call Fnatic a “dark horse” team since they made it to the playoffs for every regional tournament. They’ve had an exceptional roster all year long and were feared by many but could never quite seize the spot for a Global Championship. In fact, ask almost any team in Europe and they will say it’s a three-way tie for the top spot.

“We consistently improve and have, for a while now. been considered Top 3 EU and at all offline events. We have had fairly good results; even though we haven’t won a regionals yet, we have always finished within Top 4.”

Quackniix

The beginning of 2015 wasn’t great for Fnatic, but Europe as a whole was in ruins. All of the top teams had just undergone Europe’s first rosterpocalypse and were testing the waters for the first time with unsteady legs. Players had been shuffled from every major team to another, and many teams were hardly recognizable after nearly restructuring the entire roster (Team Liquid, for example). It was a period of great experimentation, but it quickly became obvious at IEM Katowice that the rosterpocalypse had negatively affected the region as whole.

Fnatic’s lineup had also undergone a few changes. Ménè left and Shad was let go; flex player scHwimpi and unique tank player Atheroangel took their places. Ménè and Shad were undoubtedly some very talented players, but Fnatic’s new roster looked stronger than ever. They absolutely wrecked the regional qualifiers, in large part due to Quackniix’s new Greymane pick, and secured their spot in the European Championship.

Needless to say, the first regional at IEM Katowice was shaky for all the teams, but Fnatic appeared to have come out ahead with the roster changes. They won their group in convincing fashion but fell to the eventual champions, Dignitas, in their semifinal match. This was the first of many times that Dignitas would present themselves as a brick wall to Fnatic’s tournament progress.

Quackniix is interviewed after their group stage win at Gamescom

Photo Credit: ESL

While Dignitas and mYinsanity went off to the Spring Global Championship, Fnatic stayed behind and trained. The Summer season would prove to be a pivotal point in the shift of power, but it didn’t happen all at once. Their performance at the first European Championship in Leicester was adequate, but once again mYinsanity and Dignitas swatted them down with superior double support compositions that Fnatic was less familiar with.

Shockingly, Dignitas announced the departure of Wubby from their roster following their win at Leicester, and Fnatic was quick to scoop him up and form an all Swedish roster. The result was a huge improvement in communication since the team could shotcall in their native tongue and bond better as a team. All at once, Fnatic seemed to come into their own and pose a real threat to the top teams.

“We have had some roster swaps over the year, and every swap has lead to a better Fnatic, meaning our overall performance has just been going up as we have shown more consistency and proven to ourselves that we are a top tier team in EU.”

Quackniix

The second European Championship at DreamHack Tours resulted in Fnatic with their first finals placement in over six months. Though they fell 3-0 against mYinsanity’s flawless run through the tournament, they KO’d their group and annihilated their semifinals opponent teh89 without any real effort. It’s worth noting that Dignitas had a surprisingly poor showing at Tours by failing to even make it out of the group stage (quite possibly because AlexTheProG was still adjusting to the team), but Fnatic would prove again and again during the Fall Championship that they deserved their spot in the top two.

Valencia. Fnatic beat Dignitas to make it out of their group in first place. They 3-0’d mYinsanity in the semifinals. They then took on Dignitas again and pulled the series all the way to a game 5 in the finals. Unfortunately, they missed the championship trophy by the slimmest of margins, but the slightest of differences could have pushed the tides in their favor. At Gamescom, Fnatic brought Misfits (formerly mYinsanity) to the very brink of elimination and went on to play them again in a qualification tiebreaker (due to ESL rules). In the end, they barely eked out the win and guaranteed their spot on the world stage at BlizzCon—at long last.

Player Profiles

Breez

Breez at the European Fall Championship at Gamescom

Photo Credit: ESL

On the tank role, Pontus “Breez” Sjogren is a energetic fireball of a player. Known for his shouting onstage during games, he brings a ton of energy and enthusiasm during matches and keeps up the team momentum. If you can hear “KAEL’THAS!!” from the opposite end of the venue, you’re probably hearing Breez.

Breez is definitely one of the most aggressive tank players in Europe and never wavers when it comes to engaging in a teamfight. He has a fairly wide Hero pool, but most of the time we tend to see him on the “big three” tanks: E.T.C., Muradin, and Johanna. He’s proven that he can also play some of the nonstandard tanks like Arthas and Diablo like a champion, so nothing is out of the question. Whatever tank he’s on, expect to see him engage without hesitation when he sees an opening in the enemy’s defense and pull the trigger in teamfights.

scHwimpi

scHwimpi onstage at the European Summer Championship in Tours

Photo Credit: DreamHack

Previously on Natus Vincere during the height of their power in late 2015, Simon “scHwimpi” Svensson is Fnatic’s flex player. Generally quiet in demeanor, scHwimpi is still energetic onstage and often lets out a tremendous roar when his team wins a major teamfight. His general enthusiasm and strong morale help to raise up other players and keep them focused.

Like all flex players, scHwimpi’s Hero pool is quite wide, ranging from off-tanks to ranged Assassins to super niche picks. However, he rarely plays bruisers or melee Assassins, leaving the role to Wubby. He’s often on “toxic” Heroes like Medivh or Zagara which can be extremely obnoxious to deal with. He secretly laments playing only the most annoying Heroes and envies the melee role (says inside sources), but he’s content with his role on the team. He brings a huge amount of preparation and skill to whichever Hero he plays. At the present, he is arguably the best Abathur player in the world, rivaled only by Fan or KyoCha.

Wubby

Wubby onstage at the Summer European Championship in Tours

Photo Credit: DreamHack

As quite possibly the best mechanical player in Europe, Jonathan “Wubby” Gunnarsson is the perfect flex. He tends to specialize in melee Assassins and off-tanks, but history has shown that he can play any role including tank or support. Known as a relatively quiet person, Wubby tends to be more withdrawn than the rest of the team. Nonetheless, his entrance to the team strongly impacted the communication and camaraderie of the team positively.

Wubby is a beast on high impact melee Assassins like Zeratul or Thrall. He can quite easily carry teamfights with outstanding mechanical plays and often comes out of games as the MVP. On tanky bruisers like Leoric or Anub’arak, he matches Breez’s aggression and often puts a lot of pressure on the back line with his perfectly timed dives. Keep an eye out for this playmaker, as his gameplay will often be the most decisive factor in Fnatic’s teamfights.

Quackniix

Quackniix onstage at the European Summer Championship in Tours

Photo Credit: DreamHack

The unlikely hero of Fnatic is Dob “Quackniix” Engström. This oddball player joined Fnatic after leaving the Swedish underdog team Pirates in Pyjamas and quickly took charge as the team captain and shotcaller. On the role of ranged Assassin, he’s generally on the forefront of the metagame and has often popularized power picks.

Long thought of as a “one-trick pony” type of player (first on Falstad, then on Greymane), Quackniix has been under close scrutiny by the public eye. However, he has proven his aptitude to play any Hero he sees fit. A natural talent for gaming combined with his strong work ethic and practice regimen allow him to perfect his play on any Hero. Along with his brilliant shotcalling and focus on teamwork, Quackniix is undoubtedly one of the best overall players in Europe, maybe even the world.

Smexystyle

Smexystyle at the European Fall Championship at Gamescom

Photo Credit: ESL

The heart of the team is Filip “Smexystyle” Liljeström, often just called “Smexy” (or even just “SmX”). He is one of the most uplifting and supportive players (forgive the pun) in the Heroes scene and keeps Fnatic on track when they’re feeling down—he’s also pretty good at staring contests.

Team coach Careion cites him as very motivated and always hungry to improve. When Smexy first joined Fnatic, he was often looked upon as the weak link on the team but has since shown great improvement and become one of the best support players in Europe. Like most support players, he generally plays the most popular Heroes in the meta, but if you had to choose a signature Hero for him it would be Kharazim. During the past few months, Smexy has cultivated an impressive amount of skill on the Hero and—dare I say?—even rivals Bakery as the best Kharazim player in Europe now.

Playstyle

If there were one word to describe Fnatic’s playstyle, it would be aggressive. They are, by and large, the most aggressive team in the midst of Europe’s relatively safe, macro-heavy meta. Contrary to Misfits’ careful, calculated, long-term plays, Fnatic is never afraid to enter fights and force errors out of their opponents to gain short-term advantages. But they’ve evolved too.

During the Spring Season, this unbridled aggression was more of a weakness than a strength. They often faltered in the late game with overly aggressive plays or Core dives and found themselves in bad positions due to botched fights and poor map control.

“In the beginning, they had a very aggressive playstyle with intense rotations trying to snipe one out, always trying to force the 5v4, and sometimes being a little over-aggressive,” recalls Fnatic’s coach Careion, “like doing too much, especially when [they’re] up…and then throwing the game because [they] weren’t patient and controlled enough to wait out the game.”

Fnatic win a spot to BlizzCon at Gamescom

Photo Credit: ESL

Careion worked hard during the Summer Season to temper the team’s hasty decisions and convert their aggression into a valuable asset instead of a liability. Fnatic began to pull back their aggression and become more disciplined and more adept at controlling the pace of the game. They pulled all the pieces together and managed to develop their macro play alongside their insane mechanics in time, and now they rarely, if ever, make impulsive decisions during the late game.

When it comes to drafting, it’s more about the map than the playstyle for Quackniix. “I try to make sure that playing the map is always the center of attention,” he explained, “meaning I adapt the drafts for the map more than for a specific playstyle to make less room for failure or playstyles backfiring.” By using this top down method of drafting, Fnatic tends to play “predictably”, but they always draft the strongest overall composition.

“We have had some different playstyles over the year since you follow meta. As [the] meta changes, you just have to adapt and find your place—sometimes its aggressive dive, sometimes it’s pickoff, and sometimes it’s the slow comps that work the best.”

Quackniix

A large part of their success in the Fall Season has been the “unbeatable” composition on small maps: double Warrior, a global presence Hero (usually Falstad), solo support Tassadar, and a ranged DPS to round out the composition. With this particular setup, Fnatic took advantage of the minion changes to create an ultra-tanky composition which could brawl forever while large minion waves built up in the side lanes.

The power of this composition not only showed Fnatic’s unique ability to grab hold off the metagame and execute a strategy perfectly but also showcased their incredible improvement in terms of patience and macro play. They used the strategy much less during Gamescom, but it’s a wonderful example of how the team has evolved over the year. With double tank still very much in vogue, we can expect to see Fnatic’s trademark composition at least once during BlizzCon.

Heading Into BlizzCon

Fnatic’s road to BlizzCon began a year ago after their untimely departure in Prague. Since then, steady improvement within the roster, management, and strategy has transformed them into a force to be reckoned with. Heading into BlizzCon this year, they are expected to perform well. However, with a lack of experience on the global stage and basically no exposure to Asian teams, it will be an uphill battle.

“You can never underestimate them [the minor regions], even if it’s a region like Australia/New Zealand or South America. Even if they go out every time in the first group stage, you cannot expect it to happen the same at BlizzCon—that you will just beat them with ease. It’s not like that, you always have to prepare.”

Careion

Team coach Careion comments that the team is wary stepping onto the global stage for the first time, “You can never underestimate them [the minor regions]…that you will just beat them with ease. It’s not like that, you have to prepare.”

Quackniix celebrates after a big win at Gamescom

Photo Credit: ESL

Though Fnatic is looking at all the teams, a large part of their study is centered on their most dangerous foes: the Korean giants MVP Black and Ballistix (formerly L5). If they want to take it all the way, they’ll need to keep pace with the titans and be ready for any curve balls that get thrown at them—a tall task, no doubt.

“I hope and believe that we are working in the right direction, meaning everything we do is helping us improve and will only boost our performance continuing forward.”

Quackniix

“We have finished 2nd more than one time, showing we have what it takes. We have grown and become a lot stronger as a unit and as individuals,” Quackniix stated proudly, aware of the incredible growth that Fnatic has undergone this year. “I believe we have a chance [at BlizzCon] for sure. We just gotta make sure we spend the time well in terms of practice and preparation,” he added. Whatever the case may be, Fnatic has already proven in 2016 that their hard work and dedication pays off. Tackling BlizzCon may be a monumental task, but if any team is up to it, it’s Fnatic.


A huge thanks to Quackniix and Careion for carrying me through some of the team details! Thank you for bearing with me during the delay on this article! It was great meeting and talking to both of you, and I hope Fnatic does great at BlizzCon!


EsportsJohn has no idea what will be unveiled at BlizzCon after the 2017 HGC League was announced. Any ideas? You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.

Camino a BlizzCon: un equipo renace [ES]

Reborn lifts the trophy at the ANZ regional final

Artículo original en Inglés: Road to BlizzCon: A Team Reborn

Traducido por: Saghmare

Tabla de contenido


Provenientes desde muy abajo. Los chicos australianos están de vuelta en acción. Después de separarse y someterse a varios cambios en su alineación, la mayoría de los antiguos miembros de Negative Synergy se han vuelto a unir bajo el nuevo nombre de Reborn para su tercera aparición en un Global Championship – y esta vez, se ven más fuertes que nunca.

Orígenes

Su historia inicia a mediados del 2015 con robadobah, justo después de que Heroes of the Storm fuese lanzado. Team Inmunity era el nombre más grande en los e-sports de la región Australia-Nueva Zelanda (ANZ) y eventualmente adoptaron dos alineaciones: White y Black. En ese tiempo robadobah jugaba en White mientras que daspurtz jugaba en la alineación de Black. White arraso a a través de los clasificatorios Road to Blizzcon del 2015 pero se detuvieron en seco en el Americas Championship 2015. Sin embargo, robadobah no se daría por vencido, había probado la escena internacional y estaba sediento de más.

Durante la calma post-BlizzCon, robadobah y su actual compañero de equipo Sashin iniciarían su búsqueda de crear el “Dream Team” de la región ANZ reclutando a los mejores jugadores bajo un solo nombre. Su primer objetivo fue Daspurtz, quien se había retirado brevemente después de la derrota de Inmunity Black durante los clasificatorios de BlizzCon. Enseguida otro gran nombre de la región Exile5 repentinamente se disolvería dejando a dos de los mejores jugadores flex sin equipo y en espera de ser reclutados, Benjamin94 y Ninja. Una vez que las aguas se calmaron, robadobah pudo cumplir su meta de reunir a lo mejor de lo mejor.

“La primera noche que practicamos con la alineación completa, estuvimos a la altura del nombre “Sinergia Negativa” (Negative Synergy) ya que peleamos y estuvimos en desacuerdo en todo. Pero lo resistimos y logramos llegar a los campeonatos de Primavera y Verano.”

-Benjamin94

Las cosas no marcharon bien al principio – Benjamin94 comenta que las primeras veces que jugaron juntos “peleaban y estaban en desacuerdo en todo”- pero el equipo rápidamente empezó a tomar impulso. Medio año después, Negative Synergy había diezmado sin esfuerzo toda la competencia en ANZ y aterrizarían dos veces en la escena global.

Ejecución y reformación de Negative Synergy en 2016

Durante la temporada de primavera, Negative Synergy paso fácilmente los clasificatorios regionales con un récord total de 15-1. Sin embargo su dominio no se traducía tan bien en la escena global. Fallaron en pasar la primera fase de grupos con una puntuación 2-4 en el campeonato global de primavera en Seúl, Corea del Sur. Tuvieron una fuerte actuación en contra del equipo filipino Renovatio 1 pero fueron aplastados por EDward Gaming y Team Naventic en sus mejores momentos. Esto no fue algo inusual- ningún equipo de región menor ha podido vencer a las regiones mayores, más sin embargo fue decepcionante.

Negative Synergy at the Heroes of the Storm Spring Global Championship

La temporada de verano fue aun peor. Dejando de lado el hecho de que quedaran invictos durante los clasificatorios regionales, se comenzaron a formar grietas en la alineación de Negative Synergy. “Era bastante obvio… en su actuación en Suecia- se percibieron peores resultados que en Corea”, comentó Arcaner, miembro de Reborn. En el campeonato global, tuvieron unos juegos muy osados en contra de X-Team y Renovatio 1 y fueron sacados en la fase de grupos 1-4. Después de una actuación tan pobre, estaba claro que se necesitaban algunos cambios.

“Básicamente, como cualquier equipo de e-sports , Negative Synergy tuvo problemas internos durante toda la temporada de verano de HotS… así que después de que regresaron de Suecia, todos se separaron y esencialmente se volvieron agentes libres. Negative Synergy ya no existía de este punto en delante.”

-Arcaner

El equipo se separó completamente después de volver del Summer Global Championship, creando un pequeño apocalipsis de alineaciones en ANZ. Se empezaron a construir muchos nuevos equipos alrededor de los antiguos miembros de Negative Synergy, incluyendo uno centrado en robadobah, Sashin y el jugador flex Arcaner. Sin embargo nada parecía mantenerse firme. La mayoría de los equipos tuvieron actuaciones decepcionantes en los torneos regionales King of the Hill y los antiguos compañeros de Negative Synergy empezaron a gravitar hasta estar juntos de nuevo.

Al final, todos excepto por Sashin terminaron reunidos. El equipo probaría a Arcaner para el rol de jugador flex y este demostró ser más que capaz de cubrir el lugar de Sashin. Pese a jugar asesinos en sus equipos anteriores, Arcaner admitió tener interés en otros roles también: “mi rol principal y favorito cuando juego solo es soporte… puedo cubrir un montón de Héroes jaja.” El equipo adopto un nuevo nombre -The Boys- para conmemorar su amistad grupal.

“Un nombre muy elaborado lleva a callejones sin salida jaja. Es algo para lo que no somos muy talentosos por lo que solo nos apegamos a lo que creíamos que representaba la atmósfera del equipo. Terminamos con la oportunidad de cambiarlo a Reborn, que seria suficiente para un equipo profesional de HotS. The Boys era demasiado informal.”

–Arcaner

Durante las siguientes semanas, The Boys tomaron los torneos regionales por sorpresa y se veían tan fuertes, si no es que más, que el original Negative Synergy. Después de que se anunciaron los clasificatorios Road to Finals, The Boyz decidió cambiar su nombre a Reborn para tener un titulo más profesional y al mismo tiempo más acorde a ellos. Sashin empezó a reconstruir Negative Synergy con una nueva alineación y pronto los dos equipos se volverían rivales.

Los clasificatorios Road to Finals fueron relativamente sencillos para Reborn. Solo perdieron un juego en contra de Negative Synergy antes de reencontrarse cara a cara en la final. Fue una pelea decente, pero la resistente fuerza mecánica de Reborn subyugo al renovado Negative Synergy y catapulto a los dos veces contendientes mundiales a la escena global una vez más.

Perfiles de los jugadores

robadobah

robadobah at DreamHack Summer

En el rol de tanque, Robert Purling “robadobah” es una roca para anclar al equipo. Es el alma, y a menudo es la voz de la razón para mantener la agresión de sus compañeros de equipo a raya. Si el equipo comienza a fallar, las palabras de robadobah son las que los mantienen tranquilos y unidos.

Se inclina a un enfoque más cauteloso y oportunista de las peleas en equipo, pero no tiene miedo de sumergirse en lo profundo si es necesario. Tiene un muy flexible repertorio de héroes. Su elección, desde la presencia constante de Johanna hasta el potencial de enganches de Anub’arak, marca el ritmo para que el equipo lo siga.

Benjamin94

Benjamin94 at DreamHack Summer

Si robadobah es una roca, entonces Benjamin Vinante-Davies “Benjamin94” es el pegamento que mantiene todo unido. El es el líder del equipo tanto dentro como fuera del juego, guiándolos a la victoria. Pese a que Reborn no tiene un shotcaller designado, los jugadores apuntan a que el sea quien tome las decisiones para el equipo.

Benjamin94 no tuvo mucho éxito durante el 2015 como algunos otros jugadores, pero su desorbitante flexibilidad finalmente rindió frutos y fue apreciada en Negative Synergy. Usualmente juega el rol de tanque secundario o asesino melé para Reborn pero su gran repertorio lo lleva a adaptarse a literalmente cualquier composición. Juega una atemorizante Kerrigan, pero no tiene miedo de llegar a los personajes más elásticos como Tassadar o Sylvanas para llenar espacios vacíos.

Daspurtz

Daspurtz at DreamHack Summer

Photo Credit: DreamHack

La linea trasera se mantiene unida por Zac Peters “Daspurtz” en el rol de soporte. En la región ANZ, el ha sido aplaudido como el mejor jugador soporte por mucho. Pese a que el equipo es muy defensivo, es el experto posicionamiento y la meticulosa distribución de habilidades de Daspurtz lo que gana las peleas de equipo.

Como muchos jugadores de soporte, es difícil concretar un héroe principal para Daspurtz. Es bueno con Uther, es bueno con Rehgar, es bueno con Alafeliz, incluso con Auriel. No hay nada en particular en lo que sea malo– el solo los juega todos, y lo hace con un gran nivel de precisión y paciencia.

Arcaner

Arcaner at the ANZ Fall season regional qualifiers

En el lugar de Sachin, Liam Simpson “Arcaner” ha sido un reemplazo -incluso una mejora- en términos de sinergia del equipo. El no tiene la misma agresividad desenfrenada, pero su estilo de juego peculiar y ataques fuera de lo común lo diferencian de la actitud más relajada de sus compañeros de equipo.

Los dedos de Arcaner son rápidos y su mente es aguda; por esto, el puede cubrir una gran variedad de roles en el lapso de una sola serie. En sus equipos anteriores (Fresh y Gust in 5), el típicamente jugaba como asesino del equipo, pero el admite que su preferencia son los soportes. El esta cómodo en muchos héroes de impacto incluyendo a Zagara, Illidan y Tracer, pero no le importa irse atrás y permitir que Ninja o Benjamin94 tomen la iniciativa.

Ninja

Ninja at DreamHack Summer

El engrane más peculiar en la máquina de Reborn es el jugador de rango Shane Ellem “Ninja”. Su enfoque en el macro juego y manejo de oleadas hace maravillas para pescar la ventaja incremental del equipo y hace su estilo de juego único. La manera en que juega es la misma que cualquier otro DPS de rango pero con una mentalidad diferente.

Es mejor conocido por su sobresaliente juego con Falstad. La presencia global de Falstad es una de sus fortalezas y le permite controlar el ritmo del juego; además de eso, casi nunca desperdicia el uso de las ráfagas imponentes. Recientemente, se dio a conocer como un muy creativo Medivh lo que le ha dado atención y que sera algo para tener en cuenta.

Estilo de juego

Para la reformada alineación, unidad es lo mas importante. “Pienso que lo que hace especial a Reborn es que sentamos bases en la amistad,” dijo Arcaner respecto al equipo “somos un equipo de, mecánicamente buenos jugadores que disfrutamos de la compañía de todos especialmente fuera de la practica del equipo,” añadió ademas.

En una conversación con el conocido caster de ANZ Disconcur, estuvo en acuerdo e hizo notar que los lazos de mucho tiempo son lo que ha mantenido al equipo unido durante casi dos años. Lo que sea que pase en BlizzCon, la alineación de Reborn es una de las mas cohesivas en el mundo y se mantendrán tranquilos bajo la presión.

En general, el estilo de juego del equipo puede considerarse defensivo o pasivo con un enfoque en las pequeñas ventajas marginales. Ellos rara vez se precipitan en las peleas por el bien de la lucha y están mas que dispuestos a permitir que un objetivo o una estructura se vaya con el fin de intercambiar una ventaja mas grande, pero eso no quiere decir que no tengan lo necesario para respaldar sus peleas en equipo.

El equipo en su conjunto tiene bastante conocimiento mecánico. Arcaner alardeo que “tienen una ventaja mecánica sobre varios equipos internacionales”, incluyendo equipos de NA, muchas de las regiones pequeñas e incluso, la potencia de EU Fnatic. Sin embargo las mecánicas no lo son todo.

“Pero las mecánicas te llevan lejos. Nuestra debilidad es que apenas practicamos en comparación con las otras regiones. Tenemos extensos compromisos de la vida real y nos limitan en términos de opciones y bloques de practicas en ANZ. Los demás equipos que irán a BlizzCon harán muchos juegos de practica por lo que tendrán una ventaja sobre nosotros en ese aspecto.”

-Arcaner

Como en otras regiones menores, el sueño de ser un jugador profesional de tiempo completo es distante para los jugadores de ANZ. El dinero y la exposición son difíciles de conseguir a través de videojugar, y las buenas opciones de practicas están limitadas para su remota ubicación en el mundo. “Creo que tenemos algunos problemas con nuestras opciones de practica, shotcalling, macro, etc. Los otros equipos podrán bisar juegos de practica, así que ellos tienen una ventaja sobre nosotros en ese aspecto”, lamento Arcaner. Pese a tener la ventaja mecánica, Reborn tendrá una dura batalla contra los equipos bien preparados en BlizzCon.

Dirigiéndose a BlizzCon

Sin embargo, el equipo permanece optimista. Dentro de los equipos de regiones menores que irán a la BlizzCon, Reborn sienten que son sin duda el mejor. Se sienten seguros y que tienen una fuerte posibilidad contra algunas de las principales regiones del mundo.

No hay duda en que Corea es mas fuerte de lo que nunca ha sido, pero muchas de las otras grandes regiones han decaído un poco. Dos de los equipos mas fuertes y mas consistentes de NA durante todo el año, no irán a BlizzCon -aunque eso no quiere decir que Murloc Geniuses y Denial eSports no sean suficientes para representar NA- y los grandes equipos de China, eStar y EDG, se fragmentaron en prácticamente nada.

Robadobah at DreamHack Summer

Photo Credit: DreamHack

”Pienso que tenemos mejores jugadores que Denial, Murloc Geniuses, Super Perfect Team, los demás en las regiones menores y tal vez Fnatic,” afirmo orgullosamente Arcaner. Benjamin94 también esta confiado asegurando ”definitivamente podemos llegar a una posición en los mejores 8 si jugamos tan bien como sabemos hacerlo, pero también los cuadros tendrán un gran rol en ello”. Incluso Disconcur dio su voto de confianza a que la región ANZ llegara a los mejores 8, o incluso los mejores 4. “Somos considerados la peor región después del Summer Championship… los equipos no nos verán ni aprenderán de lo que hacemos,” añadió Benjamin94, haciendo alusión a la posibilidad de sorprender a los equipos mas fuertes. En conjunto, tanto el equipo como la región confían en su juego, pero solo los resultados van a darles la razón.

“Nadie espera nada de nosotros, por lo que se sentirá muy bien vencer a algunos equipos muy buenos de las regiones mas avanzadas y mostrarles, ya sabes, que somos buenos jugadores”

robadobah

Esa es la voluntad que llevo desde Road to BlizzCon 2015 para vencer a las regiones mayores y probar que ANZ es un legitimo competidor en la escena mundial. Esa fue la luz que guio a robadobah, lo convenció de formar un “súper equipo”, y que mantiene a los chicos juntos pese a una ruptura. Ahora es el momento para que Australia brille.


Gracias enormemente a Arcaner, Benjamin94 y Disconcur por permitirme hablar con ellos y ayudarme a aprender mas acerca de la región ANZ. Sin ellos, este articulo no habría sido posible.

Road to BlizzCon: A Team Reborn

Reborn lifts the trophy at the ANZ regional final

Written by: EsportsJohn

Table of Contents


Hailing from down under, the Australian boys are back in action. After disbanding and undergoing various roster changes, the majority of former Negative Synergy members have reformed under the new moniker Reborn for their third Global Championship appearance—and this time, they’re looking stronger than ever.

Origins

The story starts in mid 2015 with robadobah, just after Heroes of the Storm was released. Team Immunity was the biggest name in Australia-New Zealand (ANZ) esports and eventually fostered two rosters: White and Black. At the time, robadobah played on White while Daspurtz played opposite of him on Black. White blazed through the 2015 Road to BlizzCon qualifiers but were stopped short at the Americas Championship. Nonetheless, robadobah was not deterred; he had tasted the international stage and was thirsty for more.

During the post-BlizzCon lull, robadobah and current teammate Sashin set out to create the ANZ “Dream Team” by collecting all of the best players under one banner. They first scooped up Daspurtz, who had briefly retired after Immunity Black’s loss in the BlizzCon qualifiers. Then the other big name in the region Exile5 suddenly disbanded and left two of the best flex players, Benjamin94 and Ninja, teamless and ripe for the picking. When the dust settled, robadobah had fulfilled his goal of gathering together the best of the best.

“The very first night that we scrimmed with our team line up, we lived up to our name Negative Synergy and we fought and disagreed with everything ;p. But we stuck it out and managed to make it to both Spring and Summer Championships.”

-Benjamin94

Things didn’t go so smoothly at first—Benjamin comments that the first time they played together they “fought and disagreed with everything”—but the team quickly began to pick up momentum. Half a year later, Negative Synergy had almost effortlessly decimated all other competition in ANZ and landed themselves on the global stage twice.

Negative Synergy’s 2016 Run and Reformation

During the Spring Season, Negative Synergy breezed through the regional qualifiers with an overall record of 15-1. However, their dominance did not translate as well to the global stage. They failed to make it out of the First Group Stage with a record of 2-4 at the Spring Global Championship in Seoul, South Korea. They had a strong showing against Filipino team Renovatio I but got smashed by EDward Gaming and Team Naventic at their primes. This wasn’t an unusual trend—none of the minor regions could take games off of major regions, but it was disappointing nonetheless.

Negative Synergy at the Heroes of the Storm Spring Global Championship

Summer Season went even worse. Despite going completely undefeated in the regional qualifiers, cracks began to form in the Negative Synergy roster. “It was quite obvious…in their Sweden performance—noticeably worse than their results in Korea,” commented Reborn flex player Arcaner. At the Global Championship, they played reckless, sloppy games against X-Team and Renovatio I and got knocked out of the group stage 1-4. After such a poor showing, it was clear that some changes needed to be made.

“Basically, like any esports team, Negative Synergy had been having some internal issues throughout the entire summer season of HotS…so after the team returned from Sweden, everyone sort of parted ways and essentially became free agents. Negative Synergy didn’t exist at that point and forward into the next few weeks.”

-Arcaner

The team split completely after coming back from the Summer Global Championship, creating a little Rosterpocalypse in ANZ. Several new teams developed around the former members of Negative Synergy, including one centered around robadobah, Sashin, and top flex player Arcaner. Nonetheless, nothing seemed to hold firm. Most of the teams had disappointing performances in King of the Hill regional tournaments, and the former Negative Synergy teammates began to gravitate back together.

In the end, everyone except Sashin (robadobah, ninja, Benjamin94, and Daspurtz) ended up back together. The team tried out Arcaner for the flex role, and he proved to be more than capable of filling Sashin’s shoes. Despite playing Assassins on previous teams, Arcaner admitted that he had interest in other roles too: “My main and favourite role whenever I’m a free agent is support…I can cover a lot of Heroes haha.” The team also assumed a new name—The Boys—to commemorate their group camaraderie.

“Brainstorming a team name always presents itself with dead ends haha. It’s not something we are talented at so we just latched on to what we thought represented the team’s atmosphere. We ended up having to change [The Boys] to Reborn so we would suffice as a professional HotS team. ‘The Boys’ was a bit too casual.”

-Arcaner

Over the next few weeks, The Boys took regional tournaments by storm and looked just as strong, if not stronger, than the original Negative Synergy. After the Road the Finals qualifiers were announced, The Boys decided to change their name to Reborn for a more “professional”—and at the same time, very fitting—title. Sashin began rebuilding Negative Synergy with a new roster as well, and soon the two teams would become rivals in the scene.

The Road to Finals qualifier was a fairly straightforward affair for Reborn. They dropped only a single game (to Negative Synergy) before coming face to face with their rivals again in the finals. It was a decent fight, but the sheer mechanical strength of Reborn’s roster overpowered the revamped Negative Synergy and catapulted the two-time world contenders back onto the global stage yet again.

Player Profiles

robadobah

robadobah at DreamHack Summer

On the tank role, Robert “robadobah” Purling is a rock for the team to anchor onto. He’s the soul of the team and often lends the voice of reason to keep his teammate’s aggression in check. If the team begins to falter, it’s robadobah’s words that keep them calm and collected.

He tends toward a more cautious and opportunistic approach to teamfights but isn’t afraid to dive in deep if necessary. Like many of the other players on Reborn, he has a very flexible Hero pool. His choice, from the steadfast presence of Johanna to the engagement potential of Anub’arak, sets the pace for the team to follow.

Benjamin94

Benjamin94 at DreamHack Summer

If robadobah is a rock, then Benjamin “Benjamin94” Vinante-Davies is the glue that holds everything together. He’s the team leader both in and out of the game, guiding them to victory. Though Reborn doesn’t have a designated shotcaller, many of the players point to him as the decision maker for the team.

Benjamin didn’t have as much success in 2015 as some of the other players, but his insane flexibility finally came to fruition and was appreciated on Negative Synergy. He typically plays the role of a secondary tank or melee Assassin on Reborn, but his huge Hero pool gives him room to adapt to literally any composition. He plays a terrifying Kerrigan but he’s not afraid to break out more elastic characters like Tassadar or Sylvanas to fill in any gaps.

Daspurtz

Daspurtz at DreamHack Summer

Photo Credit: DreamHack

The back line is held together by Zac “Daspurtz” Peters on the support role. In the ANZ region, he is often lauded as the best support player by far. Though the team plays rather defensively, it’s Daspurtz’s expert positioning and meticulous timing on his abilities that wins teamfights.

Like many support players, it’s hard to nail down a signature Hero for Daspurtz. He’s good on Uther, he’s good on Rehgar, he’s good on Brightwing, even Auriel. There’s nothing he’s particularly bad at—he just plays them all, and he does so with a high level of precision and patience.

Arcaner

Arcaner at the ANZ Fall season regional qualifiers

In lieu of Sashin, Liam “Arcaner” Simpson has been an apt replacement—even an improvement—in terms of team synergy. He doesn’t have the same unbridled aggression, but his quirky playstyle and offbeat attacks set him apart from the more relaxed, laid back attitude of his teammates.

Arcaner’s fingers are quick and his mind is sharp; as such, he can flex a huge variety of roles within the span of a single series. On his previous teams (Fresh and Gust in 5), he typically played the team’s Assassin, but he admits that his preference goes toward supports. He’s comfortable on many impact Heroes including Zagara, Illidan, and Tracer, but he doesn’t mind taking the backseat and allowing Ninja or Benjamin to take the lead either.

Ninja

Ninja at DreamHack Summer

The most peculiar cog in Reborn’s machine is ranged player Shane “Ninja” Ellem. His focus on the macro game and wave management does wonders for nabbing the incremental advantage for his team and makes his playstyle unique. It’s like he plays the same way as every other ranged carry, but with a completely different mindset.

He’s best known for his outstanding Falstad play. Falstad’s global presence plays into his strengths and allows him to control the pace of the game; on top of that, he almost never uses Gust foolishly. Recently, he also unveiled a creative Medivh pick which has turned some heads, so that will be something to look out for.

Playstyle

For the reformed roster, unity is the most important thing. “I think what is special about Reborn is we are based upon friendship,” said Arcaner about the team. “[We’re] [j]ust a team of great mechanical players who all get along and enjoy each other’s company especially outside of scrims and team practice,” he added.

In a conversation with well-known ANZ caster Disconcur, he agreed and noted the long-running bonds that have held the team together for almost two full years. Whatever may happen at BlizzCon, Reborn’s roster is one of the most cohesive in the world and will stay cool under pressure.

Overall, the team’s playstyle can be considered defensive or passive with a focus on small, marginal advantages. They’re unlikely to rush into fights for the sake of fighting, and they’re more than willing to let an objective or a structure go in order to trade for a greater advantage. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have the chops to back up their teamfights.

The team as a whole is quite mechanically proficient. Arcaner boasted that they “have a mechanical advantage over quite a few international teams” including NA teams, many of the small regions, and even EU powerhouse Fnatic. However, mechanics aren’t everything.

“But mechanics only get you so far. Our weaknesses is that we barely practice compared to the other regions. We have extensive real life commitments and are weighed down and limited in terms of scrim options and scrim block times in ANZ. The other teams going to BlizzCon will be spamming practice games so they’ll all have an advantage over us in that aspect.”

-Arcaner

Like in other minor regions, the dream of becoming a full-time progamer is a distant one for ANZ players. Money and exposure are hard to come by via gaming, and good practice options are limited by their remote location in the world. “I think we have a few issues with our scrim options, shot calling, macro, etc. The other teams will be spamming practice games, so they’ll all have an advantage over us in that aspect,” laments Arcaner. Despite having the mechanical advantage, Reborn will be fighting an uphill battle against the well-practiced and well-prepared teams at BlizzCon.

Heading Into BlizzCon

Nevertheless, the team remains optimistic. Out of the minor region teams going to BlizzCon, Reborn feels that they are hands down the best. They feel confident against them and believe they even have a strong chance against some of the major regions as well.

There’s no doubt that Korea is the strongest it’s ever been, but many of the other major regions have fallen from grace. Two of North America’s strongest and most consistent teams throughout the year will not be at BlizzCon—though that’s not to say that Murloc Geniuses and Denial eSports won’t represent NA well—and China’s greatest teams, eStar and EDG, have all but splintered into nothing.

Robadobah at DreamHack Summer

Photo Credit: DreamHack

“I think that we are better players than Denial, Murloc Geniuses, Super Perfect Team, the other small regions, and maybe Fnatic,” Arcaner stated proudly. Benjamin is also confident, stating, “[W]e definitely can get a top 8 position if we play as well as I know we can, but also, the bracket will play a major role in that.” Even Disconcur gave his vote of confidence for the ANZ region making it to the top 8, even the top 4. “We were considered the worst region based on the Summer Championship…teams won’t look into our team and learn what we do,” Benjamin added, hinting at a chance to blindside some of the stronger teams. As a whole, the team and the region are confident in their play, but only results will prove them right.

“No one expects us to do anything, so it would just feel great to beat some really good teams from the more advanced regions and really show that, you know, we’re good players.”

robadobah

There is the drive going all the way back to the Road to BlizzCon 2015 to beat the major regions and prove the ANZ region is a legitimate competitor on the world stage. It was the light that guided robadobah, convinced him to make a “super team”, and held the boys together through a breakup. Now it’s time for Australia to shine.


Huge thanks to Arcaner, Benjamin94, and Disconcur for chatting with me and helping me learn more about the ANZ region. Without them, this article would not be possible!


EsportsJohn is obsessed with The Lizzie Borden Chronicles right now. You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.