Esports Victors Rise at BlizzCon
From the panel discussions to the rekindled connections between Blizzard players, the best of the Blizzard community was on display at BlizzCon this weekend. And esports did its part too.
The new esports elite cut through their respective fields of competitors for one of the most thrilling slates of esports competitions in BlizzCon history. There were emotional upsets, feel-good stories from players exceeding expectations, and classic battles between proven icons throughout the two days of action at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Join us in congratulating the players who put in the preparation and put on an entertaining show for the tens of thousands in attendance and the millions watching around the world online.
Winning team: Grimestreet Grifters
After two days of frenetic and varied play among the 12 community personalities, the Grimestreet Grifters—comprised of Andrey 'Reynad' Yanyuk, Hakjun 'Kranich' Baek, and Pathra Cadness—emerged victorious. The teams fought through a round-robin stage that included both the Wild and Standard formats, as well as the unique Excavated Treasures deck building challenge and the new Dungeon Run feature from Hearthstone's upcoming expansion, Kobolds & Catacombs. The best-of-11 finals saw the format of each game drawn from a sealed envelope, and players were individually eliminated from the stage until the Grifters claimed the trophy 6-5 over the Chillblade Crusaders.
An extremely close series came down to the wire as Kranich alone came back from a 4-1 deficit to stabilize into a one-on-one match against David 'Dog' Caera. On match point, Dog fought back to force a game 11—but it wasn't enough to overcome the final boss, and Kranich closed out the full-length series with a 5-1 record alone on stage.
Speaking on-stage on behalf of his team after their victory, Kranich said, "I just really wanted to win. Our team was down, and I was pretty desperate—I really wanted to prove to myself that I could come back from that situation, and it worked, so I'm just so happy."
StarCraft Remastered Ultimate Title Fight
What’s interesting is that, though Lee 'Jaedong' Jae Dong and Kim 'Bisu' Taek Yong’s lengthy careers largely overlapped, they hardly ever played each other outside of team leagues. That changed when the two StarCraft legends met in the Ultimate Title Fight, a best-of-five showmatch with $25,000 on the line.
Jaedong was widely considered the underdog in the match, due to his battles with health problems and Bisu’s strong performances in recent South Korean tournaments.
Bisu got off to a strong start, beating Jaedong in the first two games. His mechanics were impeccable, and his harassment moves, like a Dark Templar drop in Game 2 that devastated Jaedong’s main base, proved too much for the Zerg legend to handle. Down 0-2, Jaedong dug in his heels, and managed to win two consecutive games through scrappy aggression in the opening minutes. In the fifth and final game, Bisu seemed to get a read on Jaedong’s aggressive strategy, and managed to hold him off to take the series 3-2.
Overwatch World Cup
Winning team: South Korea
When the top eight nations arrived in Anaheim for the 2017 Overwatch World Cup, no-one could have predicted that the majority of the matches would have enough action and skill to be worthy of championship matches unto themselves. The Overwatch Arena at BlizzCon was filled to the brim. Spectators lined up and watched in overflow areas, standing beside an Overwatch World Cup jersey store where all Team USA jerseys were sold out before the end of day one.
The love for the local team was palpable, and when the USA took on South Korea in their quarterfinal matchup, the energy of the crowd pushed them to fight harder than the 1-3 score line would suggest. Team France rode on the wings of their passionate fanbase to soar over the powerful Team China. The French later fell to Team Sweden in the Bronze Medal match, but not without a fight. The Canadians fought back from 0-2 to reverse sweep Team Australia, and took out the Swedes in the semifinal, pushing the roster of the Great White North into the finals.
South Korea was always the final boss here at BlizzCon, and Canada fought valiantly – even claiming a map. But in the end, the story finished as expected. Although they looked vulnerable for the first time, and they were far from perfect, Team South Korea emerged as back-to-back Overwatch World Cup Champions.
World of Warcarft Arena World Championship
Winning team: ABC
In another Europe vs North America grand final, ABC tacked on a glorious fourth year to the European dynasty in the World of Warcraft Arena World Championship. Tensions ran high in the final series, and the crowd cheered heavily in favor of Panda Global, but their energy was just not enough to pull the last remaining North American team through—not even once.
This was one of the most decisive grand final matches we’ve ever seen at BlizzCon, with ABC streamrolling Panda Global 4-0 in the best-of-seven series to hand the World of Warcraft Arena World Championship to Alex ‘Alec’ Sheldrick, Kristoffer ‘Asgarath’ Wilhelmsen, Niki ‘Niksi’ Hietala, and Maxime ‘Cara’ Montesquieu.
ABC surprised themselves as well as everyone else with their upset victory with Asgararth telling the BlizzCon crowd: “We had no expectations coming into this tournament. It was my first BlizzCon, and I still can’t believe we won!”
Heroes of the Storm Global Championship Finals
Winning team: MVP Black
MVP Black and Fnatic met in the final match of the HGC Finals after both teams moved past the semis with 3-0 wins. These two teams were seemingly destined to clash in the endgame at BlizzCon after Fnatic defeated MVP Black in the semifinals of last year’s Fall Championship.
The energy in the hall was pointed, with the crowd and competing players alike bursting into celebration with every kill, objective capture, and narrow escape. When the dust settled it was MVP Black standing tall over the Swedish powerhouse with a 3-1 victory after a barnburner of a final Battleground on Tomb of the Spider Queen. Fnatic used an isolation strategy that hung on the synergy between Stitches’ Gorge and Medivh’s Portal. After the Korean’s dominated the early game, Fnatic struck back-taking multiple forts. However, in the final moments of the game it was MVP Black who were able to secure a kill on Stitches and push towards the Core. MVP Black’s unwavering determination and dedication to their craft was enough to secure them their first trophy at BlizzCon.
StarCraft II World Championship Series Global Finals
The World Championship Series (WCS) Global Finals have ended, and a new world champion for 2017 has been decided. Lee ‘Rogue’ Byung Ryul has had an incredible second half of the year, but today he really stepped it up to achieve the title of best StarCraft II player in the world by besting Eo 'soO' Yoon Su 4-2 in the grand final.
While he’s been a solid player since his days playing Brood War, Rogue really made a name for himself starting at this year’s Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) tournament in Shanghai back in July. There he took out top Korean players Kim ‘herO’ Joon Ho, ‘ByuN’ Hyun Woo, Park ‘Dark’ Ryung Woo, Kim ‘Stats’ Dae Yeob, and Koh ‘GuMiho’ Byung Jae to earn his first premier championship ever. To follow that, he faced the gauntlet yet again at the Global StarCraft II League (GSL) Super Tournament 2 in October. He did battle with Cho ‘Maru’ Seong Ju, Baek ‘Dear’ Dong Jun, and Lee ‘INnoVation’ Shin Hyung before facing herO yet again in the finals. Just like IEM Shanghai and here at BlizzCon, he was herO’s kryptonite.
With two championship titles already under his belt in 2017, he arrived on the global stage at BlizzCon as a favorite to win the whole tournament. He was less than confident in his chances. “I didn’t expect I’d be able to win,” he says. “But now that I’ve been here and I’ve seen how to win, expect to see me again next year.” His uncertainty is understandable since he barely beat out Kim ‘sOs’ Yoo Jin to make it into the eighth and final spot in the global playoffs. But once he got warmed up in the round of 16, he showed us all that he definitely deserves the title of World Champion.
A tip of the hat to all of the competitors and winners who made the esports competitions such a memorable piece of the BlizzCon experience.