June North America Open Round of 8 -- Meet the Teams
Business as Usual
Last weekend, we began our journey on the Road to BlizzCon with the first rounds of the June North American Open, a single-elimination bracket that saw 90 teams battle it out until only eight remained. With the brutality only a bracket can bring, the wheat was separated from the chaff—with those left standing representing some of the best teams across Canada and the United States.
This is the first step on a path that could take one of these teams to the Americas Championship, where teams will then battle for a chance at competing at BlizzCon. With Cloud9 Maelstrom, Cloud9 Vortex, Zeveron, compLexity Gaming, and Tempo Storm ready to duke it out, 2ARC Gaming may be the only big-name squad out of North America to miss out on this weekend’s festivities.
Pool Plato Some Tangos, Team Blaze, and The PLEYZ arrive as newcomers, though many of the players that comprise these teams have been competing for the last year—KingPlato and Apauloh had a top four finish at the inaugural Heroes of the Dorm collegiate tournament representing Boston College. Beginning June 20, these teams will attempt to capture a coveted spot in the Americas Championship, where a shot at the biggest stage in Heroes of the Storm—BlizzCon 2015—and immortality awaits.
Like their sister team Cloud9 Vortex, the Maelstrom lineup has a serious pedigree in Heroes competition and features four members that saw the limelight in last year’s BlizzCon showcase. Solid since February of this year, the single most defining aspect of this roster is aggression. With a style that drafts teams that appear fairly standard at the outset, they play in a way that brings the fight to their opponent at every opportunity and typically prefer compositions that aim to win big team fights around the level 16–20 mark. Once widely considered the hottest team in America, Cloud9 Maelstrom recently lost to Tempo Storm in both the WCA Qualifiers and the ESL Heroes Major League finals. They will be looking to recapture glory in the North America Open.
One of the newer teams to reach the top echelon of Heroes play, Zeveron has become a staple of weekly competitions. They recently cemented themselves as contenders with a Top 4 finish in the WCA NA Qualifier in May and several strong finishes in Go4Heroes Cups. Led by madtimmy, who cut his teeth in the old Symbiote Gaming during their time as top dogs, Zeveron is known for strong drafting and good team execution. The core is rounded out by Faye, who represented Evil Geniuses in last year’s BlizzCon event, and CauthonLuck, who has enjoyed time in several top organizations including Cloud9 Vortex and EG. If you follow StarCraft II, you may also remember him from strong runs in 2010, and older Super Smash Bros. followers may remember his days as the first notable Pikachu main.
Led by reigning BlizzCon champion Bobbyhankhill and featuring Heroes of the Dorm winner Fan, the Vortex squad is no stranger to competition. After a spring playing catch-up to their sister Cloud9 squad, their recent results include sending their counterparts at Maelstrom to the lower bracket at the ESL Heroes Major League finals. This showed Vortex is still one of the most fearsome teams in their part of the globe. Often drafting lineups that center around Fan’s Zeratul or Illidan, they seek to grind out an advantage through clever rotation and then establish a strong mid-game presence by controlling the map.
The former Barrel Boys have the backing of one of the longest-running organizations in the region in compLexity Gaming. Known for their highly confident attitude that includes them trying drafts comprising little-seen heroes like Gazlowe or Murky in practice, they have enjoyed a few short periods as the team to beat. compLexity Gaming’s Titan Arena II win where they knocked out Tempo Storm followed by Cloud9 Maelstrom stands out.
Pool Plato Some Tangos
The June Open has a trio of newcomers between Pool Plato Some Tangos, Team Blaze, and The PLEYZ. Of these three, PPST has more appearances in smaller amateur weeklies than their counterparts. Captain Apauloh and KingPlato know the experience of high-pressure play as well, with their top four run in the Heroes of the Dorm collegiate tournament with Boston College.
A group of mostly fresh faces, Team Blaze enters the Round of 8 fresh off a win against Evil Jiniuses, a team comprised of celebrated StarCraft players. Perhaps fueled by the prospect of taking down champions, Team Blaze made it look easy as they went 2–0, never relinquishing control of the series. Unafraid to try double-warrior compositions, Blaze likes running Anub’arak, along with the likes of Muradin or Tyrael, and having him serve as the beetle master.
The PLEYZ may be a newer group, but their players are far from inexperienced, with LexUther and Daihuu coming over from the old LunatiK eSports squad back before it turned into COGnitive Gaming. With a win in the Heroes Hype Amateur Beta Finals, PLEYZ has tasted ultimate victory, but to embrace it again the team will need to rally to defeat Tempo Storm, their first opponent in the bracket this weekend.
Winners of the WCA North American qualifier and recently crowned champions of the ESL Heroes Major League, Tempo Storm is the team to beat in North America. With conventional drafts that don’t offer many surprises, this team favors plays using the double Promote talents of Brightwing and Tassadar, occasionally throwing a spicy Azmodan into the mix. Perhaps the most diverse team around, they are able to adjust to a variety of situations and will win games however they can, be it fighting directly or sneaking around the map split-pushing—a trait that has irked their rivals over at Cloud9 Maelstrom on more than one occasion.
What’s To Come
This weekend sees the completion of the June North America Open as these eight teams battle it out in a double-elimination bracket. With Tempo Storm in the same half of the bracket as three relative newcomers, their confidence should be high at the prospects of a finals appearance—and an opportunity to solidify their standing as best team in the region.
Cloud9 will be looking for a chance to challenge Tempo Storm’s dominance, perhaps only after fighting themselves in the upper bracket semifinals in a brother-against-brother battle between C9Maelstrom and C9Vortex. Collectively, the fresh faces of the event—Team Blaze, The PLEYZ, and Pool Plato Some Tangos—seek to earn valuable experience in a high-pressure situation and put an end to Tempo Storm’s reign. They are the most dangerous kind of team: teams with nothing to lose.
This year’s BlizzCon event will offer a $500,000 prize pool, making it the largest Heroes of the Storm event yet. The winners will be remembered as the best of their time and enjoy the spoils of triumph, inspiring a new generation of players to strive for greatness.
SolidJake, Cooby, FourCourtJester, and Nathanias will take up seats behind the casting desk to bring you every bit of the action during this weekend’s live Round of 8 broadcast. Join us at 10:00 a.m. PDT on June 20 with Twitch.tv/BlizzHeroes in your browser, as we look to crown the very first June North American Open champion and send a team one step closer to BlizzCon with a berth in the Americas Regional Championship.