No Hand Outs: Tempo Storm’s Plan to Dominate 2015
In late 2014, the nascent Heroes of the Storm community had an opportunity to finally see their game played on a stage with its first major offline event. With BlizzCon coming up, Blizzard showcased their new hero brawler and gave the world a peek at what was going on in the lead-up to a 2015 release. They invited four well-established eSports organizations to create teams and participate in an exhibition tournament at BlizzCon—Cloud9, Evil Geniuses, Fnatic, and Team Liquid. At the time, none of these organizations had an official Heroes team, and one even admitted that theirs would only exist for the duration of that single event.
This caught the burgeoning Heroes community by surprise, with some wondering why existing teams weren’t invited. At the time, a few teams were already playing in independent tournaments and the community felt one team had shown particular promise: Symbiote Gaming.
Symbiote Gaming was arguably the most successful team in the Heroes Alpha, and had already won several tournaments when they found out there would be an exhibition tournament at BlizzCon. Despite their stellar performances, Symbiote was still a new team without the sponsors or name recognition of the other teams, left to wonder when they would have their chance to compete on the big stage at BlizzCon. Nonetheless, Symbiote remained dominant, taking first place in their first ten tournaments and 18 of the 21 tournaments they entered during the Alpha and Beta.
On January 30, 2015, Symbiote Gaming was reborn when up-and-coming eSports organization Tempo Storm picked them up as their first signing outside of Hearthstone, Blizzard’s online card game.
While the Tempo Storm Heroes team is new, most of the roster goes back to their Symbiote Gaming days, with four of their current five players being founding members of the team. Their in-game experience and teamwork has kept them near the top of the competitive Heroes scene since the very beginning.
Tempo Storm is captained by Wade ‘Dreadnaught’ Penfold, who is most at home playing supports and is the team’s primary shotcaller. He often plays Brightwing, Malfurion, and Rehgar, though the shaman healer has recently fallen out of favor in the competitive consciousness.
At 6’7”, Taylor ‘Arthelon’ Eder is easy to pick out of a crowd and an outspoken figure when it comes to competitive team games, having played for several organizations going back to 2012. He frequently uses ranged assassins like Valla or Kael’thas, as well as more versatile damage dealers like Tassadar and Azmodan. He is often credited with popularizing the Taste for Blood build on the latter.
Kurt ‘Kaeyoh’ Ocher has experience playing other team-based competitive action games, and is another one of Tempo Storm’s powerhouses. He frequently plays Zagara, Jaina, and Tassadar. In fact, Tempo Storm has only ever lost one tournament game in which Kaeyoh has played Tassadar.
Josh ‘So1dier’ Miller has played both team action games and first person shooters professionally. He is listed as Tempo Storm’s flex player, but typically plays the warrior role in their compositions. He often runs as Tyrael, Muradin, or Johanna, the game’s newest warrior.
As chance would have it, the newest member of the team stood on stage last year at BlizzCon as one of the winners of the Heroes exhibition tournament. Chris ‘Zuna’ Buechter was a member of the team Cloud9 assembled for that event, and recently joined Tempo Storm after a successful trial period in which they dominated the ESL Season 2 Playoffs and WCA North America Qualifiers.
Jared ‘Zoia’ Eggleston, Tempo Storm’s team manager, says that Zuna has been a perfect fit for the team, in terms of both his playstyle and his role within the team
“His communication levels are outstanding, which allows Dreadnaught to focus more on the big picture shotcalling while Zuna handles the micro management,” Zoia says. “His level of communication has also spread to the other members of the team.”
In game, Zuna often strikes and eliminates enemy players before the opposing team has a chance to react. Zuna can be very strong while playing heroes like Jaina or Sylvanas, and has recently taken up melee assassins Illidan and Zeratul as they have become more prominent.
Eight months after watching Zuna and Cloud9 win the Exhibition Tournament at BlizzCon, Tempo Storm competed in Blizzard’s June North American Open. The June Open is the first event in the North America track of the 2015 Heroes World Championship, with two more Opens to follow in July and August. Success in the Opens lands a team in the Americas Regional Championship, where they’ll have a shot at the World Championship at BlizzCon.
Zoia describes their motivation and goal simply:
“BlizzCon 2015 is the goal of the team. No matter what happens between now and then, whatever ups and downs the team experiences, winning BlizzCon is the goal,” explains Zoia. “Sure there’s some salt about missing out on BlizzCon 2014, but for 2015 Blizzard isn’t handing out invites. The best teams will qualify and the best team will win. The people who deserve it will win it.”
On the way to the finals of the June Open, Tempo Storm faced the winners of the BlizzCon 2014 exhibition tournament, Cloud9. Of course, this is version of Cloud 9—Cloud9 Maelstrom— features only one of the previous incarnation’s players, Kun ‘iDream’ Fang. Cloud9 Maelstrom has been Tempo Storm’s primary rival in 2015 as they have battled back and forth across many tournaments, with each team getting the best of the other at various points in the last six months. Performing as they have since Zuna joined the squad, however, Tempo Storm beat Cloud9 Maelstrom twice in taking the June Open in convincing fashion and securing their place in the Americas Championship.
While Heroes is still a young game, Tempo Storm is an experienced team that knows how to win and overcome adversity. Their four founding members have been playing with each other in competitive Heroes longer than any other established team in the world. Dreadnaught addressed this after winning the June Open saying, “Our guys are very good at coming back from losses. We’ve done this a long time; we’re pretty used to it.”
The team has shown itself to be extremely adaptable as their skillset translates well no matter how characters change and as new maps are added. Tempo Storm excels at covering the map and rotating between lanes and objectives. Their superior map awareness allows them to overcome shortfalls or mistakes in the early game. Many of their most frequently played Heroes are excellent laners, and TS are strong believers in using the Promote ability to strengthen their lane minions and apply pressure to structures.
Three of their most frequently used heroes in the June Open—Brightwing, Azmodan, and Tassadar—were able to grab Promote often. This allowed them to apply map-wide pressure even when Tempo Storm were losing teamfights. This eventually forced opponents out of position, allowing players like Zuna to eliminate straggling heroes, turn a decisive teamfight, and then swoop down the lane to the Core and end the game. Promote has since been changed, but not before Tempo Storm put it to good use in the June NA Open.
Changes to Promote shouldn’t prevent TS from playing aggressively, however. As Zoia puts it:
“I think the addition of Zuna has taught us one important thing: aggression. If you look at the history of Tempo Storm, they have definitely struggled in the early game, but as of the last few tournaments our early game has looked just as strong as our late game,” says Zoia. “Zuna has helped us become a much more well-rounded team.”
The recent Tempo Storm hot streak has been highlighted by their versatility from game to game. Some teams like Cloud9 Vortex tend towards drafts that will net them an aggressive team composition, but Tempo Storm is content to take what they can get from the pre-game selection process. They are not locked into lane pushing, ganking, or team fighting, so they can change their strategy to suit whatever is available in the draft.
Tempo Storm has been on the leading edge of competitive Heroes since the beginning, and they have continued to grow and adapt. They were the first North American Heroes team to move into a house together, hoping it would allow them more time to hone their skills and let them focus on becoming a stronger team.
Dreadnaught talks about “learning to human,” and the team has started going to the gym together after long days spent playing or practicing. They are hoping that the time away from the screen will help them reach their goals when sitting in front of it. So far their choices seem to be paying off. Since moving into their team house and adding Zuna to the roster, Tempo Storm has been sweeping through the North American scene, most recently making it to the finals of the Team Liquid Super Brawl.
These five players have their sights set on BlizzCon 2015, and they are on track to take one of the eight slots at the Heroes World Championship. The Road to BlizzCon will continue with the July North American Open, and Tempo Storm is not resting on their June victory. Dreadnaught, Arthelon, Kaeyoh, So1dier, and Zuna want to stand on that stage and show the world that they earned their spot at BlizzCon, so look for Tempo Storm to continue their red hot summer in North America.
If you think you’ve got what it takes to enter the July Open, topple the likes of Tempo Storm, and claim a share in the $25,000 prize pool, then be sure to head over to ESL’s registration page right now to sign your team up for the July Open!