Fan Favorites and Rising Stars to Clash in August Open
The Road to BlizzCon open tournaments are wrapping up in North America this weekend with the August North American Open’s Round of 8. This event marks the final opportunity for two teams from the region to qualify for the Americas Championship, to be held on September 19–20 in Las Vegas, Nevada. While three of the teams in the Round of 8 have already qualified for their spots in Vegas, there’s still plenty for them to fight over with $25,000 in prize money up for grabs, including $12,000 for the winning team.
A new Heroes of the Storm patch adds a new wrinkle to the Round of 8, as it includes many changes to Heroes and their abilities, including some of the most popular Heroes used in the preliminary rounds of the August Open, Kael’thas and Leoric. Kael’thas’s abilities have been significantly altered so that his damage scales throughout the game, as opposed to having his power jump dramatically at level 16. Leoric was one of the most popular Warrior picks earlier in August, and his talents have been changed so that his respawn isn’t as quick and his sieging capabilities have been reduced dramatically. Finally, a new Support hero, Kharazim, has joined the Nexus from the Diablo universe. He is a melee Support similar to Tyrande in that he can do a good amount of damage while keeping his team healed up. It remains to be seen how these changes will affect the final 8 teams competing this weekend, but how the competing teams adjust should make for entertaining matches.
Tempo Storm has been acknowledged as the top squad since spring when they added Chris ‘Zuna’ Buechter; a run that’s seen them win nearly every tournament they’ve entered, including both the June and July Opens. They are the favorites to win it all again in August, but their dominance has made them a target of every other team in this tournament. Known for their patient and orderly play, Tempo Storm has a versatile team that can make almost any composition work, whether built around early-game aggression or a draining split-push. They were the first team to secure a spot in the Americas Championship back in June, and are a top contender to not only win the region but to take it all at the World Championship at BlizzCon.
Cloud9 Maelstrom recently updated their name and became simply Cloud9 when sister team Cloud9 Vortex left the organization. Cloud9 continues to push Tempo Storm as their primary rival in North America and won their spot in the Americas Championship by placing second in the July Open. They have finished second in both the June and July Opens and have more tournament wins against Tempo Storm than any other team, including in the Town Hall Heroes Invitational in July.
Like their rival, Cloud9 is well-rounded, though they tend towards much more aggressive compositions, and they’re known mainly for their all-out play and frequent dives.Their roster has experience winning big Heroes tournaments with players Fan ‘Fan’ Yang, who won Heroes of the Dorm as part of the UC Berkeley squad, and Kun 'iDream' Fang, who was on the Cloud9 team that won the BlizzCon Invitational in 2014.Cloud9 is the favorite to knock Tempo Storm off their top spot in the August Round of 8.
The final team with a guaranteed ticket to the Americas Championship is the newest of the three, COGnitive Gaming. COGnitive underwent some roster changes, adding Jeffrey 'iakona' Dolan and Mike 'Glaurung' Fisk before the June Open, and stormed through the tournament in the following month to finish in third place. While COGnitive continues to mature and develop their team synergy, they have established a strong, aggressive playstyle that can win a game against any team.Their aggression is spearheaded by Glaurung, a former member of Tempo Storm, and followed up with heavy damage from their captain, Joey ‘Hospital’ Gavlas, who often plays the Assassin mages like Jaina and Kael’thas.COGnitive will need to go through both Cloud9 and Tempo Storm if they want the $12,000 winner’s prize, but either way they will be heading to Las Vegas in September.
Who will make it to the American Championship?
The other five teams competing in the August Open are looking to secure one of the final two spots in the Americas Championship, and most have experience playing in the Round of 8—even if they were operating under different team names.
compLexity Gaming is probably the most talented Heroes team to not yet have a spot in the next stage on the Road to BlizzCon. They are the only team besides Tempo Storm, Cloud9, and COGnitive to make it to the Round of 8 in all three months of the North American Open series. Back in March 2015, compLexity was known as Barrel Boys and they were the only team to break up the back-and-forth Cloud9 Maelstrom and Tempo Storm domination.
Since signing with compLexity, they have struggled to get back to the top, but recently they managed to beat Tempo Storm in Kings of the Storm VII and are now poised for a breakthrough. In the June Open, compLexity made it to the finals of the lower bracket where they lost to Cloud9 Maelstrom. Last month, they just barely missed the cut after losing a rematch with COGnitive and finishing fourth in the July Open. Nothing is certain in Heroes, but it seems like it could be compLexity’s turn to earn their spot to the Americas Championship as they only need to beat out three teams who haven’t had the same level of success in the Opens thus far.
Murloc Geniuses is a team comprised of members from a former team, Zeveron, that qualified for the Round of 8 in the June Open. At the beginning of August, the team decided to end their partnership with Zeveron and go out on their own. Murloc Geniuses has been together since April and the players are no strangers to competitive Heroes; their roster boasts former members of Symbiote Gaming (Tempo Storm’s original incarnation), Evil Geniuses, and Cloud9. After participating in the quarterfinals in June, Murloc Geniuses was knocked out of the July Open in the Round of 16 by COGnitive. Now in August’s Round of 8, they will have a chance to overcome that hurdle when they play a rematch against their first opponent, COGnitive.
With more eSports organizations signing promising independent Heroes squads, Panda Global is a new name, but a team that should be familiar to fans of the North American scene. In July, Panda Global signed The PLEYZ, a team that had established itself through amateur community tournaments and by making it to the Round of 8 in June. There, they won a match against Team Blaze in the lower bracket before falling to compLexity. So far in the August Open, Panda Global has had to overcome their old rivals, Team Blaze, in a close 2-1 qualifier match to secure their spot in the Round of 8. Like Murloc Geniuses, Panda Global missed out on the Round of 8 in July when they ran into another top team in the Round of 16—in this case it was Luminosity Gaming, another contender in August’s Round of 8.
Luminosity Gaming is another familiar team with a new name. At the end of July, Luminosity Gaming signed Goon Squad Inc., a Canadian team that made it to the Round of 8 in July, where they won their first match against Cloud9 Vortex in an upset. They even put Tempo Storm to the test in the upper bracket semifinals, garnering a lot of fan support. Their aggressive playstyle pushed Tempo Storm to the edge in July, jumping out to a two-level lead in the middle of Game 1 of the series, and then barely losing a base race in Game 2. They face Tempo Storm as their first opponent in the August Round of 8 so they will have their work cut out for them, but Luminosity should be feeling confident between their new sponsorship and their past success against North America’s most dominant team.
The lone new team in the August Round of 8 is Kappa Wolves—who are actually not a new Heroes team at all. They have been around longer than many of their opponents, going all the way back to the Heroes of the Storm Technical Alpha. It’s always exciting to see a long time team rising up and making their presence known on the big stage, and this is Kappa Wolves’ chance. While they have won some community tournaments, including the Go4Heroes Americas Cup, this is the furthest they have made it in a major tournament since their inception. In the June Open, they were eliminated in the Round of 32 by Murloc Geniuses, and in the July Open, they made it one step further, to the Round 16, where they lost to Bang Bang. This is their next step, and they have their work cut out for them with a first round matchup against compLexity.
All eight teams are guaranteed to go home with at least $1,200 for an eighth place finish, but none of them will be happy with that. They all have their eyes on the much bigger prize—the Americas Championship. Five of the teams in the North America August Open will be heading to Las Vegas in September to compete against teams from Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Australia & New Zealand, looking for a shot at BlizzCon in November. The prize pool grows with each step along the Road to BlizzCon, and with increased prizes comes increased pressure.
Which team will win the August Open, and will they be able to go all the way to become World Champions at BlizzCon? You’ll be able to learn the answer to one of these questions this weekend, beginning at 10:00 a.m. PDT on http://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroes/.