After two disastrous events in the form of the EU Regional and US Invitational, there wasn’t much hope for the global Battle.net invitational at BlizzCon. However, in terms of World of Warcraft, it seems Blizzard had learnt their lesson and taken note. The event started on schedule without any technical difficulties. While there was a short delay before the second matchup and a DC later on, the event was flawless for the most part. Although the SC2 tournament didn’t run as smoothly, it’s still worth giving Blizzard credit where due. Hopefully they can repeat this performance next year.
The event got started with a back and forth between Team Roccat (R/D/P) and Skill Capped (MLP). Roccat, going against the grain for a Taiwan team, was actually able to put out some decent pressure onto Skill Capped. Indeed, they had some amazing switches in game one, forcing an early bubble out of Toez. However, the CC capabilities of Skill Capped and Roccats tendency to tunnel Pookz in game two saw them lose the series. It was still a fantastic start to the evening and gave just a glimpse at what this event had to offer.
After a short delay and switch up in the next match to be played on stage, Team EG (Shadow Play)—one of the favourites to win in our poll—made their first appearance. They met Anarchy Roc (WLS), the second team from Taiwan, who, unlike their counterparts, lived up to the kill fodder stereotype. Team EG won the series with ease.
The other favourite in our poll, Showtime or Yas Presents (Shadow Cleave), were up next. They too went up against the Taiwan WLS. With the vulnerability of DKs to melee, the WLS were probably right to focus Another. However, their inability to switch it up and control Fabio really cost them. It’s highly doubtful Yas Presents broke out in a sweat picking up the victory here.
Next up we saw one of the most anticipated games in the form of Yas Presents vs. Skill Capped (MLS). This was the most exciting matchup so far with a lot of back and forth action. Both teams were able to pressure one another and set up potential kill opportunities. Indeed, it was next to impossible to call a winner in most of their games. In fact, the only game that looked one sided was game number three on Ring of Valor. Yas Presents gained so much momentum, forcing block, NS and Spirit Link early on. Unfortunately, the server went down and the game had to be replayed. The replay was very much a back and forth between the two teams. Skill Capped were able to catch Glyptic into a CC chain as they focused their efforts on a cooldown-less Another for the win and the series.
The tournament momentum didn’t stop there though with Yas Presents coming back once again against Team EG. This was arguably the most anticipated matchup of the tournament with both teams been favourites to take home the $75,000 prize. Team EG were under constant pressure in game one and weren’t able to put out any of their own. Yas Presents took the game and very much looked like the dominant side. However, the phenomenal players of Team EG fought back in round two, scoring a kill on Glyptic with a spell lock, death coil and fear combo. Game three saw Yas Presents make a surprise switch on to Azael with a Strangulate on Cdew. Weirdly, Cdew did have both his trinket up and Fear Ward at this point, but didn’t trinket the Strangulate. There may have been some communication error here, but regardless Yas Presents took the series.
DNAW Trio (MLS) were up next against the Korean team of Kimchi Man (RLS). This series really gave us a hint that the Korean teams weren’t just a push over this year and, even without their famous RMP, they can still pack a punch. It was essentially neck and neck between the two teams in game one before a DC caused a premature end to proceedings. Game two was more of the game was some very close calls on Drudenhaus from the RLS. DNAW showed just how strong MLS burst was though with a kill, ala season 8, onto the Rogue. The last game took place on Blades Edge Arena where Kimchi Mans Rogue looked vulnerable throughout. The insane pressure of MLS reared its ugly head time and time again until they caught the Rogue with no cooldowns and his Shaman with a CS for the win.
DNAW, getting back to back Korean teams, were back on stage for the next matchup against OMG (PHD). By this point in the tournament, OMG were already showing signs of how formidable they would be with a victory against Team EG backstage. While DNAW were able to score a kill on OMGs DK in round two, they too seemed unprepared for the PHD, losing the series 2-1. This put OMG in second position just below Skill Capped as day one came to an end.
We entered day two and the stream once again started on schedule. We started out with a repeat of the EU Regional final with DNAW going up against Showtime (Yas Presents). While the MLS were able to pick up a win in game one, Yas Presents fought back in the next two games and took the series. It was another equally matched game though, with both teams having opportunities to steal the victory.
In yet another repeat of a final, Team EG went up against Skill Capped. After Team EG took their last series 6-0 at the US Invitational, they were certainly the favourites going into this. Skill Capped struggled to keep up with the DoT pressure in game one, eventually keeling over. While Skill Capped put in a better performance in game two, Team EG soon gained the momentum and scored a kill on Snutz taking the series.
Next up we had Team EG vs. DNAW to decide who would go into the single elimination round. With their string of victories against MLS, this game looked like Team EGs on paper. However, the common adage about different regional play styles really came into fruition here. DNAW took games one and three, with Dakkroth porting out of LoS of his healer and dying to DoT damage in game two. It was an exciting series and Team EG came close to taking it from time to time, but, unfortunately for them, they were knocked out of the tournament.
At this point we had OMG, Yas Presents, Skill Capped and DNAW ready to duke it out in the single elimination round. First up was Skill Capped vs. DNAW. Unfortunately, their first series was not streamed. We can assume DNAW won though due to only having two defeats in the round robin phase which were against OMG and Yas Presents. We moved onto a best of five in this round and went right up to round 5 to decide the winner. While the series wasn’t as exciting as some of the previous matchups, the suspense of who would make it to the final was very much present. The fifth game was the first and only to hit the 15 minute mark and see the 25% healing debuff come into play. A few seconds before the end, the health pools looked like this:
It weas intense to say the last, but with no CC on Toez and CS going out on to Drudenhaus, DNAWs fate was sealed.
The last semi-final saw Yas Presents go up against, the dark horse of the tournament, OMG. While OMG were able to put out some serious pressure at the start of game one with a near kill on Fabio, that pressure soon faded as their cooldowns ended. Yas Presents were then able to take the lead and pick up a win with a kill on OMGs DK. Game two saw Yes Presents play very defensively, throwing some immediate control onto OMG. Yes Presents were then able to keep up the pressure and yet again score a kill on OMGs DK who received a BoP that did very little to help.
The tide started to change in game 3 when Ring of Valor popped up. OMG were just able to put out some insane pressure and eventually score a kill on Glyptic. Another made the play of the tournament in this match though, managing to predict and copy Divine Shield just as he was under some intense pressure. And the return of Ring of Valor in game 5 might as well have been the killing blow. There seemed to some sort of miscommunication in the next match up, with Another dropping dead as Glyptic was caught into a Strangulate and Scatter with his trinket still up. Finally, we had the deciding game and the return of Ring of Valor in might as well have been the killing blow. The PHD took the game and advanced to the final.
OMG gained the momentum, taking the first two games and, with the frustration getting the better of Snutz, OMG looked like the victors going into the third. However, Reckful came up to the stage and had a word with Snutz. To be honest, it’s quite bizarre why that’s even allowed. While it’s likely Rekful just gave him a pep talk, it seems stupid that there’s no rule against communicating with other pros that might be able to provide better strategy advice. Regardless, whatever Reckful said to Snutz seemed to work. Skill Capped made a solid comeback, taking the next two games. We then entered the final game of the tournament. This took place on Dalaran Sewers. OMGs Paladin had some unique positioning and held out with bubble until he absolutely needed it. This allowed him to keep his team up, while Pookz got far too offensive and dropped dead. It was a fantastic series and one of the best finals we’ve ever seen at BlizzCon.
Everyone, including the players themselves, underestimated the Korean PHD. The lack of practice against the comp was really evident. While a different map selection in the OMG vs. Yas Presents matchup might have given us a very different final, OMGs victory cannot be put down to sheer luck. They played extremely well throughout the tournament and gave the competitors a lesson for the future: practice against every comp or they might just turn round and kick your arse!
Finally, after last year’s BlizzCon was filled to the brim with insomnia-curing games and a controversial final, it was fantastic to see that, even with a tournament filled with Shaman and Warlocks, WoW arena can still be as intensely exciting and nail biting to witness as it once was. Hopefully Blizzard will place more focus on arena in the future and we’ll once again have a vast array of tournaments rather than BlizzCon alone.
For those that missed the Grand Finals, you can relive the drama again beneath.
DNAW came third:
What a terrible image!
Thanks to Jouni in the comments for the info.