A huge week in HGC as Fnatic fends off Team Liquid, Gale Force and No Tomorrow both knock off Tempo Storm in Game 5, and Team Expert gets a huge win over Dignitas. Overall on paper Week 3 is quieter in the Western scene but there are some games to watch for.
As a major caveat in this article: this is still very very early in the season. New teams and new rosters make the Elo scores especially unstable. These ratings will change throughout the season. This goes double for new HGC teams Even in Death (NA), Zealots, Team Good Guys(EU), Rrr (Korea), W.K. Gaming, and Kudos Top (China). These teams will have drastically unstable ratings for the first few weeks, and predictions will be potentially inaccurate until they settle.
World Elo Ratings
Note that teams with “-NEW” in their team name are new to HGC. They started at a rating of 1500 and their rating should be unstable for now.
Tempo Storm had a devastating weekend, going 0-2 in matches by losing to Gale Force and No Tomorrow in Game 5s. Tempo Storm will now almost certainly have to win out to get to the Western Clash. However, the tiebreakers hurt them even further so they do not control their own destiny. Gale Force, meanwhile, has already beat both Roll20 and Tempo Storm.
After qualifiers, I ran a poll on Reddit to rank the 8 North American teams. Of the top 4 in that initial poll, Gale Force is the only team still in the Top 4. North America’s new blood of No Tomorrow, Team Freedom, and Roll20 have shown up big in this phase. No Tomorrow has to be the biggest surprise. While they still have to play both Gale Force and Roll20, a 3-0 start is nothing to scoff at. Equinox’s shotcalling paired with Cassanova taking to tank like a duck to water has resulted in a team that looks nothing like last phase's No Tomorrow that finished at the bottom of NA. All this despite having 4 of the same 5 players.
Meanwhile Naventic continues to struggle, starting the season 3-0 after losses to Roll20 and Team Freedom. It’s hard to believe that a year ago this team went to summer globals, as they have been at the bottom on North America for some time now. Even in Death managed to take 1 game off the struggling Superstars, but ultimately lost the series 1-3.
Reading this Table
Team - pretty self explanatory. This is the name of the team.
Elo - the team’s current elo rating. A larger number suggests a better team.
Match W-L - The match record of the team. How many best of 5’s they won and how many they lost.
Map +/- - new to Phase 2, the next highest priority tiebreaker after head-to-head is Map +/-, that is, the number of GAMES (not matches) you won minus the number of games you lost. A negative number means a team lost more games than they won. This is a change made by Blizzard to make the standings and tiebreakers easier to understand.
3-[0,1,2] - While there is a higher priority tiebreaker, there are still tiebreaker conditions for number of 3-0s and then number of 3-1s if both head to head and Map +/- can’t break the tie. In this tuple, it’s [3-0 victories, 3-1 victories, 3-2 victories]. Example, No Tomorrow won a best of 5 3-1 and 3-2, but have no 3-0 wins. Therefore, their tuple is [0,1,1].
Clash % - This is the team’s current simulation odds of making it to the Western Clash. To get there, a team must finish top 3 in the first half of the phase. This means only the first 28 games of each phase are relevant. Note that “0.0” doesn’t mean eliminated. When a team is eliminated, I will use a red “X” to denote eliminated. Similarly, 100.0 doesn’t mean guaranteed. When the spot is guaranteed, I will use a green checkmark.
Blizzcon % (autobid) - This is the team’s current simulation odds of getting an automatic bid to Blizzcon. Because each major region will have 3 teams this season, the top 2 from each region get an automatic bid. Teams that place 3rd-6th will play in a stepladder playoff (6 vs 5, winner of that vs. 4, winner of that vs. 3) to determine who goes to Blizzcon. Note that match record in Part 1 (pre Clash) carries over to Part 2 (post Clash). So all 56 games this phase are relevant for Blizzcon. Note that “0.0” doesn’t mean eliminated. When a team is eliminated, I will use a red “X” to denote eliminated. Similarly, 100.0 doesn’t mean guaranteed. When the spot is guaranteed, I will use a green checkmark.
Crucible % - This is the team’s current simulation odds of finishing 7th or 8th place at the end of the Phase. Teams that finish this low must face the Crucible to remain in HGC. All 56 games in the phase are relevant here. Note that “0.0” doesn’t mean safe from the Crucible. When a team is safe, I will use a green “X” to denote eliminated. Similarly, 100.0 doesn’t mean guaranteed. When the spot is guaranteed, I will use a red checkmark.
Elo Projections for next week’s games:
Right away on Friday we have a huge game between Gale Force Esports and No Tomorrow. Two weeks ago, no one could have seen this game being a critical game on the road to 1st place. Now? The winner of this game will be the undisputed 1st place team in North America at 4-0 and would almost certainly being going to the Western Clash.
GFE is also involved in the other big game of the week in North America as they take on Team Freedom on Sunday. Team Freedom, while 2-1, has yet to prove themselves. Their two wins came against the bottom two teams in NA - Even in Death and Naventic. They took still undefeated No Tomorrow to a game 5 but ultimately lost. They have certainly passed the eye test as a quality team but this will be their first big match heading into their heavily back-loaded schedule. A win here and Team Freedom becomes a likely contender for Western Clash.
Superstars, meanwhile, has a chance to improve on a bad start to the season with games against Tempo Storm and Team Freedom. A win is desperately needed for this team who have already lost twice. While Superstars is very unlikely to make international play, they are already on the cusp of the Crucible. This is where they need to start turning it around.
Speaking of teams turning it around, Tempo Storm and Roll20 both will look to continue their climb up the standings by beating up on Naventic and Even in Death respectively. Both teams are heavy favorites in their series and shouldn’t face too much trouble. Tempo Storm will then close out Sunday playing a Superstars team that may be backed into a corner.
Team Expert finally grabbed a win over the now struggling Dignitas. Just two and a half weeks ago, Dignitas was the second best team in the world. Now they look like the 4th best team in Europe. Dignitas needs to win out to have a shot at Western Clash, and even then they will lose out on tiebreakers to Team Liquid and Team Expert.
Speaking of Team Expert, they are now in a position to make a run for Western Clash. They still have tough matches ahead with Fnatic and Liquid and they will be hamstrung by their early loss to Tricked eSports but the opportunity is there.
Fnatic continues to dominate. While they needed 5 games to beat a resurgent Team Liquid they still got it down, a feat fellow big 3 member Dignitas does not share in. Team Liquid may have lost that set but taking the #1 team in the world to five games and coming so close to winning must build some confidence, even in defeat.
Outside of the top 4, Europe continues to be as clear as mud, as no one in the bottom 4 has separated themselves as a favorite or underdog. Every team in Europe has claimed at least one match win and 5 games series are becoming the norm, not the exception.
Elo Projections for next week’s games:
Not a hugely exciting week in Europe on paper. Every game features a 89.8% or greater favorite. However, even with these odds we could still see an upset this week.
Zealots is coming off a 0-3 thrashing at the hands of Team Expert but the core of Zealots has a ton of experience. Given their struggles, Dignitas would do wise not to overlook that matchup. I still think Dignitas takes this but with their current underperforming, there could be potential here.
The other game to keep an eye on is Fnatic vs. Team Expert. Fnatic is clearly the better team and I struggle to see how they aren’t the best team in the world right now. However, Team Expert is known for breaking out some oddities. Team Expert has taken at least one game off Fnatic in both their phase 1 sets. Additionally, Expert did beat Fnatic in the non-HGC Kings of the Nexus tournament. So there’s potential here.
The Korean region still has unbalanced play as MVP Black and L5, coming off the trip to the MSB in Sweden, have only played twice. By contrast, MVP Miracle and Tempest have played four times already and the rest of the region has played thrice.
Last week we got our first look at MVP Black’s and L5’s new lineup. L5 had no easy intro, however, as they had to play Tempest Friday then MVP Black on Sunday. While they managed to hold off Tempest in game 5 L5’s new roster was no match for MVP Black, losing 0-3 on Sunday in dominating fashion.
Meanwhile, at the bottom of the region, Rrr and Raven continue to struggle and are a combined 2-18 against the rest of the division. Rrr will get no rest as this week they must play both MVP Black and L-5. Raven, however, has a game against currently struggling MVP Miracle. It would still be a big upset to win that game but there’s at least a chance to win some games. Elo Projections for next week’s games:
The big game this week is Mighty vs. Tempest on Sunday. Mighty beat out Tempest to claim 3rd place last season. Heading into the Eastern Clash, this game is of critical importance. The loser likely will not make the Clash. So wake up early on Sunday to check it out.
MVP Black vs. Mighty on Saturday also looks reasonably interesting. While MVP Black is a heavy favorite, Mighty has looked strong this season although their schedule is noticeably backloaded; they have yet to play MVP Black, L5, or Tempest. Two of those games will be this week so this is a huge week for Mighty. Going 1-1 would put them in a great place to make the Clash. Going 2-0 would set them up as a legit top team in Korea. Going 0-2, however, would put them on the backfoot and they would struggle to make the Clash.
As a reminder, China is on a very different system than the rest of HGC. Their season is a double round-robin featuring best of two series with 2-0 victories worth 3 points and 1-1 draws worth 1 point.
China had utterly massive roster swaps with fewer than half of the players staying with their teams. However, there are still familiar names near the top. CE and Super Perfect Team both continue to dominate. E-Star (more akin to last season’s X-Team than the E-Star roster at MSB, who have left HotS competitively) is right behind them. These three are almost certainly going to be China’s representative at the clash while Hots Lady and RPG form the middle echelon of China below.
Start Over Again, last season’s worst team, replaced 3 spots on their roster. They are no longer on the bottom line of China but they still have yet to be able to challenge the teams above them consistently. Kudos Top has been hanging around the same place Start Over Again and is currently 1 point down. Expect these two teams to contest each other to avoid relegation. At the bottom, we have a new team: W.K. Gaming. This team has yet to win a game and will need an utterly massive turnaround in the second half of the round robin to even have a chance of not being relegated.
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