Round 1 of Heroes Lounge North America has begun, and in this post we'll be looking to see what's going on inside of Division 3! I'm LazyHydra, captain of the team Please Clap and Heroes of the Storm enthusiast, and I look forward to helping keep you up to date on what's going down in the Division. For this first recap I'll introduce the teams and go over the first round's results, with a deep dive into some of the more exciting games. Without further ado, let's get into it!
Round 1 Recap
Let's start by taking a brief look at all the teams and recap the results from Round 1:
TriggeredBySalad vs. UArk Esports: TriggeredBySalad returns after not competing in the second season of Heroes Lounge NA, and their first week opponents were University of Arkansas Esports, a team that has also been competing since the first season here in North America. Unfortunately, UArk had to forfeit the series due to scheduling conflicts, but hopefully we'll get to see them in action during the upcoming weeks!
ReGen Blue vs. Ban Cho: ReGen Blue is one of the teams of ReGen, an amateur HotS org., and it'll be exciting to see how they do in this, their second season in Heroes Lounge. Their round 1 opponents are Ban Cho, another returning team which has played every season of Heroes Lounge NA so far. While in last season ReGen Blue managed to win 2-0 against Ban Cho, the opposite was the result in their matchup this time, with Ban Cho taking the series 2-0. Both teams did respectably in last season of Division 3, so it'll be fun to see how they do this go around.
Full Meta Jacket vs. Blood Bath & Beyond: Unfortunately, this series ended in a forfeit as Full Meta Jacket had to pull out of the season before it even began, we wish them best of luck. Their would-be opponents Blood Bath & Beyond are a new team to Heroes Lounge, though the players themselves have played on various teams in Heroes Lounge before, and have already played together as a team in the Nexus Gaming Series. We'll get to see what they can do here in the next round!
Always E In vs. Bazzzzinga: Always E In has participated in Heroes Lounge for the first two seasons here in NA, so it will be exciting to see how they do. Their first opponents were a brand new team, Bazzzzinga, newly formed for this season and with mostly players new to Heroes Lounge. Bazzzzinga took the series 2-0, making a good showing for their first match of the season.
Annie Oak League vs. Deep Fried Pizzas: Annie Oak League is another returning team with a respectable record, just missing the group stage for the Epic Cup last season, so they're certain to be a team worth watching this season. On the other side, Deep Fried Pizzas is a new team formed of some veterans and some new faces to the competitive scene. Annie Oak League took home the series 2-0, starting off their season comfortably.
Team Rainbow Strike Go! vs. FAT Aquaman: Team Rainbow Strike Go! is another established team of amateur HotS, playing in the last season of Heroes Lounge, and currently playing in the Nexus Gaming Series. FAT Aquaman, a Free Agent Team from last season, faced them in round 1. Despite Aquaman's valiant efforts, the series ended 2-0 in Rainbow Strike's favor.
Can't Counterpick Stupid vs. Blackheart's Booty: Can't Counterpick Stupid is another veteran team, playing every Heroes Lounge NA season so far, and finishing 6th in Division 3 last season, though they were unfortunately unable to compete in the Epic Cup. Their opponents are the eloquently named Blackheart's Booty, a newly formed team which showed some promise in their round 1 match. Continue to the Deep Dive section where I go over the intense series between these teams.
BEHOLD... ragaros vs. Please Clap: BEHOLD... ragaros is our last new team for the season, but they showed some promise in their first match, and are only certain to improve throughout the season. They took on my team, Please Clap. We're returning to Heroes Lounge with a somewhat new roster after getting 1st in Division 4 last season, and getting 2nd place in the Epic Cup, losing 3-1 in the finals against iCE CREAM TRUCK. BEHOLD... ragaros has shown strength as a new team, though, winning the series 2-1 through 3 heavily contested matches.
Snow Storm - BYE: Snow Storm is another team which has climbed up from Division 4, placing 2nd in the regular season and performing admirably in the group stage of the Epic Cup. They had a bye this round, so unfortunately we won't be able to see them in action until next round.
All these teams are looking great, and we'll be able to understand these match-ups better and better in the weeks to come.
In this section, I'd like to take a closer look at some of the more highly contested or fun matches that were played during this round.
Can't Counterpick Stupid (CCS) vs. Blackheart's Booty (BB)
This was one of Round 1's 3-mappers and it was certainly a doozy, featuring some spicy drafts and lots of back-and-forth.
Game 1 - Tomb of the Spider Queen: We start out strong in the first map with a pretty standard draft of Johanna, Xul, Gul'dan, Sylvanas and Lucio for CCS against BB's... interesting draft of Illidan, Uther, Li Li, Abathur and Rehgar. BB's draft obviously relied intensely on Illidan being able to hypercarry with the aid of 3 healers and Abathur. The early game seemed in favor of CCS, thanks largely to the opposing team lacking the insane waveclear offered by Xul, Johanna, and Gul'dan. However, once fights over the first turn-in began, BB's plan came through and they won a big 4v4 fight, securing the first turn in. It was cleared quickly, and the game continued, with BB winning fights but always being a bit behind as a result of their lacking waveclear and a couple unfortunate disconnects from the Abathur player. Everything came to a head when CCS decided to make a boss play. They were found out and a bloodblath ensued, with all but Gul'dan from CCS and Abathur from BB dying, and CCS claiming the boss.
At this point, BB had lost all their forts and keeps, while CCS still held all their structures but 1 fort. A well-timed turn in and a victorious teamfight got BB a keep in the top lane, and their interest honed in on the boss. CCS realized what was happening, and used this time to start a backdoor on the core, which already had 2 lanes pushing into it. The fight was intense and all of the present members of CCS died, but a lone catapult managed to take the last percent off the core and win CCS the first game.
Game 2 - Infernal Shrines: The second map of the set sees another standard draft from CCS, showing preference for the Gul'dan and Sylvanas picks again, while also grabbing E.T.C., Sonya, and Rehgar to fill out the team. On the other side, BB kept up with their all-out aggression as they select Johanna, Thrall, Alarak, Kerrigan, and Kharazim for the map. The game began pretty passively, but BB managed to get a bit of a lead thanks to successfully defending an invade on their bruiser camp and getting Alarak some early sadism. Despite some wonderful Mosh Pits, Wailing Arrows, and Rain of Destructions, BB had a firm lead coming into the latter part of the game. CCS managed to hold on until beyond level 20, and even looked strong in team fights, but couldn't overcome the constant pressure of 3 keep-less lanes, eventually losing after one last teamfight over objective.
Game 3 - Volskaya Foundry: Going into the final map of the series, both teams had banned some of the obvious comfort picks (CCS banning Alarak and Illidan, while BB removed Gul'dan). CCS drafted Sylvanas, Anduin, Kael'thas, Blaze and Muradin to face off against BB's Lunara, Jaina, Thrall, Kharazim and Garrosh in the deciding match. Both teams played more reserved, and were on top of the macro game, but thanks to some clutch saves from Anduin on the first point, CCS managed to get the first protector and edge out a lead. Teamfights were close, with BB getting dangerously close to coming out on top more than once, but a 5-man wipe on the 2nd point led to an early keep for CCS. BB kept at it, trying to be aggressive where they could, and take fights they could win, but they always fell just short and CCS closed out the game with another wipe just before the 3rd objective.
The MVP for this series, in my opinion, has to be WitsEnd, the healer player for Can't Counterpick Stupid. Their clutch saves on both Anduin and Lucio had a huge impact in many fights, and may have just won them the series. An honorable mention would have to go to jlann of Blackheart's Booty, who flexed from the hypercarry Illidan to main tank with Johanna to ranged assassin with Lunara, and performed exceptionally on all 3. Both of these teams look like forces to be reckoned with as the season continues, and I'm especially excited to see what aggressive comps Blackheart's Booty comes up with.
Looking at statistics, we can start to see the meta that is beginning to form in Division 3, and also find some surprising tidbits which might surprise you.
Thanks to everyone for reading the post, hopefully we'll have a few more series to cover next time once the teams get settled in a bit more. Make sure you support the teams and everyone working on Heroes Lounge, see you all soon for the next recap!