The ANZ HGC Competition came to an explosive conclusion this weekend with the Grand Final Series. Over the past few weeks the Qualifiers have seen the best of the best duke it out for the honour of competing in this event. The four teams that managed to achieve this were Nomia, Sweet Dreams, Plantronics NV and Sassu. The production value of these online matches were impeccable, aside from the odd connection issue, and the talented Disconcur and Skimmy cast the event live from ESL studios in Sydney. One of the most enjoyable facets of the production was the minimal downtime between games having few breaks last longer than 5 minutes. More entertaining portions of the day came from the banter between teams in the Drafting Phase showing the larrikin nature of the ANZ players.
Going into the competition the favourites for sure were Nomia. However, eagle eye punters believed Plantronics NV to be a dark horse in the competition.
The Grand Final was played on the Lucio Patch and even with Lucio banned from the competition there were still remarkable changes to other Heroes, so it would be assumed this could significantly affect the ANZ Meta. This was not the case. Not many hero rotations had changed since the last couple of competitions and this could possibly be put down to a lack of preparation time with the latest patch. There are some things left to point out though, for instance the high prioritisation of Li Ming. Another odd occurrence was the resurgence of Tyrande on Battlefield of Eternity where she was picked by two different teams on separate occasions. The last instance was on the last match of the day where Sweet Dreams attempted a pocket strategy of Stitches, The Lost Vikings and Azmodan which was entertaining to say the least.
Match One was Nomia vs. Sassu with game one played on Dragonshire. This map saw Nomia pick up the newly buffed Sonya which proved to be an integral part of their team, as the strategy for the map was centred around team fighting and ultimately won Nomia the game. The second game was played on Braxis Holdout where Nomia flexed their proverbial muscles and showed exactly why they are so ascendant in the scene with an impressive 13 minute win. Match Two was played between Plantronics NV and Sweet Dreams with the first game going to Plantronics NV on Battlefield of Eternity. The next game went back and forth having Sweet Dreams become victorious on Cursed Hollow. The final game in the match was on Sky Temple, where it seemed Plantronics played an odd variation that saw them lose multiple map objectives in favour of team fight engagements. Although these didn’t always work out, they did come out victorious moving them on to the Upper Bracket Final. The Lower Bracket Semi Final was the last chance for Sassu and Sweet Dreams to prove their worth in the competition, yet in the end Sweet Dreams took both games on Sky Temple and Dragonshire giving fourth overall place to Sassu and moving Sweet Dreams on to the Lower Bracket Final.
The Upper Bracket Final was certainly the one to watch in this competition. The first game was played on Infernal Shrines, this game was definitely the first game in the series that really made Nomia sweat. FiZiX on the side of Plantronics NV landed multiple clutch Void Prisons making many of the team fights favourable for Plantronics NV. Plantronics NV were so dominant that at one point Nomia were relegated to their base due to being so far behind. Yet in the end, in true Nomia style, they achieved that one favourable fight that swung the momentum back in their favour and after 28 minutes Nomia came up with the win. This was far different from the second game on Cursed Hollow which, after just one Curse, Nomia took the game and the match with a 15 minute win.
The Lower Bracket Final started off on Battlefield of Eternity where Tassadar, Tracer and Tyrande were drafted by Plantronics NV.
Although this is an incredibly strong composition for taking down the Immortals that spawn as the Objective, it proved to be inadequate against Sweet Dreams’ stronger Meta play. The second game in the Lower Bracket Finals was taken to Dragonshire and this saw Plantronics NV take a last pick Chromie, which can be incredibly strong for delaying the cast on the Dragon Knight. This game, like many others, had multiple twists and turns. At one point the patience and skill of Vicarrak, kva and IceboLd from Sweet Dreams completely negated the effect of a Divine Palm on a 10 health ETC for Plantronics NV as they held off damage until the spell effect ended.
This skill proved to be too much for Plantronics NV, who eventually fell and found themselves in overall third place.
Usually the largest and greatest paragraph is reserved for the Grand Final Game, however due to the absolute dominance shown by Team Nomia over Sweet Dreams it is hard to really flesh out. The first game was Sky Temple which Nomia demolished Sweet Dreams in just 13 minutes. The second game was a 15 minute stomping from Nomia yet again. Even through the frustrating task of taking on the most commanding team in ANZ, Sweet Dreams never lost their determination and still showed the cheekiness that makes Australia/New Zealander’s so special.
The final game of the ANZ Grand Final was held on the staple map for ANZ, Cursed Hollow. Just prior to the draft commencing there were some hints dropped in the Twitch stream by members of Sweet Dreams that went largely unnoticed. For instance Viccarak dropped a hint along the lines of “you guys are in for a treat”. He was not wrong as Sweet Dreams proceeded to drop a hidden strategy draft of Stitches, The Lost Vikings and Azmodan. As exciting as it was to see something completely unique and different, it proved to be the biggest ROFLStomp of the competition with Nomia thoroughly steamrolling them in just 7 minutes. This just proves that against team Nomia, only the best will do.
All in all this was a fantastic display of Heroes of the Storm eSports showing off the talents of the top four teams in the region. All who showed up to the competition definitely deserved to be on the centre stage yet only one could come out triumphant. In fourth place was Sassu, Third Plantronics NV, second place went to Sweet Dreams and the Grand Final Champions Nomia. All games displayed over the tournament were elating due to the fantastic production put on by Blizzard ANZ, ESL ANZ, the wonderful casters Disconcur and Skimmy, and of course all of the participants. Nomia now has the difficult task of representing ANZ and taking on the best of the best of the other regions in the Western Clash on March 3-5. If they play anything like they have in the last few competitions, then the other regions should have something to fear from the reigning ANZ champions Team Nomia.