Teams Set For Western Clash Final

by Alebeard on         follow @AlebeardTV

Four teams entered the final day of the Western Clash hoping to lay claim to the title of best in the west.

The day began with Misfits and Fnatic squaring off in the Winners Final. Considered the top two teams coming into the event, the stage was set for an epic showdown.

Misfits vs. Fnatic

The first game of the series took place on Infernal Shrines. Play was fairly even thru the mid-game when Fnatic made a bold strategic call during the fifth Punisher phase. Rather than contest for the Punisher in the top lane they opted to push to take down a Keep in the bottom lane, which proved to be a key factor in the outcome of the game. After securing the Keep, Fnatic was able to defend against Misfit’s top lane Punisher and retain a slight advantage. Given the power of late game Punishers; it appeared that whichever team was able to come out on top in the next Objective phase would likely be able to end the game. Although Misfits was able to secure the sixth Punisher, Fnatic was able to get three takedowns. With the bottom lane open, Fnatic ignored the enemy Punisher and decisively moved in the destroy Misfits’ Core.

Game 2 was on Sky Temple. During the first Temple phase, Fnatic was able to take a full level lead thanks to a 4 for 1 trade. Fnatic maintained this level advantage for the duration of the game until they were eventually able to win a team fight, capture the Boss, and push it to victory.

With the opportunity to pick the map, Misfits elected to go with first pick instead, allowing Fnatic to choose one of their best maps in Tomb of the Spider Queen. Fnatic opted to go with their trademark Chromie and the early game was clearly in their favor. It appeared that Fnatic was well on their way to a quick victory until they decided to try and finish off a low Keep during a Misfit Webweaver phase and ended up losing all five Heroes. This allowed Misfits to claim the momentum. With Catapults pushing in all lanes and Fnatic’s Core partially damage, Misfits seemed to be in control. However, Fnatic’s hopes were rekindled after a team fight resulted in several takedowns in their favor. After a brief moment of indecision, they opted to destroy a wall and bypass the bottom Keep in order to go for the Core. The base race was on and while at first it appeared that Fnatic would be able to come out ahead, Misfits was able hold on long enough to secure a few takedowns and Fnatic soon found themselves with only Johanna remaining. Tensions were high with both Cores dropping fast, but the game came to a dramatic end when Nurok on Dehaka was able to land a clutch Drag on Johanna and pull her out of range with the Core at 7%.

Image courtesy of ESL Heroes

Game 4 took place on Dragon Shire. Based on past history, and with Fnatic being such a momentum based team, there was some question as to whether they might throw the next game or even the series. They once again opted to go with Chromie, and the game was tightly contested throughout. Fnatic proved to be undeterred by their failure in the previous game and when the opportunity presented itself they once again made the aggressive call to go for the enemy Core. This time they were able to secure the victory to claim the series 3-1.

With the Misfits loss, the next match was to determine which team would face them in the Loser’s Finals. The hopes and dreams North America were riding on Team 8 as they faced off once against Team Dignitas. North America’s lone victory against Europe in this event came as Team 8 fell 3-1 to Dignitas in an earlier match.

Team 8 vs. Team Dignitas

The series began on Battlefield of Eternity. Team 8 went with one of NA’s favorite Heroes in Artanis. Glaurung‘s Artanis swaps proved to be key early allowing Team 8 to claim the first two kills and the first Immortal. While Team 8 continued to dominate the Objectives, Dignitas was able to keep the game even by getting the better of the team fights. In the end the superior team fighting proved to be the difference as Dignitas was able to take the game without ever winning an Objective.

The second game saw the teams head to Cursed Hollow. Team 8’s unique style of play was on full display in this game as they opted to go with a comp lacking any ranged Heroes. Team 8 appeared to have the better of the play early, despite a comp geared towards the late game, but just as they were starting to increase their advantage they lost a team fight. This allowed Dignitas to not only even the game, but to also secure a Curse and take the lead. In the end, the lack of poke came back to haunt Team 8 as they were forced to commit all in when team fighting and Dignitas was able to get the better of the engagements.

Image courtesy of ESL Heroes

Game 3 was on Infernal Shrine. Dignitas went with Kerrigan, a staple on Infernal Shrines. They also had Kael’thas versus Team 8’s three melee comp. Play was quickly in favor of Dignitas and they were able to secure several kills and the first Punisher. This propelled them to a full level lead, which prevented Team 8 from being able to contest the second Punisher. Despite solid aggression from Team 8, Dignitas continually got the best of the Objectives and the team fights en route to a convincing victory and a 3-0 sweep.

Going into the event there were questions about how well Team 8 would do on LAN and whether they were a legit contender. Although they were not able to overcome the European teams, they proved that they are the NA team with the most potential. It is easy to forget that a few short months ago people were predicting them to finish last in the HGC. Their progress over that time has been phenomenal and they still seem to be improving.

Image courtesy of ESL Heroes

With one spot remaining in the Finals, Misfits faced off once again with Team Dignitas.

Misfits vs. Team Dignitas

The match began on Towers of Doom. Early Alter shots favored Misfits in part due to Dignitas having one less body to contest due to their Abathur pick. As the fifth Alter phase began Dignitas was down 32 to 16 in Core health. Dignitas slowly started to build up an experience lead, but Misfits was able to take the remaining Alter shots they needed by repeatedly disrupting Dignitas’ Void Prison into Ring of Frost wombo combos.

Game 2 was on Cursed Hollow. Both teams opted for double warrior and double ranged poke. Dignitas reached Level 10 first thanks to an early Boss grab. They kept this advantage despite losing the first Curse by once again going for aggressive Boss captures. Misfits later caught Dignitas on yet another Boss attempt, but while they were able to steal the Boss it ended up costing them all five of their Heroes in a death trap created by Chromie with Time Traps and Slowing Sands. Undeterred at losing one Boss, Dignitas went for the other Boss a short time later and attempted to push for the win, but Misfits made yet another epic Core save, this time at 9%, and marched to victory themselves after wiping Dignitas.

Game 3 took place on the ever popular Infernal Shrines. There were interesting picks on both sides as Misfits paired Lucio with Medivh and Dignitas opted to go with Tracer. Dignitas once again took a slight advantage into the mid-game. They expanded this lead even further after securing the third Punisher. Fifteen minutes into the game each team had only been able to manage one kill, but Dignitas had the clear Structural advantage. After securing a Level 20 Punisher, Dignitas moved to finish the game. After a few tense moments it became clear that the Punisher was simply too strong and there would not be another miracle defense.

Game 4 saw the teams head to Sky Temple. Play was fairly even thru the first two Temple phases with neither team being able to secure an advantage. Just as Misfits started to open up a slight experience lead thanks to some well timed kills, Dignitas turned the table by getting a couple of kills of their own and capturing the Boss. Just as the game appeared to be tilting in favor of Dignitas, Misfits reclaimed the momentum by coming out on the winning end of a small team fight. Misfits was the first to hit Level 20 with nearly a full level lead, but Dignitas quickly closed the game by winning the next team fight. They immediately moved to take the Boss and pushed towards the bottom Keep with him. Misfits made some small errors in positioning while defending and were quickly blown up by Chromie. With members of Misfits rapidly falling, Dignitas moved in to close out the game and take the series to a Game 5.

The match was set to be decided on Battlefield of Eternity. The draft for Game 5 ventured into new territory with both teams picking Heroes that hadn’t previously seen much play in this event.

Image courtesy of ESL Heroes

Dignitas got the better of the Immortal race on the first Objective, but Misfits used a strong defense to secure the second Immortal despite falling behind initially. Dignitas hit Level 13 shortly after the third Immortal phase began and after patient play were able to use the Talent advantage to secure several kills as well as the Immortal. By the time the Immortal was defeated Dignitas was up 16 to 13 in levels. Still down multiple levels when the next Immortal phase began, Misfits had no choice but to contest the Objective. Dignitas showed the power of level advantage by easily dispatching several members of Misfits en route to claiming a strongly shielded Immortal. As a result, Dignitas claimed the first Keep of the game without losing a single Structure of their own. Moments later Dignitas decisively won yet another team fight and easily destroyed the enemy Core to complete the reverse sweep.

With that stunning comeback completed, the field was set for the Western Clash Final. Fnatic and Team Dignitas were the last two teams left standing, and one would soon be able to call themselves Western Clash Champions.