The battle to be number one in ANZ HotS

Kori Bassi Roar Rookie

By Kori Bassi, Kori Bassi is a Roar Rookie

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    It's going to be a massive 2018 for Australian eSports. (Image: Riot Games)

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    This weekend I was fortunate enough to be invited along to help cast the Electronic Sports League’s Heroes of the Storm Global Championship: Australia and New Zealand season three finals.

    This event had a lot of hype built up for it beforehand, with the uncertainty of whether there would be a new ANZ champion crowned at the end.

    The reason there was so much tension and excitement around these finals was, Nomia – the undefeated giant in ANZ – lost a round to Darksided in the lead up to the midseason brawl. Darksided had managed to take a game off Nomia in the past, but never the match.

    Due to the overlap in timing for competitive events, Nomia were unable to finish playing in the Gamestah tournament. They would need to go overseas to Sweden to compete in the midseason brawl.

    As a result, Darksided were able to take the No. 1 spot in ANZ in Nomia’s absence. When they returned from the midseason brawl, Nomia were then able to play in the ESL last chance one-day qualifiers and secure their spot in the finals.

    Understandably, people were excited to see Nomia and Darksided go head to head since they last clashed.

    When they did meet, fans of both teams were not disappointed. In an unprecedented set of events, Darksided managed to knock Nomia out of the Upper Bracket in the first best of three series after both teams were tied at one game each.

    This set the tone and the stage for the rest of the day as all eyes were on Nomia to see how they would recover.

    Nomia managed to come back through the lower bracket for another match-up in the grand finals. Darksided would go into the grand finals with a one-point winner advantage in the best of five series by winning all their upper bracket series.

    This is where the day truly started.

    Nomia showed in the lower bracket games that they were adjusting their drafting strategy to pick up heroes Darksided were heavily utilising in the day.

    When it came to the grand finals, Nomia picked up the first two games, but Darksided responded by taking out a victory on their map of choice ‘Tomb of the Spider Queen’.

    With the score tied 2-2 it was down to the deciding game to be played on Sky Temple. The game was incredibly back and forth. During the closing minutes, Nomia’s map rotation managed to pick off a member of Darksided and use that momentum to push for the win.

    The entire day was action packed and for a grand final series to go to down to the final game to decide the win, was amazing to see. The improvement from all teams in the space of a few months was impressive.

    Although they didn’t walk away with a win, Darksided were stoked with the result, a result Hayden ‘Sashin’ Kang had tirelessly worked toward since the disbanding of his original team Negative Synergy.

    Negative Synergy was the original team Nomia descended from. Fat94 and robadobah both hailed from Negative Synergy. Arcaner came later to join the reborn roster and afterwards they picked up john and Vanilla.

    As for the history of Darksided, Ashley ‘Demise’ Branson and Sashin had played together previously when Sashin was trying to originally resurrect Negative Synergy.

    Josh ‘Vicarrak’ Lloyd, Jeremy ‘Moops’ Setio and Josh ‘Hacky’ Hackett had all played competitively for other teams prior to the formation of Daniel Morton’s List, which is now referred to as Darksided.

    By looking at both team’s histories, although all players have been involved in the ANZ scene competitively, Nomia is one of the long-standing teams that has kept a majority of the same player roster.

    Nomia are so hard to beat because of their impressive track record both locally and internationally.

    The playstyles of the two teams vary. If we were to dissect Nomia’s gameplay it would be more that they can play a few different strategies. They understand their win conditions to go for that core-destroying push, and have a depth of heroes available to play.

    Nomia do not panic if they are behind in the game, HotS is structured in such a way that comebacks are available and they are well aware of this. Another way Nomia excel is by understanding how each map works and when and where to be at each point in the game.

    Blizzard Estadium

    (Image: Blizzard)

    Darksided’s team captain is Moops, with Sashin as their shot caller and drafter. Previously known as Morton’s List, this team underwent a dramatic transition when they were sponsored by Darksided.

    With their organisation backing them, they had the opportunity to have a boot camp session where they could play together and learn together in person. This would have been an invaluable experience and would have prepared them for Kiev, Ukraine in the upcoming Western Clash if they’d won.

    As for Darksided’s gameplay, based on how long they’ve been together they decided to aim for one strategy they could perfect and play well. This was the smart thing to do.

    Instead of ending up being mediocre at multiple compositions, why not perfect one that you know the ins and outs of? The aggressive style they bring utilises small maps of choice, where you can focus on team fights.

    Although, compared to Nomia, they have a smaller hero pool that they feel comfortable playing, this will expand and diversify in time. Darksided have shown they are hungry to continue improving and will want to walk away with that first place trophy next time they meet.

    What this once again means for ANZ, however, is that no longer will Nomia feel like the looming giant over the region.

    Teams are stepping up their game and will be bolstered by how close Darksided got to dethroning the long reigning kings. The flow on effect as well is the entire region should improve, with better quality of matches available for all.

    Nomia and Darksided recognise this with both teams commending each other for their solid performances on the day, which made for very enjoyable viewing and shoutcasting.

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