Get ready for the first game of the HGC Finals on the BlizzCon stage. These final 8 teams are the best the world has to offer and this is the first game of the final bracket. A showdown between the North American hopefuls, Team Freedom and a Korean Powerhouse, MVP Black.
The First Time On The Big Stage Can Be A Shock
Extremely confident is the only way to describe MVP Black, who sailed smoothly through Group A. They’re matching up against Team Freedom from the North American region. A team who’s playing their first matches, at BlizzCon, in front of the big crowd.
Team Freedom at times challenged the Mid Season Brawl Champions, Fnatic, perhaps inspired by the snub of Fnatic’s Schwimpi, during the initial interviews. Team Freedom eventually overcame adversity in Group B and soundly beat Beyond the Game, for the second time, to advance.
This is nothing new for the cool headed MVP Black. They’re used to performing on the largest stages and that would clearly be an advantage. Even though their opponent didn’t appear nervous; how could they not be? This was a brand new experience for Team Freedom and the pressure of the bright lights cannot be understated.
The Draft Can Win The Game Before It Begins
The stage is lit. With the draft beginning it’s clear that MVP Black had addressed possibly their only weakness. Their bravado and their self assured swagger led them to underestimate their opponents, in the past. Immediately removing the possibility of Lucio showed MVP Black had actually researched their opponents.
Team Freedom boasts the single best Lucio in the tournament thus far. This fact was not ignored by the Korean powerhouse and the draft pushed Team Freedom into an early corner. MVP Black also raised eyebrows when they selected Ragnaros. An homage to Chinese meta, which always favors Ragnaros on Tomb of the Spider Queen.
It didn’t take nearly as much research for Team Freedom to realize their tank, ETC, was in major danger. MVP Black is notorious for diving all heroes on a single opponent. Eliminating someone almost instantly always provides for them an unfair team fight advantage. It’s hard to win 4v5 in a fair fight, and this isn’t a fair fight.
Game One Was A Drubbing
Team Freedom started cautiously on Tomb of the Spider Queen and managed any early pressure very well. Staying with MVP Black closely in experience and feeling out the game. It was clear that ETC was under duress and would be the focus of the majority of the aggression from MVP Black.
It was especially clear as ETC became first blood and MVP Black followed up shortly with the first weavers, to complete the map objective just ahead of their opponents. It seemed a bold strategy to move all 5 players to the mid-lane for MVP Black, but it paid dividends when they took the early lead.
Trikslyr and Khaldor both spotted the danger of the growing exp gap, during their commentary of the match. They were spot on as MVP Black took full advantage of a higher talent tier and snuffed out ETC again. Muradin flying in and stun locking him routinely was clearly becoming a problem for Team Freedom.
This was never more apparent then when Uther was snuffed out before the first full team fight of the match. Missing the divine shield and ETC missing his mosh; Team Freedom was quickly in danger. A sleep dart on the remaining support Auriel and the fight was over.
Moving forward the experience lead quickly expanded and eventually left Team Freedom with an insurmountable 5 level gap. Their late game damage of Malthael and Greymane simply couldn’t reach the back line of MVP Black. With Ana’s quest completed; her range was simply too much and her ability to keep the already tanky muradin at full health finished off Team Freedom for good.
The Tale Of Two Games
On Braxis Holdout, it looked like we were in for a repeat performance. Chromie couldn’t land any combos and Mura was reeking havoc. ETC went down again early and you could feel groans from the North America crowd.
All it took was a deep breath and a little execution in a team fight; Team Freedom came roaring back. They had punched the giants in the lip and stopped the 3 level experience lead from growing. A great rotation from Dehaka and some clever work from Rehgar kept ETC in the fight. Just long enough for Chromie to land a big one.
The smooth play of MVP black quieted the crowd back down and righted the ship. They began systematically pushing both top and bottom lanes. They even split pushed bottom as a team behind hellbats leaving their empowered zerg wave alone top to cause its own destruction.
It looked all but over before another big punch was thrown by Team Freedom. In another bold team fight on the bottom half of Braxis, Team Freedom threw out all the stops catching MVP’s support in a great transition. ETC went for broke, sliding in and rocking a mosh pit. The bold move capturing Muradin and MVP Black’s main source of damage long enough for a combo from Chromie to remove them both.
Ancestral Healing came down saving ETC and propelling the NA squad to a 4 kill fight. An instant transition into boss and Team Freedom looked to have a chance. They weren’t intimidated and the crowd was rocking as they had finally shown their teeth.
The class of the Korean team was what brought them back. Smoothly operating as a team, they systematically dismantled all threats in lane and moved to pressure their opponents. In the end Team Freedom was out classed and MVP pushed through to the core. Thus ending game 2 and dousing the heated hopes of Team Freedom. MVP Black moves on to await the winner of the next match between Team expert & Team Dignitas.