HGC ANZ Preseason Day 2: Taking Shape

As the second night of the ANZ pre-season qualifiers comes to a close on Tuesday 30 January, we now look at how the standings are starting to take shape. This series of articles will be focusing on the results of each night on a round-by-round basis, with a slightly greater focus on matchups that were streamed to the Blizzard_ANZ Twitch channel.

ANZ HGC Preseason Qualifier 2018

Round 1

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse vs NekoMimi
Winner: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
In the first match of the day we witnessed Mickey Mouse Clubhouse take victory over NekoMimi. Both of these teams had come into this match undefeated, and although NekoMimi put up a strong fight, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse showed superior macro play. Flaunting their ability to control the map objectives on Tomb of the Spider Queen, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse took a stand in the early game – taking down all opposing forts during the very first gem turn in of the game.

As the game progressed, NekoMimi later found themselves down in experience and without their heroic abilities. In a gutsy boss steal attempt, many members of NekoMimi fell, except for Mitsy on Genji. Seeing the low health bars on the red team, he quickly turned around to clean them up, all on his own, while still making it out on a sliver of health.

Ultimately though, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse were able to secure victory when Lt. Morales, played by Moops, flew the whole team to the bottom keep using Medivac. Taking the keep, and a few enemies with them, they then went onto the core, ruining NekoMimi’s winning streak in the process.

Other highlights from this round:

Alternative vs QM Warriors
Winner: QM Warriors
Moops from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse has praised QM Warriors as being a team to look out for, based on his previous scrims. With QM Warriors’ victory over Alternative, they rise above another mid-tier team and move one step closer to the top 5.

Round 2

Rich Gang vs QM Warriors
Winner: Rich Gang

Rich Gang were a bit of a question mark team, despite having an arsenal of well-known players, there were uncertainties about how they stack up to other teams. Playing against a similarly ranked team at the time, this match between QM Warriors helped to clarify the uncertainty surrounding Rich Gang.

In the early game, QM Warriors’ Muradin, played by Laika, proved to be quite elusive for Rich Gang. Managing to peel for his teammates while dodging every spell flung his way, Laika even managed to secure a few kills in the process. Despite the impressive beginning, Rich Gang moved their focus to macro play. By fully utilising their global advantage (with Deuces on the Dehaka) Rich Gang were able to secure themselves an experience advantage they maintained throughout the match.

This level lead allowed Rich Gang to snowball very quickly, with QM Warriors unable to match them in even team fights. After numerous chaotic teamfights, Rich Gang were able to secure victory and earn their place in the top 5, at least for now.

Other highlights for this round:

Downfall Gaming vs Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
Winner: Downfall
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse lost their first match, while Downfall remained undefeated.

Dark Sided vs NekoMimi
Winner: Dark Sided
Dark Sided beat NekoMimi, maintaining their own winning streak.

Round 3

Dark Sided vs Downfall
Winner: Dark Sided

In one of the most anticipated matchups of the whole qualifier, Dark Sided and Downfall went head to head on Dragon Shire to determine which team is on top. Besides Rich Gang, these two teams were the only undefeated teams remaining. As their place in the Premier Division is very likely at this point, this matchup was just the first taste of what’s to come in the season ahead.

The early game was extroardinarily even; both Dark Sided and Downfall waited tensely for the other to slip up. It wasn’t until Dark Sided hit level 10 and turned an unsuccessful gank attempt into a Dragon Knight, that they were able to swing the momentum in their favour.

Dark Sided acknowledged the reliance on team fighting in Downfall’s draft, and, because of this, they avoided team fighting as much as possible. Instead, they painted the map blue with superior macro play, inching ever closer to the enemy’s core where they would eventually take victory.

Round 4

Team Celery vs Roles Unspecified
Winner: Roles Unspecified

Both Team Celery and Roles Unspecified had come into this series at the bottom of the ladder. Whilst Team Celery were tied for last place with zero points, Roles Unspecified were only just above them, having only earnt themselves one point.

Unfortunately, Team Celery were unable to secure their first win of the qualifiers, but it did give Roles Unspecified a chance to show just what they’re capable of. The MVP of this match was definitely Rykorse on his Li Ming, who, through his outstanding positioning was able to secure kill after kill with his resets.

After a wild but one-sided match, Roles Unspecified took the game with a four level lead. Although a painful defeat for Team Celery, it is a great opportunity to recognise areas for improvement.

Current Standings:

1. Downfall Gaming 7-1
2. Rich Gang 7-0
2. Dark Sided 7-0
4. NekoMimi 6-2
5. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 6-1
6. QM Warriors 5-3
7. Wolf Pack 4-3
8. Alternative 3-5
9. Saboteur 3-4
10. Salty Dogz Remastered 3-4
11. uA Eggplant 2-6
12. Roles Unspecified 2-5
13. Onyx 1-7
13. Team Celery 0-7
15. Team No Tilt 0-8

Conclusion

Although the standings are starting to flesh out a bit more, there are a few more match ups we need to see before we can properly determine the strength of the top tier teams. Rich Gang is yet to face any of the other four teams that look most promising to qualify for the Premier Division and we’ll have to wait until the last week for this. These matchups will be explosive, with the team finally facing anticipated Premier Division teams Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Dark Sided, and Downfall.

As it stands now, the two teams vying for 5th place, are QM Warriors and NekoMimi.The winner between these two will likely be invited to play in the Premier Division, so long as no major upsets happen over the next two weeks. NekoMimi will be going up against QM Warriors next week and is set to be one of the hottest match ups, so keep your eyes peeled!

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