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The first team eliminated from the 2018 World of Warcraft Asia-Pacific Regional Finals was the 2017 champs.
Unitas GG took the Australian flag to BlizzCon last year, a surprising champion who thrived with their aggressive playstyle and team compositions. But this year, in a slower metagame, they couldn’t survive the first day of the tournament.
Australia may still be well represented at the World Championship as the favorites entering the regional, Gronks, put together two strong 3-0 wins to reach the upper bracket finals. There they’ll face Korean side Give It, who looked just as dominant playing their “KFC” team composition of Warrior, Hunter, and Shaman. There’s only one spot at BlizzCon available, though, so both will need to bring their A-game tonight.
In the lower bracket, Taiwan’s second seed, ZFA, will face the top-seeded Korean squad, Team Beast. The winner will then battle the survivor of ROC Bear King’s Braised Foods, the top Taiwanese side, and Australian squad Mad Dog.
ZFA narrowly survived their first match against Unitas GG, a back-and-forth 3-2 series that saw the Taiwanese side escape with a win by the skin of their teeth. They won the first game before the Australians recovered to take a series lead. Their Restoration Shaman, Moonkin, and Demon Hunter composition outlasted the pressure put out by ZFA’s Warrior and his Mortal Strike thanks to the Demon Hunter’s Mana Rift draining ZFA’s healer. But ZFA had an answer, subbing in their fourth player, Yu-Hsiang “BB” Huang. His Rogue gave them the edge, but barely. BB escaped what looked like certain death with just a sliver of health in multiple altercations, buying enough time for ZFA to take the last two maps.
None of the other matches were close. The event was dominated by Resto Shaman, Resto Druid, Arms Warrior, Beast Master Hunter, Balance Druid, and Havoc Demon Hunter, with most winning compositions featuring a combination of the above. Luckily for the teams involved, the upcoming PvP balance tuning announced yesterday, which nerfs Restoration Shaman and Druids, as well as Beast Mastery Hunters, won’t yet be live.
The biggest exception was Misfit Toy, a Korean team who fielded a Holy Priest, Feral Druid, and Assassination Rogue composition against Gronks. And then, much to the surprise of the broadcasters and Twitch chat, they pulled out a Destruction Warlock and Shadow Priest in their elimination game against Team Beast. To no one’s surprise, except Misfit Toy, perhaps, the Warlock didn’t work out. The class has long been a staple of World of Warcraft Arena, but the Battle for Azeroth version lacks the survivability to make it viable at the highest levels.
We’ll have to wait and see if anyone’s hiding something new for the final day of the event. But in the end, the sole spot at BlizzCon will likely go to the team who can execute the best. Through day one, that looks like Gronks with their Resto Shaman, Demon Hunter, and Balance Druid squad, but Give It’s KFC comp looks great too, even beating Mad Dog when they pulled out a counter composition that ROC used to sweep Team Beast in a previous matchup.