On the eve of today’s Heroes of the Storm launch, the first major open live tournament in North America concluded last night.
The World Cyber Arena (WCA) Global Pro Qualifier for North America featured the eight best teams in the continent battling to win $10,000 of a $19,000 prize pool and an expenses-paid berth to the WCA main event later this year in China.
While events like Heroes of the Dorm, which features college teams, and Blizzcon, an invite-only tournament with mostly pickup lineups, were live finals, they didn’t feature the best professional teams in the game. But WCA pitted Cloud9 Maelstrom and Tempo Storm against each other, the two best teams in America.
Entering the tournament, Cloud9 Maelstrom was a prohibitive favorite, winners of most events in 2015 including the first season of the Heroes Major League run by ESL. But it wasn’t Cloud9 that took the title.
Tempo Storm pulled off the upset, and it was surprising in a fashion: They swept Cloud9 Maelstrom in a 3-0 series that showed they came to the ESL Studio in Burbank better prepared for the series and the live tournament environment.
GGs to Tempo. Holy moly we need more LAN practice.
— DenialKingCaffeine (@CallmeCaff) June 2, 2015
John Paul “Caffeine” Lopez, often considered the game’s top Warrior player, noted their struggle with a live event after the match. The team, comprised mostly of players with little competitive experience outside of Heroes, doesn’t match the competitive breadth of players like Tempo Storm’s Taylor “Arthelon” Eder or Christopher “Zuna” Buechter, who competed at the League of Legends World Championships in 2013 with Vulcun.
The Zuna and Arthelon pairing proved potent for Tempo Storm as they took the series. While Cloud9 Maelstrom jumped to early leads in the first two games thanks to their expert ganks and play from immaculate assassin play on Kerrigan and Illidan from Kun “iDream” Fang, they couldn’t convert those kills into victories. Despite pulling ahead in all three games, Tempo Storm would weather the storm and recover with big team fight wins after securing key talents at level 13 or 16.
Game two was a Garden of Terror affair. Tempo Storm fell behind five kills before eventually winning the game after reaching Kael’Thas’ ridiculous level 16 power spike.
“In the early game they tended to four and five man roam, but that eventually hurt them because they were losing all the lane soak,” Arthelon said in a mid-series interview. “We just stabilized, made sure we got all the soak in three lanes. Eventually Kael’Thas hit 16 and it was pretty easy from there.”
Game three, another map with Arthelon wielding Kael’Thas’ insane late game power, was a relatively comfortable win for Tempo Storm compared to the other matches.
That victory sends Tempo Storm to the WCA finals as America’s representative. Long considered the top team in the game through the alpha and beta, Tempo Storm was passed over by the organizations invited to Blizzcon last year. But with the game’s launch today and the inception of live tournaments, they seem ready to take advantage of their transcendence, especially with the new addition of Zuna worked into the lineup.
Of course, with the release of Heroes of the Storm, it’s likely that some of the players and team who will dethrone Tempo Storm are just now getting a taste of the game. With the Road to Blizzcon set to begin heading into the title’s first world championship, competition on the Nexus is bound to get more intense.