This weekend at DreamHack Austin, we got to see a few awesome things: the return of some Heroes of the Dorm MVPs, a crowd-pleasing bear, and an incredible five-match long nail-biter of a final that resulted in Naventic narrowly beating out Cloud9 for the prize of $25,000.
We saw some killer talent knocked out during the single-elimination portion of the tournament and while teams like Panda Global and Astral Authority fought hard to stay in the running, the unfortunate nature of the game is that only the strong will survive and move on to the Quarterfinals.
Of those surviving teams, Naventic and Gale Force eSports faced off in the first round of the quarterfinals, where we saw Zuna calling shots and making killer plays with Muradin while Fan gave an authoritative performance with Tassadar that would see the hero banned in Naventic’s games for the rest of the tournament. Thanks to Naventic’s excellent target swapping and their opponent’s inability to collect themselves after the first round’s shellacking, this match saw the end of Gale Force’s tournament life despite the team’s refusal to die until the very last moment.
In the second round, we saw Cloud9 fight against one of their scrim partners, COGnitive Gaming, but they thoroughly trounced COG with superior coordination and stun-chaining despite excellent performances from Glaurung and Faye. Perhaps more exciting than the matches themselves, we saw Cloud9 draft an unusual pick in Rexxar – who drew enormous crowd response, and even prompted uproarious chanting from audience members.
Of our two teams to survive until Finals, Cloud9 was the favored victor, but Naventic surprised both the audience and casters by eeking out a victory in a very close first game. Cloud9 took the second and third games thanks to their excellent rotations, and ability to chain crowd control, but not all was lost. Naventic managed to come back from Cloud9’s match point and took the tournament 3-2.
As an aside, Cloud9’s iDream deserves his own special mention for Rexxar play, and during draft phases and intense moments, the audience voiced their overwhelming support for his choice with a deafening “Misha! Misha! Misha!”
After taking first place at DreamHack Austin, Naventic has become the first North American team to qualify for DreamHack Summer 2016, and while other teams will have an additional chance to join them, this gives Naventic a nice breadth to rest up, hone their skills, and come out swinging.
Images are copyright Anita Clyde.