Team Pikachu, who garnered a lot of attention after their achievements in DreamHon, and One Trick Pony, a newly formed powerhouse who is starting to shine more every day, faced each other in the Losers Bracket on a Friday evening.

Let me warn you, this was hell of a series. Get your popcorn ready!

Game 1

In the first game we saw OTP as Legion, Pika as Hellbourne. Bans did not have anything special except that Pikachu blind-banned Pebbles, which we do not usually see.

With Streufutter and gordob trying to out-draft each other, we saw some out of ordinary picks from both of these teams. It has been a while since we did not see a team built around Swiftblade in the competitive scene. Actually, Swiftblade was a hero which Team Pikachu liked to run in some scrims, together with Engineer—it was a surprise when OTP picked both of these heroes instead of Pikachu.

Hellbourne was not any less interesting—it looked like a very balanced drafting with no obvious advantages for either team.

At first glance, it seemed obvious the Legion side would run a basic lineup with a dual lane, granting their carry, Swiftblade, as much free farm as possible with the support of Engineer, with a jungler (Tempest) assisting them while Master Of Arms and Wretched Hag soloed their lanes.

However, this was not the case. They chose to go with something very odd, and in my opinion something not as effective: a dual lane Wretched Hag together with Master Of Arms. As many of us know, Wretched Hag can be a very scary hero with early levels and some farm—with Master of Arms laning with him he missed all the experience.

Lanes were Engineer & Swiftblade versus solo Draconis top, Nymphora & Cthulhuphant versus Master of Arms & Wretched Hag mid, Tempest vs Bubbles bottom and Parasite roaming between Legion and Hellbourne jungles.

As expected, fUzi on Swiftblade was getting free farm top while Draconis was at something like 6 Creeps with 0 deaths at 4 minutes, which is actually quite impressive for a “suicide” situation with a hero like Draconis. I thought Hellbourne would crush their mid lane vs. Hag and MoA/Engineer, but this wasn’t the case. Hag actually had more CK than Cthu in the lane while both MoA and Engineer outleveled Nymphora.

Bottom lane was kind of even between Bubbles and Tempest despite two successful ganks from Parasite, who had been roaming a lot in this game. I knew OTP was a good team, but did not expect them to do this well against a top-tier team like Pikachu early game.

Later in the game OTP made a change I really admire. At around the 12th minute, when they had given enough experience and free farm to Swiftblade, they let him solo versus Bubbles while making the under-farmed Tempest and the under-leveled Draconis prevent him from being alone in top. They also forced some sort of a trilane in mid with MoA, Hag, and Engineer, which is a bit out of the ordinary.

As the game progressed, Swiftblade continued to dominate every lane he visited. By the 16th minute he was sitting on Ghost Marchers, Runed Axe, and half of Abyssal Skull with around 400 GPM, leading the GPM Chart List.

Now, even if the kills favored Pikachu (11 to 5), One Trick Pony was moving slowly but steadily forward. They knew that Swiftblade with 20 minutes of free farm could outcarry a suicide Draconis with some to no help from Parasite, who—God knows why—chose to help Bubbles instead of their carry almost all the time.

Between the 20th and 24th minute there was a farm-fest. Swiftblade led the way with almost 500 GPM while Draconis was struggling around 350 GPM, just finishing his Nullstone. However, at the 24th minute, probably one of the best team coordinations and and most successful teamfights I have ever seen in HoN occurred.

Engineer used his ultimate and Tempest held FOUR HEROES JUST ON THE EDGE! HOLY COW! That literally made me scream while watching the replay! Engineer’s ultimate on top of Tempest, together with Swiftblade’s devastating Swift Slashes was too much for Pika to handle, and after the wound they received in that fight it was just too hard for them to recover. They kept making mistakes and losing teamfights, which forced them to concede and try their chances in the next game.

One Trick Pony took game one, a fairly balanced contest until that AWESOME, AWESOME teamfight which showed the power of hero and player synergy and the difference it can make in the outcome of a game. Despite what I considered to be odd laning choices, OTP played amazing and clearly did something right to take a team down like Pikachu.

Game 2

In the second game, Pika was holding their place in the Legion side, this time facing OTP in Winbourne knowing it would take more than the last time to get this game under their belt. Bans did not have anything special, though both teams picked some out of ordinary heroes again, Balphagore for Pika and Electrician for One Trick Pony.

I am a huge fan of Balphagore. I believe he is an incredibly strong hero with amazing tanking and pushing power. As for Electrician, after the current nerfs, I do not believe he is a viable pick anymore but with early farm he can become as scary as he used to be—it is just a bit harder!

The teams started off with four-man gank attempts with Pika trying bottom and OTP trying top, which obviously ended as failures as neither team could catch those solo heroes. Both teams did secure their lane camp, preventing the enemy from warding it before Creep spawn to block it.

gordob (aka Mbrei) on Fayde chose to dual lane middle together with Aluna vs Pebbles and Plague Rider. The middle matchup looked to be an interesting lane to watch, as both teams had amazing kill potential. While both Fayde and Pebbles require an early PK/Farm to be effective, will Plague Rider’s denies be enough to keep Fayde shut down?

Right off the bat, we saw Electrician played by Xibbe soloing top lane versus Bubbles. Normally, you would think Bubbles would crush Electrician, but with the help of ArchiTigeR’s Ophelia, Bubbles had better watch out. Going back to bottom lane, Glacius & Balphagore laned versus a suicide lane Tempest, denying his lane as much as possible, but one has to wonder if that is a smart idea against Balphagore. The more he denies, the easier it will be for Balphagore to push their tower. This will be tricky!

At the 3rd minute, Ophelia came mid with a Skeleton King. Together with Pebbles and Plague nukes, it was more than enough to get the bloodlust kill on Fayde. A great start for OTP. Immediately after, ArchiTigeR on Ophelia moves to top and gets a kill on Bubbles with the help of Electrician. By playing a very effective and active Ophelia, OTP showed the strength of a roaming ganking jungler!

By 6th minute, with the help of Tempest already denying, Balphagore and Glacius got their first tower kill (as predicted) on bottom and headed for the second one. Judging by the Creep kills, GPM, and hero kills, the game was fairly balanced at this point. Electrician was free farming for OTP, as was Balphagore for Pika, who also had a tower kill in their pocket. Could OTP let Pika push more free towers, or would they make a move?

OTP successfully made the right changes and defended their bottom tier two tower as Pika started to group up and attempt tower pushes, as they should with a relatively farmed Balphagore. However, Tempest didn’t miss a free chance and pushed the top tower, reacting very fast and well; another great move by OTP.

Both teams played a bit more defensively, trying to push but not committing too much. Players from both teams got caught by the enemy the instant they pushed too far without enough vision, but no organized ganks or pushes were seen from either team.

The game progressed as a farm fest, granting Hellbourne a 9k Gold and 11k Experience lead when Pikachu finally decided to commit enough to push the tier one top tower. However, this time One Trick Pony was not willing to give it up without a fight. They were ready to get in a teamfight as they looked stronger with a level 17 farmed Electrician versus Pikachu, whose highest leveled hero was 14.

OTP was just way too beefy for Pikachu to handle. The teamfight was one-sided in favor of Streufutter and his team. GGs were called shortly after that fight and MVP for Game 2 was probably ArchiTigeR on that amazing active Ophelia, assisting his team to dominate top and middle lanes, crushing his foes.

It is really amazing that a newly formed team, OTP, can get a result of 2 to 0 against an awesome, incredibly experienced and skilled team like Pikachu. Maybe Pikachu was having a bad day—suffering due to the absence of Buch—or maybe they were just out of shape. But there is one thing for sure, One Trick Pony is moving up the ladder strong and steady! Watch out!

As always, you are more than welcome to request anything for me to cover by writing on my wall!

- RoLanD

Big shoutout to [S2]Kros for being so helpful maintaining my community channel, he helps me without getting bored of it every week on patch days, he is THE best!