They were the favorites, the supposed best team in the world, but after the first day of the World Finals they are shattered. Sync eSports traveled to Bangkok, Thailand with only one goal on their mind: hoisting the World Championship trophy. The most dominant team from the North American and European region crushed every competition up until the LAN Finals, winning seven out of the eight HoN Tour Season 3 cycles. No matter who was asked, the answer was always “Sync eSports is the favorite, they will be the World Champions”.
That construct collapsed in the middle of the night, when the two high-profile teams from Thailand defended their home turf and sent Sync eSports packing. The opening contest was one of the more hyped matches of the day with Sync going up against Acer.Dogg, the reigning Thai HoN Tour Champion. It was a team of stars against a unit, emerging as one of the strongest teams in the most populated region. What happened in the match was a sign of things to come, and a display of Thai dominance. From top to bottom Acer.Dogg played one of the most splendid matches seen to date. From the drafting screen on, they had a plan. In an impressive display, they maintained discipline, continued on the path and ultimately crushed Sync eSports. Magnificent Fayde play, the staple Doctor Repulsor pick as well as Rhapsody gracing the battlefield with protective tunes - the Thai champions just put on a clinic.
Most notable was the restraint and composure. For the most part the Thai scene was known for aggression, pressing the advantage and ultimately setting themselves up for failure in the late game. Throughout HoN’s competitive history, that trait followed them around and cost them several statement wins at numerous big events. Acer.Dogg didn’t fall into this trap. Even with the biggest of leads, they’ve stayed cool, calm and collected, picking their moves, waiting for the opportunity and capitalizing on every small mistake. Even one of the more harsh critics of the international HoN scene, analyst Kyle ‘Swindlemelonzz’ Freedman was in awe by the display, giving them high praise of “sG playstyle and execution”. Saying “they took sG strategies and made them even better” was probably the highest form of endorsement he could have given.
Acer.Dogg became the story of the first day, taking away a little bit from their Thai brothers. For the first time in the history are three Thai teams represented in the Final 4 of an international HoN event. Acer.Dogg and Hybrid Gaming emerged victorious over Sync eSports in the Group of Death to keep their title hopes alive, while Neolution eSports.MRR lost to Bad Monkey Gaming, but still secured enough wins to advance from Group B.
This makes the storylines heading into the final day of competition as bizarre and unique as ever. Last year in the BITEC Convention Center, it was Neolution eSports.MRR as the last hope for the foreign teams. They’ve served as the last bastion left for the three NA/EU teams to conquer, before they ultimately fell to the old Bad Monkey Gaming and only took home the fourth place. Now the roles are switched and the new version of Bad Monkey Gaming is the last beacon of hope for the NA/EU region previously spoiled by success. The possibility of two Thai teams being the last standing and slugging it out in a fierce Best of Five in front of their home crowd is more real than ever. Bad Monkey Gaming might have won their group stage, but now they have to face Hybrid Gaming in the Semis.
That bout might be one of the more thrilling contests for the international audience, but most of the domestic eyes will be pinned on the rematch of Acer.Dogg against Neolution eSports.MRR. Especially Neo.MRR will go into this match looking for the sweet taste of revenge, a dish best served cold despite the hot climate in the Convention Center. For Acer.Dogg the title is close and almost in reach, for Neolution eSports.MRR pride is on the line. Not even two months ago these two teams were scheduled to meet in the Semifinals of the Thai HoN Tour playoffs with Neo.MRR being the mighty favorite, expected to be crowned the HoN Tour champion eventually. Acer.Dogg did to them, what they did with Sync eSports, they’ve dismantled them, picked them apart and took the crown from them. The story for the rising superstars of Acer.Dogg might come full circle with only two more obstacles to climb.
Neo.MRR will try to crush their hopes first, but if that fails, either Bad Monkey Gaming or Hybrid Gaming will not be a push over for Acer.Dogg either. Both teams have shown their capabilities during the group stage with Bad Monkey Gaming going undefeated so far on their LAN debut. The European team had some minor moments of concern in the match against CIS representative Cats Gaming, but always managed to stay level-headed and calm. While their rivals of Sync eSports are now marked with the “choke” on LAN, BOXI and his teammates came out of the first stressful day unscathed. Now they are looking to keep up the momentum and fight off the hordes of Thai gamers trying to climb to the top of the mountain, overtaking the HoN crown from the North American and European region. Can they muster enough strength or will the swarm of Thai competitors left overrun them? Tune in tonight at (no clue of the schedule) to Honcast to get the answers and catch BreakyCPK, Mini_Maggot, Beef and Swindlemelonzz on their final day of coverage from the biggest Heroes of Newerth tournament in the history.
Fantasy is a journalist with four years of experience working in various eSports. He is currently the HoN Tour correspondent for the CIS and SEA regions, as well as an editor for both ESL Gaming and compLexity Gaming. In addition to his online endeavors, he studies Publicity and Communication, plays American football, and loves movies.