By Fantasy

With Heroes of Newerth’s glorious return back to the big stage of DreamHack less than a month away, the slots of participants are quickly filling up. For the North American and European player base only the fifth qualifier remains, while the Southeast Asian scene just completed their entire process.

In the end the storylines from the World Finals Wildcard Qualifier repeated themselves with two of the strongest Thai teams showing their class against two SEA teams. Fighting for the World Finals slots two months ago were Neolution eSports.MRR and Hybrid Gaming, fighting for their trip to Sweden this time around were Neolution eSports.MRR and Acer.DDOG.

Both teams first made it out of their regional qualifier by defeating some strong competitors themselves. In DDOG’s case the road to the overall SEA qualifier was paved with tough obstacles. First they had to square off against their young rivals of Get Together, followed by a rematch of the Thai HoN Tour Grand Finals of last season - playing Hybrid Gaming. All of those matches were close and in the end Acer.DDOG needed all six games against the top teams to advance. For Neo.MRR the road seemingly was easier. After dismantling their Division 1 opponent in KaZy, they proceeded to utterly dominate Signature.NakDarb in the Quarterfinals. Their toughest test in the semis came in form of the new Sorry Sorry, a team still on a mission to find a successful version of themselves. All those opponents turned the Thai qualifier portion into a walk in the park for the reigning Thai HoN Tour cycle champions, while their rivals of Acer.DDOG had to claw their way to every victory.

The relaxed stroll through the beautiful landscape of Caldavar quickly turned into a massive battle for Neolution eSports.MRR though, the second they entered the final stage on the road to DreamHack. Being thrown into the four-team round robin tournament against Acer.DDOG, DTSx from Malaysia and DCeS from Indonesia was a different challenge - at least on the first day. Right off the bat the two favorites to make it to Sweden clashed in what turned into an epic battle. Neolution eSports.MRR finally had to show their entire game, had to go the distance and was pushed by a team - something unlike anything they had experienced in the first three qualifying matches. Acer.DDOG, determined to make it to Sweden, pulled out all the stops, pressured Neo.MRR in the attempt to not only send a message loud and clear during this qualifier, but also for the upcoming Cycle 3 offline finals. Neo.MRR stumbled, they struggled and nearly cracked, but they didn’t have to admit total defeat. Fighting back from 0-1 deficit, ending the game in a tie, all was good for the two teams and the proud HoN region of Thailand.

The battle of Indonesia against Malaysia might not have received too much attention with the Thai battle going on at the same time, but DTSx scoring a clean and clear victory over their Indonesian foes is still noteworthy. For the past couple of months, ever since Malaysia and Singapore lost their star teams in Orange eSports and iMpunity, Indonesian HoN elevated itself to be the biggest and best thing in the SEA region outside of Thailand. With a slew of tournaments being hosted in Indonesia and real improvement happening it was a shock that a Malaysian team would outplay them. After the disappointing outing of the Malaysian representative You Meet Wrong Opponent at the World Finals, this serves as a small beacon of hope for the once dominant country in the SEA HoN region.

Unfortunately for Malaysia, Indonesia and the entire SEA countries, they once more had to admit defeat to the Thai teams. After Neolution eSports.MRR and Acer.DDOG pushed each other to the absolute limit in the direct clash, they showed no mercy against their next two rivals. Both allowed not a single map victory more for the SEA representatives, shutting them out completely. In Acer.DDOG’s case this even turned into an absolute slugfest on the final day against DTSx in Game 2. Running an unconventional and experimental looking strat with a jungling Artillery was not only getting the job done, but getting it done in spectacular fashion. DTSx had no answers throughout the entire duration of the match - which only lasted the mandatory 15 minutes and change.

With that the two Thai teams that have been a fixture and model of consistency in the Thai HoN Tour for the last two seasons will make their way to Jönköping, Sweden to validate the strong performance they’ve showed at the World Finals. For Acer.DDOG a rematch with Sync eSports is possible, the very team they upset on the opening match of the World Finals this year. For Neolution eSports.MRR it’s not only the coming out party of duiqi to the entire NA/EU audience, but also the return to DreamHack after two and a half years of absence. Back in the winter of 2012 Neo.MRR was the first Thai team to ever make it out to an international tournament, a preview of the global phenomenon Heroes of Newerth and their competitive circuit has grown up to be.

Overall the DreamHack Summer 2015 lineup is looking stacked for the return of Heroes of Newerth to the big and beloved stage of the Elmia Convention Center. Not only the two best Thai teams are making their way over, but they will be met by Sync eSports, Reason Gaming, Nullstone Gaming and the newly acquired Druidz eSport. The fifth and final qualifier is coming up this weekend with the last chance of the reigning World Champions Bad Monkey Gaming to punch their tickets. In addition to those seven combatants, a team from China will make the trip to Northern Europe as well, making the return a truly international competition.

About The Author: Fantasy
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.