With less a week to go until the World Finals in Thailand, things are heating up quite nicely over there and all the players involved are looking forward to it with excitement and are perhaps a bit nervous as well. And while we all are waiting, it is a good time to take a look at the teams that have managed to qualify and see what they can do and how they might end up.
This great team made it successfully through the SEA Qualifiers and were the first to have qualified for the event. Their playstyle is roam heavy and will make sure that all of their games see a lot of action and plenty of hero kills. With this fast pace, they seem like a pretty good candidate to sweep their opponents from the battlefield before those opponents have a chance to get into their game properly, which will come in handy against teams that enjoy late game and carry heavy games. However, if Aghanim cannot manage to get a good advantage early on with their aggressive playstyle or their opponents manage to endure into the late game, Aghanim may find themselves into trouble, especially if that happens in the first game of a match. Expect them to deliver plenty of entertainment and very decisive games. How far they can go depends on them just as much as it depends on their opponent's ability to adjust to the speed.
The second team that qualified for the World Finals and the one most NA and EU viewers and fans will be familiar with is Fnatic. During the NAEU Qualifiers, this team was still known as Team Beer and they took the long road to get where they are right now, going through the Losers Bracket and taking their time before winning the Finals decisively. This team is full of motivation and experience, making them a good candidate to become the Champions this year. And being picked up by Fnatic as their sponsor may have increased their motivation even more. But as it became evident in the Qualifiers, they do still have problems. As a relative new team in this constellation, they lack the teamwork and synergy that other teams have and which only comes by long days, weeks, months of practice together. However, once rolling, this team is a dominant force on the battlefield, another thing that became clear in the Qualifiers. If they can become Champions is really up to them, they have the experience and skill, now they need to put it all to work.
[eNeo] Neolution eSports
No, you have not misread their player list, it really is Zlapped playing for them. Neolution eSports is a powerful team from (mostly) Thailand who qualified for the World Finals by winning the Thailand Qualifiers. This in itself is already an achievement, as the competition was immense and it took what felt forever to get through the huge bracket in one piece. And these five guys managed to do that and come out as a winner! Their play style is best described as intense roaming, not unlike another team in the World Finals. This is good news for all viewers, as it promises plenty of action right away and either quick, bloody victories or nail biters to the very end. Whatever the games will look like, their long experience and excellence will make sure that they will be hard to beat. And with their star lineup they will also have many of the fans on their side, both watching the streams and live at the event.
[MiXs] Phoenix MiXs
The second team to make it out of the insane bracket of the Thailand Qualifiers, but certainly not second rate in any way, Phoenix MiXs are a powerful team that make up a nice change in pace with their playstyle. Unlike the other asian teams, Phoenix likes to take things a bit slower, depending on their brilliant carry player to win games in the late stage. This may seem a bit problematic with all the high intensity players in the other teams, but Phoenix are pretty used to that by now and they know exactly what they need to keep their opponents at bay and advance to the end game, where they will have the edge with all their experience and practice, even if gold and experience may look like they are at a disadvantage. This will result in more bitten fingernails and even less predictability during their matches.
World Finals - Day 1
The first day of the World Finals will have some excellent HoN action right away. As only the Winners Bracket matches will be played, we will get to see three matches on that day and result in one very happy team, one slightly happy team and two very scared ones, but no team will be under real pressure yet, as they still have a chance to advance the next day.
Fnatic vs [MiXs] Phoenix MiXs
(1:00 EDT | 12:00 ICT | 7:00 CEST)
What a great opener for the event! It is actually perfect for both teams, as Fnatic needs a while to get rolling and Phoenix likes to take it slow. So we will either see Fnatic try to get Phoenix early in the games, as they did it with their opponents during the Qualifier Finals, or it will be long games with both teams playing carefully. If Fnatic manage to get out of this with a victory, things are looking good for them in the next two matches, if not, they may have to go the long way once more, while giving the Phoenix guys a morale boost, which they will need for their next matchups.
Aghanim vs [eNeo] Neolution eSports
(4:00 EDT | 15:00 ICT | 10:00 CEST)
Right after the first match that may very well be on the slower side, we will get a high intensity match between these two asian teams. As mentioned before, both of these teams like their games fast paced and gank heavy, so it should be very interesting to see what happens if those two do battle. And with many fans at the event cheering for them, it's going to be loud and hectic, just as they like it. If you plan on watching this match, which you really should, make sure to have snacks and drinks near you, otherwise you might miss half of the game if you have to go to the kitchen or bathroom in the middle of a game.
(7:00 EDT | 18:00 ICT | 13:00 CEST)
Winners of matches 1 and 2 will play once more on Saturday, and the winner will move on to the Grand Finals, which is a huge step towards becoming Champions and winning the big pot of more than $70,000. And even if a team loses here, they still have a chance the next day, so this match will probably be the one with the biggest plays, great rewards and limited risks.
World Finals - Day 2
Things will be heating up even more now. Both Losers Bracket matches will be BO1, so things might be over quickly. But it is just as likely to go for an hour or even longer, as one mistake will mean the end and all teams want to prevent their early out by a silly mistake that was made because of haste.
(0:00 EDT | 11:00 ICT | 6:00 CEST)
This is the first of the Losers Bracket matches. The Losers of the first round from yesterday will get one more shot at making it into at least the Losers Bracket Finals, so all pressure is on them now. And it will be a lot of pressure, as this match is a BO1, so a loss means the end and even though that may not sound so bad with $7,080 prize money for 4th place, the team that loses here will be pretty upset about it, as they could have gone much further and earned so much more money.
(1:30 EDT | 12:30 ICT | 7:30 CEST)
The Losers Bracket Finals will again be BO1, so one mistake may spell doom for the team who makes it. $14,160 as prize money for the third may be nothing to sneeze at, still it would be devastating to miss out on so much glory and money with just one loss. This means that both teams will be very eager to win over their opponent and while the team coming from the Winners Bracket Finals yesterday may be rested and prepared, the other team might be on a roll and could be in a better spot from the start.
(3:00 EDT | 14:00 ICT | 9:00 CEST)
And just before we go into the Grand Finals, we will get to see a showmatch to give the teams a rest after the stressful time that at least one team had in the Losers Bracket just now. What exactly will be played here is still unknown, but it is safe to say that it's going to be interesting and a good time for everyone to take a few minutes to get ready for the biggest of matches of the whole year.
Match 6 - Grand Finals
(4:00 EDT | 15:00 ICT | 10:00 CEST)
And there it is, the big one. The team that made it through the Winners Bracket will come into this match with a lead of 1 game, but since it will be BO5, they still have to win two games to become the Champions. And the team from the Losers Bracket may have to do some extra work, as they need 3 games for victory, but that's how it is when you lose. As this is the last and biggest of matches in this event, it will be pretty amazing, no matter who wins in the end. At least for us viewers, the actual winners will become the Champions and take home $70,801, while the losers get "only" $21,240.
Well, that's the teams and the schedule, for a quick look at the event as well as streaming and other information, make sure to check out our official page and come back for more news during and after the event.
After many years writing about esports in HoN and especially Hontour, BlahC is still not having any kind of life outside of this, so he writes about the esports lives of other people in 2017 as well. Shoutout to Inklin, Ace, Breaky, Beef, Jeremy, the Easter Bunny and the people at KIELjournal.
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