Boy oh boy, are we going to be treated to an absolute spectacle come this weekend, as we delve into the round of 32 (in the winners bracket) of the first season qualifier for HoN Tour. The dead wood has been cut down (for the most part), and we have been left with the best that Newerth has to offer—aside from compLexityGaming—but they’ll be here soon no doubt.

Looking at the games that are going to be played, there are a few that are really going to test the strength of those involved. Vitriolic Gaming will be taking on BetterLookingThanYou, while QsQ Old School will be duking it out with the infamous Experience Gaming, consisting of ex-superstar players Loda and Akke. But there is one game that stands out above the rest, a game that will easily separate the men from the boys, as NoVa’s emerging team QsQ will be taking on the ragtag bunch of friends, Fortune Bakery.

Both teams come into this highly anticipated match having won every single game to date, giving them a clean 10-0 record since this Qualifier started. Let’s look at the strengths and weaknesses that will surely come to play this glorious Saturday night.

Lack of Practice

We all know just how good Fortune Bakery can be. The team includes several players that have surpassed the 2024mmr point and have been part of some incredibly successful teams. Kookiez, Kreamz and Mookiez are the names that stand out the most in the All-Star lineup, as their tenure with Clan Milk had the team ranked as one of the best in the entire world. Add ggsucka, miesty` and KingPlato and you’ve definitely got some big names. The question is: how much have they been practicing together?

All of these players have been gaming together for a long time, but as I’m sure you are all aware, there is a stark difference between TMMing with friends and scrimming regularly to improve your play style. The team has shown they are definitely not lacking in synergy, but this weekend will surely push all their skills to the limit as they take on an arguable favorite in the Diamond division.

NoX Getting Out of Control

It’s not uncommon to see the Q squad carry player surpassing 600 or even 700gpm in a single game with a variety of different heroes. His farming capabilities have been shown to be among the best, matching even the great AngryTestie in ricing ability. This is mostly due to the diligence and care from NoVa and his support crew. Find me one of NoVa’s games where the jungle isn’t entirely stacked for the whole game, and well, I will be really shocked. After that, it’s a matter of getting your Runed Cleaver.

With so much focus being put on Nox to carry the team throughout the game, this is something Fortune Bakery will have to address, whether it’s running a setup to completely shut down whatever carry Q Squad has chosen or a highly aggressive early game lineup to finish the match before Nox’s farm can kick in. Either way, this will definitely be a key factor in the best of three series.

Competitive Experience

While NoVa has been around the HoN competitive scene since the early days, the rest of his team hasn’t had the same privilege. Formed only a few months ago in one of the more bizarre team trials we have seen, QsQ have only begun to test the depths of high-level competitive HoN. While Fortune Bakery lack experience as a team in this environment, they definitely don’t lack it individually.

Being able to withstand the pressure of performing at the top level is going to be vital in this matchup, and it may even prove a deciding factor in the series. But let’s not get too carried away here; Q Squad have beaten some serious competition recently, including The Returners (now Domain of Pain) in the DreamHack qualifiers.

Will they be able to deal with some of Fortune Bakery’s signature heroes? How will Q Squad combat Kookiez’ infamous Monkey King if he is allowed to play it? We’ll find out this weekend.

Overall, it is incredibly difficult to predict the outcome of the game. The question remains—how seriously are Fortune Bakery taking this? After all, the reason Clan Milk split up was due to a return to studies, and several players lacked the time to play in a competitive nature.

When it comes down to it, Fortune Bakery is a bunch of friends (highly skilled I might add) playing in the biggest HoN event of the year. Conversely, Q Squad are in this for the long haul, as they have proven to be a legitimately serious competitor across the Forests of Caldavar.

Q Squad may have the advantage going into the weekend. It could simply be a case of the Europeans wanting it more and the hours of practice they put in. But don’t count Fortune Bakery out—they are still an incredibly strong side, and one to watch out for throughout the remaining days of HoN Tour.

- YUMstix`