I was not necessarily right, I guess.

Okay, I will start this week’s column with a little bit of cleanup on aisle “Fantasy's predictions” from last week. I filled an entire segment of that article with suggestions, predictions and guesses for what would most likely happen in the next cycle of Hon Tour. Those predictions included a surge of success for [DoP]Domain of Pain and a possible demotion of [myR]myRevenge (One Trick Pony) to Gold.

I guess I was more than wrong, as those roles actually reversed. myRevenge is looking really solid, even pushing the mighty team of [sG]Stay Green to the edge on one map. Since picking up the sponsorship of the German-based organization they have lost their “amateur” charm that a name like One Trick Pony indicates and are now a serious force to be reckoned with.

The other prediction—Domain of Pain making a huge splash in this cycle—was utterly wrong due to an apparent power outage in the region. Bottom line, they couldn't yield five players and had to forfeit their first round matchup, which means a forfeit of the entire event by default. Domain of Pain will now find itself in the Gold Division alongside [Due1]Do You Even Lift and [zhiT]Shit Happens (I actually predicted those).

And I was right with another prediction, albeit a fluky one. I wrote in the last column that [FyKu]Fack You Kurdi and [C1K]Call It Karma will both remain in the Diamond Division, FyKu with chances to go deep in the tournament. FyKu is at least a Top 8 team right now, due to all the forfeits from which they have benefited. So they are still in the division, they are moderately “deep” in the tournament, and sometimes you just have to be a little bit lucky in order to see your predictions fulfilled—I’ll take it.

The Same Image Again

With the premature stoppage of the Hon Tour Diamond Division Cycle 2, the tournament is in a holding pattern right now with the big four teams [tdM]Trademark eSports, [coL]compLexityGaming, stay Green and [357]QsQ remaining in the Upper Bracket. That picture is actually a pretty good summary of the last couple of months in Heroes of Newerth: QsQ always on the rise, Trademark eSports and compLexity battling their little feud and either [TteS]Tt eSPORTS or a team led by swindlemelonzz in the conversation as well. First it was the team of TmRy or Ddos, then he was successful for one month with [Pika]Pikachu and now he has formed his new wrecking crew on their way to a Diamond Championship. Still, the fluctuation on top of Heroes of Newerth is not rampant. The same teams have been wandering around the peak for quite some time now, with no real threat making a serious run from beneath—yet.

Promising candidates like [LION]Lions Esports and [aL]Absolute Legends faltered in the tournament already, and Pikachu took a hit on several occasions and has gone to massive roster changes numerous times. Teams like myRevenge, [PUDG]Dendis jungldevos and FyKu are just not quite ready to challenge the established row on a weekly basis.

Still, I am more than certain these teams will get into the final four at least one time in this Diamond Division. Absolute Legends and Lions eSports played a marvelous first cycle, myRevenge is emerging as a serious contender, and Tt eSports and Pikachu are on a surge back to their old strength. As of right now, the top is set and settled in, but the challengers are approaching and the image might change sooner rather than later.

Don't You Forget About Us

I almost did it—I almost had a Simple Minds reference in my column, but this was close enough. The two teams that impressed me the most during this first weekend in Diamond competition are Pikachu and Tt eSports. Both teams have had a vast history of success or top place finishes in Heroes of Newerth and both teams fell of the wagon lately. Pikachu suffered from a horrible first cycle and several roster changes since not quite making it to the DreamHon festivities. In all three Qualifiers they came close, but in the most important moments they faltered and had to concede.

Ironically, most of their playoff eliminations came at the hands of Tt eSports, who are now in a very similar situation. With the departure of sLiCKz TteS lost some of its talent, undeniably. Most sources and writers—including this one to some extent—jumped to the conclusion that this was the end of Tt eSports. The article on HoN Tour announcing this “earth-shattering” roster transaction was pretty one-sided in elevating stay Green to such a high standing, while almost burying Tt eSports as a whole. What we all forgot—and I am talking about both teams once again—is that those teams still possess massive amounts of talent at almost every position.

Sure sLiCKz is a fantastic player—I even called him a first ballot Hall of Famer, should HoN ever have a Hall of Fame—but he was not the only guy on that roster capable of moving around with his heroes. Players like Riser_, wyt` and LeonBlack` have proven themselves in numerous pressure situations. They were known entities with massive amounts of skill. We did not know that Wytaliba is also more than capable of leading a squad and drafting, but he proved that now as well. We all were way too hasty in writing obituaries for the glorious times of Tt eSports; they might come back, maybe even stronger than ever now that their “star” is gone and they are shining as a unit, not through one individual.

New Names with Old Lineups

HoN Tour has been a massive success already with so many teams and players involved, a system that works marvelously on almost every occasion, a website that is not only delivering live standings and updates, but also stats from every player. All in all it really has been a great addition to Heroes of Newerth as we know it. Another positive side effect of a constant competition with so much money on the line was visible this week, when two organizations got attracted to the wonderful world of Newerth as their next travel destination of choice.

The first roar was heard around Newerth, when Fortune Bakery, after a very successful first cycle in Diamond Division changed their tags to Absolute Legends, an organization that has been involved in many games and projects before and is one of the newer standouts in that field. The name is known, the organization and logos are known throughout the eSports world and now they will be representing HoN all over the world. It was a great move and fantastic news for HoN and the competitive scene that is called out as dying on almost every occasion. I find the proclamation that something will die for three years straight, even though numbers in player amounts and prize money are continuously rising, kind of bizarre. But this is the Internet.

To get back to Absolute Legends, I think it was a very good move for them to move to Heroes of Newerth, and doing it with a young and talented roster like Fortune Bakery. There are many positive things about that team that could have led to the decision to get involved with them. No real drama has ever sprouted around one of the players, they are all friendly and Kookiez has a loyal and large fanbase. Those positive character traits, paired with their enjoyable and fun play style make them entertaining and exciting to watch. Those are all things an organization might look for and it was getting it with Fortune Bakery—a young, talented, enjoyable, exciting, revered roster that has a huge potential to reach the top spots in HoN Tour soon.

In the case of myRevenge the same basic rules apply, but on a smaller scale. myRevenge is not necessarily known throughout the world and the standing of the organization is not comparable to compLexityGaming, Evil Geniuses or Absolute Legends, but they have a name in the scene. Though they aren’t familiar in Heroes of Newerth right now, they will make a name for themselves pretty quickly, because ArchiTigeR and his Boys are not a squad to be trifled with.

Their most recent results are all trending upwards, they are still in the current cycle and they have had some great matches against a top team in stay Green. On top of that they have just won in the SoundBlaster Heroes League Qualifier against teams like Domain of Pain and Dendis jungldevos to solidify their standing in the scene. The announcement of the new sponsor might not have made an immediate splash in the community, but soon everyone who follows the competitive scene will be familiar with myRevenge as a powerful organization in Heroes of Newerth.

Winners and Losers

To close this week’s column in a familiar fashion, here are the Winners and Losers of this weekend in the Hon Tour Diamond Division. Winners are not only defined by actual big wins on the servers; extracurricular activities are in account here as well.

This week we have four winners, for two different reasons. Absolute Legends and myRevenge are both huge winners this week because they brought new sponsors and attention to the Heroes of Newerth scene. Not to knock on myRevenge, but the involvement of Absolute Legends in HoN is a giant boost for the scene. They are a massive name in the eSports community and now represent the wonderful game of HoN.

The other reason to be a winner was already mentioned above. When you are not considered top tier anymore, the transition can be hard and painful, and the same goes for roster changes. They can be draining and tiresome, but when it works and you actually find all the right pieces it can be very rewarding. So Pikachu and Tt eSports are the other two winners of this weekend. Both hung in there, both went through some changes and both are looking strong again, closing in on a Top 6 finish in the second cycle.

And now shine the hot spotlight of shame on the Losers of the Week—and you can be both, at least in my little screwed up head. Losers of the week are three teams that somehow did not live up to the hype and expectations of the community this weekend.

We are starting with Absolute Legends. Yes, I know. But after a Top 6 finish and great matches against stay Green and QsQ, they collapsed in the competition against Tt eSports in the Lower Bracket. After the fantastic play of the last cycle, this is a frustrating setback for them, going from Top 6 down to Top 12. They avoided elimination, but that is probably the only positive thing they can take away from the second cycle.

The same story can be said for the Swedish organization and team of Lions eSports, who made a ton of new fans last week when they played out of their minds in a thrilling and gripping series against compLexity Gaming, a close 1-2 defeat. Still, they made themselves relevant and ended the first cycle in the Top 6. Now, one week later, the success shifted away from them again as they were only able to grab one victory against Call It Karma in the Lower Bracket before going out against Pikachu in the Top 12. They also avoided demotion, but they did not promote their standing in the scene.

Last but not least, one of my favorite teams: Domain of Pain. They did not avoid elimination—they did not even play the games and therefore will have to fight their way out of Gold back to the Diamond Division in the next cycle. It will be a little bit tougher for the team, since Gold is played every day and this will give the team more opportunities to miss a match due to unset alarm clocks and whatnot, but I am still convinced they can turn it around. This week their forfeit was due to a power outage, something out of the control of the team, and they have started to scrim on a regular basis and looked fairly good in those scrims. They have an unconventional style of drafting, laning and playing which makes them exciting to watch, and they are a team that should be in Diamond making crazy plays with Artillery, Gravekeeper and Cthulhuphant.

Last but not least, I wish you all a very happy, safe, settling and kind Christmas. Spend this wonderful time of the year with your family and loved ones, enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the Christmas time, live with the Christmas spirit and, depending on where you are in the world, build a freakin' giant Snowman.

- Sören "Fantasy"