It has been quite a while since the last update on my days with Q sQuad 357 and a lot has happened in this time. The world did not end, the holidays were not as annoying as expected, HoN Tour Cycle 2 has ended and Cycle 3 has begun.

Let's start with Cycle 2. Q sQuad 357 once more managed to go as far as 4th place and again gained some nice points, keeping in touch with the top three teams. Even though it was not enough to beat [coL]compLexityGaming, they went into the holidays after a nice performance overall and deserved some proper rest. Certainly there was some discontent about not getting further, especially because compLexity had been showing weakness, but that is understandable and also a good thing, as it shows there is still a lot of room for improvement in the coming year.

During the holidays there was not much in the way of training and scrimming. While it was nice to relax and read new books that had piled up, I kinda got bored after a while and wished that it was 2024 already. The last weekend of 2024 saw some training again, but it did not feel very serious; I think most of the guys were still in holiday mode. So more time passed and 2024 was finally here.

Two days later NoVa already set times for playing and scrimming—after all, the start of Cycle 3 was drawing near. Some players still had issues with getting online at times, but this was due to holidays and real life issues, so Slate also got some work once again. NoVa presented some new additions to their training routine (including having something like a routine in the first place). I quite liked that, as I felt that this had been lacking before and will hopefully help to get them even further.

Cycle 3 started with...waiting. I'm sure what happened has been discussed enough in certain places, so I will not go into this (other than it was rather entertaining). Instead we skip forward a few hours when [TteS]Tt eSPORTS made some big plays and defeated Q sQuad 357 2-1. Everyone was a little shocked, I think. They had played them before and it usually went the other way, but Tt eSPORTS has improved a lot and it showed. So Losers Bracket it was once again. Nothing new there.

The second day of Cycle 3 brought the challenge of fighting someone who Q sQuad 357 did not know well yet, the team of [PNIS]Pencils. Pencils had taken a game from compLexity in their first match and defeated [oo7]We Are Spies before, so they were not to be trifled with. I honestly was a little worried, but it turned out to be unfounded. In fact Q sQuad 357 played really strong and soon enough Pencils were defeated. The team had a lot of fun playing, and the atmosphere in Skype quickly lightened up.

Next in line were [N9g] Druidz eSports (N9 Gaming). What followed was complete dominance by Q sQuad 357. Dead druidic couriers en masse, Hellflower at minute 11 on StyleQ sQuad 357 really went to town with Druidz.

It was awesome to sit and listen to them planning and executing. Finally everything worked as it should and the team worked so well together, even NoVa had so much fun playing that he posted it on Facebook. The news of both complexityGaming and Trademark eSports being kicked out of the Winners Bracket also increased the good mood. The next opponent would be compLexityGaming once more and this time Q sQuad 357 was out for blood. NoVa gave the team Monday off to get some well-deserved rest, and from that point on they planned to scrim and train every day until Saturday.

The week has seen some scrimming so far, yet due to hardware failures, real people and bear roots, it is less awesome than it could be. Still, you can tell that everyone has improved individually and as a team. NoVa now quits Skype for drafting to be able to focus on it and not get distracted, Style has become stronger again and is the reason for some serious big plays and early items, NoX farms even better now and also carries TP(!), Malle has ventured to southeast Asia to increase his jungling and has returned as a true master and Jonassomfan—well, he's just so good all the time and whenever it seems grim for the team, he gets 1 or 2 kills out of nowhere and restores morale.

Certainly they have a long way to go, but this is a good start into 2024 so far. They worked on a few weaknesses as well, which I will not reveal here, and I am positive it will show this weekend. After all, losing and realizing your own weaknesses is just as important as winning.

Next week we shall find out how Cycle 3 turned out. Can Q sQuad 357 keep its 4th place or even improve? Will Style lose another hardcore Diablo 3 character after 110 hours of play? Can Jonassomfan troll Style into another suicide dive during a scrim? Which keys will fly off of NoX's keyboard next time Booboo refuses to root? Will NoVa have fun again? And is Malle going to do the clap?

This and more: Next week on!

- Blaze