Last week, we saw Gold Cycle 3 wrap up, with [YoIo]CutForBieber (formerly Shit Happens) defeating [DoP]Domain of Pain to take first place and [DonD]DoberOnDamp and [QsQ7]QsQ 777 following up in the brackets. Gold has proven to be a significant challenge throughout the cycles so far, as teams have struggled to make it to Diamond. Going into Cycle 4 this will be getting even tougher.

In the finals, cycle favorite Domain of Pain ran into quite a few unfortunate issues. They were without AngryTestie (RexxcarVroom), due to large scale internet outages in his area. Fittske also had some internet issues in Sweden, but he was able to play. CHEESEHELMET is also unavailable, as he prepares for an upcoming medical procedure that will cause him tol miss Cycle 4 for Domain of Pain as well. All of this meant that they were forced to use team manager zeNap as a substitute player. As you might imagine, this didn’t work out well and the team, not at their full potential, basically threw the matches away.

No discredit to CutForBieber, who played very strong throughout the Cycle to reach the finals. They won the first two games against Domain of Pain before Fittske's internet cut out for good, forcing them to forfeit game three.

This is the first time so far in HoN Tour that a Loser Bracket team has won the finals, giving some hope to other teams who face the same situation. Diamond Division had a similar situation occur in their finals but [357]QsQ was unable to finish off [sG]Stay Green.

After the Gold Division finals, I got to sit down with the captains of both teams, Jollem and Emperor and ask them more precisely: what happened, how they felt going in, and what the plans are moving forward.

"We played really, really poorly in our WB matchup and got outpicked both games. I feel we stepped up our game a lot in this series, while also having the better draft," said Jollem of CutForBieber. “Our team’s main issues right now are experience and synergy. Gosig and I have been in the team for about nine days now and we haven't been able to play a lot."

It’s certainly a good sign for the team that even though they barely practiced as a group, they were still able to win Gold. This idea also works for Domain of Pain as they have been a team riddled with misfortune and unable to practice much as of late.

Emperor himself has been plagued with guilt, due to when he missed his match earlier in the season and how it has affected team morale. He loves his team and the players on it and really wants it to work. Also, understanding how difficult it is when something like this happens can be a big hurdle as well. Given that they now have a week to sort things out and hopefully find a replacement for CHEESEHELMET this cycle, maybe Emperor can do some team building exercises to get his confidence back.

"If we have a slight dynamic shift, I'd be confident going into this with my team," said Emperor.

I think it is a common thing which plagues all would-be top competitive teams. Internal drama is something that happens often within the genre, not just in Heroes of Newerth. All teams strive for success but this game is a very competitive one. Sometimes, this competition can exist not just in game but with one another.

That said, I don't think there is a remedy for this. It's what drives us to be the best and makes us play better and better every game. It is that desire to win that inspires teams such as Stay Green, [TteS]Tt eSPORTS and QsQ to overcome teams who have defeated them in the past. In this game. getting comfortable is admitting defeat. If you don't constantly strive to improve, you will be overrun by teams who are trying to beat you.

HoN Tour is a great tournament facilitated by S2 Games, which allows this to happen. We already see upsets every week and are going to be entering our 4th Cycle this weekend. Players are improving with each passing cycle and, perhaps most importantly, they’re still having fun with the game and getting more into the scene.

"I’m only top 50 in the GPM stats thanks to everyone who goes trilane," said Jollem disappointedly. "The only thing I am really missing right now is Hon Tour Weekly. I love podcasts since you really don't have to watch them and can listen while playing."

In Gold Cycle 4, we will see [aL]Absolute Legends, [oo7]We Are Spies, [PUDG]Dendis jungldevos and [Pika]Pikachu falling from Diamond which will certainly raise the competition in Gold Division and encourage these teams to work together more and take their game to the next level.

- Crowslaw