We have arrived at today's semi-finals match up. The large surprise this cycle was how strong the team [F4NG]Fntastic4nGombos has been, defeating both [TKAG]Team Kagge in the Losers Bracket Ro4 and then defeating [DonD]DoberOnDamp in the Loser Bracket semi-finals the other day.

In the Winners Bracket [oo7]We Are Spies continued their dominance streak defeating [vdT]Vietnamese Dream 2-0. They currently sit in the Grand Finals with their one advantage game over the winner of the Loser Bracket Finals match between Fntastic4nGombos and Vietnamese Dream.

"We have really improved lately and we are glad to make it into Diamond," said captain of Fntastci4nGombos, Mikeyman about making it into the final four. "They(vdT) were the ones who knocked us out of the Winners Bracket, so we really wanted to beat them," Mikeyman continued about his upcoming match versus Vietnamese Dream.

The game took place before its supposed time and we saw an excellent three-game series come out from the two teams. The first game was a stomp in every possible way; at 20 minutes the game ended with a score of 2-19 and vdT called the concede vote after a fight at Kongor. Going into the second game PinkyKurdi pulled out his trump card, gwefix on Pandamonium.

The start of the game was strong for F4NG as they took an early lead with an aggressive jungle play, but the game was looking strong for the suicide Panda. Throughout the game we saw Panda take off, crushing what most people thought of panda's viability. With Shrunken Head up, Pandamonium is able to run freely and wreak havoc in team fights. The third game was no better for F4NG as they progressively were unable to keep the momentum up after the first game and the beginning of the second.

The tides clearly turned after the second match, a key point in this series, so I took a look at what happened. Mikeyman had a few things to say, calling the pickup “unexpected." He noted how after the first game his team started to slip more as vdT picked up their game. Looking more at the Panda player himself, this wasn't the first time he's played him in a competitive match. Last time it was notable he faced The Dark Lady as well, that time being against Gold Division team [euni]Eunis 5, mzry.

"He just does so much damage early on cause it's all physical," gwefix of Vietnamese Dream says about Pandamonium. "All his spells go through Shrunken Head and he's great in lane."

This is most notable because of how common Shrunken Head is on most carries. "The problem is that Nullstone kinda screws him up cause he generally needs to get the flick off, so he's not that effective against heroes like Silhouette and Draconis which always get Nullstone," gwefix said.

This brings up a point about just overall having him available to pick if you do ban those Nullstone type heroes. Then comes the next counter which most competitors often view as something that hurts Pandamonium too much to make him completely ineffective. Obviously I am talking about Tablet of Command and Stormspirit, two of the items which can completely cancel Panda's ultimate, Face Smash.

To me this isn't that much of a concern, because if you are using your ultimate on just one person with many around, you cannot expect to get a full duration off. Just as a Tempest or similar channeled ultimates that can be cancelled if not positioned properly. Basically what gwefix does is wait, as he explains here: "If you have portal key on Panda, you just wait until they use their Shrunken, then you jump in and grab him with your own Shrunken Head up, Tablet and the like don't work on them then."

After watching the second game I would have to say I see nothing wrong with Panda as a viable pick. even with how common Tablets and Stormspirits may be, they don't stop someone who waits and ultimates according to the situation they are in. Being able to pick off any hero by yourself 1v1, locking down carries, no matter how fed they are because of his physical stuns and damage. Pandamonium is always a dangerous force and I'd like to see him picked up more and experimented with by other top teams since he can go to any lane where a Magmus, Moraxus or Hammerstorm would.

In the end we now have our Grand Finals set for Saturday morning, We Are Spies versus Vietnamese Dream. 007 are up 1-0 in the series going into the series so the pressure is on Vietnamese Dream who were recently swept 2-0 by the strong We Are Spies team. After my talks about Panda I inquired about their last series versus 007.

"Well we noticed they play differently than other teams, mainly in both games we played them they had no jungler," gwefix said. "We just weren't used to it."

In the end it's up to teams to do homework on others to be able to predict things like this. [sG]Stay Green who is ranked second in HoN Tour currently is a team which many others should take note of in practice. Although it may be hard for many teams to be able to get in a room together to view games on a big screen, the only other team that comes to mind with that power would be [LION]Lions eSportsKlubb. A team's captain should still be reviewing games and alerting his team to changes in play style and drafting. Knowing that a team runs safe or aggressive junglers, pseudo tri-lanes/ solo mid, roaming supports or no jungler at all makes a difference in your drafting versus well known teams.

As you move up into high Gold and low Diamond these are the practices you must take to get an advantage on your opponent. Many of those higher teams you will be facing may not actually be doing their research on you so for example with Vietnamese Dream, if they pull out a Panda wildcard, a team may not be suited to deal with it after the banning/lockpick stage has passed if they pick a carry that relies on Shrunken Head for freedom in teamfights.

The finals tomorrow will be exciting, and I wish the best of luck to the four teams moving up to Diamond.

4th - DoberOnDamp
3rd - Fntastic4nGombos
1st/2nd - TBD (We Are Spies versus Vietnamese Dream)

- "Crowslaw"