Stay Green Defending

For the second time in Diamond history [sG]Stay Green will enter the Cycle as the reigning and defending Champion. The last time the venture of defending that honor and therefore moving past [tdM]Trademark eSports on two different occasions failed, and the reign of Trademark began again. So far the pattern in the Diamond Division has been back-to-back victories for Trademark eSports only interrupted twice by Stay Green. Following that history, Trademark should win the next two cycles, with a struggle at the Offline Finals in Las Vegas eventually. Sure, Stay Green could very well live with those results if it means a HoN Tour Championship in the end, but more Cycle Championships would definitely not hurt the Miami Powerhouse at all.

The team has shown the best consistency and plays recently with a GSL Qualifier victory and the Diamond Division Championship. They controlled Trademark eSports handily twice in a row and only had some minor problems against [coL]compLexityGaming. After their Championship in Cycle 3, the sample size of Stay Green and the downfall of Trademark eSports was not fully apparent, so the dominant position had not switched. This time Stay Green has to carry the burden of being the favorite into the tournament for sure.

That said, no one should count out Trademark eSports and compLexity Gaming, who are not that far away from Stay Green. Both teams showed off their power yesterday in the GSL Qualifier, with the better outcome for the Europeans. That clash might determine the “Runner-Up” in terms of the favorites in this tournament. Ever since compLexity entered the first GSL Qualifier with a new roster, a changed mentality in terms of scrims and more TMM time for the individual members, the established squad rose to its former strength quicker than expected. Now they are back in contention for a Diamond Division title, trying to overcome the stain of three second-place finishes in HoN Tour.

Trademark eSports on the other hand will look to avenge their mediocre Championship Weekend performance of the latest Cycle. For the first time a trip to the Upper Bracket Finals for Trademark didn’t result in a HoN Tour Championship. Even worse, they could not win a single map the last two days of competition, losing to complexity and Stay Green in the process. A lot of discussion about them “tilting” arose, but the GSL performance proved that they are still a dangerous squad that is a permanent threat to take out any opponent.

Fourth Place Finish?

It might seem drastic, but in the current state of the game it appears we are only looking for a new fourth place team—the Big Three seem to be way ahead of the rest of the bunch. Still, a lot of tension and excitement is building with [TteS]Tt eSPORTS on the rise, [LION]Lions eSportsKlubb proving a strong contender and [357]QsQ on the decline lately.

Who will come out of the gates storming and take over that fourth place in the Cycle and in the final standings? Those three teams are seriously competing for the best seed in the Qualifier for the last remaining trip to Las Vegas, Nevada. The placement might not be viewed as a big deal, but every team could avoid the strongest opponents until the Grand Finals of that tournament. The motto of “You have to defeat everyone in order to go to Las Vegas” is still valid, but none of the three teams would object to an easier path to America’s Playground.

The best chances currently are with Tt eSports, who have been on a tear with their newest pickup in Tralfamadore. LeonBlack`` is developing his leadership and drafting skills, CHEESEHELMET and Jeppins grew into the roster seamlessly. Tralfamadore brings great knowledge, great mechanics and a veteran spirit to the team, while Moiravus is still doing his thing on a high level. The team pushed Trademark eSports to the limit and did well in the last Cycle even without Tralf in the mix—he adds another dimension to the team and elevates it.

It would be foolish to count out Lions and QsQ though. Lions have been one of the most consistent teams in the HoN Tour Diamond Division with constant finishes in the Top 4 or Top 6 of the competition. QsQ also has shown consistency, but has been on a slippery slope lately. Their recent showing against complexity Gaming was just another sign of the current state of the team. A lot of stuff is not going well right now, but the team is working on those issues and has proven in the past that they can bust out at any moment to shine and take out high-ranked team after high ranked team. Can they do it again this Cycle?

The First Eleven

As the first season of HoN Tour is approaching the end, the chase for the coveted top 11 spots in the rankings is on. It is safe to assume that Trademark eSports, compLexity Gaming and Stay Green will take home the first three spots judging from the latest results and trends. Also safe in the top 11 are Tt eSports, QsQ and Lions eSports. With One Trick Pony disbanding and dropping out of their prime position, [AiD]Afraid is currently sitting on the final spot to get into the tournament. The cushion to the twelfth spot is relatively thin though. Only around 200 points are separating Afraid and [xCet]Team Excellent.

Overall from the ninth spot down only 1,000 points are separating the teams from each other—a very thin margin. If no big changes or upsets occur, [oo7]We Are Spies, [PNIS]Pencils, [aL]Absolute Legends and [Pika]Pikachu are fairly safe. Pikachu has a mere 700 point difference between themselves and Team Excellent, and have shown splendid performances in their return to Diamond. In the end it might all come down to Afraid and Team Excellent for that last precious spot in the Qualifier. Recent results in Diamond have Team Excellent finishing 9th/12th numerous times, while Afraid has been on the upswing in both the Diamond Division and in the GSL Qualifiers. The race is on, but Afraid is in a slight lead just two laps before the end of it.

- Sören "Fantasy"