By quincy0191

Two cycles down and we’re already a quarter of the way through HoN Tour Season 3. Things got nutty in Cycle 2, as the new BMG didn’t quite measure up to expectations and willowkeeper continued their rise, making it to the Grand Finals for the first time and giving SynC a run for their money. Meanwhile stalwart Reason Gaming fell off a bit as former Gold Division team Nullstone Gaming rose quickly with upset wins over both Rea and BMG.

The middle tier right now is a mess of teams, as we’ll see in this week’s power rankings, and the top dogs in SynC aren’t exactly invulnerable.

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8. Twisted Fusion (TwFu) – Average Rank 7.5

First things first, Twisted Fusion won Gold Cycle 2. So there’s some question whether that was a fluke or a genuine accomplishment here, as they generally seem to be regarded as not quite as good as The Last of US by most players and commentators. They finished no higher than 6th place, so everyone except Diglet_ seems to think they’re headed back to Gold Division for Cycle 4.

The reasoning behind this is most likely focused on the fact that TwFu has been around for awhile, but has never really broken through like this. Whether they just happened to be communicating and playing particularly well over the last two weekends, it can’t be ignored that longtime competitive player ArchiTigeR joined the team last cycle, and much like iNsania’s mentorship of REXXARS, it’s possible that the veteran presence has breathed new life into Twisted Fusion.

7. The Last of US (tUS) – Average Rank 6.9

The “original” American team is back in Diamond Division after taking the Winner’s Bracket Final and guaranteeing their promotion before losing in the Grand Finals of Gold Division. After their ascension, the NA scene looks better than it has been in months, maybe years. They’ll have multiple opportunities to go up against their rivals Nullstone Gaming, with their first chance in the Loser’s Bracket Round 2 if things break a certain way. That will be very confusing.

However, as TwFu picked up ArchiTigeR, tUS will be losing their last founding member as Diglet_ has left the team for work. Whether they can overcome his departure remains to be seen, but tUS seems to keep hanging around the periphery at least, and might find themselves moving up if they can edge out the numerous teams that are right around their skill level.

6. WOP DASH (W0P) – Average Rank 6.5

I would appreciate it if these guys could stop changing their name for half a second. Originally Moe’s Tavern, then WOP WOP, they have re-christened themselves as WOP DASH, because apparently they can’t make up their minds. Regardless, their strong Cycle 2 performance was overshadowed by the team they rode in with, Nullstone Gaming. It’s too bad, because a lot of these players have been around a long time, and they gave SynC a good fight in the Round of 8 before defeating Dawn to remain in Diamond for another cycle.

They’ll draw a much more favorable first-round matchup in Cycle 3 against Bad Monkey Gaming. Even though the Monkeys beat them 2-0 in the Loser’s Bracket a couple weeks ago, avoiding SynC right off the bat is always a good thing. With BMG looking a little bit shaky, there could be an upset here.

5. Reason Gaming (Rea) – Average Rank 4.2

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Well, perhaps “mighty” is a stretch, but Reason Gaming came into HoN Tour Season 3 as the clear #3 team. After BMG departed and SynC assumed the top spot, they should have risen to #2 even with the monkeys pulling their best phoenix impression. Instead they’ve clearly fallen off the track, dropping to fifth place here as they’ve clearly been overtaken by willowkeeper and by most estimations fallen below Nullstone and the new BMG.

Most players I’ve talked to have suggested that Reason need to make some changes, and that’s exactly what will be happening for Cycle 3. AddroW, probusk, and Pew are all leaving, while Mbrei (mid), Nir (second support/jungle), and TPSPricless (captain and support) are being added. This represents a pretty huge shakeup, as not only is most of the team turning over, but ImbaBoy is stepping out of the drafter position. We’ll see if fortunes improve for Reason next cycle, but one has to applaud the recognition of a problem and steps taken to fix it.

4. Bad Monkey Gaming (BMG) – Average Rank 4.0

If this were the old BMG squad, this ranking would be shocking. For the new guys it’s probably still at least a little disappointing, considering the well-known players that comprise the team. Tankafett and his buddies wrecked Nullstone Gaming to open Cycle 2, and it looked like it didn’t matter that the core of the team was gone. Then they suffered a surprising 2-0 defeat at the hands of willowkeeper in the Winner’s Bracket Semifinals, and followed it up with a major loss facing the team they had looked so good against just a week earlier.

Fourth place for such a new team isn’t an insult by any means, but it does suggest that they won’t just be able to walk all over Diamond and pick up free money. These guys are going to have a strong following because of the names on the roster, and the skill to win is undoubtedly there. Now they just have to tap into it and the guys ahead of them will sweat a lot more.

3. Nullstone Gaming (Null) – Average Rank 3.8

There is no way anyone saw this coming. After the Round of 8 it looked like Null was headed back to Gold and perhaps would have less than an hour of total playtime in Diamond. Frankly, they looked pitiful and entirely outmatched against a BMG team that came to play.

Then they took two games against REXXARS to avoid relegation. All right, so they had a little fight. Next round they’d be up against the veterans of Reason Gaming, and the match figured to be relatively short and easy for ImbaBoy’s crew. Nope. Another 2-0. Fine, they got lucky in one series, and going up against BMG again certainly meant the end to their now-successful run. Instead, a 2-1 series win. By the time they were facing willowkeeper in the Loser’s Bracket Finals, with a chance to reach the Grand Finals and play SynC in their first cycle in Diamond, it’s safe to say they were ecstatic with their performance even after the loss to tree. Nullstone Gaming came in as a question mark, looked like a Gold team after the Round of 8, and finished with a well-deserved #3 ranking. Just more evidence that there are a lot of good mid-tier teams.

2. willowkeeper (tree) – Average Rank 2.0

New #1 team? Diglet_ thinks so, and it’s hard to believe the guys on willowkeeper won’t win at least one cycle this season. They finished Carnage in Caldavar as the fourth-place team, then were third after Cycle 1 of HoN Tour, and second after Cycle 2. For those who are good at recognizing patterns and bad at comprehending the powerful influence of chaos on the future, that means they’re going to finish in first place in Cycle 3. Then in Cycle 4 they’ll invent 0th place, and so on and so forth.

willowkeeper have consistently improved their play since we saw them in high-level competitive HoN for the first time, and they’ve taken advantage of some missteps and issues with other teams, mostly Reason Gaming and BMG. They had their chances to fall off, and instead took advantage of vulnerability and opportunity to clamber up and challenge SynC for the crown last cycle. Whether they’re a few weeks or a few months away from a first-place finish, it’ll happen for tree as long as they keep doing this. It’s just a matter of when.

1. SynC eSports (SynC) – Average Rank 1.1

SynC was this close to sweeping the ten first place votes, and since you can’t see my hand right now, imagine that the thumb and forefinger are very close together. Whether or not they’re universally considered the best team, they are clearly the favorite to capture a third straight cycle victory, which hasn’t been done since sG took three straight to open HoN Tour Season 2.

But victory is not assured. tree gave them a fight in both the Winner’s Bracket Finals and the Grand Finals, Null is shooting up the rankings, BMG is perpetually dangerous, and Reason with or without changes can always play. With over $90,000 already available through the first three cycles at the time of this writing (and by the time the cycle is over it will undoubtedly be more), the motivation is there. This cycle we saw how fast a team can rise and how fast a team can fall, and SynC has really nowhere to go but down. Whether or not it seems particularly likely to happen, stranger things have already occurred. Good luck to them and all the teams in Cycle 3.