By quincy0191

I don’t think there have been more surprises in any cycle of HoN Tour Season 3 than the ones from last weekend. Right off the bat it was Dawn 2-0 over two-time runner-up willowkeeper, threatening to push tree from the silver medal to the Gold division. Then Night Raid beats Nullstone Gaming, which was not entirely shocking but definitely unexpected given how the two teams are seen in the competitive community right now.

And of course things just continued on Day 2; willowkeeper avoided relegation by forcing Reason down, and then promptly lost to NR, while Dawn beat Null, which was actually much less surprising after their performance in the Round of 8. Regardless of which outcome was the biggest upset, we’ve had several so far that were predicted by just about nobody.

So how did we get here? What’s different for the two teams in the Loser’s Bracket semifinals right now? We saw Dawn way back in Cycle 1 after they won the qualifiers, but it was a far different set of names. And NR’s former incarnation as tUS is a wildly different team that seems to undergo roster changes every cycle, but they’ve gotten better and better since being promoted to Diamond again after Cycle 2.

First, there are the power rankings we saw before the cycle. NR finished in 6th place with 58 points, one ahead of Dawn. That prediction had the Americans sticking in Diamond, but put Dawn back in Gold for Cycle 5. Most interesting is the discrepancy; Night Raid was a full thirty points behind Reason and Nullstone, who tied with 88 points apiece. They didn’t finish higher than 5th (three lists), and one of those was their own captain in mzry.

Dawn got even less respect, though that’s understandable as they were coming from Gold. They also topped out in fifth place, once again as a result of their captain in L4bry1nth, but he was the only one to have them that high. The vast majority of lists, ten of the fourteen, had them in 6th or 7th place.

Let’s keep on the Dawn train, and take a look at how they changed from Cycle 1 to Cycle 4. First off, it’s important to note that they didn’t just change how well they did, they’re mostly a different team. L4bry1nth (now the captain) and ICELANDGOGO are still around, but Jozean, pokerofWhine, and sertas have all left. New players probusk, YELLOWREXXAR, and YUGOBIC have replaced them.

Dawn Results by Cycle

So yeah, Cycle 2 was bad for them. An all-around miserable time was had, and let’s just not talk about it.

More interesting is how much cycles 1 and 4 mirror each other. Kills and deaths are essentially switched, the won-loss records (so far) are flipped as well, and they generally look much more competent statistically.

As far as heroes go, they are definitely going for new lineups with L4bry1nth in the drafter spots instead of sertas. In the first two cycles, they picked Torturer most often (73% of games), and went just 2-6 with him. In Cycle 4 that pick rate dropped to only 43% of games, though they still were below .500 at 1-2. Magmus was another favored pick before this cycle (5 games), but hadn’t won once. New Dawn are 2-0.

Previously uncommon picks include their best hero in Keeper of the Forest with a 4-1 record - a pick they never made in Cycle 1 or 2 - and Ophelia saw just one game (a loss) in the first two cycles compared to a 3-1 record in the fourth. Similarly, Kraken was 0-1 before Cycle 4 and 3-2 over the last weekend.

Let’s set the sun on them, though, and embrace the night.

NR Results by Cycle

NR have steadily improved, though there are still some worrying signs. For one, they are a .500 overall in Cycle 4, despite ending up in the same place as the 5-2 Dawn. For another, they’re dying more than they’re killing for a third straight cycle. It’s nice that they seem to be farming a bit more effectively, both in terms of GPM and CK, and no doubt their numbers this cycle are better than either of the previous two. However, there’s a clear suggestion here that they are taking games at the right time instead of doing so consistently, and in general that’s not a recipe for sustained success.

mzry has made a few adjustments in Cycle 4 and since picking up KingPlato, Present25, and Kookiez. Pebbles is his and his team’s most successful hero, going 4-2, with three of those wins and only one loss coming over the last weekend. After a great game on The Dark Lady in Cycle 3, mzry has gotten that hero for his carry player twice more, and KingPlato is 3-0 overall. Oh, and he leads the GPM charts at 542.6 GPM, over 20 more than second-place baltazar` (the two are the only ones to average more than 500 GPM). Kookiez has added Legionnaire to NR’s pool of heroes, going 2-1, and Present25 has taken NR’s record on Bubbles from 1-2 to 4-3 overall.

The new-new American team, which at this rate will be able to seed a tournament with only its own players in a couple of weeks, looks a fair bit better than the incarnation we saw earlier, especially in Cycle 1. If roster stability issues can be worked out, then they might end up overtaking their brethren in Nullstone Gaming on many rankings.

Dawn, for their part, seem to have worked out a pretty impressive final roster after tinkering quite a bit as well. The addition of probusk has worked out incredibly well, though a much less heralded add in YELLOWREXXAR shouldn’t be overlooked either, as he’s played a great suicide.

Regardless of who comes out on top on Saturday in the Loser’s Bracket Semifinals, it’s safe to say these teams have met and likely exceeded their goals for Cycle 4, as well as our expectations for them coming in. Both have been a very pleasant surprise, and perhaps there will be more coming this weekend.