By Blaze

After almost a month of break, the teams in the Diamond Division were eager to start the new Cycle of HoN Tour Season 3 last weekend. 8 teams with 10 matches promised to make the weekend an epic event and that's what it turned out to be. Let's take a look at the matches played.

Winners Saturday
With only [SynC]Sync eSports as a real top team remaining, the other seven teams all were in a good position to do something great this Cycle, and even though a few of them seem stronger than others on paper, the reality was that many of the matches played were close calls. With that said, the one that was least likely to be a tough match was Sync eSports versus [RmR]Ride my Rocket, a relatively new team captained by the [RmR]ImbaPingu, who finally managed to get to Diamond Division after 4 Cycles in the lower Divisions. And indeed, the first game went according to plan for Sync esports, nothing really threatened them and they brought the game home unchallenged. The second game however was a complete turn of events, when Ride my Rocket went ham on their opponents and completely dismantled the Champions of several Cycles. With a good team fight heavy team they managed to outmaneuver Sync at almost every occasion and bring out the heavy guns in form of The Dark Lady, who ripped the Sync heroes to shreds. Shocked from this game, Sync eSports now had to get really serious and so they dominated the game quickly in the third round, not giving RmR any chance to repeat what they did before, resulting in another unchallenged victory for Sync eSports and with this they continued onwards to the next round while RmR were dropped to the Losers Bracket.
A little less spectacular was the match between [Null]Nullstone Gaming and [PI]Prime Icarus. The american Nullstones had encountered Prime Icarus in Diamond Division before in Cycle 4 and it went very well for them, so they did not show any hesitation going into this match. Prime Icarus were also highly motivated, they had survived last Cycle in Diamond Division and now wanted to remain there for the rest of the Season, which would mean that they were in Diamond half of the whole season, a small thing for top teams but certainly something to be proud of if you are not one of the top teams overall. Game one was a pretty long affair, lots of back and forth and both teams able to threaten the other, but in the end Nullstones lineup was a bit more powerful than the one of Prime Icarus. Game two followed quickly and this one followed an unusual team selection of PI, who hoped to confuse Nullstone and snatch the game from under their noses. This only happened partially though and Nullstone Gaming was able to recover and force their game upon PI, ending it after 33 minutes with another Nullstone victory. Nullstones moved on, Prime Icarus got the rest of the evening off and continued in the Losers Bracket the next day.
[tree]willowkeeper versus [Mint]Fresh, previously known as Dawn, was the name of match number three. This was a promising looking matchup, with who many consider the second best team of competitive HoN right now playing against one of the most promising new entries this season. willowkeeper were eager to play, which showed in the way they conducted the match, playing with several of their signature heroes and putting a lot of pressure on Fresh. In game one Fresh did not really stand a chance at all, too strong were Gemini and Flux on the opponents side. They managed to drag on the game, hoping to at least do some morale damage, but after 40 minutes, the game was over and willowkeeper were clearly victorious. Game two was a little more even and took a good 10 minutes longer. Fresh played a good game here and got close to willowkeeper several times, but a stellar Boxi on Kinesis saved the day, and with that won the game and match, moving willowkeeper ahead and allowing Fresh to do something else before playing in the Losers Bracket the next day.
Finally [Rea]Reason Gaming and the [KNX]REXXARS clashed in the last match of the round. Reason finally back from their stay in Gold Division were keen on making up for past mistakes, while the REXXARS had replenished their ranks and now wanted to see some blood. And that is just what they got in the first game, lots of Reason blood, who seemed to be completely taken by surprise by an intensely strong REXXARS team. The game took almost 50 minutes, but most deaths in the game were on Reason side, while two of the REXXARS players did not even die once the whole game. And this is pretty much how the game went, Reason dying, REXXARS winning, just very slowly. Game two was much quicker and had Reason come back big time after the disaster that was game one. This time everything worked in their favour and just after 25 minutes, they won game two and forced another game to decide the match. And this last game had Reason getting even stronger and more effective, this time they needed only 19 minutes to dismantle the REXXARS and they scored more kills too. Too bad for the REXXARS, they had an amazing start, but Reason Gaming really deserved the victory after such a recovery.

Later that evening, the four winners of round 1 playerd the second round, with two juicy matchups: Sync eSports versus Nullstone Gaming and willowkeeper versus Reason Gaming. Nothing too surprising there, but luckily all of those teams know how to entertain their fans.
Sync eSports versus Nullstone Gaming wasn't that exciting this time. Sync had warmed up after almost slipping in the first round and were now ready to roll over any resistance, while the Nullstonies were kind of prepared not to advance this round, but still gave it their all anyways, because they could. Game one was relatively even and took over 40 minutes to be decided. Sync were ahead slightly most of the time, but Nullstone Gaming did not give up and did damage where they could. In the end that was not enough, but they played solid against the Champion and that in itself is something. Game two was a pretty quick event, Sync now were in the zone and outplayed Nullstone Gaming at every point, ending the game quickly and moving on to the Winners Bracket Finals with little effort while Nullstone Gaming got a date for a match the next day.
willowkeeper versus Reason Gaming can be considered a classic already, as these two teams clashed in almost every Cycle of the Season so far and at least in this season, willowkeeper always came out ahead. Both teams were highly motivated for that reason, willowkeeper wanted to keep it that way while Reason wanted to end the streak. And it was Reason Gaming who's resolve seemed stronger, as they dominated the first game without mercy. willowkeeper came back in style in the second game, forcing the third to be played, but in that third game it was once more Reason who had the upper hand and eventually overpowered the trees, finally winning a match and advancing to the Winners Bracket Finals, a good result so far for a team that had to spend last Cycle in Gold Division.

Losers Sunday
But enough of the shining winners for now, Sunday was Losers Bracket Day. Six of the eight teams who started Saturday in Diamond Division would play here eventually, and only two teams would make it to the next weekend, while two others would have to go back to Gold Division for Cycle 8 and the rest of the Season. First teams to clash here were Ride my Rocket and Prime Icarus. RmR sought to do what Prime Icarus already did last Cycle: survive. But PI also wanted exactly that, so a highly entertaining match erupted that went on for three games and saw a lot of action. In the end it was Prime Icarus who remained victorious and in Diamond Division, they had been here before, in that situation before and now knew how to handle the pressure, while RmR played well but did not yet have what it takes to survive among the top teams.
The other two potential Gold candidats were Fresh (ex Dawn) and the REXXARS. Both teams knew the drill, so they gave it their all right away and hoped for the best. REXXARS had a really good game in the first round, but then got crushed, which might have been a factor in the LB match too, as they failed to really get into either of the two games, losing both to a well playing team Fresh. So once more the REXXARS go back to Gold Division, at least they have enough points to qualify for the Grand Final playoff and can now relax in the last Cycle of the Season. For Fresh it meant another match in the next round and the possibility to win more money and points and once more prove that they are a strong contender for the top.

Round two of the Losers Bracket followed later that evening and welcomed two more teams from the Winners Bracket. Prime Icarus was now facing willowkeeper, who got dropped by Reason Gaming after three pretty intense matches. Prime Icarus were in the same situation, they also had a tough three games match last round, with the difference that they were victorious in the end and that this happened a few hours earlier, not a whole day. So while willowkeeper were probably the better team overall, Prime Icarus were warmed up and ready for anything at this point, now that their survival in this Division was secured. And so did they play, no fear and lots of aggression, which turned out to be very entertaining for viewers. The first game had some moments for PI, but willowkeeper dominated overall and were able to win after 40 minutes. The second game in contrast was an amazingly short one, with Prime Icarus rolling over willowkeeper in just 15 minutes. In the third game, PI wanted to use a similar strategy, but learning from mistakes, the trees were ready this time and managed to hold off PI long enough to gain the upper hand, wrecking the enemy team with an amazing Lord Salforis, played by Boxi. All in all it was well played by Prime Icarus, they managed to make a stand and even surprise one of the best teams out there and can now finish a pretty good Season in the Diamond Division. willowkeeper also did very well, once more showing just how good they are at adapting and making the best use of underrated heroes.
The next opponent for willowkeeper was to be decided in the last match of the day, Fresh versus Nullstone Gaming. This was a meeting of powerful teams and Nullstone Gaming was probably a bit more likely to win this one, but they just lost their last match the day before while Fresh went into this after crushing a very good team just hours ago. The first game saw the Nullstonies getting crushed as well and only blue powder remained after 23 minutes when they conceded. Fresh were simply too strong when they got the heroes they like to play and Nullstone felt that. So in game two they attempted to adjust, banning different heroes and picking solid ones for themselves, but it was simply not their day. Fresh were once more on a roll and a stellar playing probusk showed them just how powerful Maliken can be. The game took a little longer, 40 minutes, but the result was the same, Nullstone Gaming lost and Fresh moved on to the next round where willowkeeper were already waiting.

Moving on to next weekend, the Finals are waiting for us! First willowkeeper and Fresh will be clashing in the Losers Bracket, a matchup that already went in favour for willowkeeper at the beginning of the Cycle, and then Sync esports and Reason Gaming will play in the Winners Bracket and decide who gets to play in the Grand Finals of the Cycle and who has to take the extra round through the Losers bracket. Honcast will be covering all matches live, so tune in on Saturday at 12:00 EST | 18:00 CET!

About the author: Blaze

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