IEM Katowice 2016 saw 113,000 people attend to watch teams compete across the most popular games of the day, including Heroes of the Storm. This year however, the revamped format of HGC means that the top team from the Latin America region with the Australia & New Zealand region will be competing alongside the top three teams from both Europe and North America.
Over the last six weeks, teams have been competing weekly in their own regions, vying for a place in the top three and a journey to Katowice for the Western Clash. In North America, both Tempo Storm and Team 8 stand at 6-1, while Gale Force eSports took an additional loss, but still qualified for the Clash at 5-2. Meanwhile, European team Misfits reigns undefeated, dropping only 5 games across 7 matches, each best-of-3 tilts. Fnatic and Team Dignitas follow close behind, at 6-1 and 5-2 respectively.
The seeding and records should provide interesting matchups, with each rank 3 playing the rank 2 from the other region. However, the Australia & New Zealand team Nomia will have to face Misfits first, and the Latin America team Infamous will start their weekend against Tempo Storm. While this technically means all the rank 1’s play each other, the recurrent struggles of Latin America and Australia & New Zealand teams in LAN tournaments cannot be ignored. Luckily, their hopes will not be dashed on the first round, as the Clash is a double-elimination format.
Teams are not only competing for the title of “Best in the West,” as the prize pool for this weekend alone totals $100,000. The last five weeks of regional play have provided plenty of film to review, and teams had last week off to research their opponent, but also to practice in the Lucio patch and develop new team comps to surprise their opponents. It’s important to note that this is not the patch from February 27, meaning Varian still has the Warbringer stun, Murky will still be at the 56% winrate numbers from the last week, Tychus doesn’t need glasses, and Lucio will still be at launch values. Without diving too deep into prediction territory, this weekend promises a mix of styles and tactics, as each team will be looking for the edge over their foreign competitors. Look for attempts to adapt strategies from other regions, look for novel attempts to counter regional standbys, and look for brand new compositions based on the strengths of the patch.
The first match starts on Friday March 3 at 11:20 AM EST, with Misfits against Nomia. Games will continue throughout the day, including the first round of the lower bracket, scheduled to begin at 5:30 and 7 PM EST. All of Friday’s action will be best-of-3 matches, with all later rounds on Saturday and Sunday being best-of-5. The finals are slated for Sunday at 6:20 PM EST, with the victors of the upper bracket and lower bracket facing off.