Going into the series, Fnatic had been recently seen as the most dominant team in the European region. Since their impressive performance at Blizzcon 2016, and their victory against arguably the best team in the world, Korea’s MVP Black, it was safe to say that they were the favorite going into the final series.
Team Dignitas, on the other hand, seemed like the underdog. While their appearance at 2016 major LAN tournaments almost always resulted in them taking the trophy, they did not perform as well in the HGC’s first five weeks, ending the half season as the 3rd best European team, and dropping series against their two main contenders, Fnatic and Misfits. Also, they recently had a roster change, with the release of AlextheproG, and the addition of Zaelia. They themselves mentioned that they needed time to adjust to the new player, and work on their synergy as a team.
The first game’s draft lobby appears, and suddenly, the audience starts seeing some old faces, that are most definitely not part of the professional Meta at the moment: Stitches and Tyrande. A duo of heroes that, in the hands of highly trained players, is terrifying and can potentially change the course of a game with their amazing isolation synergy. Here is a highlight from game one, that shows how menacing Dignitas composition was: a great hook from JayPL, followed by a Lunar Flair from Bakery, and Sulfuras Smash from Zaelia, that completely obliterate Wubby’s Tyrael. With this early 2016 composition, Dignitas manages to take Fnatic by surprise. Multiple hooks, stuns and deletions later, Dignitas is in the lead, 2-0, and Fnatic clearly has no real answer to their opponent’s strategy.
The Swedish team then decides to stick to what they do best, and drafts a global heavy composition, with Falstad and Dehaka. This move ends up paying for them, and they bring back the series 2-2. But in the last game, on Dragon Shire, Dignitas decides to take away these two heroes that Fnatic values so much. They complete the team composition with their signature Tyrande, along with Chromie, and Muradin, thus having a team, that can not only easily delete heroes from the battlefield, but also be extremely mobile during the shrine phases. The perfectly executed draft mind game of Team Dignitas pays off. They end up winning the game, series and trophy with a dominant fifth game, not even leaving one Dragon Knight to Fnatic, and ending these final 20 minutes of the Western Clash with all their structures intact.
Congratulations to Team Dignitas, who managed to beat the odds and be victorious in the most interesting fashion. Several reasons have been mentioned to explain Team Dignitas’ performance.
The first one is that they were the only team having an official coach (Ex-Cloud9 support player Dunktrain), in Poland to take care of their scrim schedule, and probably interfere in drafts and pre-game strategy meetings. While having an official coach is a common practice in other eSports games such as League of Legends, it had never been seen before in Heroes of the Storm. It might not be the main reason for Dignitas’ victory, but having a veteran player who was part of the team that won the 2015 Blizzcon was definitely a great help, taking some of the pressure off of team captain Bakery.
They are also a team that is known to perform extremely well at offline events, perhaps being more experienced with the stress of being on the main stage in front of a large audience. Fnatic, on the other hand, is a roster that is known to be slightly more affected by nerve than others. They are the first ones to recognize that, and actually explained during Blizzcon 2016, that what (in part) allowed them to beat MVP Black, was the feeling that they already had achieved what they wanted in terms of placement, and they could go into the series, free of any pressure to perform.
In conclusion, Team Dignitas managed to pull a very impressive performance as the number 3 seed from Europe, reinforcing the statement that Nomia made (n°1 Australia/New Zealand seed) back in the first game of the tournament where they won again Misfits that “No team should be underestimated”.
For more statistics from the HGC Western Clash, make sure to check out this infographic done by our very own Heroes player, Kitara for Stormkings!