A major ray of sunshine in the young and wild Heroes of the Storm competitive scene is the rivalry between Tempo Storm and Cloud9. While the conflict has been distinctly in favor of Tempo Storm, as they reminded viewers at this weekend's Heroes of the Storm America Championship, Cloud9 were the ones to walk away with first place and the accompanying $40,000 prize. By taking second and first place, respectively, both teams qualified for the Heroes of the Storm World Championship at BlizzCon this November, where—with any luck—a rematch will let the two settle the score.
They weren't the only ones in their region competing to qualify. Squads from Latin and North America, as well as Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand gave their all at the two-day tournament. Compiled below is a testament to all of the teams, and their best accomplishments on the Road to BlizzCon, whether they kept on the path or not.
Illidan stops for nothing: Relics vs. Cognitive Gaming
Illidan is an agile little scamp in Heroes of the Storm. Every attack drains life and reduces the cooldowns of abilities that let him zip behind enemies and dodge their attacks. Put him together with Abathur, whose long-range symbiosis increases his allies' damage and defense, and you've got a hero that goes wherever he pleases.
And so he did in the first game between Relics and Cognitive Gaming. Normally, gates and towers offer some resistance to invading forces. Illidan, however, in the hands Cognitive's Glaurung, dove straight through his opponents' structures, eliminating or helping to eliminate not one but three Relics players on their home turf. All the while he was being pursued by the vengeful ghosts of Tyrael—which explodes shortly after death—and Uther—who attempted to perform triage on Glaurung's final, ultimately doomed target.
While he did die as a result of the blitz, Glaurung left Relics with a only a single hero to defend a nearly full team at the gates. Victory was pretty much a foregone conclusion after that.
Azmodan's three-pointer: Cognitive Gaming vs. compLexity Gaming
If Illidan is an assassin, Azmodan is a demolitions expert. With a channeled laser that does more damage the longer it's fired, he's the perfect hero (villain?) for taking down beefy enemy structures. While compLexity did put his beam to good use in their second match against Cognitive Gaming, it was another of his skills—an explosive globe that flies far and hits harder—that created one of the most entertaining moments of the tournament.
After turning away from what could have been a nasty fight, Cognitive looked as though they would escape just by the skin of their teeth. compLexity's Trummel wasn't having it, though. Turning away from the fleeing majority, he set Azmodan's sights on Cognitive's lone Tassadar player. While Trummel's prey was able to dodge death several times before, his sliver of health left him vulnerable to the impeccably aimed exploding basketball. Azmodan, far from being a one-trick pony, landed the shot all the way from downtown (which in this case probably refers to the Burning Hells).
The Void Prison slam dunk: Relics vs. Complexity Gaming
Void Prison is without a doubt one of the most important skills in Heroes of the Storm. While inside the mystical green bubble, heroes on either team are frozen in time. It's single-handedly made Zeratul a top-tier pick among professional players, not because of any direct damage, but because it gives allies vital time to set up other, stronger skills.
One such skill is Sonya's Leap. It sends her screaming into the air like the berserker she is, damaging and stunning anyone too slow to get out the way when she lands. As it happens, being trapped inside a pocket of frozen time doesn't allow for great evasive maneuvers. It might make for fine art, however, as Complexity showed us for just a few seconds.
Butcher, blocked: Tempo Storm vs. Cloud9
And now we've reached the main event. The tournament ended the way many predicted it would, with Cloud9 and Tempo Storm facing each other in the grand finals. The latter certainly had the numbers behind them, too, at one point holding a streak of 44 wins and only one loss. Even so, it was Cloud9 that took an early lead in the best-of-five series that closed the event. Their advantage was owed, at least in part, to level-headed decisions: like using a top-level skill just to push someone out of the way.
Most of us, upon seeing a charging Frankenstein's monster like The Butcher, would probably panic. KingCaffeine is not like most us. With just a split-second to make his move, KingCaffeine used Leoric's Entomb, his ultimate, to block the charger's path and send him spiraling out of position.
What should have been a great start to the fight for Tempo Storm quickly turned in their enemies' favor, and they capitalized on the edge it gave them. Cloud9 had already earned a solid lead before this fight, but the ground they covered afterwards was a definite closer.
Tempo Storm halts the retreat: Tempo Storm vs. Cloud9
With just one win needed to beat their supposedly superior rivals, Cloud9 perhaps began to feel a little cocky. It did them no favors in game three, when Tempo Storm began to regain some of their own lost bravado. No moment captured that self-confidence quite like this astounding body block in game four. What at first looked like a simple assassination attempt on Tempo Storm's captain quickly evolved into a five-part dance routine.
The Tempo leader, spying the sortie, beat a hasty retreat for his neighboring fort. In response, the three nearest Cloud9 players repeatedly turned on their heels in front of him, just inches from the gate while the fort's cannons and some opposing mercenaries pelt them with what was apparently not enough firepower. The risky decision paid off, and a kill was scored in the most amusing way possible.
PC Gamer Pro is a new channel dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!