Weekend Recap: Finding the Heroic Four

Author: GosuGamers Heroes Editorial Team

Only sixteen Heroes of the Dorm teams remained going into Easter weekend, all vying for a Heroic Four spot and hoping to book their all-expenses-paid trips to Seattle, Washington for next month’s finals. At this stage of the bracket, all of the teams are skilled competitors capable of punishing opponents’ mistakes, and that’s exactly what many of them did during a weekend dominated by 2-0 sweeps.

With a place in the finals almost within reach, the majority of teams took no chances. Comfort hero picks, confident strategies, and moments of individual brilliance were all on display as the level of competition across all of the groups intensified.


Group A

The first match of Group A was a grudge match one year in the making. Determined to replace their rivals after being eliminated by them during last year’s Dorm, UC Irvine (4) drafted a very stun-heavy lineup. With their agile, poke-oriented comp, Washington (8) was able to run circles around them and claim game one with a five-level lead. Irvine would not let history be repeated so easily, and with their Stitches, Lunara, and Lost Vikings they were almost able to even the score in game two. Washington proved too tough of a nut to crack though, and with an unfortunate triple alter spawn on the Towers of Doom battleground, they were able to snatch a 2-0 victory from Irvine’s grasp.

Although University of Tennessee (2) are undoubtedly a powerhouse team under the leadership of longtime professional player David “Roflcopter” Young, Louisiana State University (6) gave them a run for their money. Games one and two played out in much the same way, as the teams took turns securing an early advantage only to let it slip in the late game. It wasn’t until game three, in which Tennessee clearly found their rhythm and dominated team fights, that they were able to win decisively.

Despite what the seeding could tell you, going up against Washington in the Epic Eight was by no means an easy matchup for Tennessee. They won the first game following a masterful ETC Mosh Pit that might have demoralized lesser opponents, but Washington bounced back and completely controlled game two. Seemingly harnessing their competitive experience and using that loss as a motivational tool, Tennessee went into the third game looking nigh unstoppable and, while it wasn’t entirely one-sided, they won it in convincing fashion.

Winning Team Score Score Losing Team
University of Washington 2 0 UC Irvine
University of Tennessee 2 1 Louisiana State University
University of Tennessee 2 1 University of Washington

 University of Tennessee advances to Heroic Four


Group B

When facing a team as experienced as UT Arlington (1), there’s little you can do but hope to throw them off their game. After a crushing defeat at the hands of Arlington’s Cho’Gall in game one, Carleton University (4) knew that they had to make a drastic change. Taking a page from Cloud9’s book, they drafted possibly the most stall-centric composition in competitive Heroes to date, with Murky, Tassadar, Leoric, Brightwing, and Abathur. Arlington are no stranger to unique drafts, however, and although they did stumble briefly throughout game two, they still managed to pull away with a convincing victory.

A similar story was told in the other Group B match as underdogs Johns Hopkins University (6) were pitted against an all-star team from Boston College (2). This time, however, it was the more experienced team that decided to shake things up a bit. Following a dominant performance in game one, Boston College hoped to keep Johns Hopkins on their toes with an Illidan pick. Illidan isn’t seen very often due to his high skill cap and heavy reliance on his team. Boston College more than made it work though, ending the game in under 15 minutes with their trademark speed.

While both UT Arlington and Boston College put on incredible displays of skill en route to the Epic Eight, there was only room for one of them to advance to the Heroic Four. Boston College got off to an incredibly strong start and looked like they might upset a lot of folks’ bracket selections when they won the first game handily. Realizing that their tournament life was on the line, Arlington pulled out all the stops in game two and put Rehgar’s rarely seen Bloodlust build to great effect.

This unconventional style of Heroes play proved highly effective, as it’s almost impossible to be prepared for something that few people would ever consider drafting. Games two and three were close, but ultimately it was Arlington’s creativity and drafting prowess that won them the series and secured their spot in the Heroic Four.

Winning Team Score Score Losing Team
UT Arlington 2 0 Carleton
Boston College 2 1 Johns Hopkins
UT Arlington 2 1 Boston College

University of Texas-Arlington advances to the Heroic Four.


Group C

There were few surprises in Group C as University of Connecticut (1) continued to justify their high initial seeding. With some impressive Zeratul play, they took momentum away from Ohio State (13) and never looked back as they romped to a 2-0 victory.

In a major upset, University of California-Berkeley (2) were eliminated by Harvard University (15) last week. However, due to Harvard’s recent disqualification, last year’s champions were given a second chance. Their convincing 2-0 victory against San Jose State (6) this weekend showed us that Berkeley are unafraid of unconventional drafting, and confident enough to play the heroes they enjoy, even if they are off-meta.

It seemed inevitable that two favorites would eventually meet at such a crucial stage of the tournament and, regardless of the winner, players and fans were going to be upset. University of Connecticut (1) are an undefeated fan favorite and California-Berkeley (2) are last year’s champions. The only question that remained was which team wanted this more.

UConn answered that question loudly, and their signature late-game decision-making was the deciding factor in both games. California-Berkeley seemed unprepared for the slippery Medivac and Wind Tunnel strategies that they faced, and ultimately lost the structural war of attrition. 

Winning Team Score Score Losing Team
University of Connecticut 2 0 Ohio State
UC Berkeley 2 0 San Jose State
University of Connecticut 2 0 UC Berkeley

University of Connecticut beats University of California-Berkeley 2-0 and advances to the Heroic Four.


Group D

Given their identical 6-1 match records and similar hero pick statistics, the match between East Carolina University (7) land University of Minnesota (6) was always going to be closely contested. One noteworthy difference between the two teams’ hero picks to date is that ECU frequently use Anub’arak as a solo warrior–an unusual pick that paid off in game one by disrupting Minnesota’s Li-Ming snowball potential. Game two went differently as Minnesota clawed one back, using sustained ranged attacks from Lunara and Sylvanas to render Anub’arak far less effective.

This was one of very few matches to go to the distance, and as the third and final game was getting underway it was too close to call. Both teams looked comfortable with their drafts, but East Carolina looked to have a slight edge thanks to their strategic ban on Lunara—the hero largely responsible for Minnesota’s game two victory. Game three appeared to be something of a stalemate, until East Carolina rocketed ahead with a three-level lead at the 13-minute mark. Thanks to the clutch Stitches play from team captain Steph "Oddish" L and some superior ranged assassin play, East Carolina University took the series 2-1.

The final match of day one saw tournament favorites Arizona State University (1) go up against University of Pennsylvania (4). The underdogs showed signs of life with their game one draft as they smartly banned ASU’s Falstad and Tyrande comfort picks, but after losing that game to the mechanical prowess of ASU, Pennsylvania lost any momentum that they might’ve had. Warmed up and armed with Falstad in the second game, ASU made quick work of their opponents.

Arizona State rely on aggressive individual plays from their team to take the early game and then snowball utilizing their mechanical skill. However, East Carolina looked ready. They were one of the only teams so far to successfully punish ASU for their aggressive overextensions, and even though they ultimately lost the match 2-0, they were the first team to effectively disrupt the overwhelming presence that ASU brings to the game. Teams facing ASU in Seattle would do well to take a page from East Carolina’s book.

Winning Team Score Score Losing Team
East Carolina 2 1 Minnesota
Arizona State 2 0 Pennsylvania
Arizona State 2 0 East Carolina

Arizona State beats East Carolina 2-0 and advances to the Heroic Four.


The Hero Picks

Given the different between achieving Heroic Four glory and going home empty-handed, the Super Sixteen and Epic Eight represented the most important legs of the tournament for teams to date. As a result, the hero picks seen during this weekend of play were anything but experimental and give us some insight into the strategic minds of the top teams:

MOST BANNED HEROES

  1. Falstad
  2. Tyrande
  3. Xul
  4. Greymane
  5. Li-Ming
  6. Johanna
  7. Zagara
  8. Rehgar
  9. E.T.C
  10. Sonya

When trying to assess the state of the Heroes meta, it’s important to look at the heroes that nobody wants to see on the opposing team. Falstad, Tyrande, and Xul are top three for a lot of reasons, but it’s their ability to engage, disengage, or counter-engage with powerful Heroics that make them so universally feared. Further down the list, we see that teams are also avoiding playing against high burst damage Assassins like Li-Ming and Greymane. Johanna and E.T.C are also worth calling out, as these tanky Warriors are feared for their ability to both protect allies and stun multiple enemies.

MOST PICKED HEROES

  1. Muradin
  2. Thrall
  3. Zagara
  4. Rehgar
  5. Li-Ming
  6. Johanna
  7. Tassadar
  8. Falstad
  9. Valla
  10. Uther

Muradin, Thrall, and Zagara are easily the most popular heroes in the current meta, and there are understandable reasons why. When a team has Muradin, they are free to pair him with any aggressive assassin and dominate the early game with a roaming gank squad. This is such a powerful strategy, that it makes strong solo laners very popular options, and it shouldn’t surprise you to know that Thrall and Zagara are currently the strongest solo laners in the game, arguably followed by Rehgar and Li-Ming.


The Heroic Four

Four teams remain: Arizona State University, University of Connecticut, University of Texas Arlington, and Tennessee. Each of these teams have come together amidst the stress and rigors of higher education to achieve something great and reach the Heroes of the Dorm Heroic Four.

The Heroic Four Live Event starts at 5 p.m. PDT / 8 p.m. on April 9-10 at the CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle Washington. At this epic two-day event, Azmodunk bundles and live event exclusives will be available to all attendees, and the 2016 Heroes of the Dorm champions will be crowned.


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