The end of Heroes of the Dorm had arrived. All of the buildup, the energy, the hopes, and the dreams culminated in a single moment even as the sun began to set over the Cascade Mountains to the west of the great Northwestern city of Seattle.
Arizona State University, the runners up from last year who were denied the trophy, the recognition and the scholarship were back with the expectation that they would emerge victorious. They were labeled the villains in this tournament: the better recognized, experienced, and funded team. They were the Dream Team, the favorites….the Monstars.
UT Arlington, a team with professional experience who had won every game by drafting unexpected choices and executing their planned maneuvers without remorse or rival. They came into that arena no less qualified than their opponent, but they were underdogs anyway and had something to prove.
These two teams faced each other in the crucible of Century Link stadium, the home of champions, with everything riding on the line. Not just for them, but for the legitimacy of Heroes of the Storm and eSports on the whole.
Only one of these teams would survive the best of five series to emerge victorious. More than just bragging rights or ladder points were at risk here: indeed the ability to leave school debt free is a luxury few students will ever know.
UT Arlington vs Arizona State University
In game one on Blackhearts Bay, ASU started with Illidan who was supported by Tassadar, Rehgar, Li Ming, and Muradin.
UTA drafted Xul, Brightwing, Johanna, Zeratul, and Sylvannas as a comp that appeared to soundly counter the Illidan and Li Ming backbone from ASU. They also removed Brightwing from the capable hands of Akaface, who was well known for playing the faerie dragon throughout the tournament.
In the early game, UTA utilized their Sylvannas draft and solid rotations to snipe ASU’s structures before a response could be mustered. This gave them not only a lead in experience, but allowed the team to maximize their cannon shots after a successful turn in. In response to this, MichaelUddal on Illidan successfully juggled the mercenary camps to get coins and the first turn in.
UTA Successfully caught ASU out of position during this turn in though and while they were unable to prevent it entirely, they did kill two members of ASU as an appropriate response. Almost immediately following, UTA successfully turned in and reduced the center fort to rubble which UTA a two level advantage over ASU.
Once ASU gained their heroic talents at ten they forced a team fight against UTA before they could get additional talent advantage and successfully killed two of the ATU team. This allowed ASU to catch back up to their opponents in experience and leveled the playing field.
UTA countered after their teammates resurrected by successfully sneaking a boss, though that additional pressure was immediately shut down by ASU. Team fights continued to favor ASU throughout the midgame as their focus allowed them to snipe a player quickly which reset Li Ming’s abilities, allowing her to repeat the process. With each team fight turning into a 4v5 before it started, all UTA could do was stagger back into their base, bloodied but not broken; though usually with another teammate dead before the dust cleared.
Finally after one particularly successful engagement ASU was able to ensure enough of the UTA members were dead before moving onto the core.
Game two on Towers of Doom saw UT Arlington build a dive heavy comp with Illidan, Tyrael, Xul, Uther, and Li Ming probably hoping to focus down one and target like ASU was able to do in round one.
ASU successfully countered by building a draft around a strong front line, including Muradin, Sonya, Thrall, Raynor and Brightwing.
The strength of this counter to ASU’s dive became apparent in the early game as ASU successfully picked off two members of the Arlington team and easily secured the first alter.
The team fights continued to favor ASU before level 10 as the combination of AKAFace’s polymorph on Brightwing and the Muradin stun allowed ASU to easily lock down and focus one of their opponents. ASU was not completely unscathed howerver as UT Arlington was able to at the very least draw blood against their opponent, and once Illidan picked up the Hunt at level 10 they were more able to place ASU on the back foot so long as they initiated the team fights.
By the mid game however, ASU was still able to retain control on the shrines and dictate the movement of the game, leading the game 16-40. Any attempt by UT Arlington to rebalance the match was rebuffed and any successful kill was paid for with a trade from ASU.
Finally the UT Arlington Illdian was caught out of position just before the final set of Alters spawned t. Going in against ASU’s team 4v5 and two levels down, UT Arlington was unable to make anything beat the Dream Team and ASU captured both active alters before securing the Headless Horseman boss to win the game.
On Infernal Shrines, UT A looked as though they wanted to go Cho’gall by picking up Rehar and Thrall initially. ASU appeared to see this as well and they banned the two-headed ogre from being able to take the field. Arlington responded by drafting a completely tankless comp with Tassadar as a second support before finishing with Greymane and Illidan. Reminiscent of the of the draft they used successfully against TENN the day before on the very same map.
ASU’s draft on the other hand looked more traditional; Double warrior (Sonya, ETC), double assassin (Valla, Zeratul), and single Support (Uther).
Double support not enough to keep Thrall alive on the first shrine, UTA gave it up after losing him rather than fight in a 4v5. UTA’s missing front line continued to be problematic and they lost the next punisher and a camp they were looking for to capture.
UT Arlington finally managed to pull ahead on experience after wiping ASU during a fight at the third shrine, though they were unable to secure the Punisher. While UTA was mopping up ASU, that very punisher was dealt significant damage to their top keep.
The tipping point came during the shrine fight for the punisher on the fourth shrine. ASU managed to barely win the team fight and went straight for core, but they were unable to kill the core, dropping it two percent.
The momentum shift allowed UTA to gain a punisher and one of ASU’s keeps in the absence of any defender, but that was as far as they got. ASU successfully defended their core and caught Illidan out of position as he over extended while trying to finish off the ASU Zeratul. With five members of the ASU team alive against four from UTA, ASU marched across the map and were able to finish off the last fraction of the core’s health without much drama.
ASU swept the series 3-0.
ASU stood victorious as the team of young college students stood relieved, feeling the kind of relief that only a person who has been freed from the weight of crippling debt can feel. They knew that the faith of the eSports community had placed in them was finally vindicated and in such a convincing manner.
While they were gracious in victory, by the third game the majority of the audience was unsurprised. ASU had spent the entire tournament as the expected winner by doing bringing a level of expertise and polished precision to the tournament that no other team had matched.
There was almost no question as to who was going to win the tournament this year, and any ASU alleviated what few doubts there were in resounding fashion. The question now is: who can possibly beat them next year.Related: eSports, Heroes of the Dorm, Heroes of the Storm, Tournament