Heroes of the Storm BlizzCon 2016 Grand Finals
In a surprising turn of events, the Heroes of the Storm BlizzCon 2016 Grand Finals would not be between two Korean teams but rather a repeat of the semis: a Korean team favorite up against their European underdogs.
Ballistix jogged to victory as the top seed from Korea while Fnatic struggled throughout the series. During the semifinals, however, Fnatic beat MVP Black in a convincing and motivated manner. They looked hungry and you could tell they wanted the title so much more than MVP Black did.
Now they had one more series to go. In their way was Ballistix, the unquestionably strongest team in the strongest region on the planet.
Game 1: Tomb of the Spider Queen
Game one in the Grand Finals at Blizzcon started with Fnatic focusing on wave clear for a map that requires so much of it and included a draft around Zarya and roots.
This came in handy as they easily focused down the Korean Muradin by chaining roots together. This gave Fnatic the lead they needed in their 4-1 rotation between top and middle lanes, which quickly gave them about a half level lead on their opponents.
Their lead was short lived, though, as Ballistix properly focused down Xul when he stepped out of position. Ballistix quickly picked up the first webweaver lane and pushed with their Sylvanas in the top lane, but they were unable to secure any significant damage before the rest of Fnatic rotated in after clearing the other lanes.
Fnatic immediately turned in for a webweaver wave of their own, but they did not inflict much damage. In fact, the Korean team turned on Fnatic and successfully traded three for one before spawning their second web weaver lane.
Pushing with Sylvanas this time allowed them to get a structural lead and a favorable two for one trade in the ensuing team fight.
These valuable engagements gave Ballistix a slight experience and structural lead and allowed them to continue pressuring Fnatic. Despite not having a talent tier advantage, Ballistix was determined to keep Fnatic on the back foot.
Ballistix engaged just as they gained the 16 talent and successfully killed three members of Team Fnatic, which gave them the space they needed to grab the boss in the top lane and spawn their third webweaver wave. This push was once again compounded by the Sylvanas and they were easily able to pick up the keep in the top lane and another unanswered kill.
Not content to wait around, Ballistix pushed on top of Fnatic using Tyrael’s Holy Ground and Sanctification to prevent Fnatic from being able to retreat into their own base. Cut off and surrounded, Fnatic lost four members before Ballistix moved on to the core taking the first game and putting them up 1-0.
Analyst Comment: The power of Sylvanas on maps like Tomb of the Spider Queen cannot be over stated. Even though Fnatic was able to initially mitigate any damage she might inflict, the lead that Ballistix picked up from being able to rotate together so effectively eventually left her to wreak havoc on the European team. Additionally, key plays by Tyrael with Holy Ground and Sanctification allowed Ballistix to manhandle the Europeans any time they stepped out just a little too far.
Match 2: Sky Temple
Both teams started by aggressively attacking each other’s walls in order to maximize the first shrine phase. Ballistix actually managed to get the top fort with the first shrine, but Fnatic traded for middle fort.
Before the second temple phase, Ballistix grouped together with help from the siege giants and pressured all of the structures in the bottom lane. This not only removed a foothold that Fnatic could have used to attack from into the bottom temple, but it also made the temple extremely potent.
Once in position, though, Fnatic took down the fort in the bottom, secured half the shots from the temple, took a kill, and immediately rotated onto the boss before the Korean team had their heroic abilities.
On the third temple phase, both teams decided to contest the bottom temple where a four-person Void Prison started the team fight that resulted in a four for three trade in favor of Ballistix. Thanks to this slight advantage in the team fight, they gained a level lead over their opponents and Ballistix did not wait for any major talent tier advantage to press for another team fight.
The team fight was a fairly even trade across the board but Ballistix continued to have the experience advantage and felt confident to go for boss, which pressured the bottom lane in between temple phases. Despite being on the same talent tier, the boss provided enough leverage for Ballistix to push through the bottom keep and lock down individual Fnatic team members.
When the smoke cleared four of Fnatic’s team members were dead and Ballistix moved onto the core, putting them up 2-0 in the series.
Analyst Comment: Ballistix’s ability to maintain constant momentum against their opponent allowed them to fluidly move from objectives to camps and structures. Sky Temple is a map that is very much about structural health and even though both teams attempted to maximize the potency of temples, eventually the stronger team fight from Ballistix was enough to win the game.
Match 3: Warhead Junction
With their tournament life on the line, Fnatic turned to Tracer to try to make the matchup a little unpredictable. They paired it with globals on the largest map, which allowed them to gain the first two spawned nukes in the match.
This, along with an early pick against the Korean Zeratul, gave Fnatic a slight level lead early on in the game.
The second wave of four nukes spawned and each team split them two each, but Falstad over extended in an attempt to kill an exposed Zeratul and forfeited it to the Korean team.
Ballistix used this advantage to take the bottom fort with a Nuke, which gave them a talent tier advantage as the next wave of two nukes spawned. A trade occurred in the initial team fight, while key plays by Tracer and Falstad for Fnatic allowed them to get the nuke and a double kill.
Fnatic made a move onto the top boss, but Ballistix picked up on the move and rotated to contest. Both teams used all of their nukes and heroics to attempt to secure it, and in a fiery display of death and destruction Fnatic secured the boss but lost every member of their team.
Fnatic secured three kills on their opponents as another round of nukes spawned, which allowed Fnatic to grab three out of four nukes. Rather than hold onto them, Fnatic used all three to take top keep before using a Falstad’s Mighty Gust to disengage safely.
Now, with a way for Fnatic to win in the top lane, they quickly moved onto the bottom boss, but Ballistix contested in a running firefight that resulted in the death of all five members of Fnatic to three for Ballistix.
Not willing to learn from their previous engagement, Fnatic moved onto the boss in the top lane only to once again be contested by Ballistix. Fnatic disengaged and let the boss leash and a roaming firefight continued, which left two of Ballistix’s teammates dead due to clutch timing on polymorphs by the Fnatic Brightwing. With two dead, Fnatic once again went for boss.
Ballistix contested again, but the deaths of the previous two team members left Ballistix in a position where they had to engage against a full team while they had staggered respawn timers. Eventually, Fnatic picked apart Ballistix’s individual players and wiped the team before moving onto the core to get a point on the board 1-2.
Analyst Comment: This was the match to watch. It was bloody and an absolute slugfest. Fnatic’s insistence to go for boss over and over again was symptomatic of their desperation. The bosses on Warhead Junction are so powerful that they can clear full lanes and are the actual objectives on the map. Even though both sides took egregious losses, the survivability of Fnatic’s team comp eventually paid off.
Game 4: Towers of Doom
The match started with each team trading kills before the first alter spawn, but Fnatic had a slight experience advantage. Both global heroes grabbed the top alters for their teams before transitioning back.
The middle alter was contested and initially Fnatic was in great shape to control it, but Ballistix followed through on a Fnatic Stitches hook to push them off of the point while being chased by the Korean Tracer. Ballistix took the lead 36-32.
Over extension and mistakes by Fnatic continued in between the Alter phase and Ballistix punished them with a pair of kills, which gave them a slight experience lead. Both teams traded alters at the second spawn and made the score 32-28 in favor of Ballistix.
At the third alter spawn, Stitches gorged the Korean Tracer but was unsuccessful in killing her without any follow up. Ballastix killed the European ETC, secured the alter, and pushed a sapper into the Fnatic core making the score 32-23 in favor of Ballistix.
The team fight continued and despite the Fnatic Falstad managing to Gust the entire team into the No-Man’s-Land, Fnatic was unable to secure the next two Alters and a boss to make the score 32-6 Ballistix.
Fnatic finally retook their bottom bell tower and caught up on the soak, but they were unable to secure any kills as the fifth alter set spawned.
With only six shots left on the core, Fnatic and Ballistix traded shots leaving the last alter on Ballistix’s side of the map up. Fnatic desperately tried to hold on and push into the entrenched Korean position, but one by one they fell.
Ballastix took the fight, the alter, the game, the series, and the Grand Championship for 2016!
Analyst Comment: Ultimately throughout the series, Fnatic found themselves reacting to Ballistix and the fourth match was no exception. A long brawl in the bottom lane not only kept Fnatic from retaking their bell tower but also made them unable to catch back up in experience or capture mercenary camps of their own. Ballistix won by setting the pace throughout the game.Related: BlizzCon 2016, eSports, Fnatic, Grand Championship, Heroes of the Storm