by Sascha “Yiska” Heinisch
It’s been a long and fun weekend for the World of Warcraft community. Saturday, especially, was very exhausting, not only for the teams, but for every fan that has been watching the stream; glued to their monitor to see how their favorite team did.
The staff and most teams later agreed that MLG Anaheim was one of the best tournaments they had ever been to. Let’s recap.
The event in itself was very specious. We saw many different class combinations being played at the tournament which has not quite been a given in the past. In early Wrath of the Lich King (the current expansion set of WoW) most teams were playing a line up of Rogue/Mage/Priest because of the strength of the comp back then. While RMP was still present in Anaheim, only three out of eight teams would play this class combination, opening slots for other comps such as Shadow Cleave, Rogue/Warlock/Shaman or Beast Cleave making the tournament arguably more fun to watch.
While every class combination, despite Check Six’ Beast Cleave, had at least one other team playing the same comp, the play styles of those teams were still entirely different from one another. While SK.US had great success in the past with a straight brute force strategy as the RMP line-up, simply forcing the enemy to make mistakes by applying pressure, Button Bashers played the finesse game with punctual burst spikes, great coordination, and a Priest that would ditch out immense numbers as a healer when needed. It would turn out that this play style would be the way to go.
Our very own Complexity’s play style could probably be defined as a hybrid between the two with a tendency towards the start to finish pressure on one target strategy, especially on Friday against SK.EU. While this may be effective on live servers, against high quality teams on TR, and was still the most efficient way to play in patch 3.1, it unfortunately didn’t net any success against top notch teams such as those in Anaheim and the results went accordingly for both SK.US and Complexity.
A reasonable explanation for this difference in play style is of course the origin of those teams, which brings up another very diverse aspect to the tournament. With Button Bashers and SK.EU, two non-North American teams who were attending; both had a completely different approach and look at the game. The Koreans exchanged their former Rogue “Hannival” for their new team member “Hiren” and after a couple of matches in round robin, it was clear that this team was not the same that didn’t even manage to place in the final four in Dallas, and it turned out that the roster change was necessary. More on this later.
Emotion was a big part of what made Anaheim such a pleasure to watch. Yet again, the Korean team of Button Bashers was a class of their own as they screamed on top of their lungs whenever a crucial situation occurred in game or high fived each other resulting in tomato red palms. Players like Check Six’ Twixz or EG’s Azael weren`t exactly hiding though, as they were pretty vocal as well.
Disappointment was another widely spread emotion across the players, as it hit Complexity on Friday as they lost 5-0 against SK.EU; a result that didn’t satisfy the best RMP in North America.
Despite the battle cries during the matches, some teams witnessed quite an emotional roller coaster, including both Complexity teams, with quite fluctuating performances.
Just like at MLG Dallas, the round robin played in the Anaheim convention center – the home of Blizzcon – was a very close competition. Even after the long Saturday with rougly a third of all round robin matches being played, seven out of the eight teams still had the chance to qualify for the final four and get a shot at the 9000$ and three HP Firebirds.
The first team of those remaining seven that was thrown out of the race was Complexity. How ironic it had to be the team of BHMS, the squad that won the wild card sponsored by Complexity, to kick the best RMP in Dallas out of the tournament.
Possibly the most exciting series was played between the – until then both undefeated – teams of Check Six and Button Bashers. It was exciting till the very last health points as the series was tied at 2-2 in score and in game 5, it even came down to a cross kill with Check Six having the last laugh at the end as BB’s Priest Numberone’s mana was completely drawn out and the final burst didn’t result in a kill. One can imagine that with both teams being so emotional during their matches, the noises coming from the WoW area were at least on par with the console players for a while. It would not be the last match against each other for these two teams.
Even with only three more matches to play in round robin, six teams were still able to finish in the top four. Even more impressing that the new comers of BHMS were able to keep their cool and so they managed to grab the last qualifying spot. Keep in mind that Brogo is only 15 – Brogo has indeed Massive Snutz.
The final four consisted of Check Six, Button Bashers, BHMS and the European team, with the self proclaimed best Warlock in the world named Inflame, SK.EU. The team had a tough time after a bad performance in the first matches of Saturday.
In round one of the double elimination bracket we saw no surprises as both the 1st and 2nd place of round robin, BB and x6 were able to win their games. In the loser`s bracket, BHMS had to face SK.EU in a mirror and even though they lost quite clearly, they finished at a very impressive 4th place for their very first tournament. Two months back they were a team of strong players not really well known in the community, signing up for the wild card tournament and this weekend they were already able to mess with the best teams in the world. An e-high is surely earned. Thumbs up guys.
In the upper bracket finals, Button Bashers adjusted their strategy and were able to control the Enhancement Shaman Flexx a lot better and in some games the offensive power of Beast Cleave just seemed to vanish. The series was almost as close as the first one but this time the Asians were able to pull off a close 3-2 win which directly qualified them for the finals. Check Six’ Twixz later said that he hopes that Button Bashers will qualify for the MLG Finals in Orlando early next year as he wants revenge for what had just happened to him, and because the series against the Koreans including the emotional clash had been a very fun experience for him as well.
Check Six had to face SK.EU again and the score in round robin had been 3-2. Just as in the first round of the double elimination bracket, Check Six was able to beat BHMS’ Shadow Cleave line up 3-0 and each game was won in a matter of seconds. This time, it was different though. The series lasted exactly three rounds, with all three matches being played on maps with a z-axis, namely two times on Dalaran and once on Blades Edge arena. With abilities like Death Grip and Teleport being in SK.EU’s arsenal these maps are a melee’s nightmare. Inflame constantly hugged a pillar and so Check Six was never really able to put up their much needed pressure which resulted in the Beast Cleave getting outlasted. The last remaining US team had been thrown out of the tournament.
The grand final as usual for MLG was a best of 11 with the scores from round robin being already added to the score, therefore SK.EU was at a slight disadvantage which they evened out with a win on Ring of Valor making it 3-3 in the series. Two more matches on Ring of Valor followed but this time, the druid of Enigmz didn’t position himself as well as in game one of the finals which ultimately resulted in him being a viable target to switch to, making the pressure from Button Bashers unbearable. Button Bashers took the lead, 5-3.
Dalaran sewers, a z-axis map again, and while it’s not as big of an advantage against the RMP line up as it was against Check Six, SK.EU manages to win this round after a cross kill and a 25 minute game resulting in a win by more damage dealt. The last game that sealed the deal was Ring of Valor, the arena with very little options for players to hide behind. Button Bashers manage to kill Enigmz while their voices filled the hall of the convention center again.
A great tournament has found a great winner. Button Bashers wins MLG Anaheim with their unique way of RMP bringing it down to an art form and inspires many viewers around the planet. They proved that WoW without a doubt is an e-sport and that the skill cap has not yet been explored. Congratulations.
Considering the Blizzard office is mere 45 minutes away from the Anaheim Convention Center, the members of staff took the chance and observed quite a few of the matches themselves. Probably the most famous of them was head developer Tom “Kalgan” Chilton, who – among other things – is responsible for the class balance in WoW. Rumors have it that he cheered for a warlock team once when he was able to survive the pain train that is Beast Cleave. Blizzard had already nerfed the comp after MLG Dallas in which Check Six tore apart the competition. Many people argue that it’s still too strong and that’s it’s too easy to win games with it.
All in all Anaheim was a great time and the teams picked for the competition were well chosen from MLG tournament director Ryan Moore. The event was covered very well by GotFrag’s Ryan Cole and the rest of the GotFrag and MLG Staff. Moreover, Complexity managed to qualify for the MLG Finals in Orlando. Stay tuned for more WoW coverage.