Sunday, October 14, 2012

Competitive HoN: WHO? WHAT? WHERE?

Got another email today which reads:

"I'd be interested in reading a comparison between the HoN scenes of EU and US, maybe even Asia.



Since the beginning of competitive online gaming, cultures have clashed in disputes over which nationality is truly the best in its given game. When I played TFC there were two main regions, North America and Europe. Each year an event called the European Championships of Team Fortress Classic (ECTFC or WCTFC) captivated thousands of gamers from around the globe as people would jump into one of dozens of HLTV servers daisy chained off each other to watch the best players in the world compete. Teams from nations almost all of the European Union, Canada and the United States would form a few months prior as they got ready to battle it out for bragging rights to be called the best country in the world. I am somewhat sad to report that USA never won any of these tournaments but always advanced relatively far, which was commendable because at the time we didn't have net code like we do now, nor internet at the speed we do. I remember playing on a Swedish server with my old Time Warner RoadRunner internet that was 1mb down with 200-250 ping and learning to time concs and nades to be effective on those servers. Always pissed me off that because it was the "European Championships" that Team USA and Team CA never got home field advantage, every match/map had to be played with us on 200+ ping (and that's if you were an East Coast player) and them on 20-50. Anyway, you're not here to read my stories of Team Fortress Classic, you're here because you want to know all about my opinions on HoN. 

I remember a couple years ago, this argument would be really big on the forums. During the days of WHP/5/Fnatic/KD there was a lot of talk about which region was better, but there was really no way to tell because of the lack of offline presence HoN had. We were basically relegated to either online competitions or Dreamhack. Of course, when Dreamhack Winter 2010 rolled around and S2 Games announced its partnership with CPL (lol) everyone was finally going to get their dream matchups. The best teams in the world would finally meet in a LAN setting where no amount of excuses were going to hold up. Then we were all let down as it was announced that these teams would be traveling to Singapore instead of Sweden. Not only would it be at a different location, but it was going to be the same weekend. I wish I could provide insight as to why they happened, but I think everyone at S2 Games has tried to brainwash themselves out of that debacle, so I never got any real answers. So we saw EG, ICE, OK, and TSoG all leave for Singapore, letting Fnatic claim their first Dreamhack Championship in a Best of Three matchup that lasted about 40 minutes total as they took a fat dump on Druidz (this was the Druidz made up of Revyy, Louie, Twista, etc. not the one with Loda, Akke, Ikzu and 2 other guys no one ever cared about (Velociraptor and iSkill btw.)) By the way, for any of you who have followed my journey through Honcast and the old rivalry we had with GameReplays, this is where the infamous Phil quote "The Big Boys are here to cast" came from. Anyhow, most everyone in the competitive scene was extremely disappointed in this occurrence, as Heroes of Newerth was nearing its peak popularity among players, sponsors and NA/EU drama.

What made these issues even more annoying is the fact that the GosuGamers World Cup (shoutout to Steelseries who provided all the gear prizes and half the cash) was dwindling down to the final few teams which saw Fnatic, EG, SK and DWi battling it out for the largest online prize pool in Heroes of Newerth at the time (DreamHoN Online Summer Championships would surpass this by including a $4,000 travel stipend.) Because this tournament was going on, there was a lot of NA vs EU flaming going on and fanboyism was at its finest which raised up forum shitbirds like Berethorn from being mildly annoying to being the only person to ever reach my forum user ignore list. The most common of arguments ranged mostly from individual skill to team skill to play style. European play style was thought to be more strategic planning for all stages of the game, where the NA styles were widely varied. SK was a team known to utilize turtling to their advantage, while EG was a very aggressive team. Fnatic and Online Kingdom were doing extremely well winning the laning phase a majority of their games and using that advantage to propel them into the midgame while amassing a ton of gold to take advantage of the unlimited buyback system during the late game stages. Fnatic had recently kicked out Rexi, Duqi and Kay in favor of picking up the iLx trio of Nova, Bot, and n0tail who would join Freshpro and Trixi and become the best team in Heroes of Newerth for nearly a year and a half.

Now that we are done with this history lesson, let's fast forward to 2012 as we get ready to enter Dreamhack Winter 2012. What has changed in the scene? Is there still a case for EU vs NA drama? What about the other regions like AUS, SEA, CIS, and the newest regions Korea and Latin America? Let's break it down region by region, looking primarily at the participants.

North America

Truth be told there aren't really any hopeful 100% North American teams out there right now. The Returners is pretty close to being 100% NA, and Fittske ate enough Denny's at NASL to probably classify him as American. Clan Milk was almost there but decided that trying to win is hard and thus stopped both winning and trying, in that order. Vitriolic was around in early to mid 2012 but never amounted to much of anything worthwhile.


Trademark eSports is the dominant team here at the moment, however there are many strong contenders as well in teams like Q sQuad, Bunker Down, Pikachu, THUGSAUCE (which might be the worst clan name of all time) and the possibility of 2 or 3 other teams popping up at any given point. I think FyKu could join these teams if they continue to compete.


WILL SMITH BEST RAPPER 2012 SWAG is currently getting ready to be eliminated from Destination Dreamhack, and Australia continues to be extremely under developed. There was a time not even a year ago when people thought about Australia and the possibility of it becoming an competitive powerhouse continent able to put out at least one other team besides Frenetic Array, instead all we got was babyfingaz.

Southeast Asia

The SEA scene is freaking huge right now. Whenever you log into the HoN client and you start seeing numbers like 120,000 users online, you can guarantee that 70-80% of them are from the SEA client. Garena has been doing an awesome job over there with their marketing and presence at local cyber cafe's as well as hosting sweet tournaments with buku bucks on the line. There are too many teams to name from over there but the main ones are Impunity, Orange eSports, and Let Your Money Talk. There is also a huge group of teams in Thailand, of which one will be attending Dreamhack Winter 2012. While this scene is thriving as far as player base and teams are concerned, they will get smashed by most Top 5 international teams. These guys need to be watching replays and shoutcasts of S2 events if they want to be able to keep up with the current trends and be effective during the big show. Dabeliuteef recently joining Orange may help them in this regard.


The CIS scene has shown some small growth but since the days of Empire/PhB we really haven't had a reason to get excited about any team from that region. Team GA came to Dreamhack Summer 2012 and lost EVERY. SINGLE. GAME. except vs Team It's Gosu because they forfeit. This year we will see team Cats travel to Dreamhack, but I do not have high hopes for them as they got completely crushed during DreamHoN:OSC while in the extremely weak Group C. These guys are still running Chipper mid.


When you have a community of 500 concurrent users you can't really get any better. League of Legends already has a huge hold on the MOBA market there and it's unlikely the Heroes of Newerth will make much of an impact. Doubtful that we'll ever see a team from Korea either able or willing to compete internationally.

Latin America

Everyone's favorite punching bag is functioning seemingly well. Well enough that my queue times in the 1550 bracket went from about 2 minutes to 8 minutes. About once every 8-9 months a team comes out of Brazil and does something crazy then fades back into obscurity. Team Royalty (TmRy) was probably the "successful" of these teams with a couple Top 3 finishes in small online tournaments and a Top 8 finish in the TwitchTV tournament. They are scheduled to compete at the Brazil Game Show shortly under the new team name paiN Gaming in an effort to get to Dreamhack Winter 2012. I'm not sure how they will fair there, but I assume they will have at least one win over Cats. Also of note is a team called Vti, which is the old Team Dynasty who has to compete in the BYOC at the BGS.


Most people consider Complexity to be a North American team despite the fact that Haxxeren is Danish and Chessie Swedish. The "original" complexity was comprised of all North American's but I have a hard time calling this team North American and instead opt for calling them an "International" team. They are currently the best team in the world in HoN and show very little weakness as each member of their team is cream of the crop in their respective roles.

Tt eSPORTS is almost considered an Australian team very often, but now having removed dabeliuteef and adding in Moiravus, this team is more NA than AUS. This gives them a huge advantage in online tournaments as they always get to play on USW servers no matter who they play, adding in the fact that this roster has had the same 4 guys on it for nearly 8 months makes losses to teams like The Returners borderline embarrassing.

Gary Johnson 2012 is the most recent International team to make some noise in Heroes of Newerth with 3 NA players and 2 Euros. This team is comprised of the Super Freedman Bros, Sender, Khezu and Skyzoe. As long as Swindle can keep his temper and attitude in check, or as long as his teammates can put up with his NPD, this team is built to succeed. Swindle is one of the best drafters in HoN, and he has surrounded himself with one of the best support players in Sender and 3 of the best utility players in the game.

So really, is there are case for NA vs EU drama anymore? Not really. The meta shifts in HoN favor only one or two viable strategies at any given time so everyone is running the same strategies. During the early stages of HoN everyone was figuring out what was best until Fnatic started crapping out wins with trilane strategies. Since then, every shift, intended or perceived, favors basically one style of game play. The team that masters this first is typically the team who wins the most and is called "the best."

USA #1 by the way.

Stay Free.


  1. post lacked zyori's balls but was great nevertheless, keep it up

  2. Haha this post cracked me up. Played tmm with Swindle two days ago where I ended up stating that "Swindle, I think you suffer from a personality disorder." His answer was obviously "And you suffer from a mental disorder called retardation." Reading it here just made me happy :d

  3. coudlnt stop laughing :D
    ---> BABYFINGAZ :D ur awesome phil :)