The Heroes of the Storm Americas finals went down in Las Vegas this weekend, giving rise to many big plays that impressed fans and spectators. One moment from the grand finals stood out as a real show-stopper. It all came down to a face-off between two of the Act I bosses in Diablo III.
The grand finals games were played between Cloud9 and Tempo Storm, both considered to be among the best teams in Heroes' budding eSports scene. One of the very final battles (they played seven matches in total) was played on Cursed Hollow, a HOTS map that challenges both teams to fight over temporary objectives known as tributes — the grayish purple thing in the center of this team fight:
The first team to get three tributes "curses" the enemy team, granting them a powerful (but temporary) advantage that stops enemy structures from defending against attacks and lowers minions' health to zero. The idea of Cursed Hollow is that instead of just laning, these tributes periodically pop up, forcing both teams to drop everything and rush for it in the hopes of getting it before the enemy team does. Teams rarely make it there in enough time to just grab it and go. More often than not, vicious bloodbaths ensue and both teams stubbornly refuse to let go.
Cloud9 had already secured two tributes 11 minutes into its Cursed Hollow game, meaning Tempo Storm really didn't want to give them the next one lest C9 pull even further ahead. Then another tribute popped up on the top left corner of the map:
The two teams danced around the tribute nervously for a moment, each player inching back and forth but nobody going in to really start the fight.
KingCaffeine, a Cloud9 player who went as the tanky Diablo warrior King Leoric, managed to fend off Tempo Storm for a few seconds before his more fragile teammates arrived. Once the squishier (MOBA-speak for "easy to kill") C9 players arrived, Tempo Storm's Butcher decided to go in for the kill. The extended gif below (provided by the good people over at the HOTS subreddit) shows what happened next. Pay attention to The Butcher — the big cleaver-wielding gold-and-black monster who walks into the left side of the frame at the start:
Notice how a red circle appears underneath The Butcher's feet as he lunges towards the enemy team? That's one of his heroic abilities, "Furnace Blast." The way it works is: after a three second charge-up period, a large circle around The Butcher erupts in flame, dealing loads of damage to any enemies caught within its circumference:
Furnace Blast pairs very well with The Butcher's basic ability "Ruthless Onslaught," a charge move that lets him target a single enemy — following them no matter what they do to try and escape, and finally stunning the victim on impact. If the timing's right, this means The Butcher can trigger Furnace Blast, lunge towards and enemy, stun them, and then burst them down in a matter of milliseconds by dealing a massive amount of damage thanks to the explosion combining with his normal attacks:
Tempo Storm's Butcher was aiming at C9's Kael'Thas — a ranged assassin who's very easy to burst down since he doesn't have much in the way of hit points. If Butcher had made it all the way to his target, he might have managed to take Tempo Storm's most powerful damage-dealer out of the fight...and give them a good chance to win that tribute.
Instead, King Leoric fired off his heroic ability "Entomb" at just the right moment. Entomb summons a three-sided cage...usually to trap a target within so Leoric can pound them into oblivion like so:
Usually. It can also just function as a brick wall to block an enemy's progress, which is just what KingCaffeine managed to pull of here — stopping The Butcher so his Furnace Blast went off before he reached Kael'Thas.
The best part about this play to me is that a lot of HOTS players consider Leo's entomb ability to be the off-meta pick, preferring his other heroic ability instead. I bet that's going to change now.