• Envious

North American Cup 2 Preview

Adaptation is the Name of the Game

The top eight is locked in and this weekend’s tournament looks to be even more competitive than the last. There is no doubt that, for the moment, North America is wide open for whichever teams are willing to rise to the occasion. Super Frogs and The Boys certainly set the pace last week after disposing with the rest of the field and ending the tournament with a remarkably close seven game final that concluded with the Frogs victorious. However, teams such as Storm and The Rejects absolutely stepped up to the plate swinging, both showing that they can contend with anyone. What’s impressive about all of this is that this level of play was brought without the presence of the current Blizzcon Champions, Method Orange, and The Move looking uncomfortable in the new restoration druid meta.

The week of preparation leading up to this tournament was incredibly important for every team looking to make an impact this weekend. With the new mana nerfs targeting restoration druids, but affecting every healer, and neurotoxic adjustments hurting assassination rogue teams, there has been a bit of a scramble for some teams to adapt in time for the tournament. This top eight shows us the victors and victims in the practice stage of this week’s Arena World Championship. What lies ahead is a deadly bracket for the entire field; let’s look at the first four match-ups and the implications of each result.

The Current NA Standings

4 Fun vs Getchur Boy Dog

The biggest surprise of this tournament so far is undoubtedly this unexpected upper bracket. 4 Fun is a team that we’ve seen before in several tournaments, even reaching a 2nd place finish in the last online cup of the fall AWC season. They’re made up by Omnivore, Woopy, Original, and Rositajones and have seen success this tournament off the back of a variety of warrior compositions. They played a close 3-2 series versus the arcane mage team of Five Blinks followed by upsetting The Rejects in another 3-2 match, thus knocking one of the favorites of the tournament to the lower bracket. So far, 4 Fun is a great testament to the level of play coming from the new teams in these tournaments.

Getchur Boy Dog (Flop, Graycen, Babycakes, Cmg) again enters this tournament with the number one ladder seeding, except this time they were able to fully capitalize on that ranking and convert it into a guaranteed top six finish. Compared to the rest of the field, Getchur Boy Dog had a relatively painless entry into the top eight, dropping only one game, somewhat due to the benefits entailed from a number one seed.

While both of these teams are relatively unstudied, I’m going to place a slight favoring towards 4 Fun in this matchup. Their bracket consisted of two other mage teams, and their current strategy seems to be able to contend well with these kind of set-up teams. However, they were unable to confidently defeat either of these teams, so I still have my doubts. I would not be shocked if this series was another close one for 4 Fun, I’m excited to see which of these teams advances to the top three slot.

Method Orange vs The Boys

After an extremely lackluster Cup 1, it’s safe to say that the team of Method Orange (Samiyam, Trill, Mes, Cdew) is back. After grinding a strong third place seeding, they’ve once again reaffirmed their spot as a force to be reckoned within the NA region by defeated the previous cup’s champions, the Super Frogs. Branching out towards Restoration Druid play seems to have been the difference maker so far, the bar for careful preparation has just been set by Method Orange.

The Boys (Smexxin, Thugonomics, Gorecki, Chunli) again find themselves in the upper bracket after knocking both Never Lucky and The Move to the lower bracket. This tournament is The Boy’s for the taking, it all depends on how ready they are for Method Orange. With the Super Frogs falling to the lower bracket early on, and either 4 Fun or Getchur Boy Dog waiting for them in the upper bracket finals, the pathway towards another Grand Finals is within their grasp.

This series is perhaps the most important of the entire tournament. These two teams haven’t faced each other yet, so anything can happen, but I’d be surprised if it was a blowout for either side. I’m going to have some fun now and make a bold prediction - the winner of this match-up will win the tournament.

The Upper Bracket

The Rejects vs Never Lucky

The Rejects (Jahmilli, Sethcurry, Rubcub, Roastyz) had a strong first cup, definitely showing that the loss of Gorecki didn’t hinder their play. Cup 2 began with a revenge match against Storm, finishing 3-2 to The Rejects, but after yet another close 2-3 series versus 4 Fun, they were knocked to the lower bracket. Bouncing back, however, they 3-0’d the next two teams to reach the top eight. An experienced team, The Rejects are no strangers to grinding one game at a time back into a tournament.

Never Lucky (Kolo, Zach, Packratts, Vellido) got off to a slow start after a round two loss against The Boys, but just like The Rejects they dominated their competition in the lower bracket, only losing one other game on their way to the broadcasted matches. Last cup they were eliminated by The Rejects in a close 2-3 fashion, so this pairing is a great way to judge how each team has adapted and elevated their play over the past week.

I can personally guarantee that any team with Kolo is going to do its homework on every team they lose to. I’d expect them to have made adjustments to take advantage of the mana nerfs, so it’s more than likely that this series will be just as close as it was last time. These two teams have a great matchup against each other and I really think a solid rivalry can form here. Still, I’m going to edge this one to The Rejects for now.

The Move vs Super Frogs

The Move (Pikaboo, Absterge, Wizk, Jellybeans) is getting very familiar with the lower bracket it seems. Losing to The Boys 0-3, not able to succeed with their classic rogue/shadow priest/restoration shaman composition, then playing a close 3-2 series versus Nope (Driftingz, Unafraidceo, Studzy) in the lower bracket saw them just one game from elimination before the top eight even began. This meta is a difficult one for them, their individual skill is dragging them across the finish line kicking and crying.

Super Frogs (Kubzy, Snutz, Chanimal, Wealthyman) are a startling sight in the lower bracket, having just won the last online cup. Method Orange coming online netted the Frogs a 1-3 loss just before top six qualification. Nonetheless, they met Storm in the lower bracket and eliminated the third place finishers of Cup 1 in dominant 3-0 form. The Frogs are facing their first trip to the lower bracket of the AWC, and I’m eager to see how they handle it.

It goes without saying that I’m going to heavily favor the Super Frogs in this series. The Move has yet to prove themselves this season and the Frogs are entering as the defending champions. That said, The Move has been known for miracles in the past, so there’s no way I’m going to fully count them out, but The Move will need to make the move of all moves if they plan on advancing here.

The Lower Bracket

All in all, one thing's for sure, both the viewers and the players are going to learn a lot this tournament.