The Move & Method Orange Struggle in Cup 1
On the 3rd of November in 2018, The Move and Method Orange battled for the title of Blizzcon Champion after defeating some of the best competition in the world and dominating their home region throughout the year. Just a few months later on February 7th, both teams uncharacteristically struggled to get results in online competition. It's a little bit troubling. The Move, after qualifying for every online cup in the summer and fall season in the upper bracket, fell to the lower bracket and were eliminated in 6th place after a 0-3 series versus Storm (Maldiva, Metaphors, Nessper). Meanwhile, Method Orange, the current Blizzcon champions, failed to even qualify for the top eight broadcasted games. So what exactly changed for the top dogs of the North American scene?
The New Boys on the Block
Europe and North America both saw a larger field of teams signing up for competition than previous seasons. 29 teams were present for the NA qualifier, effectively tripling (yes, tripling) the number of competitors seen in the last online cup of the fall season. While it’s not uncommon for more lineups to appear in the first few tournaments, it’s a great sign and a strong showing of life for the Arena World Championship.
This influx of teams causes The Move and Method Orange to face competition earlier and more often than before. The last few seasons of the AWC were, for all intents and purposes, free rides into the top six or eight - especially for higher seeded teams. I expect that as the winners and losers of the spring season start to become apparent, the player pool will lessen bit by bit, but the classically successful teams may struggle more than before based on this rise in participation.
NA’s Fatal Flaw
I’ll begin this next section with a fact: North America has the best Restoration Shamans in the world. This fact was a key part of the success at the 2018 Blizzcon for NA, but times are changing. Simply put, Resto Shamans are being placed into closets to gather dust while the shiny and new Resto Druids are enjoying their time in the light.
So even though Absterge and Cdew represent the best of the Shamans, they are having to branch out. Historically speaking, druid has been a weaker healer for both players. In 2017, Cdew’s inexperience on the class definitely hindered his qualification for that year’s Blizzcon during the North American Regionals, and even though Absterge has alt’d as a Druid for a while, his personal philosophy of “main over everything” has resulted in him placing his other healers on the bench.
The choice is a difficult one to make. Either learn the new best healer and have to suffer through the growing pains, all at the same time as risking a change in class balance that would automatically negate the benefits of this time spent, or continue to play your main class and lack the absolute best compositions in the game, thus playing at a constant disadvantage. I expect both these teams to take two different approaches.
Let’s Talk Solutions
So the current healer meta doesn’t quite fit Method Orange and The Move, does this mean we should be worried for them? The short answer is definitely no. Last year The Move failed to qualify for the spring finals and Method Orange occasionally looked shaky, even in online play, but they both fought their way to the highest level of competition despite this.
The Move, in particular, I would describe as the most individually skilled team in the world (on their main classes at least). An easy way illustrate this is their recent series against Getchur Boy Dog (Flop, Graycen, Cmg, Babycakes) this weekend. The Move began the series playing alts, Resto Druid and Boomkin, and quickly found themselves down 0-2 and looking like they would be knocked out in the eighth position. Then they swapped to their mains. The entire feel of the series changed, and each game they played while executing this reverse 3-2 sweep seemed to be a stronger and stronger showing each time. If any team can play against the meta, I would definitely bet on The Move.
Method Orange I see as a team that needs its practice and preparation. A fun analogy I have for this is Swifty’s classic dueling series from back in the day. Something that was always apparent while watching those videos was that no matter how skilled of an opponent Swifty faced, and no matter how many times he would initially lose, he always found a way defeat the class he was up against. Method Orange is much the same; when they know a matchup and know their advantages they’re a nearly unstoppable team, but with meta shifts and a new season, it’s early days for these guys once again. Remember that they placed last in both LAN tournaments (summer finals without Cdew) before Blizzcon, only to win the championship in a dominant form. With this in mind, I prescribe to them practice, practice, and more practice. I have no doubt they’ll find their spot and be strong contenders moving forward.
In conclusion: let's keep watching.