The first week of Battlerekt is in the books across North America and Europe and with plenty of names known to the scene taking the top spots once again. In North America it was Onslaught with another flawless performance, while Intolerant took over the European region.
The Onslaught Continues
Heading into Enter the Arena, the odds were very much in favor of the Onslaught trio, who have dominated the North American server region in every tournament. So it was of little surprise when Averse, Arakune, and Ninjas were last standing on the BeyondTheSummit stream, being crowned the first ever Enter the Arena Champions. The only surprise was that some teams were able to push them to the brink, revealing some slight cracks in the impenetrable armor and mystic around the dominant team. So heading into Battlerekt the excitement was heightened, with everyone waiting to see whether other teams had gained another step on Onslaught. If the first week is any indication, that answer is a resounding NO. Almost as if they wanted to brush off the concerns that arose after Enter the Arena, they flat out sweeped through the tournament, leaving no doubt whatsoever of their supremacy in the scene. In Week 1 no team could find any answer to their Shifu/Taya/Sirius lineup. The double Melee composition stood out in the field, as no other team in the Top 4 wanted to get that close and personal with its entire lineup. Still, Onslaught was able to close the gap, nullifying the range advantage of their opponents with ease.
Without dropping a single arena showdown, Onslaught marched through Counter.GG, Shoe size > Maturity, and Unsung to set up the Enter the Arena Grand Finals rematch with Excel Wizards. The Wizards back then were in a bubble of uncertainty, having had little to no success with the new meta at the time. This time, in the first week of Battlerekt, they were one of the frontrunners to validate the Enter the Arena outing and push Onslaught even closer to the brink of their first tournament defeat.
Excel Wizards themselves flew through the first two rounds, until they met the tough challenge of Deadly Insplosion in the Semifinals. Both teams hadn’t dropped a map until then, but Excel Wizards seemed to be more experimental with their lineups. While Deadly Insplosion relied on the tried and true combination of Shifu, Jade, and Lucie throughout the tournament, Excel Wizards were tinkering around with different champions from the start. Their core of Varesh and Poloma on Support stayed the same throughout, but with Iva, Taya, or sometimes Bakko rounding out the lineup. Excel Wizards displayed the most variety in champion combinations of anyone in the tournament. Up 1-0 against Deadly Insplosion, their switching Iva for Bakko in the middle of the series marked their first lost arena. Their experimental nature and versatility on certain spots could prove a big advantage in the weeks ahead, as the majority of the North American region will have to come up with ways to break through Onslaught and their lineup.
The Varesh, Poloma and Bakko combo failed Excel Wizards twice – this time not making any mid-series adjustments. When asked about this, Skywind noted that the Enter the Arena situation was different. Back then Excel Wizards felt like they couldn’t do anything against the strength of Jumong in the meta, so they attempted to “mongle” Jumong in Round 2 of the Enter the Arena Grand Finals – with little success. Right now they feel like their heroes synergize best, so they stuck to the composition and will probably do so going forward – although he hinted at some other hero up his sleeve.
So it was Onslaught once again marching to victory, piloting Shifu, Taya, and Sirius to a flawless 8-0 map score. Second place with a map score of 6-3 goes to Excel Wizards, while the third and fourth places belong to Deadly Insplosion and Unsung.
Overall the North American region seems to be stable in it’s power rankings since Enter the Arena. Veteran teams like Onslaught and Excel Wizards once again went straight into the finals, while the two other Semifinal teams feature star players from other Enter the Arena teams of success. Jeter of Unsung placed fourth with Scylla back then, while his teammate stro played in the Group stages of that tournament with Cat on the Mouse. The same thing can be observed for Deadly Insplosion with TrinityInfinity and Augphlosion getting experience in Enter the Arena with Poloma Mains in the Group stage. The veterans came out in full-force for Week 1, can new talent emerge and challenge now?
North America VoD
Stepping It Up
The North American portion ended with a revival of the Enter the Arena Grand Finals, showing the consistency of the teams across the Atlantic. In the “old world” during Enter the Arena, the odds and role of the favorite was wide open and tightly contested. No one really seemed to know who the favorite was, which meta call was right and whether the static approach of some top teams and their lineups would catch up to them and be a detrimental factor. Throughout the last few weeks nothing seems to have changed in that assessment, as the European tournament saw the two big winners of Enter the Arena fall down earlier than expected, while the second line of teams stepped up big time and seized their moment.
Heading into Enter the Arena, Intolerant was an up-and-coming powerhouse with the potential of staging upsets left, right, and center, but questions about their ultimate consistency to perform were still there. Project Horizon on the other hand was already a big draw in the scene, yet a championship in either the ESL tournaments or previous Battlerekt seasons had eluded them. Now, with the grand opening of the new Battlerekt season, both of those teams took center stage with Intolerant showcasing their full potential and Project Horizon once more coming within striking distance of a championship.
In one of the best matches of the first week of the tournament, Project Horizon and Intolerant went the distance – the full three maps – something that was a rarity this week. What transpired was a fascinating display of adjustments and counter-adjustments, culminating in the crowning of Intolerant as the Week 1 Champion. At first it looked like it would be a rather one-sided affair with Intolerant taking a big win in the first round of the Grand Finals, capitalizing on their positioning and the Orb control. Within the composition of their champions they still found ways to adjust the pace from a more sober and calculating approach to Nyy on Iva going absolute aggressive in his chases. A 5-1 victory made Project Horizon adjust their overall composition, switching Poloma in for the haunted Pestilus of the first round. As a response to that, Intolerant switched out Shifu for Ezmo and Sirius for Lucie on the support role.
The lineup change put a big target on bLankkz and his Poloma, as the whole second round basically revolved around him. In the more drawn out exchanges the sustain of Project Horizon was outperforming Intolerant’s combination, a fact that they tried to counter with a hyper-aggressive straight up assault of Poloma the moment she was in vision. In Houdini-like fashion Poloma escaped more often than not, giving Croak and Ashka time to punish the Intolerant lineup and stay alive in the tournament. The key moment occurred with Project Horizon on the brink of defeat, down 3-4 in points and Poloma dead. It was that moment that called for something special – the special delivery of Croak. In a split second the fight was turned and the momentum of that heroic moment by Wuzac carried Project Horizon to mount the comeback.
Round 3 then saw the adjustment back to the “winning team” of Intolerant with Lucie and Ezmo back in, to line up with Iva. The Poloma assault continued, forcing Project Horizon into a very defensive playstyle for the entirety of the map. Project Horizon had to concede major parts of the map, surrendering almost all orbs with only Wuzac on Croak really freely moving around for poke damage. The other two had to hide for most of the game in the buddy-system. Staying alive wasn’t enough though, as the poke and jumps of Intolerant were too much too handle with the big orb advantage throughout. The team around Nyy was methodical, calculated and calm in their execution, trusting each other and their composition, punishing every little misstep either Poloma or Croak would make in their attempts to break the containment. Another 5-1 round victory sealed the Battlerekt Week 1 championship as Intolerant grabbed the spotlight and the $500.
The results set up an interesting dynamic for the next week, as the European region has to be considered as wide open still. With Intolerant and Project Horizon coming in strong, Daebak and Bruce Lee as the Semifinalists weren’t too far behind the fray either – add TelRoskMi and Functional Sociopaths as the two top teams from Enter the Arena into the mix and you got yourself an explosive mix of Battlerite possibilities for the next weeks to come. Who can adjust best? Who can explore weaknesses the best? Who might also have a bit of luck with the bracket draw? All the answers will be given when Battlerekt returns for Week 2 as the Proving Grounds will once again be filled with the gladiators dishing it out! Don’t miss it.
Join the fray!
If you want to not only watch the competition, but be a part of it, sign up now for the Open Bracket competition – show that you have the skill, reaction time and tactical understanding to strike fear into your opponent’s team! Everyone else is invited to turn into the broadcast once again this Thursday starting at 7 PM CEST (10 AM PST) with the European bracket, continuing at 2 AM CEST (5 PM PST) with the North American warriors entering the arena. So make sure to join the NGE casting crew on twitch.tv/nge when Geckspert and FindableCarpet bring you all the action, analysis and entertaining side-stories!
By Sören ‘Fantasy’ Vendsahm