Before we start talking about the games themselves let's take a moment to appreciate the production level during the Spring Global Championships. Those of you who have not had the chance to see the VODS may wonder if that's the Olympic Torch that MVP Black is holding in the picture below. It might as well have been with the quality of the production that OGN put up for this tournament. Aside from the audio technical difficulties during the first day of the tournament OGN did an excellent job with this tournament. From the opening ceremony, the caster line up and the minimal delays between games, it was a very smooth to watch tournament.
MVP Black: 31-0
A thirty-one game win streak, that is what MVP Black has right now. After the tournament MVP Black showed everyone that currently they are the only team that deserves to be called a "pro team". How is it that no one managed to take a single game throughout the tournament? Was is poor drafting from the rest of the teams? How about shot calling as well as individual mechanics and decision making?
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MVP Black's Rich annihilates Li-Ming to win the team fight for his team
Throughout the tournament it was clear that the Chinese and Korean teams were favoring Tyrael, Tassadar, and Thrall (Triple T) much more so than the NA and EU teams. For sure if the NA and EU teams did their homework prior to the tournament they would have known about the dominance of the Triple T in Korea just from watching SuperLeague. This was definitely not a new innovative draft that the eastern teams were saving for the tournament. Moreover, for the most part the western teams stubbornly stuck to their drafts that were not working for them at all. Cloud 9 who drafted Tassadar (the highest win rate ratio during the tournament at 74.07%) as solo healer did not get the same results as the eastern teams who drafted Tassadar in combination with another burst healer like Uther.
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Edward Gaming's Sr lock in Thrall and shuts out the rest of the teammates with a well placed Holy Ground. NONE SHALL PASS!
In terms of shotcalling MVP Black was just on a different level compared to everyone else. The prime example of this was in game 2 of the Grand Finals between EDG and MVP Black on Dragon Shire. MVP Black's approach to the map snowballed the map for their favor such that by the 13 minute mark (when they finally captured the first Dragon Knight) the level advantage they had was too much for EDG to even have a chance to get back into the game. MVP Black understood that as long as they have control over one shrine they do not have to force their rotations to obtain the Dragon Knight. Instead of wasting time to rotate on the map to capture the Dragon Shire, they instead methodically sieged one lane at a time and destroyed cannon towers to gain an experience lead. Once there were no structures left that was convenient to siege down, that's when they made the appropriate rotations to capture the Dragon Knight. It takes a unified team to pull off this strategy, not a single team member can deviate from the game plan decided by the shot caller. The Spring Global Championships exemplified that anything less than a hive mind mentality will not be good enough to compete at the highest level. The difference between all the other teams and MVP Black is that when you are watching MVP Black play you never ask yourself, "What is this hero doing?" and then immediately see that hero die unnecessarily. Simply put, MVP Black's current roster does not have a a single member that values getting to do what he wants more than what the team needs.
Individual Decision Making
On most heroes the western teams can go head to head with the eastern teams. Cloud9's Zeratul when played by iDream may arguably even be the best in the scene right now with the amount of work he was able to do with it during the group stages that led to it being banned away from Cloud9 thereafter. However, it's not enough to play a few games where each player has perfect decision making. Consistency is just as important as the quality of the decision making. In the clip above Rich's split second decision making to dive the enemy Li-Ming led to his team winning the fight. This team fight was just one of many fights during the tournament where Rich made the right decision at the right time. Let's compare this with the clip below from iDream's Chen. The enemy Muradin had just died and Cloud 9 was at a clear advantage, but the decision to dive into 4 enemies from Chen led to his death as well as the death of his teammates who tried to save him. This single poor decision forced Cloud9 to give up their advantage and eventually led to their loss against Edward Gaming. Again, you do not have these, "What is this hero doing?" moments when you take a look at the decision making of MVP Black's players. Whenever players from MVP Black choose to make a high risk, high reward play, they do so with the rest of their team in range to follow up and assist them.
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An example of a high risk, no reward play
Disciplined is the best way to describe MVP Black's playstyle. In game 1 of the Grand Finals where MVP Black drafted Kael'thas on Infernal shrines the casters were discussing during the early game that MVP Black was for the first time showing signs of weaknesses. MVP Black's early game during this game was definitely not as dominant as their other games, but this did not make them hesitate. They had a game plan and they just needed to keep things under control in terms of level differential until they reached level 13 when Kael'thas obtains Chain Bomb. This was apparent during the first shrine where MVP Black was clearly not going to win the objective, but they stuck around to delay Edward Gaming for as long as possible from summoning the Punisher. MVP Black understood that if they can slow down the game for as much as possible it would mean that they could safely get to level 13 without having a large level deficit. Once level 13 hit, the game turned around and Kael'thas did what Kael'thas does best which is spread fire to his enemies. The seemingly weak early game from MVP Black during this game was due to their draft that relied on level 13 and not at all because they were less sure of what they were going to do.
What can the rest of the teams do to get on MVP Black's level? Are roster overhauls necessary? It's important to point out that when western teams do not get the results they want the usual response are several changes in their rosters. Compare this with eastern teams who either have small roster changes or none at all when they don't do well after a major tournament. Instead of starting over they stick together and aim to get stronger. Edward Gaming and MVP Black are the prime examples of this approach. Of course if things are not working then it is not worth moving forward with the same roster. However, roster overhauls does not always mean that the team will perform any better and it is a setback to start over. For now we'll just have to wait until next week when the Regional Summer Qualifiers start. Thanks for reading this StormLegacy review of the Spring Global Championships and if you liked this piece give us a follow at @StormLegacyTeam.