When the Heroes of the Dorm tournament began back in early March, 64 teams were pit head-to-head to determine who would come out on top, earning eternal glory and a grand prize of their tuition paid for at their respective university.
Through trial, tribulation and Heroes of the Storm best-of-three matches against fellow college teams, the Heroic Four has been set with the live semifinals taking place on ESPNU on April 9 and the grand finals being hosted on ESPN2 on April 10.
Taking place at the CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle, Washington, the left side of the bracket features two teams that had very different roads to the semifinal bouts.
University of Texas at Arlington, aka Dark Blaze
The Group B No. 1 seed University of Texas-Arlington Dark Blaze is back to the Heroes of the Dorm tournament after its Group of 16 elimination in last year's tournament and are playing better than ever. Dropping only one game throughout the tournament thus far in its previous match against Boston College, Dark Blaze has cruised to a 12-1 overall record due to veteran leadership and a new player who has filled an important team roll.
Dark Blaze's roster consists of Richard "Kladeous" Tran, Eugene "Yuuj" Tseng -- the captain of the team -- David "DXN817" Nguyen, Yusuf "Kure" Sunka and new roster addition Andrew "MiST" Rodrigues.
Dark Blaze has shown versatility in its hero selection, while banning certain heroes its opponents have been fond of using. One consistent for this team has been its captain's selections and the role he's played in the tournament thus far.
- UT Arlington (@utarlington) April 7, 2016
Yuuj has maintained a steady support hero pick, which is used to aid his fellow teammates in the mist of battle by healing or buffing allies to turn the tides of a team fight. While Yuuj has selected a support hero in each match, his talent selection has been unique for each hero as Bloodlust was used for the hero Reghar, a universal team attack buff, over the generally considered safer talent selection of Ancestral Heal, the single-target massive heal.
The use of Bloodlust helped defeat Boston College in its previous match to advance to the Final Four, a high-risk, high-reward decision by Dark Blaze.
After the match with BC concluded, Yuuj was asked about his team's run in the tournament thus far:
"We were considered one of the favorites to make it to the finals of the tournament, but Boston College was a really tough matchup for us," Yuuj says in an interview with GuideLive.com. "We were more concerned about them than we were about the semifinals, and at the moment we're really looking forward to the finals and planning out our strategies more specifically than our next match."
Drafting has been key for Dark Blaze throughout the tournament. If MiST, the specialist player who has selected the tier-one hero Zagara more than any specific hero on the team, can continue to have its way in the hero-selection process, its opponent will have an uphill battle taking down the top-seeded team.
POLL: Which team will win Heroes of the Dorm?
- ESPN Esports (@ESPN_Esports) April 7, 2016
University of Tennessee We Volin
The Group A No. 2 seed University of Tennessee We Volin squad has had a much more difficult road to the semifinals; its last three matches have all gone to Game 3, putting it on the brink of elimination numerous times.
Playing a much slower, more methodical game than its opponents (Dark Blaze), We Vollin has outlasted while each player has stuck to what they do best. We Volin's team roster is led by captain Jay "Gutslug" Crist, Adam "MathDizz" Disney, David "Roflcopter" Young, Ryhan "Frumgor" Pathan, Patrick "IWHBYD" DiNicola and a substitute player for one match, Taylor "Merton" Richardson.
While Dark Blaze relies on strategically drafting and using each player's versatility to fill different roles, We Vollin's roles are very defined with each team member, allowing them to focus on doing their individual job well each match.
Throughout the tournament "Roflcopter" has been the difference-maker when it comes to the damage output he has been able to provide for his team in team fights. Through his use of Falstad and newly introduced hero Li Ming, "Roflcopter" has been able to poke damage at his opponents from a far distance while his teammates have been focusing on close-quarter engagements.
Something to watch in this match is how We Volin is able to use each hero's "ultimate ability" to help counter Dark Blaze's aggressive play, leaving it potentially vulnerable in large team fights. We Volin's support heroes have been used more as utility than character heal in its matches to date as it focuses on diving into the middle of the opposing team, crowd-controlling the opposition and allowing high-damage heroes to wipe out the rest of the squad as they hold the power advantage as the game progresses.
The Heroic Four kicks off at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 9 on ESPNU.
- Heroes of the Storm (@BlizzHeroes) April 7, 2016