Events and Features
2020 has been a thrilling year in the Nexus. Though having a slower pace for updates, we’ve received tons of content throughout the year.
We began the year with a new edition of the toys Winter event: Toys II - Mephisto’s Revenge. The board game was up again, so we rolled the dice hoping to get all the exclusive items before it ended—and luckily, we had plenty of time, as the event was extended until mid April.
After the long winter, spring made an entrance by bringing back one of the most villainous events. The forces of evil recruited Deathwing, Fenix, and Tassadar in Fragments of the Dark Nexus. To fight these nightmarish creatures, another event overlapped with the Dark Nexus in May: the Greek Gods.
Summer arrived once the Goddesses and the Raven Lord’s minions had left the Nexus. El Guapo grabbed the mic again to announce the new Nexomania fighters: Mal’Gaucho, El Bandido and Gata de Batalla.
The last part of the year was ruled by two crossover events. First at Altered Fates, Cho’Gall and Tyrande arrived at Sanctuary to enter the Diablo universe for the first time. But this was a mere appetizer—the big crossover was yet to come. The fall seasonal event, CraftWars, combined the Warcraft and StarCraft franchises to bring us combinations such as Zerg Arthas or Draenei Artanis.
Besides all these themed content, in 2020 we welcomed two new heroes: Mei and Hogger. The Overwach scientist joined the Nexus in June, bringing in her snowy crowd-control power. The Warcraft gnoll swirled his way into Heroes of the Storm in December. Both characters have great tools to modify the terrain or displace their enemies, and have quickly become quite popular.
Throughout 2020, many heroes were reworked. Xul, Tassadar, Cassia, Tracer, and Mal’Ganis were somehow updated, but D.Va and Gazlowe are the true stars in this rework review. These two heroes, re-released in September, left their ambiguous previous roles to fully become bruisers.
Apart from all these characters and cosmetics, we’ve received some gameplay changes through the Nexus Anomalies. Each one of these anomalies lasted a whole ranked season. The most successful ones will stay with us permanently. The first of these gameplay updates, the Experience Globes, arrived in December 2019, but in 2020 it was adjusted until it became a really good feature that soon was turned into a core mechanic. A Call For Help followed. It updated the way we face structures, and it also made its way past its season.
Even if these first two anomalies were successful, the rest couldn’t live up to their legacy. The Climate Phenomena added some climatic random-ish events to the maps. It was fun for a while, but didn’t bring anything that was worth keeping. The last anomaly, the Gladiator’s Medallion was, by far, the most controversial gameplay update. It provided every hero with a tool to remove crowd-control effects. For some people it wasn’t impactful enough, but others thought it drastically changed the balance. In the end it was removed.
Lastly, we’ve seen some other changes. The AI was reworked in the April patch. The Mastery Rings level cap was raised with a new tier. But none of these were as good as the Favorite Talents. This feature allows the players to save and share different talent builds. Now you can easily try the build that destroyed you in your last game, and that’s great.
The metagame has been quite stable in 2020. With the current patch cadence (monthly balance patches and a big patch every quarter) there has been room enough for the metagame to develop as players find counterpicks and synergies and discover alternative builds. There have been some heroes ruling the popularity and topping the charts in every patch cycle, but the game has been quite balanced overall, and most of the heroes have been viable at some point.
During the cycle of patch 2.49 (from December 2019 to April) Deathwing ruled the Nexus. With such a strong offlaner on the table, it was necessary to find a few picks that could hold the lane against him or just split push and distract the big dragon. Sonya, Xul and Samuro were quite effective in this meta. Even if the Destroyer lost much of his power during the balance patches, the importance of bruisers had risen for good.
2.50 was the patch of Cassia and Tracer reworks. They joined Tassadar, who had been previously reworked, as a trident of menaces. Even if these heroes made the metagame a little more aggressive, things went back to normal with Mei’s release. The Overwatch tank soon rose as the best in her role. Cassia and Tassadar thrived through the balance patches, becoming absolute monsters.
If Deathwing’s coming had been great for the bruisers, we couldn’t imagine what patch cycle 2.52 was about to unleash. D.Va and Gazlowe reworks made offlaners more important than ever. Finally, patch 2.53 brought the newest hero, Hogger. Though the gnoll is still struggling in normal and ranked games, he has quickly become a disputed pick in competitive games.
The competitive meta has suffered a similar evolution. The year began with the second season of Division S. In these tournaments there were huge meta differences between Europe and North America. The European scene kept developing and improving, and the hypercarry compositions became especially popular during this tournament. Meanwhile, NA had a much younger scene, with many players who came directly from amateur leagues. They played more standard compositions with two or even three assassins.
In the first half of the year, the Eastern scenes lost some of their activity. Korea still had offline tournaments, so it was very affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. China changed the format of GHL (for example, GHL 2020 Season 1 was fully played on Lost Cavern), and became less determinant in terms of meta. Things settled with the first Chilly Mountain Korean tournament, where we mostly watched standard compositions. However, there was still room for a few surprises, like the hypercarry Genji played by SexyPok against FLY.
All the regions came together with CCL. The different regional metas clashed, and as it used to happen in Clashes, MSB and HGC Finals, it evolved into something different. The bruiser power of patches 2.52 and 2.53 worked wonders with the European hypercarry meta. The new (or renewed) offlaners had enough damage to become threats by themselves, depending less on the carry. This flexibility enabled new hypercarry compositions, for example, drafting mages instead of autoattackers as carries. And that’s how Chromie became a beast.
The CCL meta kept evolving quickly. Even if D.Va, Chromie and Stukov felt almost mandatory, we’ve witnessed how almost every hero was played. WildHeart Esports has been the most creative and unorthodox team in terms of draft. They’ve even popularized double healer compositions!
The 2020 competitive scene has been one of the most diverse we ever had. We could somehow think of it as a version of the 2017 HGC, with independent seasonal championships. However, unlike the primeval HGC, the different tournaments weren’t part of anything bigger.
The year began with Division S Season 2 in Europe and North America. The European edition was ruled again by Washed Up as HasuObs’ team defended its throne without dropping a single series. Lauber’s Fanclub (former Granit Gaming) kept being a worthy opponent, but not strong enough to take over. The biggest surprise of this Division S season was Feel the Heat, a German team that qualified through the Crucible and managed to get the third position in the league.
In North America, only two of the Season 1 teams remained: Order of the Sleeping Dragon and Celeb Gaming. The new Celeb roster only dropped 7 maps out of 37 before signing off on an awesome season and claiming the Division S crown. The podium was completed by Last Minute Sweep and Perfect Gems.
The Spring season was one of much uncertainty. The pandemic dismantled the last Western offline event, the Master Clash Finals. That led to a weird situation where none of the usual tournaments organizers could fill that gap. Lucky for us, the players stepped up and organized their own events.
The best European players had been playing inhouse games for some time. That’s how they came up with the idea of making a tournament with that player pool. They drafted teams—as in the Korean Heroes of the Storm Manager series—and organized the Inhouse League. The team drafted and led by HasuObs, Baguette & Bratwurst, defeated QuackNiix’s team in the finals.
A North American counterpart of this Inhouse League was held later in the year, in August. It was called the Kapptains Draft. In this tournament Carbon proved himself a better captain and strategist than experienced players such as MichaelUdall, nintorii, or Vespertine.
Method Mayhem was supposed to be the big Summer event. It was going to be a series of monthly tournaments that gathered the top European players from now and then. And they succeeded in their June edition. However, the scandals surrounding Method came to light, and the organization was too busy managing (or, actually, mismanaging) their internal problems to host more Heroes tournaments.
Once more there was a hollow in the competitive schedule, but a new organization came in to save the day. Chilly Mountain announced its Heroes of the Storm roster, but also announced tournaments in North America, Europe and South Korea. VGM (former Celeb Gaming) won the CM Supercup in NA, Feel the Heat won the Ice Cold EU Cup and SexyPlok took the Heroes of the Harvest Tournament in Korea.
The Fall season brought us two leagues: the NGS Storm Division and the HeroesHearth Community Clash League. These two events gathered players from Europe, North America and South Korea, mixing the regional scenes into a global one. The old flavour of regional rivalry is back. Many players have to deal with an infernal ping, but that’s the price of having the greatest competition since the HGC disbandment.
Storm Division was an emotional rollercoaster full of comebacks, upsets and great narratives. In the end, Chilly Mountain proved to be something more than a tournament organizer and tamed the Storm Division with an epic run from the loser bracket. But an even greater playoff run came later, when CCL finals arrived in January 2021. Simplicity skyrocketed from sixth position by winning six series in a row to claim the CCL crown.
We’ve talked about three of the major regions, but what happened to China? The Chinese scene kept working as usual. GHL changed its format to shorter seasons, hosting five tournaments instead of the two they had in 2019. Many Korean players participated in these Gold Series events, though Gondar and Crow were—by far—the most successful. They led their team, Tsunami, to the victory in all of the five GHL 2020 seasons.
The global scene continues taking over, and some Chinese players (including a whole team, FLY) are joining the Korean tournaments hosted by Chilly Mountain. Who knows if in 2021 the four regions will be able to clash again.