Saturday saw Battlerekt’s second 3v3 tournament of the year, and the games did not disappoint. Thrilling contests in the Grand Finals were just the tip of the iceberg, with shocking upsets and new challengers cropping up from the very first rounds of play.
The Streak Continues in Europe
The EU tournament looked more hotly contested than ever this week, with the standard complement of killer teams bolstered by the addition of NA superstar Averse to the already formidable Bruce Lee lineup, replacing the recently departed Joltzie. The new lineup’s first outing proved disastrous, however, with the team being eliminated in Round 1 by upstart U choose 3v3.
The top four teams fought tooth and nail through a pair of white-knuckle Semi Final matches, including last week’s winner TelRoskMi nearly falling to the hands of Joltzie’s new squad intolerant. In the end, though, the reigning champs battled their way back to a stunning comeback for another chance at glory, meeting U choose 3v3’s impressive Ashka/Shifu/Pearl squad in the Finals.
Those familiar with TelRoskMi won’t be surprised at what came next. Though U choose 3v3 proved worthy opponents starting off with a commanding 3–1 lead in the first map, TelRoskMi’s uncanny ability to read and adapt to their opponents kicked in full force, and the veteran squad went on to win nine rounds in a row to secure their third Battlerekt title running.
The flexibility and unpredictability of the team is what did it. All three players served multiple roles on the squad: Mini’s Lucie swapped from controlled defensive play into burst damage totals rarely seen from other Alchemists, Teldo’s Croak repeatedly stole the middle orb from foes and prevented U choose 3v3 from maximizing on their aggressive combo game, and Verosk’s Jade shut down attackers with liberal Smoke Veil usage and took daring health trades that always paid off.
Now that some of the teams that have traditionally been their stiffest competition have stumbled, TelRoskMi is starting to look comfortable atop the EU rankings. It’s going to take a powerful team to bring them down.
A European Invasion in North America
Last week’s winner and long-time favorite Legendary found themselves ousted in the very first round, perhaps due to the absence of Shifu specialist Arakune, whose role was temporarily filled by Condemned.
The bracket was hard fought to the end with Team RMS and Neewind Skywha Loveraft struggling through a lengthy Semi Finals. RMS took an early 1–0 map lead, but in the end NSL won 2–1 in maps, culminating in a thrilling reverse five-round sweep on map three. The squad certainly looked impressive, comprised of some of NA’s best: long-time teammates neewha and Skywind were joined by FireBlaze, filling the third slot usually held by Finlev.
Unfortunately for NA fans, the region’s best was not good enough. On the opposite side of the bracket, a threat was brewing. European squad Project Horizon mercilessly tore up the competition all the way to the Grand Finals. It all began with Croak player Wuzac, who had rhythm to his play and wore down the enemy with his strangling pressure. His long-time 2v2 partner Hotbiscuit worked in perfect tandem on Ashka, setting up big CC combos and landing clutch Infernal Scorches. On support duty was bLankkz, whose Pestilus is clearly the best in the world right now.
And try as they might, Neewind Skywha Loveraft simply couldn’t punish him. Project Horizon swept the first map 5–0, only for NSL to respond with a 5–1 win of their own. The contest seemed mental as much as physical, and in the end Horizon made it look easy with a decisive 5–1 victory in map three, leaving the NA crown to be placed atop EU heads.
Interview With bLankkz
In the wake of his victory, we spoke with bLankkz to get his thoughts on the rivalry between regions, his transformation from Lucie to Pestilus, and his hopes for Battlerite’s future.
Congrats on your win! How was your experience playing in an NA tournament? Most people believe the NA scene isn’t as strong as EU. Do you agree?
bLankkz I don’t think people should compare regions so much because EU has more players and there’s more diversity in champion picks over here. We get a lot of practice against different compositions so we have a wider range of knowledge in that sense, and obviously the region with more players will be a little bit ahead compared to the one with fewer players.
So you think comparing regions in terms of skill isn’t really valid? Do you feel like there’s a major difference in playstyle when you play against NA teams compared to EU teams, or is it mostly things you’ve seen before?
bLankkz Don’t hate me when I say this, but for the sake of argument let’s say NA is weaker than EU at this moment in time. NA has really good players, and when I say NA is weaker than EU, it’s not because they are bad players but it’s because the conditions in NA limit them from being as good as EU players. In EU, given that we have a bigger player base, we push progression faster and find and test smaller things that can mean a lot in a game like this. I think if we all played on the same server, they’d become just as good as we are. The playstyles are very much alike, but the knowledge about certain compositions and those small things that I mentioned are lacking a bit in NA. To be the best in NA, you don’t have to explore those depths of the game, but progression is being pushed slowly and it will come to the point where we’ll be equally skilled — and when time comes, we will need a LAN tournament to decide the victor.
How difficult is it to compete with a ping disadvantage? Do you have to make major adjustments to your playstyle or do you just play your best strategies despite the handicap?
bLankkz It’s really hard to compete with ping disadvantage. We don’t really adjust the playstyle based on the ping, but there are some things that we cannot do as individuals like flick-shotting or dodging certain abilities that you can walk out of with a normal response time. Battlerite has a high individual skill cap, but it’s also heavily team-based and we as a team we managed to push through.
Let’s talk about you personally. You used to be renowned for your Lucie, but since the release of Pestilus you’ve been more or less unchallenged as the top player with that champion. What draws you to him?
bLankkz When Pestilus came out, I had about 1,000 played games on Lucie and I really wanted a change. The game didn’t feel so challenging any longer and it was the same thing over and over again. I felt like I understood Lucie from head to toe and I had almost no more room for further improvement. I understood why I won, why I lost, and sometimes I felt like I couldn’t have done much differently. Just when I started getting bored, Pestilus came out. I can’t stop playing him because there’s always that feeling that I could’ve done something more or something different to win a game that I had lost and that’s the main reason I am still religiously playing the character. I need to stop losing with him and until I do so, I cannot stop playing him.
Why do you think more people don’t play Pestilus? Is he underpowered or do players just need time to get used to him?
bLankkz I think people don’t play him as much because he is lacking a bit in defense, and even though he is pretty strong in specific areas it still doesn’t make up for the fact that he can die in one combo after using his space. I think he needs some small adjustments and people will play him a lot more.
Let me ask you about your team. You’ve been playing under the Project Horizon banner for a while now, but what about Wuzac and Hotbiscuit? Is this a relatively new lineup?
bLankkz There was a time in Battlerite when we used to have only 2v2 weekly tournaments. Project Horizon was a team that I started with 213213. With the start of the weekly 3v3 tournaments, Hotbiscuit joined the line-up and that was the first Project Horizon 3v3 roster. After a while, 213213 didn’t want to continue playing together and ever since then Wuzac has taken his place as the team’s melee player. Prior to that, Hotbiscuit and Wuzac had been and still are a 2v2 team.
Whatever the lineup, you’ve always been a strong contender in all of your tournament showings. I know it’s a hard question since EU is pretty stacked at the top level, but is there any team or player that stands out to you right now as the one to beat? Where do you think your squad stands overall?
bLankkz Honestly, all the top teams in EU are really amazing and they all stand out since most of the teams and players have really unique playstyles. You can’t stop but notice them. Every tournament is an uphill battle and they’re all teams that I look forward to playing against every week. A little bit off-topic here because I’ve said this before and will say it again: 3v3 has some problems right now regarding maps and champion balance because outside of tournaments and scrims most players still play only 2v2 and the game is also balanced towards 2v2 currently. But the high-level players in EU hope that will change and the game will move its focus toward 3v3.
That actually leads well into the last topic I want to touch on: the state of Battlerite and its future. What’s your take on the community’s fears that there’s not enough depth to keep top players interested for the long term? What needs to change?
bLankkz I actually wrote a Reddit post a while ago regarding some issues the game has or that I think it has. I do want to say that Battlerite is its own unique game and I understand the developers for wanting to keep the core mechanics as they are. When I wrote the Reddit post, I did avoid talking about the core mechanics (movement speed, hitboxes, etc.) of the game as there’s still a lot of different things we can change to give more depth to the game, and with time, if we make some small changes, Battlerite will hopefully be where we all want it to be.
There’s a lot of good insight in that post, definitely worth the read! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. Any shoutouts?
bLankkz To anyone that is reading this and to everyone that is playing the game: good luck and have fun!
What Lies Ahead for Battlerekt
The tournament showed the start of some new trends. Once-ignored champs are starting to be picked more regularly and some of the old standbys are rotating out of favor. Pearl in particular saw her stock rise, having showings in both Finals, though she didn’t push through to the win in either. We’re seeing a trend in the tactics of the winning teams as well, with more flexible and well-rounded options rising to the top of both regions. Could this spell the end of the unrelentingly aggressive strats that have dominated NA for so long?
Next week’s Battlerekt contest will prove whether these shifts will continue or if they’re just a blip on the radar. All the more reason to tune in to the Battlerekt Twitch Stream on Saturday for more 3v3 action. Things kick off with the EU tournament at 7:00 PM CET followed by the NA bracket at 2:00 PM PST. And as always, stay tuned to Battlecrank for more coverage, along with exclusive insight from top players.