There was standing room only in Hall B as Method NA and the European team Splyce met on the biggest stage in World of Warcraft esports on Day 2 of BlizzCon. The roaring crowd was ready to see a new world champion crowned, but a long and grueling 7-game match lay ahead. This story, however, doesn’t begin at the end.
During Opening Week, Method NA and Splyce were both seeded in Group B, winning out 3-0 against Method EU and Panda Gaming respectively. However, this strong start would soon turn rocky for Method NA as they faced Splyce next in the Group B winners match.
In their first bout with Method NA, Splyce debuted what would soon become their iconic comp of BlizzCon 2016—beastcleave. The pressure was too much for Method NA’s signature Demonology Warlock, Enhancement Shaman, and Holy Paladin (LSP) comp to handle, quickly allowing Splyce to take a 2-0 lead. Method changed things up, tapping in “Officer Bean” on a Protection Paladin. This change allowed Method NA to take a win, but Splyce shut them down 3-1, securing their place in the semifinals. Method had been defeated, but not disheartened.
During the time between Opening Week and the big show, the teams hunkered down and began preparing for the games to come. Countless hours of practice, war-gaming, and meticulous analysis led to a confident show of force during Day 1 of BlizzCon. Method NA’s first task at BlizzCon would be to dismantle their European counterparts again. Though Method NA managed to squeak by with a clean 3-0 victory in the series, the matches were close and drawn out, with dampening reaching as high as 40% at one point.
In the semifinals, we saw an impressive and confident Tempo Storm team challenge Splyce. Tempo Storm started off the series with a huge win, thanks in large part to Chanimals’ masterful Warlock play, but Splyce answered with their seemingly unbeatable beastcleave comp, sweeping the rest of the series 3-1. Meanwhile, Method NA went up against Opening Week favorites Northern Gaming Blue. Method made quick work of their opponents, ending Whaazz’s quest to prove himself as the best Rogue at in the world, but bringing Cdew one step closer to finally winning a BlizzCon title.
After Day 1 ended, there were plenty of parties and events happening around BlizzCon, but Method NA and Splyce weren’t in attendance. Instead, the teams closely reviewed the day’s gameplay footage. When asked about the team’s plans heading into the Finals, Splyce’s Fabss said, “we’ll write down all of their comps on paper, and all the characters that they can play. Then we’ll figure out how to beat them in any situation.”
At 10 a.m. on Day 2 of BlizzCon, an electric crowd filled the seats at the World of Warcraft Tournament Stage, bringing signs, shouts, and lots of love for the home team, Method NA. Splyce felt the pressure, but the defending BlizzCon champions were unfazed. They had won on this stage just a year ago. Besides, they had already trounced Method NA once—surely it would be simple to do so again.
In the first of the best-of-seven Grand Finals’ matches, each team blind-picked their comp. Method NA locked in their LSP comp, while Splyce came straight out with the beastcleave. Splyce kept their pressure split across Method’s team, but Cdew managed to keep his team alive—until he ran out of mana. Match two was déjà vu in the Dalaran Sewers: Splyce’s beastcleave faced off against Method’s Holy Paladin and Enhancement Shaman, with Bean playing a Protection Paladin. Instead of playing defensively, Method NA came out swinging, mounting an overwhelming offensive while also mitigating Splyce’s burst. After drawing out a bubble from Splyce’s Holy Paladin, Boetar, Bean’s team switched targets and nuked Swapxy down, tying up the series 1-1.
Splyce decided to try again on Tol’Viron Arena, but it seemed that Method had finally found a hard counter to the dreaded beastcleave. Method dished out incredible damage as the crowd cheered them on, and it wasn’t long before they were up 2-1. Against the same Method comp, Splyce brought beastcleave again, but Boetar switched to a Resto Druid, providing his team with the edge they needed to tie the series as well as pull ahead in the next match, where the same comps fought a long, defensive game. In game six, Splyce brought the Resto Druid beastcleave to Tiger’s Peak, but Method NA shut them down once more with a Holy Paladin, Shadow Priest, and Feral Druid comp.
Going into game seven, Method NA decided to put the same comp forward, assuming that Splyce would finish out the series with beastcleave. However, Splyce locked in Method’s own LSP comp, and immediately put them on the back foot, drawing out all of their defensive cooldowns. Method almost managed to turn the match around, but ultimately Cdew—and his BlizzCon dream—was killed.
As back-to-back world champions Boetar, Swapxy and Fabss embraced each other amid a shower of confetti. A heartbroken Method NA—and their heartbroken fans—found it hard to take in what had just happened. But in a tournament with so many 3-0 and 3-1 finishes, this Grand Final proved to be one of the closest and most intense ever played on the BlizzCon stage. Method NA stood toe-to-toe with Splyce and denied their “unbeatable” beastcleave. But at the end of the day, the defending world champs’ unblemished tournament run proved that they truly are the best in the world.
Congratulations to Splyce on becoming our 2016 World of Warcraft Arena World Champions, and the first team to ever win at two BlizzCons back-to-back!