Naventic, Gale Force eSports qualify for NA HGC 2017

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Team Naventic and Gale Force eSports have secured their spots in the first season of the Heroes Global Championship Pro League after winning their brackets at the first North American qualifier. They join Astral Authority and Denial eSports, who auto-qualified due to their placement at the Fall season of HGC 2016.

Naventic rolled through their qualifier bracket and dropped only a single game to No Tomorrow, the roster formed from Barrel Boys after the departure of Stafford "McIntyre" McIntyre to Denial eSports and his replacement by Aaron "erho" Kappes. Naventic took the series 3-1.

Gale Force eSports faced down Vox Nihili to earn their spot, sweeping the series 3-0. On their way through the bracket they took down DefNKorean, Eclipse and Chu8 My Hotdoge, all in clean sweeps.

Though the four teams that have qualified for the 2017 Pro League so far are all familiar names, the number of pickup rosters featuring retired or inactive pros from the early days of the scene signals renewed interest in competitive Heroes in North America. The return of players like Keaton "Biceps" Consentine and Stone "Pannucci" May likely has a lot to do with Blizzard's announcement of $100,000 in guaranteed minimum compensation for each team that plays in both Pro League seasons next year.

These players will likely find themselves in contention with Vox Nihili, No Tomorrow, Dumpster-Tier Superstars and Gust or Bust for the four remaining spots. The second qualifier, which will award another two spots in the NA Pro League, is set to start Dec. 3.

Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find him on Twitter.

Equinox joins Gale Force eSports, will play tank

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Jon "Equinox" Peterson has joined Gale Force eSports, filling the vacancy left by Josh "bkid" Choi's departure to Team Naventic.

GFE confirmed to theScore esports that the melee/flex player had joined their roster, but that he will be playing warrior for the new squad moving forward.

"I'm excited to be joining GFE," Equinox said in the team's statement. "I won't be playing melee assassins anymore but I'll be working towards being just as good on tanks while still making the same plays."

Equinox has played with a number of teams during the 2016 season, including an early (and entirely different) GFE roster in March. He later joined up with Gust or Bust in April before they were signed by Astral Authority, and then played with them for over two months before a contract dispute ended an attempted move to a resurgent Murloc Geniuses roster.

After being benched, he announced his retirement, but made his return on Aug. 8 to replace Richard "Kladeous" Tran on that roster. Astral eventually dropped their roster, including Equinox, before signing the new Murloc Geniuses squad.

Despite having played for so many teams, Equinox said that this GFE roster "is the most talented I've been on."

"The only teammate I've really played with is Khroen, but after playing with everyone I'm confident we'll be at least top two next season with the right work ethic," he explained. "I hope all the fans that followed me through my previous teams continue to support me and GFE through the entirety of next season."

In his time on various rosters, Equinox has shown both mechanical and shotcalling aptitudes. After joining Astral Authority, his competitive experience made an immediate impact.

His new teammate Fan "Fan" Yang said that he's seen those skills first-hand in try-outs.

"After several weeks and trying out quite a number of high level players, I am glad to say that we have found a good fit for the team in Equinox," Fan said. "He is a strong player both mechanically and game knowledge-wise and will be able to strengthen our team's communication in game."

As for Equinox's shift to the warrior position, GFE melee/flex Mike "MichaelUdall" Udall says he's not concerned.

"I am very confident in his ability to pick up tanking again and I really like the positive and hard-working atmosphere that he brings," he said.

GFE will not be competing at BlizzCon, as North America will be represented by Astral Authority and Denial eSports. But the move signals that they're already gearing up for the Heroes Global Championship online league, which was announced by Blizzard last month.

Gale Force eSports' roster is now as follows:

  • Khalif "Khroen" Hashim
  • Stefen "akaface" Anderson
  • Michael "MichaelUdall" Udall
  • Fan "Fan" Yang
  • Jon "Equinox" Peterson

Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find him on Twitter.

Naventic's Kenma fined for 'altercation' in Hero League chat

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Team Naventic have fined support player Kenneth "Kenma" Buechter one month of pay for his conduct in a casual Hero League game involving HotS streamer Rentaro and Gale Force eSports' Fan "Fan" Yang.

In Naventic's official response, the team wrote that Kenma's behavior was "was inexcusable despite being provoked."

Rentaro, a featured Heroes of the Storm streamer who is in a relationship with GFe's Fan, accused Kenma of toxicity on Wednesday. She posted screenshots of a game in which she and Fan were matched with Kenma on Twitter, which appear to show the Naventic support inciting an argument by insulting the pair and another of their teammates, a Valla player named Turbo.

The argument quickly escalates. Kenma repeatedly calls Rentaro "ugly", telling Fan that he "should shut your ugly ass gf up... she's pretty an noying [sic]." Rentaro fires back that Kenma is "the most toxic player in professional play" and "a dumb f***."

Kenma issued an apology as part of Naventic's official response. "There is no excuse for attacking someone’s appearance and I'm genuinely sorry," he said.

"Sorry to my teammates and fans, you deserve better, and I will strive to be a better person. I hope Fan, Karen [Rentaro] and the community can forgive my actions."

In the chat logs, Kenma also directs his ire at another player on the team, Turbo, who is unknown to the competitive scene. Kenma calls the Valla player "the cancer of hero league" and tells him to "pick valla more and stay sh**." But Turbo refuses to get into the argument, trying to keep the focus on the game.

As the story has circulated in the community, Turbo had been applauded for his brazen positivity in the face of toxic chat, with the hashtag #BeLikeTurbo gaining traction among Heroes fans. The player later wrote on Reddit that his play in the game was perhaps less than optimal, but that he appreciated the kind words from the community.

Kenma's apology also addresses his attacks on the anonymous player. "About Turbo/Valla, I will take the high ground in the future and not type anything that isn't positive," he wrote.

Josh "Gauntlet" Bury wants to #BeLikeTurbo. You can find him on Twitter.

Lucio enters the Nexus and Murky receives rework in PTR Patch Notes
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The newest edition to the Heroes of the Storm cast, Overwatch Support Lucio, speed boosted his way into the PTR on Monday.

Blizzard also amped up Valeera, giving her a minor health boost and "a small increase in power to help her overall win rate."

Alongside the addition of the futuristic DJ and Valeera's buffs, Murky's new and improved talents have also been revealed.

He has retained his core abilities, but talents have been overhauled at every tier. An increased health pool makes him less susceptible to burst, while an increased cooldown on respawning from his egg makes it all the more important to place his home strategically.

The PTR patch changes will be available for play testing until Feb. 13 so break them down while you can.

Click here for the full patch notes via

Heroes of the Dorm returns for 2017, will be streamed exclusively on Facebook Live

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The collegiate-level Heroes of the Dorm tournament will return for a 2017 season, and will be broadcast on Facebook Live.

Like the event's two previous iterations, collegiate teams will compete for the grand prize of paid college tuition. The Blizzard release noted that a total over over $500,000 in prizing and scholarships will be awarded in 2017.

In previous years, the event has broadcast the Heroic Four and grand finals on ESPN2. A spokesperson for Blizzard Entertainment has confirmed to theScore esports that the streaming partnership is exclusive to Facebook Live for 2017.

In addition to the returning Bracket Challenge, 2017's competition features another way for fans to become more invested in the results: a new Pick 'em Challenge. The new contest allows fans to pick a specific team on which to pin their hopes for the whole competition.

Last year, Arizona State University was able to claim the grand prize. The team featured several players with competitive experience including Michael "MichaelUdall" Udall, Stefen "akaface" Anderson and Austin "Shot" Lonsert. For the event's 2017 iteration, players must choose to compete in either Dorm or the newly-established Heroes Global Championship Pro League.

RELATED: Hero, Reloaded: The fall and return of Shot

Signups for the tournament are already open on the event's website. The group stages are set to begin in mid-February, while the round of 64 will begin on Mar. 18 and the Heroic Four and National Championship will be held on Apr. 8.

Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find him on Twitter.

Heroes of the Storm Patch 23.0 introduces Valeera, reworks Tassadar and Rexxar
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Happy Lunar Festival! In Patch 23.0, the reworks for both Tassadar and Rexxar are live and with them comes the introduction of the Warcraft Assassin Valeera Sanguinar, the shadowy rogue from the order of the Uncrowned.

Utilizing stealth mechanics and combo points, Valeera strikes at her foes from the shadows and disappears in a cloud of smoke. Her kit is heavily based on the Rogue class from World of Warcraft, with nods to her Hearthstone presence in her talents and voice lines.

Tassadar received major changes to turn him into a Support mage reliant on utility, with the developers feeling he was having "a bit of an identity crisis from the moment he stepped foot into the Nexus." Additionally, Rexxar had talents added and modified to make Rexxar and Misha feel a bit more like the beastly duo the developers envisioned.

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