Building up to the global finals of the World of Warcraft Arena Tournament - the first attempt to make an eSport out of an MMO - at BlizzCon in October, last weekend saw the regional finals for North America and Europe take place.
Out of eight teams competing in the 3 vs 3 format, Fnatic defeated Selective Queuers to take the American crown. In Europe, x6tence were the victors, over Nihilum Plasma, an offshoot of the famous raiding guild.
The US final, held in Boston's Hard Rock Cafe, was a close match, with both Fnatic and Selective Queuers using the Warrior/Rogue/Druid line-up. Fnatic granted the Queuers an early 2-0 lead, but then performed an impressive comeback, winning the next three games in a row to take the regional Tournament.
"Our team gravely underestimated the recent changes to fel armor and cheat death/hemo nerf, and paid dearly in this tournament," commented Daniel Vulis of Gravitas Gaming, one of the losing sides, on the team's blog.
The European grand final in Madrid also went down to a fifth game, with the home side, Spain's x6tence, taking a 3-2 win over the multi-national Nihilum team. x6tence used a Warrior/Warlock/Priest configuration to beat Nihilum's Warrior/Warlock/Druid.
SK-Gaming reports that a nail-biting final round climaxed with x6tence's Warrior and Nihilum's druid dying simultaneously, and the two teams scrapping it out with two players apiece. With a healer still on the field, x6tence had the clear advantage, and took the win.
The complex structure of the Arena Tournament - a dual knockout competition with a lower bracket in which the losing teams from the upper bracket fight it out for a place in the final - meant that x6tence had to defeat Nihilum no less than three times over the weekend on the way to victory. The win will have tasted all the sweeter after the team's defeats at Nihilum's hands at the Leipzig Games Convention and Blizzard Worldwide Invitational in recent months.
However, the grudge match will almost certainly get another airing in October, as both teams - along with both American finalists - advance to the Global finals at Blizzcon on 11 October, where they will compete with players from Korea and Taiwan for the grand prize of USD 25,000 for each player.