To anyone that’s been following the North American Heroes of the Storm Global Championship (HGC), one question has been likely smoldering in the back of your mind since the start of this split: What is Tempo Storm going to do?
A fresh start for Tempo Storm
For the past month, no answer has been forthcoming. Ever since renowned ranged flex player Harrison “psalm” Chang abruptly left his position as ranged carry for the internationally-competitive team, the community–and Tempo themselves, it seemed–wondered how they would fill such a large void. Adding to their woes was the fact that their planned replacement, Korean import Swoy, was vetoed by Blizzard for visa issues. For a time, things looked bleak for Tempo Storm. Every time they competed with an empty logo where psalm’s face used to be, it was a stark reminder that this was merely a substitute player, that Tempo was still playing, essentially, a man down.
However, we must wonder no longer. Tempo Storm announced via press release today that Swoy will, in fact, be joining the multi-game organization’s payroll–as coach. Clearly they hope to take advantage of the long-time championship contender and 2016 BlizzCon winner’s experience to further advance their level of play, especially from a macro standpoint. They also want to solidify themselves as a real threat to historic international powerhouse teams such as Team Dignitas and Gen G Esports, against whom Tempo struggled in the recent Mid-Season Brawl. This pushes Curtis “Kala” Lloyd, the former analyst for Fnatic in Europe and coach for Tempo Storm up to this point, into the role of team manager, where he will be able to leverage his skills outside the game to help the team he’s invested so much time into even further.
As for the open player slot, it seems that hard work really does pay off: Vi “ViN” Nguyen, the player who has been the sole stand-in for Tempo Storm since psalm’s unexpected mid-season departure, has now officially been signed as Tempo’s fifth Heroes of the Storm team member. This decision is sure to be welcome news for the Open Division veteran, who consistently exceeded expectations game after game, match after match, as he proved himself worthy of the coveted “TS” prefix.
How ViN changes the team
Some feel that this is a strict downgrade over the role-defining, flashy play-making power that psalm brought to the table. However, it’s worth noting that blind aggression has been Tempo Storm’s nemesis ever since they started to compete in a real way with their overseas rivals. Some analysts even go so far as to attribute their crippling–and ultimately tournament-costing–performances against Tempest and Dignitas at the 2018 Mid-Season Brawl to psalm’s hyper-aggressive fight-picking play style.
By contrast, ViN has so far shown that the only consistent thing one can say is that he is not to be underestimated. Far from being the weak link he was widely expected to be at the start of the phase, he has repeatedly shown he’s able to hang with the big kids–and more than willing to punish anyone who might think otherwise. Contrary to psalm’s in-your-face carry mentality, ViN has shown that he’s more inclined to follow the team. At first, it seemed that he was simply aware of his status as an amateur among professionals, and as such merely did as his more experienced partners told; as the season marches on, however, it’s been clear that there’s something more profound beneath his seeming passivity.
ViN takes a very different approach to the same heroes, playing with a subdued precision that may be exactly what Tempo Storm needs to level up. They may have lost a play-maker, but on a roster chock-full of ex-carry players, that was never what they really needed. Instead, they have gained a powerful asset capable of playing safe and letting others take the spotlight–until it comes time for him to showcase his uncanny, almost supernatural killer instincts, following up instantly on his team’s plays even as they’re still being executed.
The Swoy question
Some feel that ViN’s time to shine may be short-lived, however. Since Swoy was only disqualified on a technicality, it’s certainly possible that ViN is intended as a stop-gap measure until Swoy himself can join the roster. At the start of the next phase, he would meet the requirements of having a work visa for the requisite six months, and could feasibly replace ViN on the active roster. Such a looming threat has not seemed to cast any shadows on ViN’s confidence though; his trademark cool-under-pressure attitude has kept him firing on all cylinders even as he wonders how long it will last. His unshakable calm in the face of adversity and team-focused attitude seem an excellent fit for the high-aiming Tempo, who have repeatedly shown they want to push themselves further.
Only time will tell what effect these changes will have on Tempo Storm’s Heroes performance and their dreams of BlizzCon, or even whether they will stick, but as of now fans of the team should be cautiously optimistic. They’ve gained experience through Swoy, who will surely help them rise ever higher; they’ve traded hot-blooded talent for cool-minded execution, a breath of fresh air after psalm’s consistently inconsistent nature. And most importantly, they seem to have fun together. Whether playing for keeps or just playing around, it’s obvious that the new recruit is excited about this chance to prove himself alongside the best in North America, as shown in this snippet from the official Tempo Storm press release:
On top of having such a strong community presence, the Tempo Storm Heroes of the Storm players know how to create ultimate memes out of thin air… Working side-by-side with them and being able to consider Tempo Storm my family is a dream come true. With the tools at hand, I am certain I will be able to develop my own style to compete at the highest level and represent Tempo Storm in upcoming events.
At last, Tempo Storm seems to have all the pieces they need; all that remains to be seen is if they can build themselves a champion.