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Match Report - September Hero Battle Championship Semifinals

X Ekelon X vs. Jamesb R
By Alex Marsyla


Special note: Each Match Report presents the opinions and insights of one game observer. These observations are personal in nature and do not reflect the opinions of ArenaNet. While ArenaNet does review each article to assure that it offers content that is respectful of all players, we intend to allow our reporters the freedom to inject some personal opinion into descriptions of the current atmosphere of competitive play in Guild Wars, and to express views based on their experience and observation.


The September Monthly Hero Battle Championship ushered in a number of entertaining matches. The semifinals brought a rematch of last month’s championship game, pairing X Ekelon X against Jamesb R (ranked #1 and #3 at the time of the match) on the Beachhead. Ekelon has won the last three Hero Battle championships, while Jamesb placed second in the August Championships. Constant action and a near mirror-match made this battle worth watching.

Ekelon and Jamesb brought very similar builds into the battle. Both used two fire Elementalist Heroes with minor variations, with Jamesb bringing more area-of-effect damage. One other variation was how the players supported their Monks. Ekelon chose a Ritualist/Assassin Hero with Wanderlust and Recall, while Jamesb chose a Dervish/Paragon Hero with spear attacks and Ebon Dust Aura. In terms of build alone, however, this match-up was dead even.


The Builds

Jamesb
Mo/A Jamesb R
Reversal of Fortune
Return
Dark Escape
Gift of Health
Zealous Benediction
E/A Acolyte Sousuke
Fire Attunement
Meteor
Searing Heat
Recall
Dark Escape
Smoldering Embers
Teinai's Heat
Savannah Heat
E/W Zhed Shadowhoof
Fire Attunement
Meteor
Searing Heat
Fire Storm
Teinai's Heat
Savannah Heat
D/P Melonni
Mystic Vigor
Mystic Regeneration
Imbue Health
Barbed Spear
Disrupting Throw
Ebon Dust Aura
Heart of Fury
Remedy Signet

Ekelon
Mo/A I Have Two K Rating (Ekelon)
Guardian
Remove Hex
Reversal of Fortune
Recall
Dark Escape
Spirit Bond
Mending Touch
Zealous Benediction
E/D Acolyte Sousuke
Aura of Restoration
Fire Attunement
Mark of Rodgort
Searing Heat
Glyph of Lesser Energy
Mirage Cloak
Mystic Regeneration
Mind Blast
E/D Vekk
Aura of Restoration
Fire Attunement
Mark of Rodgort
Searing Heat
Glyph of Lesser Energy
Mirage Cloak
Mystic Regeneration
Mind Blast
Rt/A Razah
Blind Was Mingson
Shadowsong
Spirit Light
Recall
Mend Body and Soul
Pain
Displacement
Wanderlust

The Match

To open the match, Jamesb sent one Elementalist to the center shrine, while pushing a Monk, Elementalist, and Ritualist to the mystic's shrine. Ekelon split a Monk and an Elementalist to the center shrine and used Recall to move both characters to the mystic's shrine after capturing the center. This forced Jamesb to move his Elementalist away from the center shrine so it wouldn't get killed by Ekelon's forces.

Recall
Recall
RecallRecall
Assassin - No Attribute - Enchantment Spell
Energy: 15
Activation: 1
Duration: upkeep
Recharge: 10
Enchantment Spell. While you maintain Recall, nothing happens. When Recall ends, you Shadow Step to the ally you targeted when you activated this skill.

At the mystic's shrine Jamesb's superior area-of-effect damage pressured Ekelon's squad, downing Ekelon's Ritualist. After pushing Ekelon away from the mystic's shrine, Jamesb scored another kill on one of Ekelon's Elementalists. With control of the map for the moment, Jamesb split off the Dervish to capture the northern health shrine while pushing to the center shrine. After two minutes Jamesb led the match 2 to 1.

To counter Jamesb's Ritualist, Ekelon split off both Elementalists to take the health shrines. At the same time, Ekelon's Monk and Ritualist moved to the mystic's shrine and managed to capture it. In response, Jamesb split off an Elementalist with his Dervish to contend for the health shrines. Despite the two earlier deaths, at four minutes into the battle Ekelon evened the score at 4 to 4.

Leaving the Dervish by itself, Jamesb assaulted the mystic's shrine with the Monk and both Elementalists. Again, Jamesb took out Ekelon's Ritualist at the mystic's shrine and managed to capture it. After the Ritualist resurrected, Ekelon sent it back to the mystic shrine while moving an Elementalist towards the health shrines. At the same time Ekelon sent the other Elementalist and the Monk to the center shrine. With a Monk, an Elementalist, and the mystic mercenary, Jamesb held off Ekelon's dual attacks at the center and mystic's shrine. Six minutes into the match Jamesb led 8 to 5 over Ekelon.

While holding the center shrine, Jamesb used an Elementalist to secure the northern health shrine. At the same time Jamesb's Dervish defended the southern health shrine from one of Ekelon's Elementalists. However, with Jamesb's lighter presence at the center shrine, Ekelon moved in and siezed control there.

After losing the center shrine, Jamesb regrouped and made a strong attack on the center shrine to recapture it from Ekelon. Jamesb then positioned his team between the mystic's shrine and the center shrine. When Ekelon advanced on the mystic's shrine, Jamesb took advantage of the confined terrain to defend against the push. With only two minutes remaining in the battle, Jamesb led 13 to 7.

From this point forward, control of the center shrine wavered between the players. Nevertheless, Jamesb maintained position between the mystic's shrine and the center shrine. Ekelon attempted to push for the mystic's shrine again, but Jamesb's superior position proved too much for Ekelon. With only 1:18 remaining on the timer and the score standing at an insurmountable 15 to 7 in favor of Jamesb, Ekelon resigned the match.


Recap

Both players split very well in this battle, resulting in the center shrine and health shrines switching hands often. Jamesb earned this win by controlling the mystic's shrine for most of the match. Having the mystic mercenary gave Jamesb a crucial numbers advantage that he used to maintain splits and ultimately win the match.

It is important to note how Jamesb controlled the mystic's shrine. The area around this shrine is a chokepoint, and any characters caught there have a hard time escaping. Jamesb planned for this and brought four area-of-effect skills on both of his fire Elementalists, allowing him to completely dominate the confined landscape around the shrine.

Smart team positioning also helped Jamesb control this area. By camping his team between the center and mystic's shrine, he could hold off any character moving towards the mystic's shrine. Ekeleon’s forces had to pass through this natural chokepoint on the map to get to the mystic’s shrine, which allowed Jamesb to put his massive array of area-of-effect fire skills to great effect against Ekelon. Also, while in this position, Jamesb could quickly move to save characters that split off and came close to dying.

In the end, Jamesb won this match by effectively combining his build with superb tactical positioning on the map. Using the terrain to keep Ekelon's Heroes from kiting out of his heavy fire damage allowed Jamesb to dominate the area around the mystic's shrine. Without a doubt, this exciting rematch between Jamesb and Ekelon is a joy to watch and provides observers the chance to learn important basics.


Alex is a college student in his third year studying Computer Information Systems. He's been into online gaming for most of his life and has been playing Guild Wars since its release.