This past weekend’s North American August Open was the last chance for two teams to keep their BlizzCon hopes alive by qualifying for the Americas Regional Championship. Only five teams from North America can qualify for the field of eight at the Americas Championship, and three team spots were already reserved. The matches at the August Open were closer than ever, with the same number of series going to a third game as both of the previous Opens combined. With a new patch in place and numerous changes to familiar Heroes, team compositions were quite different from those fielded in the last North America Open. Most notably, we observed the rise of the Specialists—Zagara and Nazeebo were both picked almost every game, and Abathur, Sylvanas, and Azmodan all got to see significant action. Time will tell if the addition of the melee-healer Kharazim will further augment the current competitive trends, but he wasn’t available for this event, coming so soon after his release. Tempo Storm, Cloud9 (formerly Cloud9 Maelstrom), and COGnitive Gaming each qualified for the regionals while competing in the June and July North America Opens, but were back again in the Round of 8 to wreak havoc among the other contenders and claim their share of the $25,000+ prize pool. Unsurprisingly, Tempo Storm and Cloud9 met for the third Open in a row in both the winners’ finals and the grand finals, each time with the same result—Tempo Storm took the win and claimed the first Triple Crown of North American Opens. Tempo Storm has only lost two games, both to Cloud9. They are clearly the team to beat in the upcoming regionals, and the biggest threat to potential opponents around the world. Cloud9 is one of the best teams in North America, to be sure, but, at some point, they'll probably have to go through Tempo Storm at the regionals to have a shot at making it to BlizzCon. With Tempo Storm and Cloud9 rolling through the winners’ bracket, the last two qualifying spots came down to who could make it furthest in the losers’ bracket. Round 2 found a hungry compLexity team up against an already qualified COGnitive. COGnitive defeated compLexity in the July Open, but this time compLexity were not to be denied. In a closely fought series, they took revenge on COGnitive and secured their tickets to regionals. This left Murloc Geniuses (formerly Zeveron) and Kappa Wolves (the lone newcomers to the Round of 8) both desperately trying to claim the last qualifying spot in the Americas Regional Championship. Murloc Geniuses emerged victorious, keeping their BlizzCon dreams alive. These five teams will now begin preparing for the Americas Regional Championship, coming up September 19-20 in Las Vegas. The Road to BlizzCon only gets tougher from here as the stakes will be even higher—only two teams will advance to BlizzCon from the Americas region; a field that includes the five from North America plus champions from Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Australia/New Zealand. The prizes also become larger, as teams will be fighting over a $100,000 prize pool in Las Vegas. Taking the prize money won’t be enough to satisfy these teams, though. They’re all after something greater: the glory of being crowned the first Heroes of the Storm World Champions at BlizzCon. But before that can happen, they’ll have a lot to prove at the Americas Regional Championship. Favorite and underdogs alike will have to recalibrate and regroup as the Road to BlizzCon just got a lot tougher.