Four Plays That Qualified Four Players To Worlds

Four Plays That Qualified Four Players To Worlds

Four months of high-level Hearthstone later, eight of the top players qualified from the HCT Fall Champion group stages to the Quarterfinals. With one match standing between each player and their chance to compete at the World Championship, it’s likely these will be the most definitive matches of their lives until January. In this article, we break down the winning move that showed TopDeck why these players deserved the win that day.


Bloodyface vs. Caimiao, 0-2

Odd Rogue vs. Zoolock

Of the two reverse sweeps Brian “Bloodyface” Eason would make that day, the match against Caimiao was the critical one, and his Odd Rogue needed to find the win against a wide Zoolock board to kick things off. With six mana, Bloodyface had the opportunity to combo a recently drawn SI:7 Agent with Tar Creeper to remove a buffed Lightwarden and prepare a defensible position. With 10 health, this was the line we expected. Instead, Bloodyface would combo his agent with Vicious Fledgling. He was able to take apart most of the board, and remove Caimiao’s Fungal Enchanter with his Hench-Clan Thug, leaving it as a 5/2 against only a librarian on the other side of the board.

What made this play so strong was Bloodyface acknowledging the inevitability of the Warlock hero power, and choosing to take a line that had a chance to end the game rather than prolong it. This decision was made easier by a Myra’s Unstable Element in hand and a weaker Zoo board, as well as seeing one copy of Saronite Chain Gang discarded by a Soularium from an earlier turn. Nevertheless, this play represented a classic case of prioritizing winning the game over surviving the next turn. The following turn, he removed Caimiao’s Tar Creeper with his Poisoned Dagger and SI:7 Agent to pile on the damage with his Vicious Fledgling, ending the game two turns later.

 

BloodTrail vs. Tyler, 0-0

Shudderwock Shaman vs. Deathrattle Hunter

The first game of the series had reached the late game phase; Wu “BloodTrail” Zong-Chang’s turn began with a Hagatha online and a Grumble ready to receive the Zola treatment, with Tyler ‘Tylerootd Hoang Nguyen standing by, poised with a King Krush and Carniverous Cube full of Devilsaur Eggs. At a precarious 13 health, BloodTrail was equipped with the tools to swing the board back in his favor; an Earth Shock for the one-health Cube, and Hex for the 8/8 King Krush. With Keleseth-buffed Lifedrinker, Grumble, Glacial Shard, and room for Zola, BloodTrail even had the option to begin making serious dents in Tyler’s life total, with the possibility of ending the game before Shudderwock became relevant.

Instead, BloodTrail traded his 8-attack Grumble into the King Krush, holding on to Hex for a crucial turn. He recognized that there was the potential for another wave of big threats Tyler could use to deal the remaining 13 damage. BloodTrail was able to respond to Tyler’s top-decked Kathrena Winterwisp with a Hex and a Bloodlust from Hagatha to regain board control. This put Tyler in an even more precarious position than taking eight damage the previous turn, forcing him to either draw Deathstalker Rexxar to close the game against an opponent who had board control. Against a developed board state like BloodTrail’s at this stage of the game, Deathstalker Rexxar was seeing diminishing returns as the only remaining win condition. In the final turn, all Tyler had were a Hunter’s Mark and a Carniverous Cube in hand, with five cards remaining in his deck against BloodTrail’s Grumble-occupied board and a hand full of Hagatha spells.

The conservative line was rewarded with a replay on the stream between games, with Admirable highlighting how holding on to that Hex for the next turn’s Kathrena Winterwisp was what earned BloodTrail this decisive victory, setting him on the path to a 3-0 win and a well-deserved qualification to the HCT World Championship.

 

Justsaiyan vs. Sintolol, 0-1

Malygos Druid vs. Odd Rogue

David “Justsaiyan” Shan’s opening hand of two Wild Growths and Nourish propelled him to a 9-mana turn against Thomas “Sintolol” Zimmer’s Dire Mole, 5/5 Hench-Clan Thug, and a recently played Giggling Inventor. In response, Justsaiyan had the opportunity to coin out the Ultimate Infestation to remove the greatest threat on the board, while developing a threat of his own. At 16 health, this would also have gained him a comfortable amount of armor to invest mana into cycling for greater removal options. A greater amount of armor could have been gained with playing Malfurion the Pestilent, which presented favorable late-game options.

Instead, he opted to play Spreading Plague, buffing two of the Scarab Beetles with a banana each (courtesy of an earlier King Mukla by Sintolol). What this accomplished was Sintolol removing Scarabs while whittling down his own board, to a point where Swipe would have represented a huge swing to Justsaiyan’s favor. It’s likely that Justsaiyan anticipated the buffed 6/6 Hench-Clan Thug swinging into the 2/6 Scarab, presenting the best Swipe target while further reducing Sintolol’s board integrity. By holding on to the coin, Justsaiyan was able to pair the Swipe with his Death Knight, opting to summon two Frost Widows (poisonous spiders) to further threaten any chance Sintolol had to develop a substantial enough board to end the game. The spiders also gave Justsaiyan more freedom to cast Ultimate Infestation the following turn, safely closing out the game with his health and board superiority.

These factors, along with the fatigue damage after casting Myra’s Unstable Element and a lack of Leeroy Jenkins, forced a concede from Sintolol, thus tying up the series. Losing this game would have otherwise meant Justsaiyan facing against Shudderwock Shaman up to three times, which despite being favorable Justsaiyan, would have prolonged Sintolol’s opportunities to win the series.

Ultimate Infestation has enough impact to force big swings on its own, but Justsaiyan resisted this temptation and set up a line of play that more effectively shut out Sintolol from the game. The ability to consider a wide range of options and identify the most strategically advantageous play is one of the qualities Hearthstone audiences will expect to see more of from World-class contenders.

 

Languagehacker vs. RENMEN, 2-1

Shudderwock Shaman vs. Malygos Togwaggle Druid

Mihai “Languagehacker” Dragalin had five cards remaining. Among them were the critical Grumble and the second Saronite Chain Gang draws that would have made his Shudderwock combo more likely to go off. Zola the Gorgon and a Saronite from earlier in the game were the only means of keeping his combo alive. Though he sat at a comfortable thirty health, RENMEN had both a Ghoul Infestor from an Ultimate Infestation and an Arcane Tyrant, as well as one durability remaining on his Twig of the World Tree. Languagehacker faced the possibility of either getting bursted down for an incredible amount of damage with Malygos and RENMEN’s board state, or lose the most relevant combo piece in his deck the following turn.

With 11 cards remaining in RENMEN’s deck, Languagehacker took a game-winning risk and played his Shudderwock. What made the move rewarding were the two Glacial Shards that were also played from earlier in the game, freezing both the face and the Ghoul. This denied the Twig of the World Tree from activating that turn, which may have otherwise allowed RENMEN to steal Languagehacker’s Grumble and very likely bring the game to a 2-2. Had this been the case, Languagehacker would have been forced to play Shudderwock Shaman against RENMEN’s more favored Deathrattle Hunter.

The ability to recognize what plays had to be made in a given game state was one that Languagehacker demonstrated a mastery over with this critical, calculated risk.

 


There were some big developments following this weekend’s tournament. The HCT Fall Championship crowned Justsaiyan as the second ever 2-Star Master, and the first representing the Americas region. BloodTrail will only need four points to achieve 2-Star Master to do the same for the Asia region. With the October Balance patch launching on the 18th, we can expect to see a shake up of the competitive meta leading up to next weekend’s HCT Oakland. Regardless how pro players adjust to the new meta, we can look forward to seeing Bloodyface, BloodTrail, Justsaiyan and Languagehacker competing on Hearthstone’s biggest stage as the most recent four players to have qualified for the HCT World Championship.


TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!

Six Decks To Watch This Weekend

Six Decks To Watch This Weekend

The most notable difference between the Fall and Summer HCT Championships of 2018 is the number of unique deck archetypes that were brought. With $250,000 and a qualification for the HCT World Championship on the line, we did not expect more than two or three decks outside the norm. However, we’ve seen six unique decks, three of which are in Hatul’s lineup! Comparing this to the Summer Championship, viewers will find more excitement in the remaining days of the tournament. Lets see how these six decks did in the first two days of the Fall Championship.


Hatul’s Spell Hunter

Hatul began his initial match against Trunks’ Zoo with his Spell Hunter, taking advantage of an Explosive Trap and Emerald Spellstone on turn eight to force a response from his opponent. After removing one of these wolves, Trunks was two health away from dying the next turn, but Hatul had Deathstalker Rexxar up at the time and rolled a charging Crackling Razormaw, taking the game 1-0.

Though we can attribute this win to the combination of Spellstone and Death Knight, it’s worth noting that Rhok’delar was another value draw that had the potential to pile on lethal amounts of damage. Having another late-game bomb like Rhok’delar makes Spell Hunter less dependent on Deathstalker Rexxar to win otherwise difficult games.

In his Winner’s Match, Hatul opened with Spell Hunter once again, but lost to BloodTrail’s Even Warlock. With neither a Deathstalker Rexxar or Rhok’delar drawn by the late-game, Hatul eventually ran out of resources and lost to BloodTrail’s wide board and efficient hero power.

Hatul’s Big Druid

Hatul was able to take game two off of Trunks’ Zoo with his Big Druid. Trunks was presented a critical turn, where he could either play around Primordial Drake or Swipe. He opted to respect the drake and not trade more of his fragile board into Hatul’s four remaining Scarab Beatles. This left Hatul with the opportunity to use his one copy of Branching Paths to buff their attack and remove the rest of the board.

Where Malygos Druid doesn’t play Primordial Drake and Taunt Druid being unable to use Spreading Plague, Hatul’s Big Druid forced Trunks to respect both, which arguably won this critical second game for him.

BloodTrail’s Malygos Druid prevented Hatul from taking another game in his Winner’s Match. Hatul took a risky line by leaving BloodTrail’s Dreampetal Florist up for two turns, which reduced the cost of both Malygos and Flobbidinous Floop. Despite the massive board of dragons, BloodTrail swiped the board for 11 damage with two Malygos’ up. Hatul was unable to recover, and fell to his group’s Decider Match.

Secret Hunter

Bloodyface opened his initial match with Secret Hunter against DacRyvius’ Shudderwock Shaman. From Secretkeeper with a trap on turn three, Flanking Strike on turn five, and a fully-buffed Emerald Spellstone on turn six, DacRyvius was forced to use both Volcanos. This opened up Bloodyface to drop Bearshark and Houndmaster on turn seven, which went unanswered and gave the American player a 1-0 lead.

In his Winner’s Match against Sintolol, Bloodyface was down 0-1 when he queued the Secret Hunter list against Sintolol’s Shudderwock Shaman. Deathstalker Rexxar generated a stealthed Vicious Fledgling that Bloodyface was able to push through Sintolol’s defenses, rolling the Windfury buff, then rolling Stealth, leaving Sintolol vulnerable with two health and no taunts. Bloodyface then tied the series 1-1.

It was Bloodyface’s only deck between both matches that did not take a loss on Thursday. We will see how much further the Secret Hunter can go on Sunday’s Quarter Final.

Cube Warlock

RENMEN had just tied the series 1-1 when he queued Cube Warlock into Islandcat’s first attempt to get a win with his Malygos Druid. Without silences in the Druid deck, RENMEN was able to generate large Mountain Giant boards with his Carniverous Cube. In response to Islandcat’s Alexstrasza, RENMEN made a strong read and copied his Ziliax with Prince Taldaram to remove the dragon, heal up to 21, and survive Islandcat’s 20 damage in hand.

In the Winner’s Match, RENMEN was up 2-0 until he struggled to seal his Winner’s Match with Cubelock against Tyler. The series almost looked like a reverse sweep until Tyler’s King Krush and Katrina Winterwisp were unable to punch through RENMEN’s Voidwalkers and Ziliax to remove lethal. The magnetized Spiderbomb was unable to remove enough of the threat on board, winning RENMEN the series and his placement in Sunday’s Quarter Final.

Control Warlock

GoeLionKing lost to Sintolol’s Even Warlock and Taunt Druid before taking a win against Shudderwock Shaman, but lost the series when his Control Priest was unable to beat the Shudderwock combo. From the interview desk, Frodan relayed Sintolol’s comfort against LionKing’s line up, believing it would be a cruising victory.

It may even have seen that 3-0 had it not been for a miraculous Gnomeferatu. Demonic Project and Gnomeferatu will have to put in work tomorrow against a nearly identical line-up, but with DacRyvius playing Malygos Druid instead of Taunt Druid.

With better targets for Demonic Project against two combo-oriented decks, it’s likely we may see the Control Warlock get another win.

Odd Warrior

Hatul’s Warrior was banned in both matches by Trunks and BloodTrail. After his victory against Trunks, Kibler would tell Frodan how he loved seeing unusual deck building decisions being rewarded. This Odd Warrior was forced to be banned by Trunks to have a chance with his aggro-oriented line up, and by BloodTrail for his Even Warlock and Malygos Druid to have a chance.

We’re likely to see it banned again in the Decider Match if LPTrunks eliminates lnguagehackr on Day Three, but hope to see it in action at some point this weekend.


In a game where bringing the right line-up can make or break a tournament run, players are often tempted to bring the most objectively powerful decks. This weekend’s 2018 HCT Fall Championship is no exception, with nine out of the 16 players bringing Malygos Druid, nine bringing Odd Rogue, and five playing both.

This strategy has had it’s successes in the past, especially in last year’s Knights of the Frozen Throne meta. Highlander Priest, Tempo Rogue and Jade Druid saw regular appearances as the unholy trio of Hearthstone for many months, both in tournaments and on the standard ladder. However, in contrast to the results above, bringing two of the most popular decks of the tournament did not provide the strong start nearly half of this weekend’s players were looking for.

Of the five players to bring both Malygos Druid and Odd Rogue, four of them (each from separate groups) lost their initial matches, and are at risk of being eliminated from the championship tomorrow. Only Bloodyface from Group A won his first match, as well as beating Sintolol to qualify for Sunday’s Quarter Final! Of the four players to bring a unique archetype, two of them qualified to Sunday’s Quarter Finals (Bloodyface and RENMEN), one is competing in Group C’s Decider Match (Hatul), and the other is at risk of being eliminated from Group A (GoeLionKing).

These results give the appearance of more creative line-ups being a success factor in tournaments, but a fuller analysis will have to wait for another day. For now, we’ll be watching Day Three to see if GoeLionKing and Hatul will be able to take their unique deck choices to Sunday’s Quarter Final, and if Bloodyface and RENMEN will be rewarded for their line ups on Sunday with a guaranteed spot in the HCT World Championship.

Decklist images courtesy of hearthstonetopdecks.com


TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!

From the Editor: What is TopDeck?

From the Editor: What is TopDeck?

We are a group of card gamers who have collectively been involved in the industry for many years; as players, content creators, tournament organizers, and more.

What we have in common is our belief in the positive influence content can make on a gamer. From personal experience, we know reading a well-written guide can be their first step towards winning a game night. Or a local qualifier. Or a championship.

Our goal for TopDeck is to provide deck guides and strategic updates from our team of knowledgeable and passionate card gamers to you, the reader. We plan for TopDeck to grow as a platform for players to cultivate skills, share knowledge, and grow their card gaming communities. Follow @TopDeckGG to stay tuned for these updates.

Check out our first Artifact article, an interview with StanCifka where he shares his impressions of the Gauntlet, and its potential for competitive play. We will also release Hearthstone content covering the HCT Fall Championship over the weekend.

As a casual gamer or future champion, we thank you for reading TopDeck!

Glen Tokola, Editor in Chief

glen@topdeck.gg


TopDeck is a site owned and run by G-Loot, most famously known for GLL – one of the most premiere PUBG leagues in the world. Follow @TopDeckGG for articles, updates and more!