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.
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.
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.
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.
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