A lucky 7 turned this Hearthstone championship match into a clown fiesta

At a press conference ahead of his quarter-final match against Sintolol, Fr0zen admitted he didn't expect to win. Fr0zen's decks were tuned to beat aggro, while Sinto's top-heavy lineup was designed to prey on control. It was Fr0zen's worst possible matchup. He anticipated grueling rounds that would go into fatigue and inevitably result in him losing the value game. Yet somehow, he made it to game five—which turned into the tightest, most ridiculous tie-breaker of the 2017 Hearthstone Championship Tour's finale.

It's Fr0zen's Control Mage against Sinto's Dragon Combo Priest. Sinto is the only player who brought this Priest build to the tournament, and he's the only player besides Fr0zen who brought Mage. Fr0zen wants to grind Sinto out of resources, while Sinto is trying to build a giant minion and one- or two-shot Fr0zen. For the first few turns, it's a fairly normal game. But then Fr0zen starts gambling. 

This must be what it's like to play chess with nothing but knights.

Sinto lands a 3/7 Kabal Talonpriest and a 4/6 Twilight Drake by turn five. If he can buff them with his staple Divine Spirit and Inner Fire combo, either minion could end Fr0zen's tournament very quickly. Already feeling pressured, Fr0zen goes for his first Dragon's Fury, which reveals a random spell and deals AoE damage equal to its cost. Fr0zen's already drawn most of his low-cost spells by this point, so his chances are fairly good, but he still has to roll a six or more to clear (with help from his 2/3 Arcanologist). And he does: Firelands Portal, a seven-cost spell. The board is clear, Sinto's wincing behind his hands, and Fr0zen can breathe easy for now.

After a few more turns, Sinto lands another Twilight Drake and finds both Divine Spirit and Inner Fire. Fr0zen is staring down a 10/10 and another 4/7 with six life to his name. He's got another Dragon's Fury in hand, but 10 health is too much to handle this turn. He pulls out Sinto's Wild Pyromancer with Dirty Rat and stalls with a Blizzard. With no Meteor or Polymorph to handle Sinto's enormous minions, he's going to have to high-roll again.

Sinto adds a 5/6 Drakonid Operative to the board. Fr0zen runs his Dirty Rat into Sinto's 10/10 and rolls Dragon's Fury. It shows Firelands Portal. Another seven. With a prayer and a ping, Fr0zen has wiped the board again. Sinto is running out of minions. Half his combo pieces are gone and he's low on dragons and buffs. He really doesn't have a leg to stand on—until he finds another Drakonid Operative. That Drakonid Operative discovers Fr0zen's Frost Lich Jaina Death Knight. This is now a very different game. 

Fr0zen's Skulking Geist eats Sinto's last Inner Fire, and Sinto plays his Jaina immediately, inviting a wave of 'oohs' from the crowd at the tournament's Amsterdam theater, which has grown much thicker since the first day. "Now who's the Mage?" asks caster Brian Kibler. A roar of applause comes when Fr0zen draws his own Jaina just two turns later. He plays it on his next turn. The game is on. 

What follows is a napkin math, Water Elemental slug fest. Unafraid of fatigue damage, Fr0zen draws into a Meteor and a Polymorph off Arcane Intellect, but he can't play them immediately without giving Sinto more one-health minions to spawn Elementals. Sinto weakens his own Water Elemental with Twilight Acolyte to trade it in, put Fr0zen's minion to one health, and use his hero power to summon another Elemental. The trouble is, he's down to three cards. Sinto responds by pinging his own Elemental, putting it to three health so Sinto can't trade into it and ping it himself. This must be what it's like to play chess with nothing but knights. 

Sinto plays the last cards in his deck: a naked Duskbreaker and a Northshire Cleric. He's all in. Fr0zen has nothing but two 2/2 Raven Familiars and another Ice Block in hand. He draws and plays his last card: the same Firelands Portal which fueled his Dragon's Furies. It's his third seven, and you'd better believe it's a jackpot. Out of all the five-cost minions in the game, it summons an Arcane Tyrant, a 4/4 elemental which has lifesteal thanks to Jaina's effect. Sinto is now irreparably behind in the Water Elemental arms race. He concedes, rocketing Fr0zen into the semi-finals. Sinto will walk away with $50,000, while Fr0zen is now guaranteed at least $100,000. 

"If you don't like that series, you don't like Hearthstone," caster Frodan says at the end. 

Austin Wood
Staff writer, GamesRadar

Austin freelanced for PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and has been a full-time writer at PC Gamer's sister publication GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a staff writer is just a cover-up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news, the occasional feature, and as much Genshin Impact as he can get away with.