Match 5: Tim vs. Chris
Tim: I play my new 'Cheesy Trees' deck. It's a modified version of the druid 'control' deck which won DreamHack 2014—so add plagiarism to the charge sheet. By about turn four it becomes clear that my strategy is a bust. I fail to get the Innervates and Wild Growths I need to accelerate my mana curve. The worst thing is I don't even die quickly, as Chris has to meticulously chew through my forlorn line of taunters. By the time it's over, I'm checking the terms of his contract.
Chris: Tim's early mana growth has me worried, but I've got just enough damage to keep clearing the board in my favour. This is where I like to position myself—just ahead, forcing a reaction from my opponent rather than the other way around.
Tim: Having deleted my Cheesy Trees deck in a fit of pique, I switch back to the hunter for what I suspect will be my swansong. Once again I fail to draw the necessary cards to play the despicable but effective Unleash The Hounds - Timber Wolf - Starving Buzzard combo. I would pinpoint my failure on my refusal to kill his Bloodfen Raptor with my Kill Command when I had the chance, and then mistiming my Eaglehorn Bow - Explosive Trap gambit. You can't afford to make one error against a decent player, much less two. I'm left to seethe as Chris delivers a comedy coup de grace—which he then proceeds to recap for me, in detail, as I'm trying to storm out of the office.
Chris: I'm trying to be too cute with a Flesh-Eating Ghoul - Lightning Storm combo, and it means I don't play optimally early on. Tim might have failed to kill my Bloodfen Raptor, but I don't use it well enough, either. It's the first time I've felt really uncomfortable so far. I draw Elite Tauren Chieftain, the comedy legendary that was given out at BlizzCon. It's a hugely risky card—it gives both you and your opponent a random spell. I play it anyway, because, you know, why not. The lights dim, there's a spotlight and blaring guitar metal. I get lucky, and make my flamboyant entrance into the final.
Tim's final words: This whole experience is one that will haunt me for some time to come. I actually felt a horrific sense of performance anxiety, and as Sam observed, you're left feeling latent rage and confusion even hours later. Go videogames!
Match 6: Pip vs. Tom
Pip: It's a struggle to beat Tom and his stupid mage, especially because I'm also still trash-talking Sam in the background. I haven't drawn a single Wild Growth and consequently struggle to stay ahead as I can't play minions ahead of when they normally appear in the game. Shortly afterwards I have no cards in my hand and no minions on the board. Then, Starfire! The Hearthstone gods are smiling down upon me as I punch Tom's mage to death. Hurrah!
Tom: “I'm sorry!” says Pip as she turns over the last card of game one, her tone betraying a curious combination of shame and glee. It had been a long, hard-fought battle, full of tricky minion exchanges and crunchy combat. Despite being many health-points behind Pip, I'd secured a winning position with a sliver of health, only to have to watch it torn away by the draw of a direct damage card. The throb of disappointment lodged in my gut dissipates as I draw a couple of early Fireballs and Flamestrikes. I'm lucky enough to draw taunt cards as the turns progress, and with all of my direct damage cards available for the entire fight, I'm well placed to paste any major threats. Pip's huge 8/8 taunting tree bastards present a few fearful moments, but it's nothing I can't solve with Polymorph and a cheeky two-mana fireball. Sheep hate fire just as much as trees. Game three is another meat grinder. I never feel as though the match is getting out of control. Some surgical Fireballs give me the damage output advantage I need to grind out a final victory and go on to face the final boss: Chris.
Pip: I should have tried something different as clearly my druid deck just isn't the right counter to Tom's mage, but I can't remember what's in most of my other decks (I am the anti-Tim). It's a slow death for my hopes in the competition. AVENGE ME, CHRISTOPHER!
Pip's final words: By the third game using the same simple deck Tom knows just how to deal with me. Switching decks would have created uncertainty and enabled me to try and bait out key cards like Polymorph before completely ruining his day.