The Hearthstone Americas Championship took place this weekend here in sunny San Francisco, and I was there to sip craft beer and watch Ryan "Purple" Murphy triumph over Dylan "Hotform" Mullins in an all-Canadian final. In addition to being crowned champion of the Americas, Purple also won a cool $10,000. He and Hotform will now go to the World Championships at BlizzCon in November, along with fellow qualifiers from the Americas region Justin "Jab" Black and Victor "Nias" Shelstad. We’ll have interviews with all four here on PC Gamer Pro later this week, but in the meantime here are my three favourite games from the weekend.
In each case the video is set to start at the beginning of the game in question.
Trump (Druid) vs Jab (Mage)
If there has been a criticism of Trump during his transition from arena god to constructed tournament contender, it’s been that he plays it safe too often, favouring high-value trades over riskier lines of play. Well, not at the Americas Championship. With his Druid low on life in the final game Trump opted to go all in against Jab’s Mage. Trump chose not clear Jab’s Flame Waker with Swipe, and instead dropped Harrison Jones on the board and sent his other creatures to Jabs’s face. The logic here was that Jab was out of cards and would need to draw exactly Fireball to finish the game next turn. As you’ve probably guessed, Trump gets heavily punished by that call, but in a far more ridiculous way than anyone expected. As Jab's Spellsinger hits the board Trump’s face says it all, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he retreats back to more cautious lines in the future.
Purple (Handlock) vs Coreia (Warrior)
This match between the eventual champion Purple and Brazilian player Coreia was notable for a couple of reasons. Firstly, note how aggressively Purple used Lord Jaraxxus. Traditionally considered a last resort card to be played as the game heads into fatigue, Purple instead opted to play the demon on curve (and, crucially, into a favourable board state) which put Coreia under huge pressure by forcing him to answer a fresh 6/6 2-mana Infernal every turn for the rest of the game. Interestingly, Coreia had successfully used the exact same tactic in the previous series. The other thing to commend about Purple’s play is how he handled the turn in which both players have Sylvanas on the board, sequencing his attacks correctly before using Shadowflame to ensure he wouldn’t miss out on any damage due to the minion stealing effect. It’s that kind of smart play under pressure that champs are made of.
Hotform (Warrior) vs Jab (Hunter)
Well, in case you needed one, here’s an example of how an RNG-heavy card can completely swing a game—but also how failing to play around its effect can be your downfall. On turn two Jab plays King’s Elek, which triggers a ‘joust’ that he wins, drawing Ram Wrangler in the process. Despite knowing that Jab now has Ram Wrangler in hand, Hotform then opts not to clear Jab’s Haunted Creeper on turn four, meaning that when Ram Wrangler is played on the following turn it's able to summon a free random beast. And hoo boy does Rammy pick just about the best one. It’s a disaster for Hotform, unquestionably costing him the game, but perhaps in another universe that same Ram Wrangler summoned a Captain’s Parrot and Hotform cleared up the next turn with the axe and Armorsmith. These are the brutal gambles of which competitive Hearthstone is made.