This insane Hearthstone championship match all started with a godly opener

After just one day, the 2017 Hearthstone Championship Tour finale has already spawned one of the craziest competitive matches in recent memory. I was standing in the tournament's Amsterdam theater when players DocPwn and Tom60229 squared off in the Group A winner's round, and their third game was truly a sight to behold. 

Doc gets off to a flying start with the Tempo Rogue dreambot draw: Prince Keleseth and Shadowstep, with a Corridor Creeper for good measure. His minions are all going to have +2/+2 for the rest of the game. Adding injury to injury, he mulligans Bonemare and picks up Southsea Captain to pull a double-buffed Patches the Pirate after his princely second turn. 

Tom, meanwhile, is facing every Druid's nightmare: a handful of ramp and nothing to spend it on. With just two Wild Growth and two Jade Blossom to fend off Doc's godly opener, it looks over for Tom. But the best is yet to come. 

By burning both Jade Idols and ramping four mana by turn five, Tom buys enough time to draw cards with a hail mary Nourish. Doc has a board full of oversized pirates. Tom needs a Swipe. He gets one. Suddenly Doc has nothing while Tom has 10 mana and an Ultimate Infestation ready to draw more cards on his next turn. Has the table been flipped?

This was supposed to be a blowout. What happened?

Doc responds with more tried-and-true neutral aggro: Cobalt Scalebane and a free Corridor Creeper. Five-mana 15/12, not bad. Tom blasts the buffed Creeper with UI, drawing into a free Arcane Tyrant and a buffed Jasper Spellstone. A free 4/4 and cheap removal is a good start. Tom is behind on the board but has gas in the tank, including another Swipe and a Spreading Plague to hand. He's got options and he's got mana. What does Doc have?

Using a stolen Wild Growth (courtesy of a 3/3 Swashburglar), Doc ramps toward his 10/10 Lich King. But that's all he does. Finally, a weak turn. Tom seizes the opening, pulling Fandral Staghelm with Oaken Summons, gaining six armor and buffing his Spellstone again in the process. Together with Swipe, the Spellstone clears Doc's board, leaving Tom ahead on board by three sizable minions. This was supposed to be a blowout. What happened?

Doc bets it all on Lich King, which gives him Army of the Dead, a unique that can summon up to five minions at once. But thanks to an attack boost from Branching Paths, Tom has lethal on board. Doc has to pull one of his Taunts—his two buffed Saronite Chain Gang—with Army of the Dead to survive. He does. Not only that, he pulls two 7/7s and two 4/3s, putting 26/25 of minion on the board for six mana. Tom has no way through, and now Doc is the one threatening lethal. 

Tom puts out as much power as he can with Aya Blackpaw and barely denies lethal by hiding behind Ironwood Golem's Taunt. Doc throws down another Saronite Chain Gang, putting his face behind 10 more points of Taunt. Vilespine Slayer kills Tom's Golem, leaving him with only one out: Spreading Plague. Tom is safe for now but Doc's board is massive, and he's drawn into an 8/4 Leeroy Jenkins that's ready to charge. 

With no answers in hand, Tom draws with Wrath's second effect while killing off Doc's last taunt, giving his 7/7 Jade Golem a path to Doc's face. Miraculously, Tom rips his second Spreading Plague off Wrath. His rebuilt scarab wall gives him time to beat Doc down over two turns. At this point, much of the audience is on their feet. Doc's head is in his hands, and Tom's is on his keyboard. 

With the help of Bonemare's buff, Doc breaks through the wall and clears Tom's board. Doc is at six life. Tom is at 15. Tom's second Ultimate Infestation puts him one damage off lethal, but he blasts Doc with it anyway, knowing he's dead next turn. In the face of Doc's overwhelming board, Tom finally concedes—nearly a dozen turns after we all thought he would. 

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.