This weekend sees the Hearthstone World Championship reach its shuddering climax, as eight players do battle at BlizzCon over a million dollar prizepool. These young knives—and they do mostly seem very young—have had to grind unimaginably hard just to get to this point, from putting in crazy consistent ladder finishes to making their way through tournament after stacked tournament—all to get a shot at the crown.
Whoever emerges as winner of Saturday’s final series will do so with a cool $250,000 in their pocket, not to mention the passive aggressive admiration of r/hearthstone to enjoy. Whether they have their own canny deckbuilding or a disgusting Yogg to thank remains to be seen. In order to enhance your spectating pleasure on Twitch, I’ve put together a primer on the credentials of the players. Enjoy, and don’t forget to back your champion on Battle.net to earn packs as they win matches.
Team: NRG | Nationality: America | Twitter
Amnesiac, or the “Young Savage”, as he now largely seems to be known, is the quintessential Hearthstone child prodigy. Whether it’s competing at tennis or giving his own Ted talk, most things seems to come easily to the absurdly precocious 16 year-old (even skipping) and Hearthstone is no exception. The 2016 Americas Winter champion is young, talented and very much the favorite to take home the big prize.
But Hearthstone is not a game where the favorite always triumphs. Just because it feels like this wunderkind is going to lay waste to his opponents doesn’t actually mean he will. One thing’s for sure: if he does win, Captain America Jr’s smugness will be unbearable.
Team: Virtus.pro | Nationality: Ukraine | Twitter
DrHippi dyed his hair orange for the World Championship finals and, honestly, that’s fantastic. This, and the fact that he actually pretended not to speak English at the European Championships, make the Ukrainian player a personal favourite of mine.
Madcap Ukrainian banter aside, DrHippi is undeniably one of the best control players in the world. This is a guy who once piloted Freeze Mage to Legend rank in under 100 games (although he has opted for Tempo Mage in his BlizzCon lineup). Dragon Warrior is something of a surprise inclusion from a player with such a calculating reputation, but I doubt he’ll have too much difficulty piloting such a straightforward deck. One to consider backing.
Team: Escape Gaming | Nationality: Canada| Twitter
Cydonia is somehow incredibly calm all of the time. This should serve him well at BlizzCon: the stress involved with high-stakes Hearthstone often leads players to overthink simple decisions, which can have disastrous consequences. Cydonia’s laid-back nature should see him respond to the pressure well.
In terms of his deck lineup, Cydonia made one change: he swapped his C’thun Warrior out for N’zoth warrior. Arguably the Canadian’s worst game in Top 16 was when his C’thun Warrior faltered vs JasonZhou’s N’zoth warrior after a few questionable decisions on Cydonia’s part. It’s certainly possible this influenced his decision to change the deck. Cydonia doesn’t stand out as one of the favourites, but he’s a solid player and could be a dark horse for the title.
Team: None | Nationality: South Korea | Twitter
Che0nsu has an absolutely phenomenal recent record. Between Asia’s Last Call and World Championship Top 16, Che0nsu's record is 5-0 vs the absolute highest quality of opposition.
It’s also important to note that Che0nsu amassed 89 HTC points through ladder and open cups over the course of the year in order to even earn the right to participate in the Last Call—so there can be no question he is a seriously well-practiced and experienced player. However, his play was not flawless in the the Top 16, and it remains to be seen if he can prove himself on the biggest stage.
Team: None | Nationality: Russia | Twitter
For a long time Pavel’s somewhat dubious claim to fame was his catastrophic misplay vs Lifecoach in last year’s European championships. And that was a really unfair thing, because if you take away that one blunder, the consistency of Pavel’s results is remarkable. Just look at his winrate: 73% over 110 career tournament games. In Hearthstone that’s seriously impressive, and Pavel’s raw numbers are arguably the best of any player in the world.
He also took part in the best series of the Top 16, in which he completed a reverse sweep of OmegaZero to seal his place at BlizzCon. Here, you can see Pavel masterfully controlling the outcome of various RNG effects to assure victory, which is always a good skill to have. Pavel is really, really good and should be viewed alongside Amnesiac and DrHippi as one of the favourites.
Team: None | Nationality: America | Twitter
I’m rooting for HotMEOWTH because he has the best name of anyone in this tournament. The lower-case/capital contrast, the beautifully stressed emphasis on the final syllable, and the inclusion of my favourite cat Pokémon—all big contributors to the perfection that is his name.
But hear me out on this—there’s more to HotMEOWTH’s success than just his baller name. He’s part of the team that created the formidable Data Reaper project—a means of predicting results in Hearthstone based on massive amounts of ladder stats. And that same data predicted him to win the America’s championship, which he did. Preparation is HotMEOWTH’s greatest strength, which is why when he submits an absolutely bonkers Blood Warriors deck in his final lineup, you know he has a very good reason for it.
Team: EStar | Nationality: China
JasonZhou is a player who commands a lot of respect in the pro Hearthstone community—as well he should. He has banked countless high legend finishes, and his exploits in the Top 16 bracket were considerable, taking down the much-vaunted Thijs as well as NA champ Cydonia.
Curiously, JasonZhou abandoned his beloved Control Warrior in favour of Dragon Warrior for his final BlizzCon lineup. But I can respect it. Sometimes you just have to embrace the SMOrc.
Team: None | Nationality: China
A little-known player who qualified through China’s Last Chance tournament, Hamster is undoubtedly the most unheralded of our BlizzCon competitors. But he will forever be remembered, because he made it to Blizzcon with N’Zoth Priest. And he’s bringing it with him to the Top 8, baby!
What I enjoyed most about Hamster’s performance in the Top 16 of Worlds was how dismayed his opponents looked when they lost to Priest. See for yourself the slow build-up of agony that one of Hamster’s opponents, BBgungun, had to endure as it became increasingly clear that he was actually going to lose to Priest.
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