BlizzCon Opening Week kicked off today with Day 1 of the Hearthstone World Championship Group Stage. Each day between now and Sunday each group will play a single match progressing towards the point where a winner and runner-up will be crowned, advancing to the Bracket Stage next week at the actual BlizzCon expo. Ultimately, the winner will claim $250,000 in prize money for themselves and the title of third ever Hearthstone World Champion.
Below we recap each series, provide those decklists, list the records for each deck and player, review the current standings and look towards tomorrow's matches. In addition, see how many packs your champion has won in the Choose Your Champion promotion!
Cydonia vs Handsomeguy
One of the tournament favorites due to his victories in the Spring and Summer Asia-Pacific HCT Championships and his runner-up finish in Winter, Handsomeguy came into this matchup as the clear favorite. With both players banning each other's Midrange Shamans, they proceeded to blind pick into a Secret Hunter mirror match. Cydonia lucked into a stronger opening hand including Secretkeeper and Kindly Grandmother for some early pressure. To make matters worse, at least for Handsomeguy, he started with a slow hand and need to spend his removal very early on in the game. Already on the front foot, Cydonia opts to play Tracking and is rewarded with his second Kill Command putting him very close to lethal already. Though he looked to stabilize with a Taunted Stranglethorn Tiger, it ultimately remained in Stealth for too long which let Cydonia claim game one.
Moving onto his Spell Druid, Cydonia then found himself facing a Control Warrior which can be quite the challenge if he doesn't ramp quickly enough. Fortunately for him, he does and manages to get a full hand's worth of discounts out of Emperor Thaurissan while his opponent continues to try and stabilize with an on curve via Elise Starseeker and Justicar Trueheart. Ragnaros the Firelord comes down, however, and puts Handsomeguy dangerously close to death. And with the sheer number of cards in hand Cydonia is able to burst him down with Malygos.
Halfway to defeat, Handsomeguy returns to his Midrange Shaman and successfully targets Cydonia's Tempo Mage, generally considered to be a favored matchup. However, another slow start means that once again supporters of the Korean Hearthstone star were probably feeling a bit nervous. Once again, due to his strong opening hand Cydonia pushes Handsomeguy to the brink of defeat.
With only Cydonia's C'Thun Warrior left, Handsomeguy does the smart thing and keeps his Midrange Hunter on the table in hopes of scoring a win when the odds are in his favor. His first few turns are finally on curve as he continued to push damage into the face of the Warrior. Despite being within one damage of lethal on Turn 6, Cydonia stabilizes and sweep Handsomeguy in the first round.
Bbgungun vs Naiman
Our match of the day, the American Bbgungun and Naiman of Kazakhstan went to a full seven games. Things kicked off with the exact same Tempo Mage vs Midrange Hunter bout with Naiman piloting the former. Very much a battle of board presence, he manages to build his up, but Bbgungun defies the odds and put him back down with sticky minions which leave Naiman unable to stop the onslaught in time.
With Naiman's decks teched against Midrange Shaman, Bbgungun willingly chooses to try and get it out of the way. Despite playing well and being granted good draws early on, he's punished by Flamestrike. However, he quickly rebuilds his board and puts the pressure back on Naiman. With his hand running low, he begins to play conservatively as to not overcommit which leaves the door slightly ajar for his opponent This ultimately bites him as he falls just short of lethal and a Babbling Book generates another Flamestrike to seal the game.
With an accurate read, Bbgungun manages to queue his Tempo Mage into Naiman's Spell Druid, an extremely favorable situation. Through a series of what were likely misplays, Naiman gets his Malygos copied by Mirror Entity which seems horrendous as the Mage has two Firelands Portals in hand. However, these aren't targeted at the face and are instead used for removal which ultimately makes a huge difference later in the game when Naiman's Yogg-Saron, Hope's End wrests back control of the board and leaves Bbgungun with no answers.
At this point, the stress is getting to the American player. While trying to keep the Naiman's Warrior from building too large of an armor barrier, Bbgungun's Firelands Portal spits out a Gurubashi Berserker which is huge for this matchup. Naiman was already lacking much of a board and had already used a good amount of removal. In addition, his opponent was able to get the now enraged Berserker behind a wall from Mirror Image. He ultimately wastes a lot of health and resources dealing with this and that allows Bbgungun to force Game 5.
Afterward, Bbgungun claims a quick victory with his Shaman, but isn't able to burst down the Control Warrior with his Discardlock and the series finally comes to a head. In what was a very close aggro match where every point of damage and top-deck ultimately decides who wins, Bbgungun comes out on top and sends Naiman to the loser's bracket.
Breath vs DrHippi
A spell Druid showdown started things off as Breath opens the game with multiple Wild Growths which force Hippi to spend his early ramp cheating out Mire Keepers. The game then quickly becomes a slugfest. Breath drops an Arcane Giant, Hippi removes it and then answers with his own. Breath responds by dropping Malygos and destroying it with spells. Even though Hippi plays to his one out, he doesn't draw the necessary win conditions and drops game one.
Though it looks like Breath will back that up with another victory through his aggressive Shaman deck, Hippi continues to remove as many minions as possible before top-decking a Fireball which is enough to draw the series even. His second attempt, this time against Spell Druid is successful, however. He coins out two Tunnel Troggs into Totem Golem followed by Flametongue Totem which is already enough to close the game out by Turn 5.
Secret Hunter is a deck that really needs to get rolling and keep rolling if it hopes to eek out a victory. Against DrHippi's Spell Druid it struggled to do so, especially when a rogue Raven Idol allows him to cast Mark of Nature on an Arcane Giant. Despite this, Breath manages to draw incredibly close to zeroing out his opponent's life total but a Yogg-Saron, Hope's End into Curse of Rafaam and Headcrack causes him to lose the game.
Overall, this series was already weighted towards DrHippi due to the fact that Breath is running Freeze Mage, something Hippi's decks are very prepared to deal with. Its first test came in Game 4 against Midrange Shaman. It went poorly. Forced to Polymorph a Tunnel Trogg, it looks like his stalling would come too little too late. But instead of panicking and playing Frost Nova, he chooses to wait for an additional turn which ends up giving him the second part of his board clearing combo: Doomsayer. It's clear that he now has a legitimate chance, even if he is on the back foot. Turn after turn he continues to stall and Hippi keeps drawing what are essentially dead cards which let his Freeze Mage escape scot-free in its first appearance.
As is customary, Breath, piloting Secret Hunter, the faster deck looks to then burst down Hippi's Midrange Shaman before it can respond. He does reasonably well doing so, but Feral Spirit and Thing from Below ends up being too much to overcome as the series goes to Game 7.
The match is ultimately decided by Secret Hunter against Secret Hunter. This is a matchup where initiative really matters since cards like Secretkeeper can entirely dictate whether or not you can play secrets. DrHippi claims control of this for himself to start things off and even though Breath tries his hardest to get it back, Hippi gets a ton of value by activating Eaglehorn Bow's ability multiple times. This ultimately makes the difference and puts DrHippi into the winner's bracket.
DDaHyoNi vs OmegaZero
Using his Spell Druid, DDaHyoNi prioritizes ramp rather than card draw while OmegaZero keeps his hand full and his options open. Since decklists were made available prior to the competition, DDaHyoNi is well aware of OmegaZero's Polymorph: Boar and plays slightly afraid of it at first. He makes the switch into the aggressor position but a lucky Firelands Portal lets the Mage set him to one health via the summoned Doomguard. Luckily, the Druid has a total of 18 points of healing across health and armor to try and keep itself alive. Two Yogg-Saron, Hope's End casts both go in the favor of OmegaZero as DDaHyoNi's immediately Polymorph: Boars itself, allowing Omega to close out the game.
The series moves on to Secret Hunter (DDaHyoNi) versus Midrange Shaman (OmegaZero) and importantly the former is going first. This allows the Hunter to strike first and bounce back the Totem Golem to the Shaman's hand, something it never recovers from. DDaYoNi claims Game 2.
One of the few players to bring the token version of Spell Druid, OmegaZero goes on the aggressive Innervate-ing out his Fandral Staghelm out on turn one. It works out at first, but sadly he starts drawing into either expensive minions or removal spells, neither of which help him push more damage before the Warrior gets out of hand. However, in a single turn through a series of spells cycled by Wrath, he manages to discount his Arcane Giants enough to make them problematic. And after a catastrophic Brawl, DDaHyoNi falls once again.
Unfortunately for DDaHyoNi, the rest of the series is history. His Warrior was yet again unable to stop the onslaught, this time at the hands of a Midrange Shaman and his Tempo Mage wasn't able to keep up with the early game pressure of OmegaZero's Dragon Warrior.
Decklists + Record
Match of the Day
Tomorrow's matches are the first for the remaining competitors with the stakes the same as today. Winners get to stay at the top of the bracket while losers move within one match of elimination.
- Jasonzhou vs ThijsNL - Group A
- che0nsu vs Hamster - Group B
- Amnesiac vs Yulsic - Group C
- Pavel vs HotMEOWTH - Group D
Choose Your Champion Standings
Blizzard has announced a special Choose Your Champion event for Hearthstone. Players around the world were able to make their pick as to who they think will come out on top as the 2016 Hearthstone World Champion. For each best-of-seven series the player wins during the course of the tournament, participants will earn a TGT pack up to a total of six (including the free pack everyone gets for participating).
- Cydonia: 2 Packs
- Bbgungun: 2 Packs
- DrHippi: 2 Packs
- OmegaZero: 2 Packs
- Handsomeguy: 1 Pack
- Naiman: 1 Pack
- Breath: 1 Pack
- DDaHyoNi: 1 Pack