The New Year is well and truly underway, and the Hearthstone tournament scene has roared back into gear. Last weekend saw no fewer than four tournaments in four days, as well as the final days of the first ladder season that awarded points for the 2015 Hearthstone World Championships.
There’s no better time than the start of the year to begin the Daily Dot’s monthly Hearthstone power rankings. In this list (which we admit is entirely subjective!) we will consider tournament wins, ladder rankings and other achievements in order to bring you a list of 10 people who made an impact on the competitive scene in the past calendar month.
1) Firebat, Archon
The reigning and defending world champion, James “Firebat” Kostesich got his title defense off to a good start in January, finishing ranked no. 2 in the legend rankings in the Americas. Kostesich was one of the top two seeds in his region last year, meaning he got a bye through to the second round of qualification, a performance he will likely be keen to repeat. Away from ladder he maintained a consistent tournament record, coming second in both Battle of the Best and Kinguin Winter.
2) Lovelychook, Newbee
Chinese Hearthstone does not always get the attention it deserves, but China played host to January’s biggest Hearthstone tournament. With nearly $50,000 on the line, it was a relative unknown (at least in the West) who took home the Gold Series trophy, a guy known only as “”lovelychook.” In doing so he also qualified to lead the Chinese team in the CN vs EU Season 2 event in March. That success also landed a job with one of China’s top teams, Newbee.
3) Kolento, Cloud9
Once considered the top player in the world, Aleksandr “Kolento” Malsh has had a difficult time since winning DreamHack Winter last November. With only one win since taking that title, Malsh finally snapped that losing streak last month, winning the Kinguin Winter 2015 tournament. In the same weekend, he also claimed the no. 2 spot in the EU legend rankings for January, putting himself in a good position to once again qualify for the World Championships.
4) Savjz, Team Liquid
Janne “Savjz” Mikkonen had another solid month. The Team Liquid player took third place in his native Finland at the Assembly Festival, after having already won the Inven Invitational earlier in the month. He was also victorious in week eight of the ESL Legendary Series, booking himself a place in next month’s $20k finals.
5) Vortex, LowLandLions
With big names like Marcin “Gnimsh” Filipowicz, Peter “Gaara” Stevanovic and Mikkonen part of the lineup at 2015’s first LAN event, it was in fact relative unknown Teun “Vortex” Eielts who took the title at Assembly Festival. As if winning a LAN in the face of experienced competition was not enough, Eielts did it with a 16-1 record in games sweeping Filip “Numberguy” Samuelson of SK Gaming in the final 4-0.
6) StrifeCro, Cloud9
Cloud9 enjoyed a successful month and re-asserted themselves as arguably the strongest team in Hearthstone—evidenced by the fact they are the only team to have two players in this list. Cong “StrifeCro” Shu, not to be outdone by his teammate Kolento, won the Pinnacle 2 tournament with a pair of victories over Adrian “Lifecoach” Koy in the finals to take home $2,500 in prize money and another title for his team.
7) Reynad, Tempo Storm
Tempo Storm founder Andrey “Reynad” Yanyuk had a month he won’t soon forget. He won his first Hearthstone tournament title, Battle of the Best, beating world champion Kostesich in the final 3-0. Winning the tournament will silence many who have questioned Yanyuk’s ability to compete at the highest level—especially since he also finished second in the Inven Invitational this month.
8) Lifecoach, Nihilum
Adrian “Lifecoach” Koy now finds himself on a top-tier team for the first time, joining Nihilum alongside Dima “Rdu” Radu, Thijs “ThijsNL” Molendjik, and Jakub “Lothar” Szygulski. In tournaments, Koy finished second in the Pinnacle 2, coming through the loser’s bracket to make it to the final after topping his group.
After making it through the qualifier, Dimitris “Dethelor” Theodoropoulos had to overcome DDoS attacks and a strong group on his way to finishing third in The Pinnacle 2. Following the tournament, Theodoropoulos also joined Clan Lucky Strike.
Alex “ARee” Lee was one of a slew of upset winners in the Hearthstats Challenger League, and a 3-0 victory over the heavily favoured Aleksandr “Kolento” Malsh saw Lee qualify for next month’s Champion’s League. A top 100 legend finish was also not enough for Lee, who managed to finish no. 46 and no. 97 with two separate accounts.