It’s time to get hyped for the Viagame House Cup

On Friday, 16 Hearthstone players will gather in a house in Sweden for the second edition of one of the game's most popular, unique, tournaments

On Friday, 16 Hearthstone players will gather in a house in Sweden for the second edition of one of the game’s most popular, unique, tournaments.

The Viagame House Cup 2 runs from Friday to Sunday, with $25,000 and 230 World Championship qualification points on the line. That makes it one of the biggest tournaments of the year so far.

Fans and players consider last year’s inaugural edition to be one of the best tournaments ever in Hearthstone. Ahead of the second installment, here’s all the information you need to get ready.

The format

Viagame’s unique format returns this year. Each player is required to bring nine decks, one for each class. Before each match, the players go through a ban and pick phase which leaves them with a pool of five decks to choose from. From there it is a variation on the Last Hero Standing format, with the loser’s deck locked out and the winner choosing to either stick with a deck or change to another class until they win three games in the opening rounds and four in the finals.

This format was very popular with the players. Since it requires players to be prepared to play any one of the nine classes in any match up, it raises the skill ceiling and rewards overall mastery of the game. One criticism of the new World Championship format, Conquest, is that it only requires players to be strong on three decks. We’ve seen high level players lose in complete blowouts in this format thanks to three hyper aggressive decks drawing near-perfectly.

From a spectator’s point of view the format also made the tournament more interesting. Instead of the same matchups over and over again, classes like Paladin, which were very rarely played at the time, saw action. In a multiban format, we saw Freeze Mage emerge as very powerful and able to survive the bans—unlike other powerful Warlock and Hunter decks. Of course things have shifted now somewhat, and pretty much all classes are viable in competitive play. But it will still throw up interesting match ups.

The presentation

The relaxed atmosphere of a House Cup permeated through all aspects of the inaugural event. While watching a match, you could see other players sitting in the background. Some were watching games, some were eating, some were goofing off. They were all having a good time and were clearly relaxed.

This carried over to the presentation of the matches. With no dedicated casters at the event, it was left to players to commentate. Some players, like Jan “Ekop” Palys and Andrey “Reynad” Yanyuk, hosted. They excelled, and the experience clearly opened doors for them to casting and broadcasting opportunities. With sometimes as many as four players in the lounge, the players would discuss and sometimes argue with themselves. It made for a compelling insight into the mindset and approach of the players, and once again offered something different.

Though Dan “Frodan” Chou and Rachel “SeltzerPlease” Quirico have been added to the second event as hosts, hopefully the players will be allowed to cast the games again this time.

The groups

The groups see a combination of eight invited players and eight open qualifiers fighting it out to advance to Sunday’s finals.

In Group A, Aleksandr “Kolento” Malsh will be the favourite. Fresh off a victory in China at the EU vs CN Masters 2, his main competition will be Liquid‘s Janne “Savjz” Mikkonen. Also in the group is open qualifier Erik “Inderen” Kristensen of H2k-Gaming, who also recently competed at ESL Katowice. After making it to the semi-finals there, Kristensen will be making a big push for success here and is to be taken very seriously.

Group B looks to be a fairly easy assignment for world champion James “Firebat” Kostesich and Sebastian “Forsen” Fors. Open qualifiers “TheBombEx” and “BaDi” have no previous high level experience and it will be tough for them to beat their more experienced counterparts. Some will underrate Fors, but recent performances in Pinnacle qualifiers and the Gfinity Spring Masters show he is not to be seen as merely a streamer invited on popularity.

The four players making up Group C are an intriguing mix. Andrew “TidesofTime” Biessener and Wang “TiddlerCelestial” Xieyu are the invited players. Biessener was one of the most successful players of 2014, but since moving to Cloud9 has appeared in far fewer events. Xieyu has had mixed results since the World Championships, and found himself dropped by Vici Gaming. Despite being a qualifier, Archon’s newest signing Jon “Orange” Westberg, will be the favourite to advance from this group after winning ESL Katowice.

Finally, Group D looks much like Group B. The two strong invited players, Jason “Amaz” Chan and Thijs “ThijsNL” Molendijk, will be looking to avoid any slip-ups against relative unknowns “PEDROCLA” and “Guukboii.” However, both invited players are notoriously busy and that kind of schedule can take its toll on players. Molendijk in particular has competed in London and China in recent weeks, and his performance in China was below expectations.

Image via Viagame/Facebook