Aug 9 2016 - 12:46 pm

The best cards from Hearthstone's One Night in Karazhan expansion

With another Hearthstone expansion on the horizon, it's time once again for players everywhere to argue just how awesome or terrible the set is
Callum Leslie
Weekend Editor, Dot Esports.

With another Hearthstone expansion on the horizon, it's time once again for players everywhere to argue just how awesome or terrible the set is.

One Night in Karazhan adds 45 new cards to the game. The selection of cards is hugely varied, with new themes, the return of old mechanics, attempts to push niche decks and much more.

With the cards likely to have a significant impact, here's what you need to look out for on ladder as the expansion rolls out over the next month.

Please, someone play Beast Druid

Let's face it. Blizzard has certain archetypes they are borderline-obsessed with trying to make work. In Karazhan they have tried harder than ever to push two of those: Beast Druid, and Discard Warlock.

One of the first cards revealed was a whole new shape for Hearthstone—a one mana 2/2 minion. It doesn't have any effect, but Enchanted Raven is the closest we have in the Standard meta game to the now-rotated out Zombie Chow. Whether a 2/2 is significantly better than a 2/1 remains to be seen. But Blizzard has created a minion that on paper is very powerful with no drawback.

If Beast Druid is going to happen, it's likely to have a lot to do with Menagerie Warden. 5/5 for six mana is a decent stat line by itself, but the ability to play it on curve after a five mana beast and summon a copy is incredibly powerful. Stampeding Kodo is already a strong addition to Midrange Hunter, and a pair of Stranglethorn Tigers is a board that very few things in the game can deal with.

For Discard Warlock, Silverware Golem is the card that got the most attention. If you can pull off a combo with Soulfire or Succubus, a free 3/3 on the board can be very impactful in the early game. Malchezaar's Imp might be less impactful but is an interesting card draw option for Warlocks.

More stable portals

Since Unstable Portal rotated out of Standard, there has been a distinct lack of random minion summoning portals in the game. Karazhan sets out to fix that, giving portals to five classes.

The one that most people seem to think is the best is Mage's Firelands Portal. Seven mana is a steep cost, but five damage plus a five cost minion is a potentially decent tempo swing. The healing power of the Druid portal and the early game AoE versatility of Shaman's have also attracted some attention. Unfortunately the Paladin and Warrior options look unlikely to see play, but the overall concept is definitely interesting.

Hunter has its secrets, but everyone gets Barnes

Hunter has long been one of the most powerful secret classes in the game, and Mad Scientist was a staple of every archetype before it rotated out. Despite not having the ability to play them for zero mana, Hunter decks have continued to play secrets like Freezing Trap, Bear Trap, and Explosive Trap.

Now the class is getting a new secret that could well replace Explosive Trap as the aggressive trap de jour. Cat Trick summons a 4/2 stealthed panther onto the board when your opponent casts a spell—a very interesting trigger since an AoE spell will be required in order to remove the subsequent panther. Outside of your opponent having a very specific counter, it's a great aggressive spike that helps develop an overwhelming, aggressive board.

What was that I was saying about Hunters not being able to play secrets for free? Well, Cloaked Huntress means that effect has returned exclusively to the Hunter class. With a reasonably costed body, this is likely to see a lot of play.

Another card getting a lot of attention is the legendary Barnes. The idea of summoning a Tirion or Cairne from your deck has a lot of players excited at the prospect of this card in deathrattle decks—but the effect can also work with silence. If you summon a 1/1 copy and silence it, its stats will return to the original values. 

Jan 17 2017 - 11:07 pm

How to Watch the ESL Hearthstone Trinity Series: Players, Format, Times, and More

It's the biggest team league the game has seen in over a year.
Callum Leslie
Weekend Editor, Dot Esports.
Photo via Blizzard Entertainment

It's been well over a year since Hearthstone last had a major team league in the West—something fans have been crying out for. Tomorrow the wait ends, and the ESL Trinity Series begins.

Eight trios, flying the banners of some of the biggest franchises in esports, will compete in best-of-11 matches until Mar. 2. The top teams will advance to a live finals at the ESL studios in California, with $75,000 up for grabs for the winning team.

This is a big moment for Hearthstone esports. After growth slowed in 2016, this league could get 2017 off to a big start as the major players in the scene attempt to stabilize and consolidate their positions.

Here's everything you need to know about the league, the teams involved, and how the matches will play out.

What is the format?

For each match, the teams will submit nine decks—one for each class in the game. Each team will ban out two of their opponent's decks, leaving seven decks from which the teams pick a final lineup of six.

The teams then play a best-of-11 match in the Last Hero Standing format—once a deck loses a game it is locked for the rest of the match, and you lose when you have no decks left. Unlike the Archon Team League Championships where each player was assigned a couple of decks to play, all six players will be playing every game of every series. They will do so with open communication, which viewers will be tuned in to throughout the broadcast.

The format requires a huge amount of strategy, deckbuilding skill, and team work. The teams will have to argue out each individual play, make their move within the short timeframe of a turn, and try not to fall out in the process. Matches will be long, and real-life fatigue will play a part.

How will the league be broadcast?

The broadcasts will be presented from ESL's studios in Burbank, California, with TJ Sanders and Brian Kibler slated to call the action.

The players themselves will be playing from home, adding another level of difficulty to the communication, until the league reaches its final stages.

The matches will be played on Tuesdays and Wednesdays starting tomorrow, with two matches per day. Games will start at 1pm ET (10am PT) for the duration of the seven week season and will be aired on ESL's Hearthstone Twitch channel.

Who are the teams?

The lineup features some of the biggest brands in esports. Two Hearthstone world champions, over a dozen tournament winners, and some wildcards too.

G2 Esports are easily the favorites to win it all. The trio of Dima "Rdu" Radu, Thijs Molendijk, and Adrian "Lifecoach" Koy is the most decorated in the game, with the Archon Team League Championships title also under their belt. The weight of expectation is firmly upon this European trio.

Although the team is relatively new, having just brought on a third member in time for the league, Alliance will be one of the teams to watch. The Swedish organization picked up a trio of players to represent the team and their country in three-time major winner Jon "Orange" Westberg, 2015 world champion Sebastian "Ostkaka" Engwall, and consistent journeyman Harald "Powder" Gimre.

Virtus Pro will be a force to be reckoned with. After starting out as rivals at the 2016 European Winter Championship, Artem "DrHippi" Kravets, Ole "Naiman" Batyrbekov, and Raphael "BunnyHoppor" Peltzer have formed a formidable unit. The team has been represented in countless major tournaments this year, with DrHippi finishing second in the world championship.

CompLexity will be looking to turn potential and underdog determination into results. Jan "SuperJJ" Janssen was impressively consistent throughout 2016, but did not win a major title. Simon "Crane" Raunholst has long been considered one of the best minds in the game but he has also not borne this out with results, while perennial prospect Tugay "MrYagut" Evsan will be looking to show just why he was so highly touted for so long.

The only all-American lineup in the tournament, Luminosity Gaming will also be hoping to live up to their billing. Branded a U.S. "super team" when they were formed last year, DreamHack Austin winner Keaton "Chakki" Gill and the experienced Paul "Zalae" Nemeth will be partnered by top young talent Frank "Fr0zen" Zhang.

The experienced but somewhat out-of-favor hand of Peter "Gaara" Stevanovic will look to guide Tempo Storm's young prospects David "JustSaiyan" Shan and Victor "Vlps" Lopez to success, while the veteran Team Liquid trio of David "Dog" Caero, Jeffrey "Sjow" Brusi, and Yevhenii "Neirea" Shumilin will aim to prove the value of experience.

Speaking of veterans, 2014 world champion James "Firebat" Kostesich, early leader Cong "StrifeCro" Shu, and 2014 World Esports Championship winner Andrew "TidesofTime" Biessener will round out the lineup for Cloud9. With Firebat having casted more than competed in 2016, StrifeCro having made just the odd appearance and TidesofTime having spent the past two years struggling with whether or not he loved the game anymore, this lineup will now have to deliver on a big stage.

Though 2017 is only a few weeks old, the ESL Trinity Series promises to be one of the most entertaining and competitive events of the year. The players will be tested to the limits of their skills—and Hearthstone fans will finally have another team league to get invested in.

Jan 15 2017 - 10:59 pm

Staz bests Orange in WESG Hearthstone final

It's the first major win for an SEA player.
Callum Leslie
Weekend Editor, Dot Esports.
Screengrab via Starladder_HS_en/Twitch

At the first major Hearthstone event of 2017, Euneil “Staz” Javinaz bested European star Jon "Orange" Westberg to win his first title—and the first for his region.

Staz and Orange went the full seven games in the stunning final set, trading games back and forth before Staz eventually came out on top 4-3. The final game was a grinding affair, a Reno Mage mirror that played over close to an hour.

Representing the South East Asia region, Staz is the first player from that region to win a major title.

Staz reached the final after beating out a pair of Europeans—Orange's countryman Elliot "Fluffy" Karlsson and the impressive Raphael "BunnyHoppor" Peltzer—arguably having the toughest road through the bracket stage.

Orange's run was no easy feat either as he had to take out Sebastian "Xixo" Bentert, one of the most successful players of 2016 playing in his first tournament since joining Counter Logic Gaming.

The loss meant that Orange was unable to string together back to back major victories, after winning his second Seat Story Cup title in December.

For his victory Staz takes home a whopping $150,000, one of the largest prizes ever awarded in Hearthstone. For second place Orange will have to make do with $70,000.