Sep 25 2016 - 9:50 pm

DrHippi wins Hearthstone EU Summer Championship, qualifies for BlizzCon

Virtus Pro’s Artem "DrHippi" Kravets has won the Hearthstone European Summer Championship Tour, sending him through to Worlds
Sam Nordmark
Writer at @dotesports

Virtus Pro’s Artem "DrHippi" Kravets has won the Hearthstone European Summer Championship Tour, sending him through to Worlds.

The Ukrainian player’s first ever major tournament victory comes nine months after his latest grand final-appearance at the 2016 Hearthstone European Winter Championship earlier this year, which he lost to teammate Ole "Naiman" Batyrbekov.

After narrowly passing George "Likeabawse" Papadimitrakopoulos in the opening round of the playoffs, it looked like smooth sailing for the Ukrainian. He worked his way through Loic “DizDemon” Poulain and finally George "Georgec" Connolly to claim a first-place finish and a spot at the Hearthstone Championship Tour’s conclusion at BlizzCon.

DrHippi is the third European representative at BlizzCon’s Hearthstone tournament, he will join Thijs "Thijs" Molendijk and Naiman at the convention, which takes place from Nov. 4 to 5.

Jan 9 2017 - 11:57 pm

CLG opens Hearthstone division

The organization has recruited the majority of Na`Vi's former roster.
Sam Nordmark
Writer at @dotesports
Image via Blizzard Entertainment | Remix by Saira Mueller

One of the biggest North American esports organizations is looking to make an impact in Hearthstone in 2017.

Consisting of the majority of the former Natus Vincere stable, Counter Logic Gaming announced today that it has signed Frederik "Hoej" Nielsen, Sebastian "Xixo" Bentert, and Kim "Surrender" Jung-soo.

The three players are widely considered to be some of the best in the world, with Xixo in particular having a powerful showing in 2016—winning both SL i-L StarSeries Season 2 and also defeating Jon "Orange" Westberg in the recent European WESG qualifiers.

This is Counter Logic Gaming's first-ever foray into competitive Hearthstone, two years after the game was first released. While a majority of firmly established esports franchises still retain Hearthstone rosters, 2016 saw several big teams release their divisions in the title. This included Na`Vi, which released its entire roster in September last year, including 2015 Hearthstone World Champion Sebastian "Ostkaka" Engwall.

With a new organization firmly behind them, it will be interesting to see whether or not the former Na`Vi trio can achieve as much success as they did in previous years.

Jan 20 2017 - 9:38 pm

Blizzard designer says Hearthstone Shamans "don’t win too often"

The deck is still stifling the meta game, however.
Callum Leslie
Weekend Editor, Dot Esports.
Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Shaman continues to dominate the Hearthstone ladder, and at this point players are resigned to it. They are just hoping that in a few months' time the new set rotation will shake things up and dislodge it from its position at the top of the tree.

Blizzard game designer Max McCall addressed the power of the class on the official forums recently—but according to him, the class doesn't have an overwhelming success rate.

"All of those [Shaman] decks are strong," McCall said. "but they are all weak against Dragon decks (like Priest and Warrior) and Reno decks. If you’re tired of losing to Shamans, play Reno Warlock. In some ways, that is fine: Shamans are popular, but there are strategies that are good against them."

"Playing Shaman isn’t a dominant strategy – again, they lose to plenty of decks – but it is still boring to play against the same class over and over again," he continues.

These comments puzzled and angered some players, who pointed to their own experience and other sources of data like the Vicious Syndicate meta report that suggested these matchups were much closer than McCall suggested. And the other matchups were much more one-sided for the Shaman. Indeed, in a second forum post McCall that Reno Warlock was only favored by half a percentage point.

Others took issue with McCall's characterization of the state of Shaman deckbuilding. According to McCall, there are aggressive decks which run pirates, and midrange decks that run pirates and jade cards. But by virtue of running pirates, the inclusion of jade cards doesn't stop a deck from being aggressive in style (something we have highlighted before).

Jade Claws and Jade Lightning, which are often the only jade cards run in the faster lists, lend themselves very well to an aggressive style. Jade Claws takes the spot of Spirit Claws, as early game weapons continue to drive aggressive Shaman decks with value and early pressure.

However, McCall did rightly admit that Shaman is a problem on ladder because of how frequently it appears. According to his data, Shaman currently makes up about 25 percent of games on ladder. This can make games feel repetitive and a grind, especially if you aren't playing one of the limited counters.

At the end of the day, Blizzard is watching Shaman closely. And if it doesn't decrease in popularity, it is prepared to make changes. But that won't help those players who feel demoralized by the ladder right now.