10 May 2016 - 19:31
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Chakki Breaks Second Place Curse At Dreamhack

Recap of the Dreamhack Austin Hearthstone tournament culminating in a veteran proving himself and a new players' breakout performance.
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Last weekend, the Hearthstone scene saw the undertaking of one of the most stacked tournaments in recent memory. With over 30 well-known players all vying for their share of the $27,500 prize pool and Championship Tour points, Austin, Texas was sure to see several intense and high level matchups.

However, with the most recent expansion, Whispers of the Old Gods, as well as the introduction of standard to competitive play, there were sure to be upsets and shake-ups throughout the bracket. These shakeups would then surely affect the world rankings, and with time winding down until BlizzCon, DreamHack Austin was sure to set the stage for the way that standard would play out in the coming months.

The tournament was held in a nine round, Swiss format, with the top 16 players after round nine advancing to bracket play. Many of the scenes top players including Team Archon’s Zalae and Orange, Complexity’s SuperJJ and Dignitas’ Chakki, made it past the preliminary rounds into the second day and elimination play.

With these and other top players well represented, it seemed as if the world ranking would be holding steady at least for the weekend. But perhaps the most polarizing statistic was the abundance of American players in the top 16. With such a large tournament happening on American soil, the representatives of the red, white and blue made up over half of the top 16 bracket. This just continues to fuel the flames for the regional rivalry within the community, spurring even better play with even more pride at stake.

The tournament operated essentially without too many rules, given the lack of a static metagame. However, a couple particular archetypes shined brighter than others. For instance, many of the top 16 players brought some iteration of a Warlock Zoo deck to the tournament. This deck thrives on heavy minion presence and the ability to contain your opponents minions entirely. Other archetypes such as Paladin and Warrior control, decks based around stalling the game until you have a guaranteed win condition, were also popular.

There were also rather off the wall decks which performed well and were incredibly entertaining. Perhaps the most obvious example of this was the inclusion of a particular Druid deck from Frenchman Tars. The deck revolves around summoning completely random minions and cycling spells until a win condition is found or until Tars could play the late game powerhouse of Yogg-Saron. Thus, while certain decks did have more representation within the tournament, there is still not a set metagame, leaving the creation of decks and strategies up to the players themselves.

Excluding some of the more entertaining decks from tournament play, the top 16 bracket still proved to be exciting as a stand-alone event. A relatively unknown player to those not from the Americas had a run through the bracket, defeating tough competition along the way after achieving the tournament's top seed with a 8-1 record in the nine preliminary rounds. His name was TerrenceM, and throughout the tournament, he saw success using a Patron Warrior deck, which was not seen much at all in the top 16.

From the other side of the bracket, a seasoned competitor in Dignitas Chakki was constructing his own run through the bracket, besting Team Hearthlytics fr0zen and Chinese player Payton. However, Chakki has been plagued with a “second place curse” and while it seemed as if he was on quite a run, skeptics still questioned whether or not he could actually finish with a title.

The final between the two lasted all five games and left Chakki without his curse, emerging victorious over TerrenceM by a margin of 3-2. This netted Chakki 15 Championship Tour points and TerrenceM 10. This will make it easier for Chakki to continue competing at an astounding level, and also allows TerrenceM to try and make a name for himself in the competitive Hearthstone scene.

With DreamHack Austin complete, it will be interesting to see specifically what direction the metagame will take heading towards BlizzCon in November. Specifically, will Control and Zoo decks still hold their place as the most viable decks at the top level or will new strategies overtake them? One thing is for sure; with so many great players in attendance, DreamHack Austin definitely lived up to the hype.

Were you in attendance for this event or watching from home? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @GAMURScom.

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