The second day of Hearthstone Global Games action saw some of the craziest games in competitive play in a while, with a few upsets thrown in to boot.
In the final broadcast game of the day, New Zealand nearly threw it all away against Portugal in the fourth game of their series thanks to some deeply unfortunate Shudderwock turns.
After drawing Shudderwock, Grumble and other crucial combo pieces very early on, New Zealand were greatly favored against the Control Mage of Portugal. As they tried to build to a Shudderwock turn, however, they played Hagatha—and that passive Hagatha hero power created problems. With the hand constantly being filled with spells, New Zealand had to take turns in between Shudderwock plays to empty their hand. That included playing Hex on their own Acolyte of Pain, and then Hexing the Frog twice more.
But as the Shudderwocks went off, the ordering scuppered New Zealand. Grumble went first twice, leaving just a nine mana Shudderwock copy from Zola. Then in the final Shudderwock turn, Grumble and two Zolas went off before the Saronite Chain Gang and Shudderwock was gone. New Zealand were able to close it out in game five, recovering well from the craziness of that game—perhaps the most bizarre Shudderwock game seen on the competitive stage so far.
Meanwhile, Russia were left to rue a missed opportunity against Brazil. The Quest Warrior had a route to victory against Shudderwock Shaman in game five, but Russia whiffed on hero power hits four times, instead hitting totems. That bought Brazil crucial time and allowed their Shudderwock to build to an insurmountable position.
Off-stream, the format caused controversy for the United Kingdom. The pick and ban process is considered to be very strategic, but many players and analysts think that the blind pick ordering negates all of the skill involved. The U.K. believed they had won the pick and ban phase, but played their decks in the wrong random order and hit bad matchups. That led to a 2-3 loss. The U.K. players aren’t the only ones dissatisfied with the blind pick part of the format, but it’s unlikely it will change mid-stage.
The United States, looking to do better than a 2017 semifinal finish, came up short in their first match. They lost to China, one of the stronger teams in the bracket.