Hearthstone Tournaments-Which Format is Better?

Hello once again to my little corner of this awesome site. My name is HalfBroke Chris and I hope you will have a little seat next to me as I rant and rave about a few things here. Actually, this isn’t really going to be too bad, I just like to sound like I’m an […]


Hello once again to my little corner of this awesome site. My name is HalfBroke Chris and I hope you will have a little seat next to me as I rant and rave about a few things here. Actually, this isn’t really going to be too bad, I just like to sound like I’m an angry gamer.

This past week there was a pretty big announcement (FINALLY!!!!!) about the upcoming expansion. It was a long time coming and in usual Blizzard fashion, we have to wait a little while longer before the long awaited Standard rolls our way. One great thing about the last week is Blizzard finally got the technology to give us more deck slots (or in normal speak Blizzard decided to put money into servers to allow for the change to happen, hehe). That is something that the Hearthstone community has been clamoring for and it finally arrived.

Another announcement that came this week was some changes Blizzard is going to implement at the Spring Championship later this year. Some big changes are coming this spring at the Spring Championship (link can be found here). What that will mean, of course, some of the smaller open tournaments will more than likely use this format.

In this little article, I want to bring up some of the pros and cons of the tournament scene within Hearthstone. What I would like to do is go over the most widely used tournament formats and give you some pros and cons of each. In the end, I would love for some of you to leave a comment letting me know what your opinion is about the different formats and which one you like best.

Now that we are through with the appetizer part of the article, let’s jump right into the entrée shall we.

Different Formats

Within the game of Hearthstone, tournaments use a few different formats. I know some of you have already played in some tournaments, but let’s pretend there are some that haven’t and cover a couple of the most popular ones.

The first one is Last Hero Standing. This format used to be used a lot more. The basic idea of this format is both players bring three class decks (or 4 if it is using the ban system) and play in a best of five series. If a player wins with a deck, he or she keeps playing with that deck until it loses a game. If a player loses a game then he can’t play with that class again. An example would be if you play a Warlock deck and lose, you couldn’t use that class deck again in that match. The first player to win three games wins the match. (FYI, a ban is where a player brings four different class decks and their opponent gets to ban one of those from being played within the match)

The pro to this format is you can figure out what class deck is the most dominate and tech your decks to take it out. The con for this format is one deck that is good as a whole, for example Secret Paladin, can be used by someone to just dominate matches. In addition, a player doesn’t really have to use much skill because all they have to do is master one class deck to win as a whole. There also isn’t much variety in this format because you can truly see just one or two deck dominate this format.

I am not a fan of this format, even with a ban. I think it is very boring to play and especially boring to watch as a viewer of big tournaments. This reason alone is why it has kind of fell to the wayside. Let’s move on to the most commonly used format.


Conquest is the most widely used format by tournaments now. It is the most used format in smaller open tournaments. It is also the format used in all of the major Hearthstone tournaments.

This one is the opposite of Last Hero Standing. A player brings three or four different class decks (the number of decks depends on if there is a ban). Once a player wins with a class deck, it can’t be used again in that match. If a player loses with a deck, he can continue using that deck until it has one a game. The match is over once a player has won three games (or two if it is a best of three).

The pro to this format is that it allows for a variety of decks to be used within a match. Even if one deck is dominates, it can’t be used again within the match. In addition, the strategy side of picking decks becomes more of a factor. When and where within the match becomes very important because you want to pick the right time to play a certain deck to get a favorable matchup.

The con to this format is, and really the only one I see, it allows for RNG to become a little more of a problem. A player can easily have a favored matchup but lose because of a bad draw or the RNGesus makes hits go against you. That this snowballs into an unfavorable matchup and, in the end, cost that player the match.

I am a fan of this format and hope that it doesn’t fade away as fast as Last Hero Standing did. There are other formats out there but, to be honest, these two are the only ones used in most tournaments. With the formats out of the way, let’s talk about the most discussed side of this conversation and that is the style of a tournament.

Tournament Styles

When I say a tournament style, what I mean is the way the tournament is laid out. There is a variety of these and is widely debated on which one is best.

Single Elimination

This one is self-explanatory. It is exactly as the name says, single elimination. A pool of 128 to 256 players plays within a bracket system. If a player loses a match, that player is eliminated from the tournament. The plus side of this type of tournament is that it can be very fast, as in, the time frame the tournament is played. It doesn’t take as long for a player because they are only waiting for one match to be played before they start their next round.

The minus side of this type of tournament is once you lose you are out. If you get a bad draw or a bad matchup and lose, the tournament is over for that player. It is very possible for a good player to only have one match because something happens in that first game. There is no room for mistake and doesn’t really favor new or even intermediate players.

Swiss, Round Robin, and Group Stages

This type of tournament style is on the opposite end of the spectrum. It features groups or a form of groups. These groups then play each other and then the top players within the groups move on to a single elimination bracket.

The pro side of this style of tournament is it allows a mistake to be made because a player has other games that they can win. It also is great for new players to the tournament scene because they can play more than one match being within a group. A player is usually going to play at least three games and that allows for a new player to gain some great tournament experience, even if they do lose the games they play.

The con to this side of tournament is it can take awhile for it to be played. Sometimes players have to wait awhile for other groups to finish before they can play their next match. In addition, many of these tournaments play the final matches in a second day. More time has to be committed to this type of tournament and that usually can be a problem for some players.

Double Elimination

There is another type of tournament that is very is in the middle of these styles and that is double elimination. A player can lose their first game but instead of being eliminated, they move down into a loser bracket where they wait to play another match. If they win, they continue through that bracket until they lose again.

The time frame isn’t as long as the group stage style of tournament but isn’t as quick as single elimination. It allows players to have a bad match without being kicked out of the tournament but the wait time can still be long for players.

Best One?

Therefore, the question is which one is best. I do not have a definite answer to that question. I know which one I do not like at all and that is the single elimination. It is too quick and allows RNG to play a bigger factor in taking a player out of a tournament. I understand that there is less of a time commitment in this style of tournament, but I would rather spend a little more time playing a tournament and know that I lost because I was outplayed.

I am always for helping new players get better and that means I always favor tournaments with group stages of some sort. Yes, it can take a long time to finish, but it does allow players to really know how good they might be. This is one of those times I am willing to take one for the Hearthstone community.

Now, if you didn’t know, Blizzard is going to move toward a best of seven format in the Spring Championship. It will be Conquest with a ban and a player has to bring five class decks instead of four. I like this because it helps eliminate RNG a little more and can truly showcase how good a player is. The smaller open tournaments may very well move to this format in the final stages of tournaments.

Final Thoughts

I can see both sides to every argument. With that being said, I will always dislike single elimination tournaments. What I would really like to know is what format and style you like as a player. We all have our own opinions and I know some of you have played in some tournaments. Which types do you like playing in the most? Fill up the comments with your opinions and let’s see what side the majority of the community favors.

Another thought I would like to know is about having games streamed in a tournament. If you are a player, do you like having your games streamed. It can be a great way to get exposure but your game is being publicly shown and that means people can see your mistakes. I will take all these thoughts about tournaments and get them out there into some of the people I know that run a few of these open tournaments. Maybe your opinion can change things a little.

I am really looking forward to the upcoming changes to Hearthstone. Things have gotten a little stale and I think the Meta needs a little bit of a boost. I hope you have enjoyed your time with me. If you want to send me a hello, please post in the comments below. You can also follow me Twitter and check me out on Twitch.

Also, there is a new tournament in the world of Hearthstone. The link is here. It is on Saturday nights and is played on the NA server. It does feature group stages. The top 8 is streamed via Twitch on Sunday nights. So, if you are looking for a new tournament, head over there and join right up.

And until next time….