The 5 must-see matches from the Hearthstone World Championships
The Hearthstone World Championships were this weekend, and if you were like me, you spent approximately 30 total hours watching several different streams of teenagers play a computer card game exceptionally well.
Hearthstone has been esports' little engine that could since its official debut earlier this year, and this tournament—held at Blizzard's annual convention, BlizzCon—really felt like the game’s true coming out party.
But maybe you spent your weekend doing something else, like yard work, or first dates, or anything less nerdy. Don’t worry, we got you covered. Here are five sets that I thought were particularly great during the festivities.
Altogether, you’re looking at about six hours of content. So buckle in, close the blinds, and prepare to be amazed by all the plays you didn’t see, over and over again.
Firebat vs. Tiddler Celestial
The Grand FInal wasn’t exactly the most competitive match of the weekend—Firebat stomped all over Tiddler with his unyielding Ramp Druid deck—but it was certainly a lot of fun. There are these moments in Hearthstone where we see unprecedented dominance with an undervalued set of cards, and then immediately run to our collection to build an exact copy and take it into the ladder. Firebat blew away Handlock, Control Priest, and a mirror match in straight sets. We were inspired, and we were jealous, and it’s always good to see an American player take home the gold.
Firebat vs. Qiruo
But you know what? That wasn’t even my favorite deck Firebat ran this tournament. There’s this exciting thing in high-level Hearthstone right now where when someone brings a Miracle Rogue into play, everyone tries to figure out what wrinkle they’ve added in our post-Leeroy nerf world. Some went to Malygos, others went to Violet Teachers, but Firebat grabbed a Southsea Deckhand—you know, that one-mana 2/1 that people never run. Firebat sprinkled on some Cold Bloods, a Faceless, and has his opponents staring down a massive 20 points of damage. Hearing the commentators slowly realize just how innovative he is at bending the meta is priceless.
RunAndGun vs. FrozenIce
This whole set is great. But the legendary moments come at the final match, between FrozenIce’s Handlock and RunAndGun’s Control Priest. It finishes as an all-out top-deck war, with both players just barely doing enough to escape death (it's always fun to hear the announcers lose their minds right alongside Twitch chat). The best moment? A very, very timely Harrison Jones that more or less resets the game.
StrifeCro vs. Kolento
We should take a moment to appreciate the great work Ben Brode, Dan "Artosis" Stemkoski, and Dan "Frodan" Chou did with their commentary—three guys who are as relatable as they are insightful. This set is great, featuring an incredibly unlikely Shaman victory over Control Priest, but the real magic comes with simply basking in Brode’s endless, literally endless laugh. It makes me happy that one of the primary minds behind Hearthstone is such a lovable dude. Honestly, that couldn’t make more sense.
Tarei vs. Kaor
One of my favorite decks in Hearthstone is the Freeze Mage, because it requires its player to be bold enough to stare down certain death a hundred times in a row, and figure out how to last just one more turn. Freeze Mage matches are almost always super dramatic, especially with stakes like these. Tarei needed the last three cards in his deck to win, and he was able to stall out Kaor’s Druid just long enough for the win.