Road to Blizzcon: Firebat defeated as Nihilum and Na'Vi dominate Europe
With just eight players left standing in each of the Hearthstone regional championships, some of the game's biggest names will be making the trip to the offline finals—but the defending world champion isn't among them.
James "Firebat" Kostesich, the reigning Hearthstone world champion, fell at the final hurdle of the North American qualifiers to Jeffrey "Trump" Shih. Kostesich was the last of his Archon team mates in the tournament, with all four of the team's competitive players missing out.
Alongside Shih, Justin "JAB" Black, Victor "Vlps" Lopez, Dylan "Hotform" Mullins, "nias" and former Archon player Ryan "Purple" Murphy-Root will represent North America in San Francisco at the Americas regionals. They will be joined by Alexandre "MoleGel" Souza and "Coreia" from Brazil, representing Latin America.
While in North America upsets were the order of the day, in Europe many of the most recognizable names secured themselves a place in the final eight. Nihilum and Na'Vi were the big winners from the qualifier, with two players from each team advancing.
Adrian "Lifecoach" Koy, Thijs "ThijsNL" Molendijk, Sebastian "Ostkaka" Engwall, Frederik "Hoej" Nielsen, Michaël "Maverick" Looze, and Eugene "Neirea" Shumilin all withstood the pressure as favorites. The 17 year-old Russian wonderkid Pavel "Pavel" Beltukov also qualified for what will be his first offline appearance in Europe.
The big surprise of the qualifiers was Italian Gerardo "Gera89" Di Pietro, who came all the way from the last call qualifier to round out the top eight. Many have already drawn comparisons to countryman Riccardo "Kaor" Giammanco, who shocked the scene when he qualified for last year's Hearthstone World Championship. Giammanco formerly played for Di Pietro's team, pwnd.it, before moving to SK Gaming and later retiring to open a gaming shop.
Archon weren't the only major team to be completely shut out during the qualifiers. Cloud9 and Tempo Storm also failed to see any of their players advance to their respective regional finals. Favorites like Cong "StrifeCro" Shu, David "Dog" Caero, and Paul "Zalae" Nemeth were among the casualties of the 40-player qualifier bracket. In Europe Aleksandr "Kolento" Malsh, Dima "Rdu" Radu and Sebastian "Xixo" Bentert were among several who saw their dreams of World Championship glory dashed.
The eight players players remaining in each region will face off in offline finals over the next fortnight, with four from each advancing to the finals at Blizzcon.
Image via DreamHack/Flickr