Tournament Recap: Blizzcon NA Qualifiers Phase 2

We'll analyze the Blizzcon North American World Championship Qualifiers held last week in New York - the participants, the winners and notable decks!

Hey all,

Today, I’m taking a look at the Blizzcon NA Qualifier tournament. There were some really interesting decks and the best players in North America all gathered together to compete. Let’s see what’s in store!

Blizzcon NA Qualifiers Phase 2

Location: New York

Prize Pool: Blizzcon Invitation

Competitors: 16

Winner(s): Firebat, DTwo, Strifecro, Tarei

Casters: Frodan, DoA, Realz

This tournament was the final phase of the NA qualifying process for Blizzcon. As such, it featured some of the most revered Hearthstone pros. Favorites to make it through were Firebat and Hyped who received direct seeds because of their fantastic ladder performance.

The tournament itself was run very smoothly, and there were a bunch of critical talking points worth going over relating to the metagame calls by the players and in some controversial remarks.

Talking Points

  • Aggro Warlock (Zoo) decks were in full force. Firebat’s Warlock was a Zoo which led him to Blizzcon.
  • Slower, more control decks were much rarer than in the EU Qualifiers.
  • Mage decks dominated when played and team TempoStorm’s Mage decks were both banned in the later rounds.
  • Controversial “win”terviews by Tarei where he says TidesofTime is easily beat.
  • Druid series sweeps were common. DTwo won his final match despite missing lethal.
  • Paladin did not win a single game all tournament.

Tournament Format

The Blizzcon NA Qualifiers employed the standard ruleset for competitive Hearthstone.

Best of 5, one class ban

The class ban allows players to tailor their choices more to beat certain kinds of decks. Best of 5 gives more chances for a comeback. I’d like to see Blizzard move away from this format though.

This was the original format used at the Blizzcon Invitational last year, but it’d be nice to see them change it up. Originally, this format was used so that the most popular decks (freeze mage) would not be the only played class and people could see more classes being played.

Now that all the classes have found their spot in the metagame, a change to a more fluid format where there are no deck bans and players can play a deck more than once after losing could go a long way to eliminate luck.

I’m fond of the Prismata Cup rules that allow players to use a deck/class up to twice in a best of 5 and three times in a best of 7. It means that losing a swing matchup does not spell certain defeat to a counter pick.

Meta Analysis

Blizzcon NA represents a great chance to take a quick look at the metagame right now. Here are some quick stats from the tournament. Credit to Ulthran from Reddit.

The most notable stats gathered from this, is that Mage piloted by TempoStorm’s Hyped and TidesofTime went 8-1 for the tournament. This seems to indicate that Freeze Mage could have a pretty big impact on the meta currently.

It is important to note though that tournament decks tend to differ from ladder decks quite a fair bit and the relative lack of hunters at the tournament and the ability to ban it make Freeze Mage a formidable deck against the big three classes of Druid, Warlock and Rogue.

Druid meanwhile dominated the tournament, and swept a number of series. The power of wild-growth and its ability to end games in a hurry with the force-of-nature and savage-roar combo makes Druid the most dominant class in tournaments.

Warlock also was heavily picked, and Zoo was the more frequently chosen variant.

Notable Deck

Tarei’s Miracle Rogue which won the last two games of his series vs TidesofTime. Even though Rogue wasn’t a particularly standout class for the tournament, Tarei piloted this deck brilliantly, and it’s worthy as a deck highlight for its consistency and innovation.

The deck is built on the core of Miracle Rogue of low cost spells comboed with gadgetzan-auctioneer to draw the majority of the deck.

Unusual and notable inclusions are alexstrasza and sprint.

The deck seems to be built to compensate for weaker burst because of the leeroy-jenkins nerf by adding the powerful offensive and defensive utility of Alexstrasza.

Tarei chooses not to include cold-blood as additional damage which then makes the inclusion of Leeroy a little surprising. It seems to me that he has no obvious synergy with the deck except with shadowstep and he can only do that once in a turn.

I’m not sure I agree with keeping Leeroy in, but I suppose 6 dmg straight from hand and 12 with shadowstep is still respectable.

Tech cards in loatheb and harrison-jones make a lot of sense for Tarei if he intends to take on Warriors and other Rogues.

Match of the Tournament

The standout game of the tournament in terms of high level play and excitement was StrifeCro vs Stunner in their series concluder.

The high stakes of the match (winner goes to Blizzcon, loser goes home) made the game extra tense, and this was amplified by Strifecro’s abysmal start to the game where he didn’t play a card until turn 5!

What followed was one of the biggest comebacks ever and some brilliant Priest play by Strifecro to turn the tides and book his place at Blizzcon.

Biggest Takeaway

The tournament made it abundantly clear that Druid are still the class to beat at a tournament level. The consistency and pure value of the Druid minions and its ability to ramp above other classes gives it a resource advantage that is often insurmountable.

It also proved that there is still creativity left in deckbuilding as showcased by Tarei’s Miracle Rogue. Bring on Blizzcon!