Tournament Recap: Kinguin for Charity – Christmas Edition

This week, I'm very excited to review the first big post GvG tournament - Kinguin for Charity. The tournament was held online and hosted by Lothar and eK0p. Click for the full report!


Welcome back to Camzeee’s tournament recaps!

This week, I’m very excited to review the first big post GvG tournament – Kinguin for Charity. The tournament was held online and hosted by Lothar and eK0p.

It featured some of Hearthstone’s biggest names!

Here are the tournament details:

Kinguin for Charity – Christmas Edition

Location: Online

Prize Pool: $5,000

Competitors: 16

Winner: Strifecro

Hot Players: Powder, Amaz, Firebat

Casters: Lothar, eK0p

Kinguin for Charity was a unique tournament because it had a charity drive that allowed the top donator to compete. Viewers could donate to Kinguin throughout the tournament, and that made it feel more for fun than some of the other competitive Hearthstone events.

However, there was still a $5,000 prize pool, and the players all took it seriously, so it made for some really great games.

It’s also extra notable for being the first post GvG major tournament and that’s cause for excitement because we get to see new decks!

Here are the main talking points.

Talking Points

  • Strifecro sweeps the finals 4-0 with Mage. (who would have predicted that pre GvG?!)
  • Paladin makes a big comeback – 10 out of 16 players brought Paladin.
  • Control Warrior dominates a bunch of series.
  • Dr. Boom is welcomed into the meta – Strifecro brought Dr. Boom in all four of his decks.
  • Warlock still the most popular class. Only Firebat did not bring Warlock.
  • Standout tournament for Powder, making the finals.
  • A real mix-match of playstyles – aggro, mid-range, anti-aggro.
  • Strifecro goes into the semi-finals 6-0 with Paladin.
  • Firebat contests fantastic series with Amaz for 3rd place.
  • Casting by Lothar and eK0p gets mixed reviews.
  • VODs delayed so a lot of this recap is written from my recent memory.

Tournament Format/Discussion

Kinguin for Charity used the Best of 5, one class ban system that has become the standard for competitive Hearthstone.

They switched to a Best of 7 in the later rounds, allowing players to reuse a deck once more if they are defeated.

Best of 5, one class ban

This is the default go-to for competitive HS.  Best of 5, 3 decks, 1 ban. It’s pretty standard and is used for tournaments all over.

My tangent for this article is on the GvG meta and new deck archetypes.

Post GvG Deck Archetypes

GvG brought over 120 new cards, shaking up the metagame – but only to a degree.

A lot of the strongest deck archetypes pre GvG are still the go-to ones including:

  • Handlock – The deck is still one of the most consistently powerful ones because it abuses the Warlock hero power.
  • Zoo – The zoo style still works, and even though it didn’t get many new cards, the raw power of the deck still shines through.
  • Control Warrior – It got some fun new tools from GvG but Armor and Legendaries is still the name of the game.
  • Combo Druid – Force Roar is still the best finisher in the game and Druid remains one of the most stable and consistent classes.

So what’s new? There are actually some new deck archetypes.

  • Mech Mage – We all knew it would be a thing, but the consistency of the Mech tribal combined with the revitalized archmage-antonidas, has made a formidable tournament splash already.
  • Mustard Paladin – Mid range Paladin with x2 muster-for-battle has entered the tournament scene. It shows a ton of promise too, with Strifecro opening 6-0 with it this tournament.
  • Recombo Priest – Amaz played a formidable and incredibly effective Priest deck that plays to steal opponents’ threats. Recombobulator is the star, and it shone brightly at Kinguin.

Conversely, if these decks have become popular, some decks have become unpopular as a result. Here are the GvG castaways.

  • Miracle Rogue – Only Firebat was bold enough to take Miracle Rogue again with a more expensive gadgetzan-auctioneer. The deck has fallen out of favor quite heavily and unless it innovates with tinkers-sharpsword-oil it may not be a prominent deck again.
  • Mid-range Shaman – Shaman has surprisingly not been popular at this tournament. I can see this changing once people begin experimenting a bit more but it’s definitely a slow start for the class in the post GvG era.

This leads us smoothly onto the next section which is a meta-analysis.

Meta Analysis

Decklists from Kinguin for Charity

Kinguin really brought a fresh take on the metagame as we expected it would.

There is so much to look into but I’ll try and condense it down.

Firstly, the meta has gotten more mid-rangey. The GvG cards have caused more decks to try and have a balance of minions in the early and late game.

Previously, decks were more easily differentiated into control and aggro, but now the lines are starting to blur more and it’s hard to tell. A big reason for this is players experimenting and trying out new synergies.

Mechs in particular have begun to seep into the metagame. There haven’t been many pros who have full-on embraced our new Mech overlords, but they’re starting to appear.

As mentioned above, a lot of the popular deck archetypes from pre GvG are still popular now. It’s early so it makes sense that the pros want to stick to what they know and are comfortable with.

That said, there will be new decks to come and I’m really happy to see Strifecro, known as one of the best deck innovators, triumph. It will hopefully pave the way for players to get more creative.

Let’s take a quick look now on which GvG cards have made the most early impact.

  • dr-boom – Strifecro loves this card (featured in all four of his decks) and it’s not hard to see why. It offers 9/9 in stats and some additional random bomb damage. That’s pretty incredible value overall and it’s tough to remove efficiently as well.
  • shieldmaiden – I might have to eat some humble pie here. I was initially underwhelmed by Shieldmaiden when it was first released, but it’s now become a pretty consistent fixture in competitive Warrior decks. I’ve been really impressed with its synergy with shield-slam and its general durability.
  • quartermaster – This card is powerful, and it has really shown its strength in the new Paladin decks alongside muster-for-battle.

Overall though, there was arguably less innovation than I hoped for right away but there’s still time and that will change.

What I am pleased to see though is that mid-range/control is still the go-to for most players and that’s Hearthstone at its best in my opinion. Not that I don’t like aggro, but it makes games less interactive and makes for fewer choices for players thereby diluting the good from the best.

Notable Deck

This tournament’s deck highlight is Strifecro’s Mage.

I chose this deck because not only was it a big winner (sweeping 4-0 in the finals) it also features a ton of new cards.

It is a deck that would not have been possible before GvG, and this new build is the reason Mage has seen such a big resurgence.

Inspired by Brian Kibler’s recent stream experiments, this deck aims to play along an extremely tight curve in the early game and abuse Mech synergy.

The star of the deck is Goblin Blastmage. Since the deck is comprised of mostly Mechs, it always gets its Battlecry off and it’s tremendously good at clearing off early game leftover minions and securing the board in the mid game.

Mechwarper does tremendous work discounting Mechs and can get incredible value if it survives more than a turn.

The other cards are the highest quality Mechs which are by themselves sticky and annoying to deal with like harvest-golem.

In the late game, the deck merely piles on more pressure, and finishes with Mage’s classic burn spells frostbolt and fireball.

The deck did brilliantly for Strifecro at the tournament overall, and I’m so happy he found success because it’s truly a new deck, one of only a few so far. Hopefully we’ll see more of it and also some new variations.

Match of the Tournament

The final was a bit of a one-sided affair with Strifecro getting amazing draws to crush Powder.

However, the 3rd place match between Firebat and Amaz was pretty amazing.

There were some real twists and the series went right to the final game.

I’m a huge sucker for killer Priest plays though, so I’m going to have to go with game 3 where Amaz took on Firebat’s Warrior.

Biggest Takeaway

While Kinguin for Charity wasn’t the biggest tournament, it still provided some great entertainment and some amazing Hearthstone.

It’s particularly notable because it’s one of the first big tournaments post GvG. As a result, there was a lot of excitement around the new cards and new decks.

I’m looking forward to more tournaments that were as well produced as this one as well. The commentators got a bit of flak but I thought they were decent and provided good insight.

Until next time! Meanwhile, best get that rust off your Mage deck…