We now know the players that will take part in the Hearthstone Global Games, Blizzard’s new national team tournament. And it’s fair to say the community is excited.
Team tournaments have long been popular, but do to them justice requires resources only available to developers and major organisers. With Blizzard expanding its portfolio of Hearthstone esports to include HGG, fans are salivating at the prospect of Blizzard production values meeting top players and personalities, and an innovative team format.
But with 48 national teams taking part in a prolonged round robin format, who are the teams to watch? Who are the favorites, and who are the teams who could stage an upset?
- United States (HotMEOWTH, Firebat, Dog, Amnesiac)
- China (Lovelychook, JasonZhou, OmegaZero, Nightwalk)
- Russia (Pavel, INER, ShtanUdachi, SilverName)
- Ukraine (DrHippi, NickChipper, Neirea, Kolento)
- Sweden (Powder, Orange, Ostkaka, Sjow)
Europe dominates the Global Games, with 28 of the 48 teams from the region. Europe also generally dominates Hearthstone esports. But when the U.S. and China don’t have to compete on a regional basis and are instead up against countries, the balance shifts somewhat.
The U.S. and Chinese teams include some massive names, each with players who have competed in a World Championship—including 2014 world champion James “Firebat” Kostesich. Bohan “Lovelychook” Zhang for China is one of the best players never to compete in a World Championship.
The twin Eastern European giants of Russia and Ukraine should also be considered favorites. 2016 world champion Pavel Beltukov leads a team that includes 2017 winter champ Aleksey “ShtanUdachi” Barsukov, while Ukraine boasts 2016 World Championship runner up Artem “DrHippi” Kravets and one of the the early champions in Hearthstone’s competitive history Aleksandr “Kolento” Malsh.
Sweden have managed to pull off something remarkable with their team. Thanks to Alliance’s commitment to signing Swedish players, all three members of the team are representing Sweden at the Global Games. That in theory gives them a great advantage in team chemistry, while the other teams have just two weeks to prepare. The final member of the team is Team Liquid’s Jeffrey “Sjow” Brusi, making it one of the best teams on paper.
- South Korea (Handsomeguy, Kranich, Flurry, DDaHyoNi)
- Canada (APXVoiD, Cydonia, Purple, Hotform)
- Germany (Lifecoach, C4mlann, SuperJJ, Viper)
- Denmark (Hoej, FreddyB, Inderen, Crane)
South Korea enjoys some of the same advantages as China and the U.S. in having a large well developed domestic scene to compare with the national squads. Again the team has World Championship pedigree, led by Ilmook “Handsomeguy” Kang.
Some observers believe Canada’s side actually has a better chance than the U.S., but all can agree they have a chance of a deep run. The return of Ryan “Purple” Murphy-Root to competition is particularly exciting, with TSM’s rising star Julian “Cydonia” Perrault set for another top performance.
Germany’s team has been the source of some controversy, as embattled streamer Mats “P4wnyhof” Karthage and Thomas “Sintolol” Zimmer removed after a prolonged public spat. In their places come Torben “Viper” Wahl and CompLexity’s Jan “SuperJJ” Janssen—arguably creating a stronger team with less potential for drama and conflict.
Denmark is led by Viagame House Cup champion Frederik “Hoej” Nielsen, alongside practice partner to the stars Simon “Crane” Raunholst.
- Philippines (WaningMoon, CaraCute, Chalk, Staz)
- Greece (LikeaBawse, Dethelor, Logan, tsiboukis)
- France (Dizdemon, Torlk, BestMarmotte, Un33d)
- Czech Republic (JaraVyskocil, CzechCloud, StanCifka, pokrovac)
- Netherlands (Tyler, Thijs, Mitsuhide, Theo)
The South East Asia region does lag behind the other regions in Hearthstone, but if any SEA team can succeed in HGG it’s the Philippines. While the players have limited experience on the world stage, their local experience could come together.
Two of Europe’s strongest national scenes, France and Greece, cannot be counted out. Greece hasn’t had much success in Hearthstone but veterans like “Dethelor”, “LikeaBawse” and “Logan” will be hyper focused for the Global Games.
Grégoire “Un33D” Bodin is one of the strongest players in France, with DreamHack and PGL playoff experience. The ArmaTeam pair of Bertrand “Bestmarmotte” Fagnoni and Jérémie “Torlk” Amzallag will hope to bring some existing team synergy to proceedings.
The Czech Republic and Netherlands teams might not have established strength across the board, but in Stanislav Cifka and Thijs Molendijk they have two of Europe’s strongest players individually. With assistance from up-and-coming talents like Mikuláš “Pokrovac” Dio and Louis “Mitsuhide” Bremers, Cifka and Thijs will hope to lead their teams to victory.