Jun 17 2014 - 9:26 pm

Cheating accusations rock $25K 'Hearthstone' tournament

After three days of matches at DreamHack Summer’s $25,000 Hearthstone tournament, the biggest tournament in the game’s short history, young underdog Radu "Rdu" Dima faced off against fan-favorite Jason “Amaz” Chan in the finals
Cody Conners
Dot Esports

After three days of matches at DreamHack Summer’s $25,000 Hearthstone tournament, the biggest tournament in the game’s short history, young underdog Radu "Rdu" Dima faced off against fan-favorite Jason “Amaz” Chan in the finals. Dima was teamless and sponsorless; Chan had recently been picked up by the established esports organization Team Liquid.

In front of hundreds of fans in the crowd and tens of thousands watching online, Dima wearing shorts and a tank top, managed to take the first match in the best of five over Chan.

As game two began, things took a turn for the worst. Though he clawed his way to a convincing lead, Dima looked more and more anxious with each passing turn. The tournament was being played on the newly released iPad version of the game, which, unlike its counterpart on PC and Mac, cannot block private messages from friends.

So while Dima was in the middle of this huge match, he started getting messages live in the game. And everyone watching could see them.

Most wished him good luck. But eventually the inevitable happened. Two turns shy of winning the game, someone messaged him Chan’s hand. And the internet exploded.

After the second game was finished the tournament was paused while administrators, broadcasters, and other professional players on site reviewed the footage, trying to discern if there was any foul play. After what equated to an eternity on Reddit and Twitter, organizers decided that the message did not affect the outcome of the game and Dima played no part in prompting it to be sent. Organizers ruled that the game's results would stand, that Dima and Chan would remove all their friends from their friends list, and that the players would move on to game three.

In that game, Dima defeated the fan-favorite Chan to become the DreamHack Summer Hearthstone champion.

The victory ceremony, however, was not met with the usual fanfare. Ignoring what the panel of experts had decided at the event, thousands of angry Hearthstone fans to come to their own conclusion: Dima was a cheater.

The community began speculating that the 17-year-old had cheated the entire tournament. Some went so far as to allege that messages he'd received earlier in the game, which read "Hello mom," were codes he had devised to indicate that his opponent had drawn a certain card.

Within an hour the the top post of all of Reddit read (no doubt to the confusion of most Redditors): "SOMEONE JUST WROTE RDU WHAT CARDS AMAZ HAS!!!"

The anger was being directed in so many different ways that discourse was impossible. Dima's win spawned a Russian nesting doll of accusations. If one issue was tackled with reason, there was another point of conspiracy behind it.

Dan “Artosis” Stemkoski, one of the event’s commentator’s, implored fans in Reddit post that was later removed by moderators: “Please discontinue this ridiculous hatred of young and talented 17 year old.”

It wasn’t until hours later, when runner-up Chan posted a video explaining his side of the story and absolving Dima of any responsibility, that the pitchforks were lowered and the hounds relented.

 

The young champion, who will forever be associated with this incident, now has one post in the Hearthstone subreddit at 221 upvotes congratulating him on his victory. That is flanked on either side by Chan’s explanation of events sitting at 983 upvotes and the original thread about the illicit message standing strong at 2409.

The nuances of this tournament and Dima’s victory will forever be overshadowed by the accusations of cheating. The conversations about this 17-year-old, who also placed in the top four at DreamHack Bucharest, staking his claim as one of the best players in the world has been drowned out

“After I ended my turn … I knew that the community at home will start a witch hunt against me and ruin everything I trained for all these weeks,” Dima wrote in a Reddit comment shortly following the event. That comment barely holds a positive upvote ratio, meaning just as many people have downvoted him as upvoted him.

The good news for Dima: His victory guarantees a seed into Blizzard’s $250,000 Hearthstone World Championships at Blizzcon later this year.

Image via Blizzard

Jan 6 2017 - 3:22 pm

The best Hearthstone players of 2016

Here are the best card slingers from the year.
Callum Leslie
Weekend Editor, Dot Esports.
Photo via Blizzard

In 2016, Hearthstone had more Blizzard-run events than ever before. The newly created Hearthstone Championship Tour meant new storylines, new titles to strive for, and new stars were created.

All the while, several stalwarts of the game continued to show their dominance on the open circuit, at events like DreamHack, Seat Story Cup, and the Truesilver Championship.

After dozens of events and hundreds of thousands of dollars of prize money, just a handful of players stood head-and-shoulders above the rest. Here are the best-performing pros of 2016.


DrHippi


Photo via Blizzard

Artem "DrHippi" Kravets is this year's breakout player. The Ukranian came from absolutely nowhere to reach the final of the HCT Winter European Championship.

He may have come up short against Ole "Naiman" Batyrbekov in that final, he won something more valuable—a teammate. Following their HCT success the pair, along with semifinalist Raphael "BunnyHoppor" Peltzer were picked up by Virtus Pro as that org's first foray into Hearthstone.

After reaching the semifinals of the StarSeries, DrHippi came back for another shot at a HCT title. This time, he was successful, winning the Summer Championship over British prospect George Connoly. With his first title win under his belt DrHippi went into the World Championship with momentum on his side, coming up just short to finish in second place.

With his consistent performance all year, DrHippi is likely to be a force to be reckoned with in 2017.

Handsomeguy


Image via Blizzard

Only one player pulled off multiple HCT championship wins in 2016—Ilmook "handsomeguy" Kang.

Though his World Championship run itself ended in a disappointing group stage exit, no one had a run to the finals like handsomeguy. After reaching the final of the Winter Asia-Pacific Championship, he went on to win both the Spring and Summer Championships in convincing fashion. Outside of the Winter final, he did not lose a HCT match all year long.

Although his championship performance itself was a big factor, just reaching three seasonal championships alone would be an incredible achievement. To win two and finish second in the other is something that it's hard to imagine will ever be replicated.

Amnesiac


Photo via Blizzard

The "Young Savage" William "Amnesiac" Barton is a prodigy. Considered one of the brightest minds in the game, he has coached big names in Hearthstone, including Jason "Amaz" Chan, Jon "Orange" Westberg, and Paul "Zalae" Nemeth. And he's still in high school.

After making pro players take note with his ladder performance and helping coach them to improve their skills, this year Amnesiac broke out on his own with tournament success.

He entered the Winter HCT prelims, only his fourth tournament ever, and swept aside the likes of Andrew "Kitkatz" Deschanel and Andrew "TidesofTime" Biessener. He then went to the championship itself, cutting a path through the competition and winning the first HCT championship. Though the rest of his year was somewhat uneventful as he continued to balance esports and education, Amnesiac made it to the quarterfinals of the World Championship. He only lost out to the eventual winner, Pavel Beltukov.

Rdu


Photo via DreamHack

Two years after winning Hearthstone's first major event, DreamHack Summer 2014, Dima "Rdu" Radu returned to the scene of the incident to become the first ever two time DreamHack champion this year.

Rdu has been an ever-present figure in the scene, with the inaugural Insomnia Truesilver Championship also to his name from 2015. He is the only player to have won a major in every year of the game so far, something he will undoubtedly look to replicate in 2017.

With a couple of other decent tournament placings, Rdu will still be disappointed in his 2016. After a three year journey to try and reach a World Championship, Rdu fell just one game short in the Last Call qualifier to Pavel.

SuperJJ


Photo via CompLexity Gaming

Though Jan "SuperJJ" Janssen might not have had the biggest year in terms of marquee wins, his consistent performance in open tournaments and top finishes in smaller invitationals make him worthy of inclusion on this list.

SuperJJ is the master of the open swiss tournaments, making the cut in three DreamHacks (Austin, Summer and Winter) and two edition of the Insomnia Truesilver Championship. Though he has yet to win one of these major events, his consistency in a format which rewards consistent strength is enough to show just how good a player he is at the highest level.

Away from the opens, SuperJJ won the Xfinity Invitational, came second at the Esports Superstars event just last month and DreamHack Leipzig and finished third at PGL Tavern Tales Bucharest.

Pavel


Photo via Blizzard

No list of the best players in any given year would be complete without that year's world champion.

Pavel Beltukov has had a troubled history in Hearthstone. Another relatively young player, Pavel often had to miss tournaments due to visa or travel issues, but did make it to the 2015 European Championship. Just one game away from reaching that year's World Championship, Pavel made what is likely the most famous misplay in the history of the game to date and handed the spot to Adrian "Lifecoach" Koy.

Many players would have let that moment define them, but Pavel rallied back and quietly made his mark on the HCT standings. He won the European Last Call tournament and cut his way through the likes of Amnesiac, Jason Zhou and DrHippi to claim the $250,000 first prize.

Xixo


Photo via DreamHack

In Hearthstone, maintaining a high winrate is very difficult. The game has inherent variance, and that means that the best players can often be sitting on just a few percent about 50.

For Sebastian "Xixo" Bentert, that percentage sits at an incredible 68 percent for tournaments in 2016. Though he failed to achieve any HCT success, the German won his second major LAN title at the StarSeries season two finals and achieved deep runs throughout the year at eight different major events.

Though it gets less consideration on this list, Xixo also has an outstanding record of rushing to legend on ladder. In 2014 he held rank one across the Asia, Europe, and Americas servers simultaneously, and he has continued to be one of the strongest ranked players in the game.

Though he ends the year teamless after Natus Vincere shuttered their division, Xixo has been one of the strongest performers throughout the year in 2016. When it comes to tournament play, he is the benchmark of player success and the one to beat.

Jan 15 2017 - 10:59 pm

Staz bests Orange in WESG Hearthstone final

It's the first major win for an SEA player.
Callum Leslie
Weekend Editor, Dot Esports.
Screengrab via Starladder_HS_en/Twitch

At the first major Hearthstone event of 2017, Euneil “Staz” Javinaz bested European star Jon "Orange" Westberg to win his first title—and the first for his region.

Staz and Orange went the full seven games in the stunning final set, trading games back and forth before Staz eventually came out on top 4-3. The final game was a grinding affair, a Reno Mage mirror that played over close to an hour.

Representing the South East Asia region, Staz is the first player from that region to win a major title.

Staz reached the final after beating out a pair of Europeans—Orange's countryman Elliot "Fluffy" Karlsson and the impressive Raphael "BunnyHoppor" Peltzer—arguably having the toughest road through the bracket stage.

Orange's run was no easy feat either as he had to take out Sebastian "Xixo" Bentert, one of the most successful players of 2016 playing in his first tournament since joining Counter Logic Gaming.

The loss meant that Orange was unable to string together back to back major victories, after winning his second Seat Story Cup title in December.

For his victory Staz takes home a whopping $150,000, one of the largest prizes ever awarded in Hearthstone. For second place Orange will have to make do with $70,000.