Today, I’m taking a look at the Battle of the Best Invitational tournament.
It featured some pretty big name players but was a comparatively small competition. It does however have some interesting new tournament rules worth discussing and some fine talking points, so let’s get into it!
Battle of the Best Invitational
Location: Online – EU server
Prize Pool: $2,000
Hot Players: Forsen, Numberguy, Hyped
Casters: Frodan, ThatsAdmirable
This tournament was held online on the EU server. It was cast by Frodan and ThatsAdmirable, and featured just 8 invited players.
A large number of these players are Hearthstone streamers and pros and 3 of them are going to compete at Blizzcon in a few weeks’ time.
Here are the main talking points from the tournament.
- Hogger in a Warrior deck was brought by both Forsen and Hyped.
- Dtwo played a phenomenal final series, switching decks every game in the first Bo5 to beat Forsen.
- Countering Hunter was a lot of players’ priority.
- Wins in unfavorable matchups turned series – Forsen beating Warrior with Freeze Mage and Dtwo beating Hunter with Handlock.
- Numberguy showing great form and plenty of promise ahead of Blizzcon.
- DTwo with a very controversial approach to winning a Priest vs Hunter game.
Battle of the Best used a very interesting deck swapping format. Let’s take a look.
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 and will likely be the format for Blizzcon as well.
Battle of the Best however added an additional twist.
Winner can switch decks
This allowed competitors to try and gain an advantage in between rounds. Being able to switch decks means that players have more flexibility in how they want to corner what decks their opponent plays.
As an example, let’s say DTwo brought Freeze Mage, Handlock, Hunter (banned) and Shaman vs his opponent’s Hunter (banned), Warrior, Druid and Priest.
If he beats his opponent’s Warrior in the first game, he now can switch to Freeze Mage which gives him favorable matchups against both Druid and Priest.
This additional flexibility made the games interesting to watch and also threw up some strange unfavorable matchups from players choosing to test/experiment against decks that are unfavored for an informational advantage.
It’s an interesting twist though not exactly groundbreaking.
I’d say it’s a welcome addition to the tournament though, and especially among a field as highly qualified as these guys, makes exploration of certain matchups interesting.
At the start of the post-nerf season, Hunters were widely discounted as having lost viability because of the starving-buzzard nerf but have since become extremely dominant on the ladder.
As a result, in tournament play, whole strategies for a best of 5 series have revolved around defeating Hunter and if not defeat it, ban it.
It’s this precise reason that has led to the rise of Warrior and Priest in the tournament scene and also the decline in slower classes like Paladin.
I’d say the meta is in a pretty healthy place in the tournament scene because there still remains a high level of diversity in deck selection. It’s just a bit unfortunate to see whole approaches geared towards defeating Hunter.
What deck better to analyze than Forsen’s Warrior deck that features the infamous Hogger.
The deck first gained popularity with Sjow who played it to Legend rank #1 on the EU server with it.
Since then, it’s been brought in tournaments as well, and is an extremely good counter to Hunter.
The fact that Hogger generates a new gnoll every turn means it can’t be ignored and bar a mass clear, is pretty resilient.
The rest of the deck is a pretty standard Control Warrior deck with a ton of curve topping Legendaries.
It plays for value in the early game, drawing cards off the acolyte-of-pain and wins in the late game with burst from grommash-hellscream
DarkFrost wrote a great guide on Sjow’s warrior before Hogger if you’d like to check that out here.
Match of the Tournament
The standout game of the tournament for me was Forsen defeating DTwo’s Warrior with Freeze Mage in the Winner’s Final.
In a matchup which I categorize as the most one-sided in the whole of Hearthstone, Forsen manages to pull out enough damage to take the win through multiple fireballs – a truly heroic performance.
Battle of the Best was a comparatively smaller tournament but it had no shortage of talking points and great matches.
I found that this tournament highlighted the impact of Hunter on the metagame more than any tournament previously.
Looking at the decks that the competitors brought and the lengths to which they went to try and counter Hunter was quite astonishing.
I think this is likely to continue all the way to Blizzcon so strap up and prepare for the Hounds to be unleashed!