Appreciation and Analysis: A breakdown of My Experience at Hearthstone Winter Playoffs
Written By: Dominique “Itachi” Roberts
First things first, I would like to extend a thank you to the members of the THL community. Since the day I queued up my first match in the Challenger Cup, I felt nothing but overwhelming support from THL. All the way up through my final loss at Playoffs, everyone was warm, supportive, and wanted to see me do well. Perhaps having more confidence in me than I had in myself even. For that, I’m thankful on a level with which words cannot express. To each and everyone that said, or even thought about wanting me to do well, I appreciate you.
I haven’t done a tournament report in QUITE some time, but I feel like it’s something that our community lacks, and I really used to enjoy it in my Yu-Gi-Oh! Days. Friday, I arrived in Baltimore, grabbed my rental car after a TON of confusion that ended in me paying a security deposit straight out of my bank account, I was on my way to my hotel. I checked in and played a few games with some teammates before calling it a night and prepping for the morning.
I arrived at the venue about halfway through check in. I was given a few pieces of information, made to sign some forms, and given some nice little trinkets for participating. The guys at The Cave in Fairfax, VA were welcoming and pretty upbeat, even with the knowledge that a long weekend was ahead of them.
After some doughnuts and chitchat, round 1 was going up. I wasn’t very nervous, but after seeing the lineups that had been entered for the event, I had a less-than-stellar amount of confidence with my selections. I decided on Control Priest, Odd Paladin, Secret/Hybrid Hunter, and Odd Warrior after seeing the results of the European Playoffs the previous week. I adapted to what I saw, and not to what I expected people to adapt to. My teaching in Yu-Gi-Oh that made me successful was that I always needed to be a step ahead of the last event, because that’s what people will gravitate towards. Well for the future I know that Hearthstone is quite a bit different in tournament prep that immediately follows a large tournament completion. Great knowledge for the future, and for anyone preparing for an event. I was very comfortable piloting all of my decks, though, so I just went with the flow.
Round 1: HotMEOWTH(3-0 W)
In this game I actually had a battlefy error that stated I banned his Rogue(the best deck for me to potentially sweep), when I actually banned his Paladin. I immediately reported the issue on the Battlefy app which happened before he submitted his ban. Since I did it before obtaining information, Blizzard let my ban go through and we proceeded with the game.
Game 1 - Secret Hunter Mirror
In this game, I was able to pressure out HotMEOWTH by constantly presenting threat after threat. He was able to spellstone first, but I had a few trades into Rexxar into a spellstone of my own. There came a point in the game where had to Zuljin with only an 8/6 on his board and a few minions on mine. My poisonous Cave Hydra lived and instead of attacking into it with his 8/6 stealth beast, he let it live and I got to attack a wolf and kill it off while still stealthed and keeping my hydra alive. I wasn’t sure his reasoning behind that but shortly after, I played a Zul’jin while he had no cards, and that pretty much sealed it.
Game 2 - Odd Pally v. Tempo Pirate Rogue
I was a bit taken aback by this deck choice, but he did play 2 Fan of Knives so I was very weary of the potential blowout if I wasn’t careful. I figured I was favored so no need to play recklessly.
Game 3 - Control Priest v. Tempo Pirate Rogue
Priest did it’s thing and I was on my way to a 3-0 victory, and I was fairly proud of the fact that I didn’t have any nervous shakes nor did I make any critical, noticeable, errors in play. It gave me a little hope that if I could see some more lineups that were in my favor, I could win no matter who the pilot on the other end was.
Round 2: Lnguagehackr(2-3 L)
This was the quad combo lineup that I feared the most, as my Odd Warrior could NOT stand up to decks that just needed time to assemble a combo that would not fail.
Game 1: Odd Paladin v. Mechathun Warlock
A Witches Cauldron saved me here with a HUGE Storm Bringer to create a board that he was unable to clear. To be fair, though, a Fungalmancer or Raid Leader drawn that turn would have just been lethal, but I didn’t have those cards so I dealt my damage and made a board of Legendaries that a Godfrey couldn’t clear thankfully!
Game 2: Control Priest v. Clone Priest
This was actually a pretty bad time. During this game, I had the PERFECT hand. I had Scream for his gallery should he not be able to OTK me, I had Anduin, I had Alexstraza, and I had some damage. I had a Twilight Drake on the board that was chipping away and he was struggling to find answers to. At a pivotal point in the game, my client disconnects. A few turns go by where Lnguagehackr could play but all I saw was a frozen card. We were instructed to restart the game and I drew absolute garbage and got OTK’d on turn 8. RIP.
Game 3: Control Priest v. Mechathun Warlock
I won the favored matchup by doing the things needed to win.
Game 4: Odd Warrior v. Mechathun Warlock
He drew the cards and won the game, that’s about all there was to that one.
Game 5: Odd Warrior v. Hakkar Druid
This was actually an interesting game because I realized that I needed to pressure him pretty quickly if I could, and that his removal only went up to a certain breakpoint and if I could exceed that, I could potentially get him to play his Naturalizes a bit early and make my death a bit slower. So I Omega Assembly on turn 1 and take Mechathun. Later on in the game I Omega Assembly for Beryllium Nullifier with the intent on putting it on Mechathun to create a monster that he could not get rid of. And as crazy as it sounded, it worked! I even forced him to put a ton of bloods in his deck while still digging for Togwaggle which was buried in a sea of about 5 or 6 Corrupted Bloods by the time my turn came around. He had an acolyte of pain up which I hit with my Supercollider to make him draw a few bloods, then I shield slammed it to make him draw a few more. A hit from mechathun would set him down to 7 life with a TON of bloods in his deck, and basically Togwaggle had to come before 3 bloods or he would die. Well he drew a blood, and then drew Togwaggle. Played it and Naturalized it to do well over 50 damage to me by the time I had drawn for turn. He commended me on playing towards my outs, and I was pretty proud of the fact that I almost turned that abysmal matchup into a win.
Round 3: Monsanto(1-3 L)
At this point I’m thinking, my goodness are all of my opponents going to be Tier 1?! What happened to the players like me that barely made it, why can’t I play them?!
Game 1: Secret Hunter v. Evenlock
I full mulliganed a hand of Zul’jin, Flanking, and Snipe and got pretty much useless cards. I did manage to get a 3 wolf Spellstone on 5, but that’s after he had played Mountain Giant with me having no Freezing or Razormaw or Hunters Mark answer. I lost to the pressure of the 8/8. I felt terrible for letting his Evenlock through on a deck that was not Odd Paladin
Game 2: Control Priest Mirror
Came down to the very late game gamestate where we were both very low on cards, and he got to Anduin before I was able to and his damage outburst my ability to heal. I couldn’t find the time to play Anduin by the time I had drawn it and was forced out of the game by his correct play turn after turn.
Game 3: Odd Paladin v. Secret Hunter
A Witch’s Cauldron here got me Blazing Invocation which got me Lightfused Stegodon which got my Silver Hand Recruits +3 Attack which was lethal. What a card.
Game 4: Control Priest v. Secret Hunter
I didn’t have Duskbreaker, Hysteria, or Tar Creeper to fight back from the Spellstone turn and a lot of damage was done to me in a short amount of time after a Hyena/Rhino/Springpaw came down into my Alextraza setup for lethal play.
Next two matches
It was at this point that I kind of mentally checked out, knowing that I couldn’t make top 8. So I just stuck around and played the next matches anyways. Nothing really interesting happened in them and I spent most of my time watching Noblord play next to me and look extremely stressed while he did it. I was kind of just playing cards, and I won a few games but I wasn’t really invested anymore, despite the chance of higher prizing for top 32 placement. I lost the next two matches and was dropped from Swiss rounds.
During day 2, I met up with CaseyClarke at the venue and we played some games and watched the stream while we hung out for a bit! We even got an awesome picture out of it and it was extremely warming to meet someone from THL, even though he’s just a baby!
Thanks for reading, and I can’t wait to jump back full force into THL and prepare for whatever competitive changes Blizzard decides to make with Hearthstone!
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