The first of the Winter Playoffs concluded over the weekend. Some players shocked a lot of the top talent, and some of the best return to the Winter Championship. Here is how we got our 2019 HCT EU Winter Finalists.
The four Europeans on their way to the Winter Championship are Raphael “Bunnyhoppor” Peltzer, Torben “Viper” Wahl, Oldřich “Faeli” Mahdal, and “ThunderUP”.
Reaching the Top 8
Seven rounds of Swiss play would determine the final eight players that would battle it out to go to the Winter Championship. A record of 5-2 or better after seven rounds would be the requirement to advance.
Damien “Yogg” L’Hostis, Thijs “Thijs” Molendijk, George “BoarControl” Webb, and several others were all 5-2, but they didn’t have the tiebreakers needed to be in the top eight.
Mauri “Maur1” Hartikainen was the leader of the pack finishing the Swiss rounds 7-0. He defeated Thijs in the final round of Swiss, spoiling his chances of advancing. He also beat Faeli who would advance to top eight.
Bunnyhoppor and Viper finished the group stages 6-1. Both these players who have already qualified for the World Championship make yet another top eight Playoffs appearance.
A couple of new faces in Turkish player ThunderUP and Russian player “Psyhodel” appear in the top eight. ThunderUP is a challenger tier player who really showed the world how talented he is in this tournament, defeating the likes of Kevin “Casie” Eberlein, who would advance to top eight alongside him.
Rouding out the top eight was Dawid “dawido” Florczyk, a Polish player who has quietly had a strong 2018 performance.
The Top 8 Meta
Seven of the players making making it to the top eight had both Hunter and Priest decks. The only one to not have Hunter was Viper and the only player without Priest was Psyhodel.
It was unsurprising that Hunter was everywhere but only just over half of the enter player pool brought Priest. This goes to show the strength of the meta decks for that class, considering only one person without Priest made it to top eight.
It seems the best Hunter archetype is Hybrid Hunter, as six of the seven lists were this type. The last list was Deathrattle Hunter. As for Priest, six of the seven lists were Dragon Control Priest, while the last list was Clone Priest.
There were three Odd Rogues among the lists in the top eight. Also present were two Odd Paladins and two Even Paladins. All five of the Warlocks present in the top eight were Even Warlock.
Viper had quite the unusual lineup overall, bringing Odd Warrior, Big Spell Mage, and “Peanut” Shaman with Shudderwock. He made it work though as he is through to the Winter Championship. Psyhodel had an Even Shaman in his lineup and Maur1 brought a Togwaggle Druid. These three players were the only ones with decks that could be considered unusual.
Maur1 would have a ton of work ahead of him if he wanted to advance from the beast of a group composed of Faeli, Bunnyhoppor, and Casie.
The initial matches saw Casie defeated Maur1 3-1 and Faeli take down Bunnyhoppor 3-1. Bunnyhoppor would go on to eliminate Maur1 in a 3-1 set. Maur1 just couldn’t really get anything going for himself in either set, struggling with his Togwaggle Druid.
The winners match and the deciders match would both be full five game sets. In the winners match Faeli defeated Casie 3-2. It was important for Faeli to take the game one Control Priest mirror. He would go down 2-1 and have to make a comeback. The final match would come down to Faeli’s Even Paladin into the Even Warlock of Casie. After some Misplays by Casie, Faeli ripped open the game with Army of the Dead resulting in the win.
In the deciders match Bunnyhoppor would take the seat away from Casie 3-2. It was a really tough loss for Casie losing to both players being only a game away from victory. Bunnyhoppor would go down 2-0 and have to mount a reverse sweep comeback.
Casie’s Even Warlock ended up being the weak link, as he failed five times to earn a single win with the deck in either set. Bunnyhoppor would beat the deck with all of his Hybrid Hunter, Even Paladin, and his own Even Warlock.
Group B was nearly as brutal as group A, having Viper, ThunderUP, Psyhodel, and dawido.
The initial matches were both quick and easy 3-0 sweeps, with Viper defeating Psyhodel and dawido defeating ThunderUP. ThunderUP would go on to eliminate the Russian Psyhodel 3-1 in the losers bracket. Psyhodel had a really good tournament to get to the top eight, but once there he seemed to flop.
The winners match would be Viper versus dawido. It would be a long five game set resulting in a victory for Viper 3-2. It would take Viper two tries to win with his Peanut Shaman. Game five was actually ridiculously long between dawido’s Evenlock and the Shaman of Viper. Viper was taken all the way down to five health when Shudderwock was drawn. Viper had his life saved by the Tidal Surges returned to his hand by Shudderwock and forced fatigue for the victory over dawido.
The decider match would be between dawido and ThunderUP. The up and comer ThunderUP would squeeze by dawido 3-2 after five games. Dawido must feel just as bad as Casie, also being just a game away from the Winter Championship two times. ThunderUP would have to come back down 2-1 against the Evenlock of dawido. The Hunter burned dawido down hard and some questionable lines of play in the final game led to dawido being out of options against Odd Rogue.
The Winter Playoffs will continue next week with the Americas region. We expect more suspenseful Hearthstone, and there will certainly be plenty of it all weekend long, just as we saw in the European playoffs.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via the PlayHearthstone twitch channel.