We are two days into the World Championship of Hearthstone and the Group Winners have been decided. No player has been eliminated yet but there are only four more spots in the top eight. There’s been one major upset but there’s still lots of twists that can happen. For now, let’s look at the 2019 HCT World Championship Group Stage Winners.
The very first match of the Championship was between Raphael “Bunnyhoppor” Peltzer and Wu “BloodTrail” Zong-Chang. This first set went the distance to a hard fought Game 5. Bunnyhoppor was able to take Game 1 with his Zoolock after realizing he missed lethal on the turn before BloodTrail conceded. BloodTrail came back and won the Midrange Hunter mirror match in Game 2. The final game came down to Bunnyhoppor’s Summoner Mage versus BloodTrail’s Zoolock. Bunnyhoppor was teched for the match up, stabilized at just four health and won the game.
The second initial match was Guan “SNJing” Zhendong against Wu “XiaoT” Juwei, two Chinese talents going head-to-head. Jing had a performance that might come as a little surprise, sweeping XiaoT 3-0. Jing was able to beat XiaoT’s Tempo Rogue with his own, then beat Rogue again in the next game with his Zoolock. In the last game, his Token Druid finished off the Midrange Hunter of XiaoT.
The Winners match would then be between Bunnyhoppor and Jing. Yet another hard fought battle, it went the full five games. Game 1 saw Jing win the Zoolock mirror match, as he gained a very fast card advantage, while Bunnyhoppor had to sit on Arch-Villain Rafaam. In Game 2, Bunnyhoppor came back and won a favorable match up with his Summoner Mage against the Bomb Warrior of Jing.
Jing won Game 3 with his Bomb Warrior over Miracle Rogue. Bunnyhoppor took another favorable with his Zoo beating Token Druid. In the final game, Bunny was able to defeat the Token Druid again with Miracle Rogue. His Fan of Knives crushed Jing’s Whispering Woods turn. Bunnyhoppor, one of the favorite to win the tournament, has already won his group.
Group B’s first match would be between David “killinallday” Acosta and Mihal “languagehacker” Dragalin. In Game 1, languagehacker effectively controlled the Zoolock with his Control Shaman. From there, however, it was all killinallday. He took three straight games off languagehacker, with his Zoo, Bomb Warrior and Nomi Priest.
The second match of the group was between Xu “LFYueying” Kai and Muzahidul “Muzzy” Islam. There have been no shortage of long fought games, as this set also went to Game 5. Muzzy was able to win the Rogue mirror, but took three games in order to find a win with his Zoolock, losing to Rogue and Midrange Hunter. The final game would be quite unfavorable for Muzzy, facing Summoner Mage with Control Shaman, resulting in a victory for Yueying.
From there, the winners Killinallday and Yueying would go on to play yet another five game set in order to determine the winner of the group. In Game 1, killin got his Dr. Boom, Mad Genius online and was able to stall out the Myra’s Unstable Element from Yueying for the win. In Game 2, Yueying was able to take control against Zoolock with his Midrange Hunter. He then went again for the win with his Rogue, losing to the Zoo. Down 2-1, Yueying was able to beat the Nomi Priest with both his Summoner Mage and Tempo Rogue, claiming the group.
The match to lead off Group C would be between Casper “Hunterace” Notto and Mark “Ike” Eichner. Hunterace was favored in the set and he showed us why. The one exception was Game 1, where he took questionable lines of play with his Control Shaman, and let Ike get a Leeroy Jenkins plus Shadowstep lethal. Though from there, Hunter ace took two in a row off Ike’s Zoolock with his own Rogue and the Control Shaman. Then we won the final game against Token Druid with his Summoner Mage teched for the match up.
The second initial match of Group C would be that of David “justsaiyan” Shan and Kacper “A83650” Kwieciński. This became a good old game of Hearthstone, going to Game 5. The first match was Saiyan’s Control Shaman against A8’s Overload Shaman. Saiyan couldn’t manage the board and resources for the whole game, and A8 got a great pull off of The Storm Bringer to summon a huge board for his Bloodlust. The struggling point for A8 was his Rogue, he played three games with it and could not find a single win, leading to saiyan’s victory.
The two favorites to win the group, Hunterace and Justsaiyan, would meet in the winners match. Saiyan would actually prove to make pretty quick work of Hunterace 3-1. Hunterace was able to win with his Summoner Mage in the first game, but couldn’t win the Rogue mirror match. He then also lost to the Control Shaman with his Rogue, and was unable to beat Zoo with his own Control Shaman. There were a lot of question marks for Hunterace in the Shaman versus Zoo game as he had a lot of un-played cards that were effective for the matchup when he lost.
Group D would lead off with Luo “Roger” Shengyuan versus Tyler “Tyler” Hoang Nguyen. Roger would show us why his super greedy lineup was so good against the field, sweeping Tyler 3-0 in dominating fashion. Roger’s Paladin was up against a slower Rogue, allowing him to develop his big Mechs. Then his Hunter was designed specifically to defeat Warrior, which it did no problem. Lastly, Roger got another favorable matchup with his Summoner Mage against Control Shaman.
The second match between Brian “bloodyface” Eason and Torben “Viper” Wahl would be much closer, going five games. Viper’s Hunter showed why its favored against Warrior, winning there. Then Bloodyface came back with his own Hunter to keep Zoolock in check. Viper was able to take the win in the Summoner Mage mirror match thanks in part to getting a Houndmaster Shaw to give all of his minions Rush. Though Viper had two more tries with his Zoo, he failed to beat Summoner Mage or Control Warrior, which were tough match ups from the start.
Bloodyface would then face Roger to decide the winner of the group. There was no shortage of action in this set, going to yet another Game 5. Unfortunately, Bloodyface would have to play his Warrior against the anti-Warrior lineup of Roger. Bloodyface was smart about it however, forcing Roger to play his own Warrior as well to force the two into each other.
Bloodyface had no problem beating the greedy Paladin with his Rogue, and the greedy Hunter with his Summoner Mage. He would then lose two unfavorable match ups with his Warrior against the Oblivitron Hunter and Mech Paladin. Bloodyface then won the group by effectively navigating the Warrior match and getting Dr. Boom online early.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via the PlayHearthstone Twitch channel.