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Hearthstone: 2019 HCT Asia-Pacific Winter Playoffs Preview

2019 HCT Asia-Pacific Winter Playoffs Preview

The final playoff to decide the last four competitors at the Winter Championship ends with the Asia-Pacific region starting on January 25. Being the last region to compete, they’ve gotten to see a lot of decks that the other regions thought were the best in the current meta. We’ll be going over the fact that they have definitely deviated from the meta in our 2019 HCT Asia-Pacific Winter Playoffs preview.

Expected Favorites

They’ve got a comparable amount of competitors to the other regions with 77 in total, one more than the Americas. Only one of the three Asian Hearthstone Masters have their seat at the World Championship, and his name is Wu “BloodTrail” Zong-Chang.

BloodTrail will be in attendance at Playoffs along with the two other masters. Those Masters are ahq e-Sports Club’s “Shaxy”, and “Ryvius” from South Korea. Ryvius has shown he is a top flight competitor, and probably the current best Korean player. Shaxy has been quite good himself, but his reputation has been tainted by his violation of the rules in the Global Games.

BloodTrail is actually the only player from the entire Asia-Pacific region to have a seat locked at the World Championship. This is the last shot at a seat for many of the talented players from the region. One of the most notable is defending World Champion Chen “tom60229” Wei Lin. He has enjoyed little success in 2018 and this is his last opportunity at defending his title.

2019 HCT Asia-Pacific Winter Playoffs Preview
tom could fail to make Worlds to defend his title

Kim “Surrender” Jung-soo didn’t have a major breakout performance in 2018 but remained consistent. He had his strongest showing yet at All-Stars last month and has a chance to make back-to-back World Championships. Tyler “Tyler” Hoang Nguyen had a fantastic 2018 transitioning from Europe to Asia. He is poised to try again at the Winter Championship after just missing Worlds in the Summer Championship.

Ladder Grinders

Asia-Pacific has struggled to get many players through to the World Championship this year. Though, they definitely grind out ladder points as much as they can. Many players that reach the top eight this weekend could be names we don’t get to see often in tournament.

2019 HCT Asia-Pacific Winter Playoffs Preview
SamuelTsao could easily be in the Winter Championship

One such player is Tsao “SamuelTsao” Tsu Lin from Taiwan. He had one strong showing at HCT Seoul losing only to Casper “Hunterace” Notto in the final. He has worked hard to try to return to the World Championship again to improve on last year’s performance.

From Hong Kong, “blitzchung” has received some international recognition for his play. He made a couple of top eights, and helped lead Hong Kong to a top six finish in the Global Games. He’s given the world’s best a run for their money and will try to make the Winter Championship. Jin “Katsucurry” Shuen Toh also had a solid 2018. This Singapore representative also rocks two top eight finishes and helped his country reach top eight at the Global Games.

Japan had a handful of players with strong showings throughout 2018. Kenta “glory” Sato represented Japan at the Summer Championship where his run came to an unfortunate end against David “killinallday” Acosta. Fellow Japanese player Shuhei “Tansoku” Omura was also in the Summer Championship. Both players will try again to make it to the World Championship.

The Meta

The Asia-Pacific region has broken the streak for the most represented class being Hunter. Rather, we see Paladin take over that position with 70 of the 77 players bringing the class. They even differ in what type of Paladin as well. They are going back to Even Paladin rather than the Holy Wrath OTK Paladin.

Hunter is the second most represented class now but nothing really changed in terms of the archetype. It seems the Asia-Pacific players have doubled down with nearly 70 percent of the Hunter decks being Hybrid Hunter.

Priest is the third most represented class, which is no surprise after what we saw in the last two playoffs. The interesting thing to point out is the archetype shift from mostly Control Priest to 50 percent of the decks being Clone Priest. This is surely a response to the volume of OTK Paladin expected, as Control Priest can struggle to finish off the deck.

2019 HCT Asia-Pacific Winter Playoffs Preview
The card that refuses to die

Another surprise is the huge uptick in the amount of Quest Rogue present. 29 percent of Rogue decks present for the Asia-Pacific playoffs will be Quest Rogue. This again could likely be a response to all of the Control from Paladin and Priest in the previous playoffs.

Continuing along this line of anti-control meta, the most common Warlock deck is not Even but Mecha’thun. The deck saw some moderate success in the Americas playoffs and is befitting of the anti-control lineup for Asian players. Hakkar Druid is also being looked at favorably with 50 percent of the Druids will be this archetype.

A lot of players in the Asia-Pacific Winter Playoffs are all-in on the anti-control lineup, and we will have to see if it will payoff. It will be difficult for these lineups to compete against Hunter, and the decrease in OTK Paladin in favor of Even Paladin.


Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via the official Hearthstone website.

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