The groups for the Hearthstone World Championship starting on April 24 have been announced. We will take a look at each group in separate articles as the Championship gets nearer. The first will be the Hearthstone 2019 World Championship Group A Preview.
Raphael “Bunnyhoppor” Peltzer
Bunnyhoppor is easily the favorite to be the winner of Group A. He has consistently put out strong showings throughout international tournament play all year long. He attended two Seasonal Championships, winning one and finishing second in the other. Bunnyhoppor has played with great confidence and has been mostly error-free.
Bunnyhoppor and other Group A member Wu “XiaoT” Juwei have participated in several of the same events. The two have yet to face each other in tournament in the last year however. Bunnyhoppor recently had a very close set against “SNJing” in the Winter Championship 3-2. If the two have to go head-to-head once again, it could go either way.
Bunnyhoppor did however recently beat fellow World Champs competitor Muzahidul “Muzzy” Islam in StarLadder Ultimate Series. Should the two meet in the top eight at the World Championship, Bunnyhoppor would have confidence knowing he’s beaten Muzzy at least once before.
Wu “BloodTrail” Zong-Chang
BloodTrail is certainly a rising star in the Taiwanese Hearthstone scene. He put up the best 2018 performance of any Taiwanese player. Like Bunnyhoppor, he attended two Seasonal Championships. He struggled badly in the first one, but was able to shake off that performance to finish top four in the next.
BloodTrail’s most impressive performance of last year comes from his winning of the All-Star Invitational. There he defeated last year’s World Champion Chen “tom60229” Wei Lin, and could possibly succeed him for the title of World Champion. He also defeated both Muzzy and Casper “Hunterace” Notto in that tournament. Those two players will likely be names in the top eight he will have to face, and he has shown he can beat them in the clutch.
BloodTrail actually has a fair amount of experience against the overall field of players in the World Championship. Who he lacks tournament play against is those who are in his group. If he were to be tripped up by someone, that could certainly happen in the group stage.
Wu “XiaoT” Juwei
XiaoT is expected to do the best of the Chinese players because he has the most established name in the international scene. He became a consistent part of the top level of competitive Hearthstone within the last year, but really failed to travel overseas. He made it to the Championship by points earned and not a top finish, so he still has a lot to prove.
XiaoT defeated Hunterace in the China vs. Europe Championship, but they are in different groups. He also has a 3-0 set against Torben “Viper” Wahl in last year’s Summer Championship. He was also swept in the same event by Kacper “A83950” Kwieciński.
None of his experience comes against players in his group however. He is definitely an underdog, having to beat BloodTrail and Bunnyhoppor to advance from the group.
Guan “SNJing” Zhendong
The odds are heavily stacked against Jing in this group. Also hailing from China, Jing is fresh on the international scene making his way to Worlds from the Winter Championship. Not really much is known about him, but we can base our predictions on his performance in his one international event.
Jing defeated both Viper and Brian “bloodyface” Eason in the Winter Championship, only being defeated by Bunnyhoppor in the top four. Bunnyhoppor is in his group in the World Championship, and he will have to have a revenge match in order to advance.
Overall, he played error-free Hearthstone and it seems he could advance from the group if he plays his cards right. Either way, both Chinese players are unfavored to knock out both Bunnyhoppor and BloodTrail.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via their official website.