The last of the Group Stage matches has been completed and the Hearthstone Global Games top 8 decided. From shocking upsets to amazing comebacks, it all went down over the last few days. It’s time to break down what went right or wrong and who are the teams headed to BlizzCon.
Ukraine squeezed by Switzerland in a very long 5 game set, 3-2. The match lasted two and a half hours with Eugene “Neirea” Shumilin clutching out the last match.
That last game was Deathrattle Hunter versus Switzerland’s Token Druid. Switzerland took some very aggressive and questionable lines at the end of the game. They basically wanted to try to win the game on a coin flip that the Ukraine had won. Rather than trying to generate a board that the Ukraine could not deal with after seeing Mossy Horror, Switzerland tried to set up an Ultimate Infestation lethal. Ukraine had the Deathstalker Rexxar which basically meant the end of the game.
It is certainly an interesting question to ask how long Switzerland calculated the outs that they had before making that play. They certainly could have waited and tried to set up Savage Roar plus Branching Path lethals with large board. They may have thought that Hunter’s Cube shenanigans would not allow enough time, but it’s hard to go all in on a risky game plan like Switzerland did.
After winning that match, the Ukraine had to face Norway, who just came off a loss in the winners match against China. Norway went up 2-0 early, but China completed the reverse sweep with two big wins coming from “Trunks”.
Casper “Hunterace” Notto very questionably kept two Corridor Creepers in the mulligan for a Odd Paladin mirror in the final game five, which ended up hurtting Norway big time since they didn’t draw a one-mana card to play on turn one.
Norway did a good job of clearing their heads after that loss, because they came back and beat Ukraine 3-1 to make top 8 with China from their group. Last year’s leaders for Ukraine, Neirea and Aleksandr “Kolento” Malsh, just could not put up a win to help out their team.
Very solid play from Norway shined for them throughout the match. In the final game, Ukraine’s Big Spell Mage couldn’t find enough AOE to keep up with the board states that Deathrattle Hunter created. Neirea humbly conceded and Norway makes it to BlizzCon, while the Ukraine cannot improve upon last year’s second place finish.
Brazil’s Dominant Comeback
Being the only team to be undefeated in the previous stage of group play, Brazil wasn’t expected to lose their first game like they did. They needed to win the next two in a row.
They started off by working through Chile three games to one. Brazil’s control oriented lineup simply outlasted a lot of the strength of the more aggressive decks brought by the Chilean team.
Brazil would then have to defeat Portugal, who came off of a very tough loss against Spain 3-2. Spain advanced and is making their first trip to BlizzCon as a team. Brazil would go on to beat Portugal 3-1 and join them there for their first BlizzCon as well.
Brazil didn’t make any slip ups in either match. At the end of the day a little luck went their way, but that’s also the nature of Hearthstone itself. They defeated Portugal in the last game with a Faceless Manipulator copy of a 12/7 Spellbreaker that had two Val’anyrs attached to it. Quite a wild game and an appropriately exciting finish before BlizzCon.
After being as close as one game away from BlizzCon, the United Kingdom fell short in their match against Hong Kong. The team greatly improved upon their top 48 performance from last year, but are definitely not happy with the way that things panned out.
The random queue order somewhat leaned in favor of Hong Kong, but the Shudderwock Shaman mirror was the key match in the set. Hong Kong drew their Shudderwock first and before all of their combo pieces, but went for the very aggressive line of play. It payed off as Britain had no answer for the board and subsequent Shudderwocks despite each one costing nine mana.
In the last game, the UK let Hong Kong have their fun upon realizing it was all over.
US Earlier Exit than Expected
The United States is really unhappy about not making it to BlizzCon. They finished in the top four last year and had an opportunity to prove themselves as the best region this year. With arguably a top three roster of players, they just couldn’t get the job done.
In their set against Taiwan, the first match saw what happens when Vicious Fledgling doesn’t get immediately removed. It ended up almost solo killing the token druid of the US. The US team did win the next game which was an unfavorable matchup with Deathrattle Hunter over Tempo Mage, but that was all they would get.
Taiwan saw a really lucky end to the Shudderwock versus Tempo Mage matchup, getting crucial healing at exactly the right time. The US was barely out of range for so long, and played it the best they could. In the final game, some questionable play combined with bad draw saw the US’s Control Priest lose the set.
The Top 8
The teams headed to BlizzCon this year are Bulgaria, Brazil, China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, and Taiwan. With the exception of China and New Zealand, all of these players are seeing their first BlizzCon as a team.
The teams have over a month to prepare as the main event will not take place until November 2. Before then, many of the great players of each team will play in singles events which will help prepare them.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via the PlayHearthstone twitch channel.