Hearthstone Grandmasters Season 2 kicks off this week starting on August 23. Hearthstone Esports have mixed up the divisions and format from Season 1 to try to make the league fresh and exciting. Let’s go over some of the changes, and what players to look out for in Season 2.
A lot of professional Hearthstone players have voiced their complaints about the Specialist format. The biggest of those being that in bad match ups, a player’s skill is removed from the match. So, for Season 2 they have implemented a Conquest format with a “Shield Phase”.
It will be very similar to how old Conquest worked, with players bringing four decks, each from a different class. Then the Shield Phase occurs, in which players select one of their own decks that cannot be banned. Then players will ban one of the remaining decks of the opponent. That leaves three decks that players can choose from to play in a best-of-three set.
The difference in this format from traditional Conquest, is that you do not have to win with every deck you have. Sets are only a best-of-three, requiring you to win with just two of your decks. Once you win with a deck, though, you cannot play that deck again. This remix of the Conquest format does make improvements. Oftentimes in the past, sets would be decided by a bad matchup in the final game, where that is now unlikely to happen.
Improvements for Players, Spectators, and Production
To make some new rivalries and stories, while continuing some old ones, the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th place finishers from each division in Season 1 are swapping in Season 2. This will allow us to fully flesh out some of the player match ups that transcend the deck archetype matchups.
The semifinals of Grandmasters will now be a best-of-five, rather than just the finals. They are trying harder to leave less of the games to chance, and satisfy the audience’s desire for less RNG. Also the top four players will advance to playoffs instead of just the top three. This is the pinnacle of Hearthstone play we are talking about, so allowing the top 50 percent of players to advance makes more sense than just the top 38 percent.
Another plus for audiences and the production team for Grandmasters is having 16 matches a day on Friday through Sunday instead of stacking 18 matches on Sunday. We saw in Season 1 how long a single day of games can go thanks to the popularity of slow Warrior decks. This change can help shorten those days by fairly spreading it out across three.
Players to Watch
With David “Dog” Caero resigning from the league after the inaugural season, Edward “Gallon” Goodwin has been promoted to the league after a solid last year and a fantastic showing at Masters Tour Las Vegas. Gallon is definitely a top player to watch in the Americas region. Also expect Jerome “Monsanto” Faucher, Eddie “Eddie” Lui and Frank “Fr0zen” Zhang to make a return to the playoffs in Season 2.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Kim “Surrender” Jung-soo was the winner of Season 1. Expect him to make a solid run again in Season 2, as well as Yashima “Alutemu” Nozomi, Liu “Shaxy” Wei-Chieh, and Jang “Dawn” Hyun who also made playoffs in Season 1. Alutemu has shown that its not just the veterans that are the best players. With the playoff expansion, we would expect to see Wu “BloodTrail” Zong-Chang and Cho “Flurry” Hyun Soo also make playoffs.
Lastly we have Europe, probably the most competitive region of all. You go down every name on the list and you could legitimately see all of them winning Grandmasters. The only exception is maybe former world champion Pavel “Pavel” Beltukov, who struggled heavily in Season 1 and has to find a way to change his approach. Reigning world champion Casper “Hunterace” Notto is definitely primed to strike and get a seat at the Global Finals.
You can watch everything unfold on the PlayHearthstone Twitch channel starting this Friday to catch your favorites in action in Hearthstone Grandmasters Season 2.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via their official website.