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Esports Hearthstone

Tarei Claims Victory at HCT Oakland

HCT Oakland

The Hearthstone Championship tour had its most recent stop at the Esports Arena in Oakland, California over the weekend. This is the first stop in the Americas for Season 2. HCT Oakland was a wild two day event in which Jeffrey “Tarei” Liu came out victorious.

A Still Changing Meta

A lot of unique decks were featured on the main stage stream for the event. From Skull of the Man’ari Zoolock to Overload Spirit Shaman, decklists were coming out of the woodwork and performing better than expected.

HCT Oakland
An unusual Overload Shaman deck saw unexpected success.

Taunt Warrior was the second most brought deck to HCT Oakland. The deck was abandoned by many in previous tournaments because it tended to be the reason why most players would lose. It has recently seen a resurgence simply because of the popularity of Odd Paladin.

Coveted HCT Points

HCT Oakland
Current Americas HCT points leaders

There might be only one winner at HCT Oakland, but there are a ton of tour points to be had. This being a tour stop in the Americas, a ton of American players were able to acquire a good amount of points for their cause.

A lot of familiar faces barely missed the top eight playoff cut. Steve “yoitsflo” Florention, David “Shoop” Steinberg, Julien “Cydonia” Perrault, and Devin “DrJikininki” Garthright all collected four points at this stop for placing in the top 32. Francisco “PNC” Leimontas got six points for the top 16.

The Grand Finalists Josh “Impact” Graham and Tarei received 12 and 15 points, respectively.

Anti-Control Over Control

Two very slow lineups made it to the Grand Finals at HCT Oakland. Tarei had brought a lineup with the intention of beating control with Shudderwock Shaman, Quest Rogue, Cube Warlock and Malygos Druid. Impact had the simple game plan of beating aggro with Malygos Druid, Quest Warrior, Control Priest, and Even Warlock.

As the matchup dictated, Tarei was able to take down Impact’s control lineup three games to one. Tarei took the first game with Shudderwock Shaman over the Malygos Druid by reaching the Infinite Shudderwock combo before Impact could develop anything.

The second game was a Malygos Druid mirror in which Impact won by way of Tyrantus rather than Malygos. A big minion that just sticks to the board is hard to overcome. Impact was able to output 39 damage in a single turn.

HCT Oakland
Spot the lethal.

In the third game, Tarei’s Malygos Druid was simply able to out-heal the damage output of Control Priest. Then, in the final game, Tarei played Bloodreaver Guldan and was able to repeatedly Hero Power Shadowreaper Anduin’s face for the victory.

A Long Time Coming

HCT Oakland
Tarei in his post-victory interview with Frodan.

Tarei has been playing Hearthstone for a really long time. He played in the 2014 World Championship but finished in the bottom four. He got second place at the 2016 Summer Championship. Finally, at HCT Oakland, Tarei gets his first competitive Hearthstone tournament victory.

Tarei’s teammate David “killinallday” Acosta has already found a seat at this year’s World Championship. Tarei will look to make the Season 2 playoffs and try to earn his spot alongside him.


The next Season 2 tour stop will be HCT Tokyo.


Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via the Esports Arena Twitch channel and Tarei’s Twitter.

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