GosuRankings report: Hearthstone player rankings, May 2014
Who were the best players and teams as of May 2014? Our debut GosuRankings report has you covered.
Because this is the first time we ever do a feature on GosuRankings, I guess a few words of introduction need be written. Please, do go through the paragraphs below, they are an important guide to what GosuRankings represent, how to read them, how are they calculated and how do they behave within the current state of competitive Hearthstone.
Q: What are the GosuRankings?
A: The GosuRankings are GosuGamers’ official player and team rankings, first established during the BroodWar days of the website. With time, they were linked to more and more disciplines and at the present time, they are among the most accurate player/team ranking systems for Dota 2, League of Legends and since March 2014 – for Hearthstone as well.
In its core, the GosuRankings are a collection of competitive tournaments with varying importance which determine players’ position in the rankings depending how they have performed in the tournaments recorded in the database. As of the time of this article, more than 200 Hearthstone televised tournaments, weekly cups, qualifiers and showmatches have been recorded. Note, that GosuRankings do not take into account ladder results or player’s popularity – it is only tournament performance that matters.
Q: What do you mean by “varying tournament importance”?
A: We believe that like in every sport, different tournaments have different importance. Winning BlizzCon world championship, for example, should yield significantly more points than grabbing a $100 weekly cup. When we create a tournament, we weigh in several factors like prize pool, participating players, format, offline/online, length of tournament and several more.
We also constantly re-evaluate these tournament tiers and adjust future events based on where they stand in the current competitive eco system.
Q: How are players’ rankings calculated?
A: The GosuRankings are loosely based on an Elo system, with few adjustments to have it more adequately fit the needs of the eSports climate. When they compete in tournaments, players win and lose different amount of points, which depends on the current ranking of their opponent (you win more points if you beat a higher-placed player and vice versa) as well as the tournament tier (you win more points if you win a match in highly-ranked tournament).
A couple of mechanics have been implemented on top of that system to make it more accurate. First, inactive players will experience rating decay after a certain number of days with no matches played. Decay brings players closer to the starting 1,000.
In addition, the GosuRankings employ the so called “reliability rating” which is another multiplier that affects inactive players. The reliability rating starts at 1.00, gradually decays when a player doesn’t compete regularly, and affects the end Elo rating as well as how many points they will gain/lose on their next match. Players will always want to have their reliability rating at 1.00 which in turn incentivizes them to compete more often.
Q: You mentioned something about Hearthstone competitive climate. What the hell do you mean by that?
We’ve been monitoring the competitive Hearthstone scene since early January when we decided we definitely want to make GosuRankings a thing. For these past sixth months of tournament backlogging, talking to players and observing the game in general, we’ve found out several bullet points worth listing down:
- Hearthstone – like most card games – is a much more volatile game than other eSports disciplines. The random element means that at any point of time, the best player can easily lose to the worst player. This will never happen in StarCraft 2, for example, where a Jaedong simply won’t lose to a bronze leaguer. As a result, it is difficult for Hearthstone players to maintain a steady win rate and their Elo often has big drops or rises, larger than the players in other disciplines.
- The majority of the competitive scene is composed of weekly open tournaments and those are low-ranked by default. Since the start of 2014, we’ve seen exactly three tournaments with prize pool in the five digits: SeatStory Cup, DreamHack Bucharest and OGN Invitational. This results in two things:
- The GosuRankings experience a major sway after every major tournament. Sometimes this shift looks bigger than it should, but that’s a direct consequence of the state of the scene
- The discrepancy in the number of weekly and big tournament leads to having a lot of players between 1,000 and 1,100 rating since there aren’t many opportunities to gain points in bulk. This in turn results in big fluctuations in this range after every single weekly cup which will never happen in eSports with more developed competitive scene and should stop happening in Hearthstone after a while
- With all that in mind, do note that at this point, the Hearthstone GosuRankings should not be read literally. There will never be a HS player ranking which will accomplish that, because of the nature of the game. Instead, treat them as a basic outline of who the good players, factoring in their all-time records and current performance.
Now that was a wall of text. I say enough of this and let’s look at some rankings, player stories and team tiers.
As noted above, the current GosuRankings are the result of more than 200 events, dating as far back as October 2013. We’re aiming to have as complete scope of tournament as possible and thus have logged in big tournaments like DreamHack and SeatStory Cup, online events like Tavern Takeover, weekly open cups such as GosuCup and NESL, as well as showmatches like Deck Wars and King of the Hill.
NOTE: The rankings displayed below are as of June 1st.
After a period of inactivity, Cong "StrifeCro" Shu is back on the GosuRankings throne after grabbing Tavern Takeover 2. The SeatStory Cup champion and the second best performing Fight Night player is the first and only player to break the 1,200 ranking milestone, is currently on a five-game win streak and boasts the ridiculous 78% all-time win-rate. If there's one player we can call the current king of Hearthstone, that's without a doubt StrifeCro.
DreamHack Bucharest champion Petar "Gaara" Stevanovic comes second to King Cong. Following his 15-3 run in Romania, Gaara also added an NESL King of the Hill title to his name, beating Amaz in the finals, and also trumped Lothar in Deck Wars Season 2 #1 to guarantee himself a spot in the Season 2 finals later this year. Tempo Storm should be proud.
Speaking of Tempo Storm, we have ex-Dota 2 pro Drew "TidesofTime" Biessener at #3. Tides not only went undefeated throughout the Deck Wars S1 finals but is also a four-times NESL King now, beating players like Realz, Gnimsh and Trump to accomplish that.
Good thirty points below Tides is weekly cup master Thijs "ThijsNL" Molendijk. Although the Dutchman did not enjoy any televised experience until recently, his results did not elude the GosuRankings and we saw him climb higher and higher with every passing week. As of now, ThijsNL hold the record for most ZOTAC cup wins (five in total), is the third player in the four-win King of the Hill club alongside Alchemixt and Savjz (still to be defeated) and enjoys one of the longest weekly cup achievements list we've seen in a while (check his GosuWiki page and stare in awe).
Completing the top 5 is Priest king Jason "Amaz" Chan. A NESL King of the Hill record holder with six wins and DreamHack Bucharest top 4 finisher, Amaz actually had the sickening 81% win rate before May and topped the GosuRankings before Gaara took the event in Romania. Since then, Amaz's record has plummeted somewhat, however, and he finished May with poor performance, resulting in his drop to #5.
Just outside the top 5 we see even more great players, who failed to make it there by a difference of a handful of points. Three points below Amaz sits Janne "Savjz" Mikkonen at #6; nine points below him is DogeHouse's Jan "Ek0p" Palys at #7, who's followed closely by DreamHack runner-up Daniel "Danielctin14" Stanescu, having just one point less. At #9 is Polish powerhouse Marcin "Gnimsh" Filipowicz while DreamHack invite Radu "Rdu" Dima and ex-Clarity player Keaton "Chakki" Gil complete the top 10, tied at 1,075 points.
Below are Europe's and North America's georankings.
StrifeCro is a player of unexplainable prowess. Usually given credit mainly for revolutionizing the Druid builds, the former StarCraft 2 and WarCraft 3 professional has honed his Hearthstone skills to perfection and deservedly sits on the top of the GosuRankings as of June 1st.
Ever since he started actively competing in tournaments at the start of the year, StrifeCro has managed to defeat the volatility of Hearthstone and pin outstanding win percentages. In every month since January, StrifeCro has had no less than 66% win rate and is currently on an all-time record of 78%. He's on a five-game win streak and hasn't dropped a series in Gentlemen Cup for the past four week. He’s extended his mastery of the game beyond his favorite Druid and nowadays he’s often seen winning games with Shaman and Miracle Rogue as well. He recently also transferred to the European server in order to figure out the meta this side of the Atlantic even better. As if he didn’t know the game inside out already.
Yet what makes StrifeCro something else is his ability to win tournaments with minimum effort or preparation. One day before he won SeatStory Cup in March, he told in a GosuGamers interview that he’s been playing Path of Exile instead of testing Hearthstone decks. In the most recent Turn 2 podcast, he admitted to a similar story prior to his Tavern Takeover victory over Gnimsh.
We said in our introduction paragraphs that Hearthstone will never have a single best player in the world at any given time. As far as StrifeCro goes, we might be dead wrong.
When the first DreamHack for Hearthstone was announced back in April, fans looked towards the strong of the day, expecting that the championship would go to someone like Savjz, or Gnimsh, or StrifeCro, or Amaz.
Only, the tournament took a surprising turn. Big names fell as early as the first round. Some community favorites struggled for a couple matches more but also ultimately fell. Of the known names, only Priest king Amaz made it as far as the semi finals. Everyone else lay defeated.
It was in that moment that from underneath the pile of fallen players rose one Petar “Gaara” Stevanovic. Recently signed by Reynad’s Tempo Storm, the German played had gone undefeated throughout the bracket, dropping just two games in total and ousting Amaz in the semi finals. Running a powerful Druid ramp which would later become a ladder and tournament staple, Gaara eventually emerged as the first ever DreamHack champion for Hearthstone.
Following his reign in Bucharest, Gaara dived into more Hearthstone competition, eager to prove he’s more than a player who got lucky at a tournament once. In early May, he entered the race for the NESL KotH crown and defeated Amaz for the second time to sit on the throne. At the end of the month, he also opened the second season of Deck Wars with a decisive 4-1 against PkD’s Lothar. Since his performance is tracked on GosuRankings, he has recorded a total of one loss and is at 93% win-rate. Jönköping has all the reason to tremble in the shadow of the reigning champion.
Until recently, nobody knew who Thijs "ThijsNL" Molendijk was. A member of Meet Your Makers, Thijs was one of those players who never made it to televised tournaments and as a result his name meant nothing to the wide audience.
As GosuRankings' eye expands beyond the realms of streamed competition, however, we saw Dutchman's ID climb the standings with every passing week. Being good friends with Thijs, we'd often wake up on Monday to read one particular message: "I won ZOTAC again".
Now, winning a weekly cup multiple times is not really unheard of but ThijsNL took it one step further, reaching records people are yet to break. On 16 April 2014, he stood as the first player to win five ZOTAC cups, an achievement deserving utmost respect, considering the volatility of these open, single elimination tournaments.
Once in top 10 in GosuRankings, ThijsNL became a player suddenly attracting more and more attention. He was soon invited to compete at IHearthU's King of the Hill and four weeks later he's yet to be defeated. He's also a recipient of a DreamHack Summer seed - an important recognition considering his scarce televised appearances.
Today, Thijs sits as the second best player in Europe according to our rankings, having made it there almost exclusively on the back of his weekly cup record, climbing the ladder 2-3 points at a time. He has more games under his belt than almost anyone else, sitting at an all-time record of 59-17 or 78%, his reliability rating never dropping below 1.00. An incarnation of consistency indeed.
Unfortunately, the GosuRankings still doesn't allow us to adequately track team rankings. Our future plans include an algorithm which can calculate that based on members' individual performances (i.e. every win a player scores helps not only him but his team as well) but for now this is still uncharted territory.
Nevertheless, we believe ranking teams is fun even if there is no mathematics to support it. To do this, we've split several of the most known teams into two tiers, judging their results in both team and individual tournaments, which should be the basic outline of which, in our opinion, are the best Hearthstone teams out there.
NOTE: Teams within a single tier are in alphabetical order. The "Players in Top 50" record is ONLY listed as a curious statistics and is NOT how tiers are allocated. The latter is STRICTLY an editorial opinion.
Curse (Players in Top 50: 3/4): In early April, the multi-gaming organization of Curse decided to venture into Hearthstone and they certainly did it with a bang. Finnish powerhouse Savjz was signed as the centerpiece of the team and more big sign ups followed in Alchemixt, Kitkatz and Darkwonyx.
Though quartet's individual records under the Curse banner are still scarce and all of them achieved most of their fame in their previous team, it doesn't take away from just how powerful the Curse roster looks. It would be foolish to rank them anywhere lower than tier 1.
DogeHouse (Players in Top 50: 2/3 or 3/4 counting StrifeCro): It's been rough couple of months for the doges. Eight weeks ago, the prime European team said goodbye to Savjz as the Finn left them for Curse. In May, they parted ways with co-founder Nyhx as he retired from competitive Hearthstone. At the same time, their Fight Night captain Artosis entered a dreadful losing streak at Gentlemen Cup and is currently sitting at 0-10 as the worst player in the tournament.
Nevertheless, the doges are still proudly represented by #7 Ek0p and #9 Gnimsh and have welcomed #1 StrifeCro as a guest player for Gentlemen Cup. Even with Artosis' cold streak, they're still very much a tier 1 team.
DKMR (Players in Top 50: 3/7): DKMR are right on the edge between tier 1 and tier 2 but they have a couple of strong names that push them up. The robots suffered a heavy loss in late April when Alchemixt was signed by Curse and then LHOpen winner NickSpags left as well, going back to Magic: The Gathering.
Having signed #19 Kisstafer on May 22nd, however, saved DKMR from dropping to the lower tier. The top 10 NA player gave a powerful boost to the roster which already had #16 Brad and #34 Hosty, keeping DKMR as one of the top North American teams in operation.
MYM (Players in Top 50: 4/7): Much like their most prized possession ThijsNL, Meet Your Makers are a team which managed to garner lots of esteem without showing that much on stream. Aside from their Gentlemen Cup exposure, MYM channels its power from weekly cup warriors like Semijew, BlazingGlory, Ignite and the others, the consistency of who help it hold the tier 1 spot.
Tempo Storm (Players in Top 50: 4/5): In all honesty, Tempo Storm might be the best team in the world right now as each four of their active players has recent successes to boast with. Captain Reynad took Lord of the Arena. TidesofTime emerged as Deck Wars S1 champion. Gaara is the reigning DreamHack king and tops the EU rankings. Hyped just won a Deck Wars showmatch against Realz and is an NESL monster.
Something tells us their next gold medal is not far off.
Managrind (Players in Top 50: 1/9): Even though Managrind are without a doubt one of the most famous brands in competitive Hearthstone, they have not been enjoying the best of times. In March, aggro expert Chakki departed for Clarity Gaming. In early May, Darkwonyx followed him out of the team, signing up with Curse. Despite still hosting a plethora of big names, players like Forsen, Kolento and DuckWingFACE have been struggling in the few tournaments they attended. Even ZOTAC powerhouse zRusher failed to follow-up on his #13 and #15 wins in May and has been on the decline since.
Right now, the team is mostly carried by Realz who recovered from a horrible Fight Night record to climb up to #20 in the rankings. As impressive as that is, it's nowhere near enough to lift Managrind up to tier 1.
Team MiA (Players in Top 50: 1/10): A month ago, nobody had heard of MiA. A smalltime organisation with Slovenian roots, the three-letter abbreviation first appeared on the Hearthstone radar as one of the invites for TakeTV's Gentlemen Cup. The tournament that would become their break-out ground.
After five weeks of competition, MiA are 4-1 in Gentlemen Cup, their only loss to eSuba in Week 1. They have beaten vVv, eEriness, PkD and even DogeHouse to get where they are now. They might not boast the best individual results, but competing as a cohesive unit is just as important.
vVv (Players in Top 50: 2/5): Lots of similarities can be drawn between vVv Gaming and the tier 1 roster of MYM. Both teams were founded on the same date and both attracted solid weekly cup players to form their line-ups. You could see their players on the front page of the GosuRankings, indicating that they are indeed a strong team.
Come to think of it, placing vVv as tier 2 was likely the most difficult decision to make and if we were to travel back to the time of their founding things would've been different as Kaldi and Wampie were enjoying lots of competitive success. As of now, however, they feel less strong and it is mostly Spo and Ostkaka who bring successes for their team.
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