Fr0zen breaks the European hegemony over GosuRankings’ top 5
Also: How impressive are the record-breaking peaks of ThijsNL, Xixo and Pavel compared to the ranking leaders in non-RNG esports?
For months, Europe has been the undisputed king of Hearthstone. In November, the region took home its second world championship title and continues to have the most developed competitive infrastructure in Hearthstone. The heavily EU-skewed DreamHack circuit in 2016 helped develop the region even more and with most invitational tournaments also catering to European players mostly, the other three regions were behind in every way imaginable.
Europe’s domination was also reflected in the GosuRankings, as only a handful of “outsiders” came close to breaking into the top ten, while the top five remained exclusive Europe domain. The new talent which Americas found in 2016 in the faces of Julien “Cydonia” Perrault and Frank “Fr0zen” Zhang, however, showed promise. A non-European could ensconce himself into the high echelons of the rankings after all.
Fr0zen had a fiery 2016. The young American emerged as a consistent players from the very first LAN tournaments of the year and by the end of it he was holding the best win-rate in DreamHack swiss and topped off this achievement with a major gold at the ONOG Grand Finals alongside three GosuAwards nominations for his talents and a runner-up award in the “Biggest potential for 2017” category. The road was paved for Fr0zen to make even bigger waves this year.
If 2017 started bad for Fr0zen with poor performance at China vs. North America Championship, it picked up pace coming into February. Sporting his unmatched swiss consistency, LG’s marquee player made the playoffs of the AM Winter Playoffs and then met and convincingly bested the region’s fabled prodigy—Will “Amnesiac” Barton—to secure berth into the Winter Championship.
Fr0zen has therefore become the banner bearer of North America, whether he’s fancying such pressure or not. At the moment, only three North Americans are present in GosuRankings’ top 25 including him, Amnesiac and Cydonia, and only Fr0zen will be competing at the season’s premier event. Even if the rankings king Pavel “Pavel” Beltukov is more than 200 points ahead of the ONOG champion, Fr0zen has the unique chance of contesting the top three and even the top two position: Neither of Sebastian “Xixo” Bentert (#3) and Jon “Orange” Westberg (#2) will be at the Bahamas. A potential championship run would mean that Fr0zen can be the first non-European in the top three of the rankings since David “Dog” Caero’s #1 in 2015.
Americas Top 5:
Speaking of the reigning world champion, Pavel is also on the verge of breaking records. At 1437 points and a place at the Winter Championship secured, ARMATEAM’s headliner can theoretically accomplish a GosuRankings-first: A rating peak of over 1450.
Only a couple of players have ever reached the highest recorded number in GosuRanking’s history: Thijs “ThijsNL” Molendijk before his top four elimination at Blizzcon 2015 and Sebastian “Xixo” Bentert after year-long domination in 2016.
Understanding how impressive this score of 1450, one only has to look at two things. First, Hearthstone’s volatile nature, one shared among all card games where chance plays a role in every match, amplified by the many random effects on staple Hearthstone cards. Second—what ranking scores do teams and players hold in non-volatile esports such as Dota 2 and Counter-Strike.
In Counter-Strike, there are only two teams above 1450: World’s #1 Astralis at 1507 and #2 Virtus.pro at 1454. In Dota 2, the highest ranked team—Evil Geniuses—is currently sitting at 1402 while Overwatch’s EnVyUS is at 1357 as the points leader in that game. Only one more team—South Korea’s L5 in Heroes of the Storm—has a record north of 1450 which is due to their 12-game win-streak. Not even the legendary SK Telecom in League of Legends is currently above that number, although the world champions did come close to 1480 after their 2016 title.
In a card game, where a match can be decided before a single minion is played based on opening hands alone, the like of ThijsNL, Xixo and Pavel perform as well as the strongest teams in the richest esports in the world.
A lot might change after the Winter Championship but one thing is for sure: Even if he flops, Pavel won’t be dethroned soon. More than 140 points behind and with no major tournaments announced for Europe before DreamHack Summer in June, Orange and Xixo have no clear opportunities to contest the peak and only stand to lose their top three position to Fr0zen’s advancements.
Europe Top 5:
1. Pavel (World #1)
2. Orange (World #2)
3. Xixo (World #3)
4. SuperJJ (World #5)
5. ThijsNL (World #6)
Will Fr0zen push Orange and Xixo out of the top 3?
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