GosuCup #1 overview: Winners' decklist, stats and champion interview
Well, it's done - after seven rounds of matches between 100 players and almost 10 hours of playing on Saturday, we crown our newest champion, Nuno "Ignite" Pinho from Denial eSports. Ignite walks off with the first ever GosuCup cheque and will look forward to wisely spending (or not) his $100.
Ignite had an exciting path to his first GosuCup victory. The Portuguese debuted in GosuCup #0 but ended up losing to champion Via and finishing top four. This time, having prepared better, Ignite managed to reach the final only to almost lose it to Exla's Warlock Zoo. Packing his powerful Handlock guns, however, Mr. Pinho prevailed over the Swiss in a five-game thriller.
GosuCup #1 standings
The semi finals and grand finals were also streamed and commentated, courtesy of our friends from Epic Gaming Television! You can check the full rebroadcast below while we break down the matches game by game.
We apologize in advance for the FPS drops and lag issues at some points during the video - streaming live Hearthstone matches without observer mode bears a ton of risks and restrictions and sometimes the connection between players and casters just collapses.
Note: [card]Nat Pagle[/card] is banned in GosuCups.
As last time, we take this space in the article to look at winners' decklists. If surprise and secret tech was Via's forte in GosuCup #0, for Ignite it was all about picking the most stable and consistant decks in the current meta - Druid, control Warrior, control Shaman, Handlock and aggro Hunter.
|[deck linked]192[/deck]||[deck linked]193[/deck]||[deck linked]196[/deck]|
Exla didn't bring that many decks (he prepared three only) but he made them count! His Druid was his go-to opening deck for most matches, the Warlock Zoo almost won him the grand finals, while the Rogue... well, he didn't really have to play the Rogue but he prepared it nonetheles. Plus, how often do you see a miracle-less Rogue nowadays anyway?
|[deck linked]182[/deck]||[deck linked]183[/deck]||[deck linked]184[/deck]|
With GosuCup #1 done, the number of recorded GosuCup matches in our system grows to 480! We've combined the stats from the last two tournaments to bring you an overview of the class popularity and win rates representing that microcosmos of competitive play.
For a second week in a row, Druids are winning the popularity contest. Not only they remain the most used deck in GosuCups but their popularity has actually grown by 2%, from 44,3% last week to 46% now. They truly are the most consistent class it seems.
The shuffles in top five are minimal, with Warlock's climb from #4 to #2 being the most drastic change. Neither of Lock, Shaman, Hunter and Warrior could break the 30% and Druids are still way far ahead.
Winrate-wise, Warlocks are still the best. The handlock spec continues to be one of the most consistent builds in the current meta and have been the most effective counter to Druids (which at the same time is versatile and stable in the other match-ups) and with latter's popularity it only makes sense to see those percentages. The invention of the budget Zoo by Reynad further helped Warlock's cause, not to mention Murlocs are still a thing!
Druids climbed up one spot to take #2 after GosuCup #1 but their increase in percentage was minimal. Way more interesting is the climb of the Warrior class, which went from #7 to #3, surpassing popular and heavy-hitting classes like Hunter and Shaman. Way to go, control Warriors!
Oh, and Priests are no longer the least winning class. Congratulations on your climb, healers of Azeroth and sorry, fire-wielding Dalaran Mages.
Let's start with the obvious opener: Gratz on winning GosuCup #1, it must feel good I imagine! What are you doing with the $100?
Thank you very much, it does indeed! Worked on my seeding the previous week, looks like it payed off. As for the cash, I'm short on money IRL so I guess I'll use it to go out for dinner with my girlfriend and such.
GosuGamers and Hearthstone - helping with romantic dinners since last Saturday, huh?
Haha, for whoever has a girlfriend and tries to make the most of gaming I'd say getting paid is pretty handy.
You're actually not a random name that happened to win the tournament. In fact, you're part of the recently established Denial eSports. How did that come to be?
Well, I knew Blackout and Portex from stream chats and in-game, so I talked with them from time to time. Early in February I got asked by Blackout to join a skype group with other players which would then become a team. Blackout took care of getting in contact with possible sponsors and we ended up settling with Denial eSports, which were happy to have us.
Denial HS was founded during a week that was very heavy on signings - Clarity was formed, then Reason Gaming and ManaSurge squads were created some days later... It looks like the professional scene is indeed blooming. How long till we get a vibrant eSports atmosphere in Hearthstone?
Well, I might not be the most well informed person regarding this whole scene as it's my first experience actually being competitive within the eSports scene. Me and my team have been following all the new teams somewhat so we know what's happening in the 'battlefield'.
However I must say, I used to play Yu-Gi-Oh! when I was younger, I played it for more than 5 years and I can safely say that Hearthstone has grown more in half a year than YGO did in 5+ years - the growth is simply amazing and it only keeps getting better and better every step of the way.
Currently ESGN is the dream for any team, but other opportunities are arising, as well as qualifiers for big tournaments where every player has an equal chance, rather than persisting the business model of popularity.
You mention ESGN as "the dream" and I want to shoot you a question in return. I understand why you say "it's the dream" - the show is reaching to massive audiences and it's great publicity for any team or player. However, it's not really a team tournament, not in the sense that a game like StarCraft 2 has them, for example. Should tournament organizers create more team leagues with more teams and not just 10 of the best known player?
Well, I've never played StarCraft 2 or any game of that genre casually, let alone competitively. I realize however they've had huge tournaments with great prize and exposure opportunities for teams throughout the community's growth, and that's something that would be great to see in Hearthstone.
I loved the concept 2p.com introduced a few months back with their NA vs. CN tournament with qualifiers to determine each region's team - even if you're not taking your own team to that competition, you get to play for the actual prizes in a team vs. team format which is interesting, considering how players had to adapt to their newly acquainted team mates. Aside from this, I'd like to see entities with viable sponsorships organizing big team tournaments (it will happen eventually, when more teams have settled into the competitive scene) - be it single team elimination format or groups stage into playoffs, etc.
Alright! On to the GosuCups in particular. In the #0 edition, you placed top four, after losing to the champion in the semis but this time you went all the way. Did you prepare differently for GosuCup #1?
I suppose I did. Since the first tournament didn't have an actual prize, I admit I didn't put that much effort into winning once I reached the top 8 (which was the goal for the seeding benefits) - I remember I lost to Via in the semis because I only played warrior control / aggro, only after the match did I realize I could've switched classes (was a bit forgetful of the format and assumed it was one class w/ sideboarding as I had won the Topdeck EU tournament the day before in that format). This time around however I prepared the best I could, with the most consistent builds and a little bit of deck selection mindgames.
You actually played five different classes! I think only BearSuit (the player you defeated in the semis) played as much. Which decks did you rely the most on?
Definitely Druid and Warrior, they helped through most of the tournament. Hunter was also a nice option to have - effective in countering the shaman and paladin control matchups, as well as some other possible coinflips like handlock. The handlock build I only got to play in the finals, I felt like it was my best bet at making a comeback two games in a row considering the format restricted the winning player to keep the same deck and I didn't want to use something that could leave me vulnerable for the final game.
Speaking of the finals, those were a real thriller! Exla almost had you with the Warlock Zoo. What went through your hand when you were down 1-2?
I remember I was thinking really hard on what could I bring out that could win game 4 but not be countered too easily in game 5. I knew I'd be facing the Zoo build in game 4 and that it has a really hard time handling huge creatures such as Twilight Drakes and the Giants, whereas my other decks wouldn't stand such a good chance. Zoo has a good matchup versus Druid decks and trades very well, making it hard for Druid to handle - Zoo can also flood the board frequently and with actually tough minions to deal with(moreso than the type of minions hunter / murlocs run) - and that proved hard for warrior control to handle in game 3.
Game 4 I just had to bet on that lategame strategy that "outpowered" his mid-game deck - I certainly didn't want to pick Hunter because that would force me to play it in the last game and most likely get countered heavily by Druid or Warrior control. I was surprised however with his game 5 pick, which was Zoo again, I didn't expect him to put so much faith on rushing me down with that, for that purpose (in his situation) I'd have preferred Hunter as it has a much better chance at rushing.
Comparing your builds to Via's from last GosuCup (who played weird stuff like Secrets Mage and fountain Druid), your builds were more or less cookie cutters. Did you ever consider bringing out a secret tech to surprise opponents?
In my YGO times I used to love tweaking builds, I spent days addicted to the cards and thinking what I could tech to counter the better players at the tournaments I attended - however I feel like at that time there was such a huge card pool that you had an unlimited amount of options. You could tech vs. a cookie cutter, just as you could prepare a tech for possible techs that others would bring out. I hope this becomes the case with the release of new cards, but right now I think 90% of the top tier decks have been established and their consistency is way above that of a possible 'gimmicky' deck such as that of Via's secret mage. The element of surprise is only as good as the surprise itself, a second game wouldn't go so well if you played Counterspells and Mirror Entities in the first, knowledge is indeed power.
Towards the end of the interview, I want to ask you something I brought up to Via last week as well, namely our ban list of [card]Nat Pagle[/card]. How do you feel about restricted card pools in tournaments? Would you've personally banned Nat Pagle as well or left it open?
I say burn Nat pagle! Ridiculous how a 2 drop with 0 attack can decide so many games based on a 50% flipcoin every turn. I've actually lost games because I coin a Pagle and it just doesn't proc - I think situations like these are extremely unhealthy for any card game - the same doesn't apply to [card]Tinkmaster Overspark[/card], however. Even though Tinkmaster has a 50% chance at becoming an amazing tempo play, or 50% of just silencing the target and possibly downgrading its stats - even though it has RNG involved, I think it's a necessary card for the game, considering all the big ass legendaries with sick effects (Cairne, Ysera, amongst some others). Imagine a metagame where you can play [card]Cairne Bloodhoof[/card] and [card]Ysera[/card] freely and not have to worry about Tinkmasters... anything other than Mage / Shaman would have pretty hard times countering those single cards, and they already do in today's metagame considering they might not draw into their Tinkmaster as fast as a Cairne gets dropped on the board.
How would you fix that card to remove it from the ban list, in this case? Remove/alter the RNG? Make it killable on T2 (4 health is unkillable unless you have a T1 drop and a T2 removal)?
I remember reading a suggestion on some forum which basically made Pagle lose 1 health (not become damaged, lose the effective health so he doesnt get healed) for each card drawn. That would mean four possible draws at most, not considering health increasing effects (which you only see in Priest pretty much, aside from [card]Defender of Argus[/card]/[card]Earthen Ring Farseer[/card]) - I think that would be slightly more balanced than how it is right now. Don't take me wrong though, Pagle would still be pretty sick with that effect, just more accessible for the kill, and less endless draw potential.
Yeah, so if he draws a card on T1 he's within [card]Wrath[/card]/[card]Lightning Bolt[/card] range... I kinda like it.
Sounds more reasonable than now at least
Do you mind the RNG cards in the game? You said Tink is OK but what about [card]Ragnaros the Firelord[/card], or [card]Sylvanas Windrunner[/card], cards that can make or break a game depending what they hit/steal? In general, how do you feel about having RNG cards in Card Games?
Honestly I don't consider Sylvanas an RNG card as in most scenarios you end up manipulating what you can steal, unless the opponent can counter that by flooding his board and forcing your Sylvanas to proc on a full board - it's a risk, but one you take if you have options to back it up, etc. As for Ragnaros, his RNG isn't relevant in most games, and he's not very practical vs. Shaman for example since they can spam totems every turn - there have been countless situations however where Ragnaros has decided even games on 33% and 50% rolls. I remember once losing a game at 1 hp to a 1/7 Ragnaros, was pretty ridiculous! All in all though, I think the better players have Ragnaros in mind in some matchups and do try to play around Ragnaros' roll lethal.
Alright! Just a few quickfire questions before we wrap this up. Most hated class/spec to play against?
Priest and Paladin control.
Best thing to happen to the game with patch 4458?
[card]Pyroblast[/card] and [card]Blood Imp[/card] nerfs, made me happy for sure.
Is there future for the Priest? How do we make it mainstream?
Well, ihearthu's latest KOTH was won 4-0 by a very solid Priest build. That same build is effective in the Druid and Shaman matchups which are incredibly 'mainstream' right now. I don't know if you can make Priest too mainstream... I see it as a super versatile class that has been able to handle every archetype if it focuses on countering it specifically, but isn't too well rounded vs. multiple matchups with one single build.
Favorite pro-player to watch?
StrifeCro for sure, he hasn't streamed any lately though.
Lastly, who will win SeatStory Cup this weekend?
StrifeCro / Monk are my favorites to win there to be honest.
Well, thanks for taking the time and once again congrats on your victory! Last words before I let you to your evening?
Not much left to say, gave you such extense answers and covered pretty much everything. Shoutouts to my team and sponsors - denialesports.com - and a big shoutout to GosuGamers for hosting these neat tournaments.