GosuAwards Summer: Hearthstone nominations

Hearthstone Radoslav “Nydra” Kolev

List of categories

Best player Break-out player Best team
Best tournament Best caster Player to watch

Welcome to the first ever edition of GosuAwards Summer, which celebrates the achievements of Hearthstone’s best players, teams, casters and tournaments for the first half of 2016.

These are exciting times for the Hearthstone section, and these awards are unique in so many ways. Not only is this the first time we will hand out awards at year’s half point, but we’re also trying new nomination processes and practices, including expanding the GosuAwards committee and having a layered voting process designed to sift through the legion of deserving nominees and find the most deserving candidates.

In interest of being fully transparent, here are GosuAwards Summer explained.

Why do them?

In our long history of handing out GosuAwards for all the major esports titles, we’ve stumbled upon one repeating trend: fans tend to remember end-of-year results and events more vividly than those that happened earlier in the year. As a result, some notable achievements remained forgotten. GosuAwards Summer comes at the halfway point in the calendar to remedy that.

How are the nominees determined?

There are multiple rounds of voting and nominations to first determine the actual GosuAwards Summer nominees, and then to pick the eventual winners.

Round 1: Each GosuAwards panellist names between five and ten nominees for each category that he or she thinks deserve to be on a longlist of names.

Round 2: Once the longlists for each category are finalized, each panellist picks ten nominees he or she thinks are most deserving and assigns them points from 10 (highest) to 1 (lowest). The six nominees in each category with the most points make it to Round 3.

Round 3: The aforementioned top 6 are put in community polls. Hearthstone fans are given two weeks to vote for who they think deserves the GosuAward the most.

Round 4: The GosuAwards panel votes for a third and final time. For each category, a nominee is assigned a unique score between 6 (highest) and 1 (lowest).

Round 5: The nominee with the highest score is awarded the main GosuAward (awarded by panellists). The nominee with the highest score in the community polls is awarded the “Community Choice Award”.

Who is on the panel?

The jury consists of members of the GosuGamers Hearthstone crew, as well as honorary senior members of the Hearthstone scene, including journalists, managers and personalities. The full jury line-up is:

GosuGamers crew:

Bulgaria Nydra – Section head
Denmark Sumadin – Senior editor
Netherlands Matthieist – Senior editor
Germany RexVayu – Senior editor
Germany Nomlix – Senior coverage
United States Poolzors – Senior coverage
United Kingdom Aquablad – Caster
United Kingdom UrbanSheep – Editor
Germany Devt – Editor
Brazil DubstepShark – Tournament administration

Honorary members:

United Kingdom Callum Leslie – Journalist for The Daily Dot
Canada Toastthebadger – Guest writer and The Innervated co-host
United States TheChiv – Luminosity Gaming manager and The Innervated co-host
United Kingdom Raven – Tournament caster and The Innervated co-host

The community polls will be open up until Thursday, July 28, 00:00 CEST. Cast your vote before then and let the best nominees win!

-- Radoslav “Nydra” Kolev, Hearthstone section lead

The “Best player” award is given to the competitor who has the most impressive results in the first half of the year. The nominees have either hoisted a major LAN trophy or have shown consistency in their play, earning multiple high finishes in tournaments. Below are the six nominees, in alphabetical order.

United States Keaton “Chakki” Gil

Chakki had been carrying the curse of the silver king for the better part of his career, until 2016 came around. Now an ex-Dignitas player, the American grabbed the spotlight with his sweeping victory at DreamHack Austin, also has a top eight finish at the Americas Winter Championship to his name and recently secured himself a guaranteed spot for the Truesilver Championship 3 playoffs. One of Americas’ most experienced veterans of the game, Chakki looks to be in the best shape of his career.

Kazakhstan Ole “Naiman” Batyrbekov

After spending the majority of 2015 in exile due to his account ban, Naiman returned in 2016 with desire to redeem himself. The European Winter Championship gave him this opportunity and the Kazakhstani player ploughed through the bracket to secure himself a guaranteed spot at the World Finals. Although he’s admitted that he’s not the best in new metas, the Virtus.pro marquee gets stronger as the game gets figured out and his career since becoming Europe’s champion has been nothing but ascending.

Romania Dima “Rdu” Radu

Rdu finished 2015 on a high note, winning the inaugural Truesilver Championship to claim the fifth gold in the eighth grand final of his career. Although he had a rough start to the year in January and February, the Romanian gradually returned to his usual top form which culminated in a DreamHack Summer championship, where he became the first player in Hearthstone history to win repeat DH titles. Just in time for GosuAwards Summer!

Germany Jan “SuperJJ” Janssen

Ever since he took his first major win at SeatStory Cup in 2015, SuperJJ has been everywhere, winning almost everything. Although most of his gold medals were won last year, this year alone SuperJJ has earned more than $13,000 in prize money with one first place, one second place and multiple top four and top eight finishes. Consistency is what defines SuperJJ and that alone deserves a GosuAwards nomination.

Netherlands Thijs “ThijsNL” Molendijk

At this point, there aren’t any superlatives that haven’t been used to describe the Dutch veteran. Although he went through  periods of underperforming, as all players do, and missed a shot at CN vs EU and StarSeries championship, ThijsNL still won close to $40,000 in the first half of the year alone, becoming not just the Curse Trials champion but also the first player to win two regional championships. For a second year in a row, we will be watching ThijsNL at Blizzcon, which at this point should come as no surprise.

Germany Sebastian “Xixo” Bentert

Many will remember Xixo as the ladder god that’s always the first to get legend in a new season, but the Na'Vi player has grown  since those days. This year alone, his win-rate in competitive matches is close to 70 percent and that doesn’t even include the 6-1 run that got him the StarSeries trophy earlier this month. Xixo might not be as decorated as some of his peers, but a GosuAwards nomination is absolutely deserved.


The category for “Breakout player” celebrates the players whose rise to power and renown came in the recent months. This usually includes winning a first major title or honing their skill enough to escape competitive obscurity. Below are the nominees in alphabetical order.

Spain Esteban “AKAWonder” Serrano

The Spaniard’s career has been laden with top finishes in major tournaments. In 2015, AKAWonder made it to every playoff phase of the DreamHack circuit and claimed a “Biggest potential for 2016” nomination in the 2015 GosuAwards, but it was not until his triumph at ESL Katowice that he truly broke out. Also one of the finalists of Europe’s Spring Championship, AKAWonder is a name that can no longer be ignored when discussing the top tier of Hearthstone players.

United States William “Amnesiac” Barton

There was much hype surround Amnesiac way before the youngster won his first major at Americas Winter Championship. At the tender age of 15, Archon’s star has already earned himself the respect of the pro player community and will represent his country at the Blizzcon finals, making him the youngest person to play on that stage.

Denmark Simon “Crane” Raunholst

Much like Amnesiac, Complexity’s Dane has been praised by his peers en masse. Although still due a major championship, playoffs spots at Europe Spring Championship and Tavern Tales Spring took Crane out of the underdog stratum and put him on the competitive map as one of game’s most inventive and brilliant strategic minds.

United States Frank “Fr0zen” Zhang

It’s been some time since the States saw a new star emerge from its ranks but nothing can be taken away from the ex-Hearthlytics talent. Fr0zen made two DreamHack playoffs in a row, finishing second at the recent Summer event, came one win away from qualifying for the Americas Spring championship and clocked a top 16 finish at the EGLX Major in April. Like Crane, Fr0zen is lacking a major championship yet, but he’s already become a recognized name within the competitive community.

Kazakhstan Ole “Naiman” Batyrbekov

Rocking a second GosuAwards Summer nomination, Naiman’s truly had a great start of 2016. Although a veteran player of the game, Naiman’s story is just beginning.

Germany Jan “SuperJJ” Janssen

SuperJJ’s first competitive successes came too late in 2015 to earn him a "Breakoout player" nomination in last year’s awards, so here he is now – the second player to have more than one nomination in our Summer awards.


The “Best team” category nominates those Hearthstone rosters that have showed excellence throughout the first half of 2016 via the individual results of their players, team results in team leagues or growth and development of the collective. Below are the nominations in alphabetical order.

Complexity Gaming

Over the years, Complexity Gaming has proven to be one of the best schools for finding and nurturing talent. Their first big star David “Dog” Caero went on to become one of Americas’ leading competitors. The second school year for Complexity saw the rise to prominence of Jan “SuperJJ” Janssen and Simon “Crane” Raunholst who hold multiple GosuAwards Summer nominations between them.

G2 Esports

The winners of the 2015 Best Team GosuAwards return in the Summer with another nomination. The trio of Adrian “Lifecoach” Koy, Thijs “ThijsNL” Molendijk and Dima “Rdu” Radu, under the stern management of Jakub “Lothar” Szygulski, continues to reap results with no sign of slowing down. Both ThijsNL and Rdu are nominees for Best player in these Awards, which goes to show just how much star power resides behind the samurai head logo.

Natus Vincere

Hosting the reigning World Champion, a Best player nominee, a major tournament performer and arguably South Korea’s best player, Natus Vincere rivals G2 Esports for individual renown. At the time of going to press, the team holds the #1 position in GosuGamers’ team rankings with over 1,240 average score – roaring proof of roster’s consistency.

SK Gaming

SK Gaming underwent a major overhaul in the summer of 2015 and have been drastically improving ever since. With names such as two-time GosuAwards nominee Esteban “AKAWonder” Serrano and Swedish veteran Harald “Powder” Gimre on the front lines, SK Gaming is nothing if not a top Hearthstone team. Players such as star practice partner Jesper “Freakeh” Ericsson and old-timer Sebastian “Spo” Sjöbäck further increase the power and depth of this roster.

Team Liquid

Even though the horseheads couldn’t quite secure as many high finishes as their colleagues, the roster nonetheless has had decent results through the year so far. Star player David “Dog” Caero has remained on the top of the North American rankings for long periods of time, peaking after his second place finish at Truesilver Championship 2, and even player-turned-caster Janne “Savjz” Mikkonen reminded the world he’s still got it, finishing second behind ThijsNL in The Curse Trials.


The CIS pair of Ole “Naiman” Batyrbekov and Artem “DrHippi” Kravets has made a success story out of the fairly new Hearthstone division of Virtus.pro. Both of VP’s star players are in the top 35 of the world rankings and have multiple notable major finishes. Without a doubt, Virtus.pro’s entry in Hearthstone has been fruitful.


The “Best caster” category is dedicated to those who defined the casting landscape of the game in the first half of 2016, coloring the matches and guiding the fans through the deep world of competitive Hearthstone. Below are the six nominees in alphabetical order.

United States Brian Kibler

Although he’s admitted lacking knowledge in certain areas of Hearthstone (particularly those damned Freeze Mages), Brian Kibler continues to be one of the most highly praised names on the casting desk. Winner of the Community Choice Award for new caster in 2015, the TCG player and designer is once again among the nominees.

United States James “Firebat” Kostesich

The 2014 world champion and Hearthstone’s most successful player in terms of winnings, Firebat has grown to also become an educated, authoritative and entertaining broadcaster. Combining the knowledge he’s obtained in his long career of winning tournaments and top-notch on-camera presence, Firebat is a strong nominee for Best caster.

United States Dan “Frodan” Chou

There can’t be a nomination for “Best caster” without the face of Hearthstone, Dan Chou himself. In recent months, Frodan has been shining in the role of a host, giving color commentary to more distinguished analysts, but hasn’t lost an ounce of his edge when behind the mic.

United Kingdom Alexander “Raven” Baguley

Emerging from the casting call last year, Raven is one of game’s brightest analysts. Together with fellow countryman Sottle, the Brit can be seen commentating and hosting the desks of some of the biggest events in Hearthstone, including Blizzard’s own HCT Championships.

United Kingdom Simon “Sottle” Welch

The second half of the British casting duo, Sottle made a name for himself as one of the harshest, most direct analysts in the game. He’s improved dramatically with experience since his early days and although he remains one of the most gifted color commentators in Hearthstone, he’s often seen rocking the hosting role, too.

United States TJ Sanders

Often seemingly underappreciated, TJ Sanders is complimented as one of the hardest working casters in Hearthstone. A competitive player himself, TJ regularly places top 100 in the ladder seasons, learning every deck and every match-up from the viewpoint of the players. This knowledge has helped him become a top Hearthstone caster, and earned him a GosuAwards nomination.


The “Best Tournament” category highlights the most memorable competitions of the last six months. Those tournaments have shown a combination of great production, fantastic storylines, innovative formats and matches to remember.

DreamHack Austin

The first big LAN for North America came in the form of DreamHack Austin, the first stop in DH’s Grand Prix circuit. With the region notoriously lacking major offline events, DH Austin was a breath of fresh air and a chance for local heroes to make an impression. Although Twitch chat racism and bigotry somewhat darkened the otherwise excellent event, DH Austin will remain in the memory for Chakki’s championship run and TerrenceM’s break-out performance.

DreamHack Summer

It’s not every day that a player wins a second DreamHack title. In fact, it had never happened before Rdu hoisted the cup in Jonkoping earlier this year. Paired with the signature outstanding production of DreamHack, DH Summer was a treat for Hearthstone fans and history in the making at the same time.

HCT EU Spring Championship

Speaking of repeat championships, enter ThijsNL and his run at the Europe Spring Championship. Rdu’s team-mate secured a Blizzcon spot by defeating Russian underdog Iner in one of the most stacked HCT Championships to date, featuring unorthodox techs, crazy line-ups, high level plays and little-to-no downtime between matches.

HCT EU Winter Championship

Redemption stories are always great to follow and Hearthstone’s biggest one happened during the Europe Winter Championship. Returning from a year-long ban, eventual winner Naiman made a strong resurgence to kick-start his 2016 career. The tournament also saw the rise of DrHippi as a player and Freeze Mage master.

Red Bull Team Brawl

Standard Hearthstone tournaments are cool and all but unorthodox formats are the spice of the scene. In cooperation with Tempo Storm, Red Bull’s Team Brawl undertook the challenging task to bring team sealed to Hearthstone and documented the games through multiple cameras. Although much could’ve been done better, it remains one of the most memorable one-day tournaments in the game.

Truesilver Championship 2

After hosting the successful inaugural edition of Truesilver Championship, the boys and girls at Insomnia stepped up their Hearthstone game significantly, hosting their first major in March. Despite a couple of hiccups at the start, ITC 2 gathered momentum and viewership and by the end of the weekend delivered great entertainment, drama, excitement and one of the break-out stories of the year.


The “Player to watch” is a new, experimental category which aims to feature theose players we believe are due to grow into their full potential in the second half of the year. Considered players are either recently break outa or "on the verge”.

United Kingdom George “BoarControl” Webb

Boasting a championship in the local ESL UK Premiership and a prestigious top eight finish at DreamHack Summer, BoarControl is one of Hearthstone’s rising talents. A team-mate and practice partner of Truesilver Championship winner Ness, look for BoarControl to rise to his full potential as the year develops.

Denmark Simon “Crane” Raunholst

Despite his nomination for break-out player, Crane is still looking for that elusive tournament win and we believe it’s soon to come. The Dane’s form has been constantly improving and a true break-out in the form of major championship is certainly looming. Crane is an inventive deckbuilder, and a fresh meta might just be what Complexity’s player needs.

Ukraine Artem “DrHippi” Kravets

The Virtus.pro player is on the radar of many Hearthstone experts and analysts. Hailed as one of the best pilots of Freeze Mage, the European Winter runner-up has been putting up consistent performances since his break-out run. In the words of GosuAwards panellist TheChiv: “one of those days, DrHippi will attend a major and will be the final boss that nobody manages to beat.”

United States Frank “Fr0zen” Zhang

Even though he’s being nominated for break-out player, we believe Fr0zen’s best days are ahead of him. Finishing second in one of the toughest, most prestigious events of the year is a sign of a great player and it would be an upset of we do not see many more respectable results from the former Hearthlytics man by the end of the year.

Belgium Michael “Maverick” Looze

After the 2015 European Championship, Belgian player Maverick announced his retirement. It turned out to be a retirement that lasted but a few months, and in 2016 he returned to place in the top eight at DreamHack Summer and win the Hearthstone Festival in Lille at the start of this month. With his passion for Hearthstone reignited, we’re curious to see what this card-slinging veteran will do with the rest of the year.

Kazakhstan Ole “Naiman” Batyrbekov

You might thing that a third nomination, and one in this particular category might be too much for Naiman – after all, best player and break-out player pretty much cover his story in the first half of 2016. Yet, we’re convinced that’s not even Naiman’s final form. With a guaranteed spot at Blizzcon and the Truesilver Championship 3 playoffs and with the metagame setting down, more championships are to follow for the Kazakhstani.


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