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Announcing the nominations for the 2016 Hearthstone GosuAwards

Hearthstone Radoslav “Nydra” Kolev

Welcome to the third annual GosuAwards for Hearthstone, coming to you in the twilight of 2016. For yet another year, we come together to celebrate the best players, team, stories, tournaments, casters and organizers of our game.

It goes without saying, but these are by far my most favorite days as a Hearthstone section leader. The GosuAwards combine two things I deeply treasure: GosuGamers’ longest lasting tradition and a game I’ve covered and studied professionally for four years. It’s a magical time, a time to acknowledge and reward all the things that make the scene great. It’s a time to remember the players who made us smile and cheer, the casters who expanded our understanding of the game, the stories which made us care, and yes – even the dramas which made us argue or frown.

GosuAwards-wise, it’s been a learning process for us, looking back at when we started the initiative in 2014. Back then, we had a small crew and did the awards by just discussing them on skype. In 2015, we upgraded the crew a bit and introduced a round of voting. Then, in 2016, we swung big. We introduced GosuAwards Summer, a mid-point award ceremony and a first for GosuGamers, while also inviting guests from outside the crew and having a layered voting process.

We’ve kept the same procedure for the current awards, and we’ve also revised the line-up of our panelists. We reached out to respected pundits Sinn “Curemew” Tann and Daniel “DTwo” Ikuta to get insight on the eastern scene. In the end, I believe we nailed the nominees for each category and I’m looking forward to seeing whether or not our committee will be in agreement with the community for the third time.

This year, we’ve also expanded the number of categories a bit, introducing one for “Best eastern player” and separating the caster categories into “New” and “Returning”. Ultimately, we have 17 categories of 5 nominees each for you to vote.

With that in mind, enjoy the 2016 GosuAwards and think carefully before you cast your vote – it can decide who wins and who loses in the end.

- Radoslav “Nydra” Kolev
Hearthstone section leader

GosuAwards committee:

Bulgaria Radoslav "Nydra" Kolev (GosuGamers)
Netherlands Tom "Matthieist" Matthiesen (GosuGamers)
Denmark Stefan "Sumadin" Suadicani (GosuGamers)
Germany Jan "Nomlix" Lauk (GosuGamers)
United Kingdom Graham "Urban_Shepherd" Ashton (GosuGamers)
United Kingdom Callum Leslie (Dot Esports)
United States "TheChiv" (Luminisoty Gaming & The Innervated)
Japan Daniel "Dtwo" Ikuta (Tempo Storm)
China Sinn Tann (Team Celestial)

The prize is awarded to the best peforming players from the Europe and Americas region. The nominees have either won a major tournament this year or have shown admirable consistency in their tournament records. 2016 winnings shown in parentheses.

Honorable mention: Romania Radu "Rdu" Dima - Although he repeated his DreamHack Summer championship in June and showed good form throughout the year, Rdu just barely didn't collect enough points to be among the five nominees. 


Therefore, the nominees for Best western player for 2016 are:

Ukraine Artem "DrHippi" Kravets ($195,167) for his triple HCT grand finals in EU Winter, EU Summer and the World Championship, making him one of the most consistent players in Europe throughout the entire year. 

United States Frank "Fr0zen" Zhang ($18,125) for his ONOG championship and extraordinary record in swiss tournaments, resulting in impressive record at the DreamHack circuit and including a silver from the Summer event. 

Russia Pavel "Pavel" Beltukov ($269,635) for being the holder of the 2016 World Championship title and his back-to-back championship run at GameGune upon his return. 

Germany Jan "SuperJJ" Janssen ($36,769) for being one of the most consistent tournament performers in the first half of the year, leading to multiple consecutive top four and top eight finishes, most recently a silver from ELS Superstars.

Germany Sebastian "Xixo" Bentert ($50,932) for his victory at StarSeries Season 2 but most of all for his unmatched tournament consistency, resulting in 14 straight weeks as GosuRankings world #1 player, an unmatched record in the rankings' history.

The prize is awarded to the best performing players from the China and APAC regions. The nominees have either won a major tournament this year or have shown admirble consistency in their tournament records. 2016 winnings shown in parentheses.

Honorable mention: China Zheng "OmegaZero" Lin - Without a doubt the fastest rising star in China and a player we expect to make an impact next year, OmegaZero takes the honorable mention in this category for his multiple #1 legend finishes on the CN ladder and the performance that led him to a top 16 finish at Blizzcon.


For 2016, the nominees for "Best eastern player" are:

Korea Cheonsu "Che0nsu" Kim ($100,000) for his godly reads and near flawless performance at Blizzcon, resulting in becoming a semi-finalist at Hearthstone's most prestigious tournament.

Korea Il-Mook "Handsomeguy" Kang ($90,125) for his three in a row APAC Championships grand finals, asserting him as the most dominant player in Asia-Pacific.

China Jason "JasonZhou" Zhou ($116,072) for his Blizzcon semi finals finish and Gold Series Summer win, being the best performing Chinese player at the World Championship and greatly contributing to the success of eStar in Chinese team leagues.

China Bohan "Lovelychook" Zhang ($30,683) for being the player who finally put an end to Europe's hegemony in CN vs EU challenge tournaments and sporting multiple playoff finishes in the Gold Series.

China Zhang "ZhangBo" Bo ($37,418) for achieving a gold, silver and bronze in three consecutive Gold Series editions, starting the year by winning the January event and just narrowly missing the World Championship.

The prize is awarded to the best player across all regions. The nominees have been voted in with the "Best western player" and "Best eastern player" categories in mind.

Honorable mention: United States Frank "Fr0zen" Zhang - Although he took a nomination for best western player, Fr0zen couldn't quite make it into the top 5 worldwide, edged out by a certain APAC competitor.


The five nominees for 2016 Player of the Year thus are:

Ukraine Artem "DrHippi" Kravets
Korea Il-Mook "Handsomeguy" Kang
Russia Pavel "Pavel" Beltukov
Germany Jan "SuperJJ" Janssen
Germany Sebastian "Xixo" Bentert

The prize is awarded to the brightest stars who rose to prominence in 2016. The nominees have all won their first major gold this year and had either an unimpressive or nonexistent career in 2015.

Honorable mentions: United Kingdom Joe "Ness" Francis-Zazzaro and United Kingdom George "Georgec" Connolly - The British duo proudly bore their country's flag into victory, with Ness winning Truesilver Championship II and GeorgeC making it to three consecutive HCT events, asserting themselves as the UK's finest competitors.


The nominees for Break-out player of 2016 are:

United States William "Amnesiac" Barton ($81,750) for his swift rise to power which began with winning AM Winter and ended with being considered among the very best at the World Championship, losing only to Pavel himself.

Ukraine Artem "DrHippi" Kravets for taking the HCT circuit by storm and becoming a worthy candidate for Player of the Year with no previous record. 

United States Frank "Fr0zen" Zhang for becoming Americas' new big thing, winning LAN majors at home and going head-to-head with Europe's best on foreign soil.

Korea Il-Mook "Handsomeguy" Kang for emerging as the definitive best player in the APAC region after a rather uneventful career in 2015.

Russia Pavel "Pavel" Beltukov for redeeming himself for his 2015 performance and winning three golds in 2016, including the World Championship. 

The prize is awarded to players who are either on the verge of their break-out which we believe will be due next year or to 2016 break-out players who we believe will be prime candidates for 2017 Player of the Year award.

Honorable mention: George "Georgec" Connolly - You don't make back-to-back-to-back HCT events without being a top quality player. Although Georgec is yet to win a major, it should be coming any day now.


Hereby, we nominate these players for "Biggest potential for 2017":

Denmark Simon "Crane" Raunholst for being a deckbuilder extraordinaire whose break-out has been a long time coming. Crane barely missed the gold at DreamHack Valencia, but it his improving skill is any evidence, big things are expected of him next year.

United States Frank "Fr0zen" Zhang for we believe he's capable of winning much more than just one major in a year's time. Look for USA's rising star to be a household name of his region in 2017.

Netherlands Louis "Mitsuhide" Bremers for his rapid improvement in major LAN events, leading up to his recent win at DreamHack Winter, very reminiscent of how SuperJJ won this category in 2015.

United States Muzahidul "Muzzy" Islam for his invaluable contribution to Luminosity's success and being a prime deck innovator who - like Crane - has been due a major gold for a long time.

United States Victor "VLPS" Lopez for being a driving force behind the success of NA in the CN vs NA Challenge and for coming on strong at the tail end of the year, finishing second behind Lifecoach in the recent Batstone #2.

The prize is awarded to these Hearthstone teams who have hosted or tutored major Hearthstone champions or rising stars and are considered powerhouses in the scene.

Honorable mention: Cloud9 - Cloud9 has somewhat fallen compared to their best days and even though Firebat was signed this year, the loss of Ekop and the waning form of Kolento and StrifeCro only got them a top 6 mention in this year's GosuAwards.


Thus, the nominees for "Team of the Year" are:

Complexity Gaming ($41,822) for nurturing the talents of SuperJJ and Crane and signing the promising talents of Loyan and MrYagut to make for one of the most developed teams in the year.

G2 Esports ($125,870) for being the most consistent, unfaltering roster in Hearthstone for two years in a row and seizing championship regularly.

Luminosity Gaming ($9,203) for signing some of the best Hearthstone players in the Americas and becoming the most stacked team in the region in the wake of decline or disbandment of other orgs on the scene.

Natus Vincere ($59,939) for being G2's only real competition for the best team in the world up to the point of their disbandment in September and for being home to some of the greatest talents in the game.

Virtus.pro ($220,371) for picking up the talents of Naiman and DrHippi ahead of a successful 2016 for both and becomg a world-class team almost overnight, worthy of contesting the star-studded line-ups of the other powerhouses.

The prize is awarded to the most impactful player signings of the year, which either created brand new teams or reinforced already existing ones significantly.

Honorable mention: Ostkaka to Alliance - The 2015 world champion donned the [A] after the disbandment of Natus Vincere and is yet to win a major under his new colors, but he's a fantastic pick for the Swedish organization regardless. 


The nominations for "Best transfer coup" go to:

Amaz to NRG for becoming the founding Hearthstone member in a multi-million organization already on the rise in other esports scenes. Getting the third largest Hearthstone streamer is a major bonus for Shaq's team.

Firebat to Cloud9 for joining a world class team following the drama which saw him depart from Archon. Much like the Amaz/NRG nomination, Cloud9 secured a beloved face within the Hearthstone community and a content machine. 

Luminosity Gaming revamped for establishing the team as the uncontested best in the Americas and becoming a world-class roster with the addition of Chakki, Fr0zen, Muzzy and later Zalae. 

Pavel to Millenium for being a repeat of the Firebat/Achon coup of 2014 and the Ostkaka/NaVi coup of 2015, where the eventual world champion was signed into a new team mere weeks before his biggest achievement.

Virtus.pro formed for recognizing the potential of Naiman, DrHippi and Bunnyhoppor, securing their talents and locking on major achievements for the bears in 2016.

The prize is awarded to those brushes which transcended the ordinary and mundane and become one of the best storylines to follow in 2016.

Honorabe mention: DrHippi vs Naiman - The two CIS players met on several occassions in major tournaments, EU Winter included, and fought long and hard for who is the best player in Virtus.pro, resulting in DrHippi's victory after the World Championship.
 

This year's nominations for "Rivalry of the Year" are:

Archon vs Firebat for being a less than honorable battle, waged over social media and community boards, leading up to the controversial departure of the world champion from his team.

China vs the West for continuing Hearthstone's longest rivalry and having a plot twist this time around with Lovelychook breaking the curse and winning CN vs EU Season 3, marking the first Challenge win for China.

Community vs Team 5 for being an unending battle between devs and fans for the future of Hearthstone.

Europe vs North America for being the defining rivalry in the western scene, culminating in "who is the best" confrontation at the world championship, with NA winning the group stage phase and EU winning the playoffs phase.

Natus Vincere vs G2 Esports for being the primary team rivalry in Hearthstone for which is the best team in the scene between two superstar rosters.

The prize is awarded to those tournaments which left a lasting impression on us, either for their storylines, production quality or significance.

Honorable mention: HCT EU Spring Championship which marked ThijsNL's second EU Championship title, making him the first player in Hearthstone history to accomplish this.


Hereby, we nominate these five tournaments for being the most memorable of 2016:

Batstone #1 for being a much needed fresh air in a period of metagame staleness. Batstone #1 was a perfect storm of unexplored format, top level marketing and invited players, making it one of the best events this year, in spite of its size.

Blizzcon World Championship for closing the year in the best possible way, tying in multiple storylines and witnessng some of the best comeback and redemtpion stories in the game's history.

China vs Europe Season 3 for marking the first Challenge success for China against the west and ending with the fall of the reigning champion Kolento at the hands of Lovelychook.

DreamHack Austin for being the first DreamHack on American soil and becoming one of the few opportunities for NA to triumph in a major Hearthstone event.

SeatStory Cup V for once again being the unforgettable homebrewed experience everyone's grown to love, rich with good memories, friendship, salt and the dankest of memes.

The prize is awarded to the best of those tournaments which didn't follow the standard HCT rules for format and instead spiced up Hearthstone's scene through daring experiments.

Honorable mentions: The Rat Race & The World Series of Sealed - The former was a successful continuation of the ESL HyperX "Race to Legend" idea, while the latter combined the betting side of poker with the MTG's sealed format in an intriguing Hearthstone mix.


The nominations for "Best unorthodox tournament" thus go to:

Batstone #1 for being the first tournament to experiment with a card ban list and go directly against Blizzard's policy on this.

Celestial Invitational for combining Bo17 match-ups with weekly alternating formats and being the only Wild major tournament to feature western players.

Hearthstone Team Story for remaining the only prestigious team league in Hearthstone after the disappearance of ATLC 2 and serving as a major proving grounds for Chinese players.

PGL Bucharest for bringing back the 9-deck pick/ban format more than a year after Viagame discontinued it in 2015.

Red Bull Team Brawl for being a unique team experience, experimenting not just with the sealed format but also the idea of playing multiple games at the same time or having all members on a team think and play as one.

The nominees in this category returned in 2016 from having major appearance last year to deliver top notch performance in this year's events.

Honorable mention: Nathan "ThatsAdmirable" Zamora - Once a headline name on the desk, Admirable went off the radar for a while but returned in glorious form for one hell of a gig at the World Championship. 


The nominees for "Best returning caster" are:

United States TJ "Azumo" Sanders for evolving into one of the most well-rounded broadcasters in the game and for knocking the Blizzcon player interviews right out of the park.

United States Brian Kibler for his enigmatic and charming presence on the desk, only matched by his ever-deepening knowledge of Hearthstone's intricacies.

United States Dan "Frodan" Chou for remaining the most recognized and experienced name behind the mic, always synonymous with high-quality production.

United Kingdom Alexander "Raven" Baguley for his rise to one of the premier HCT casters and never-ending battle with the Shaymin enemies.

United States Andrey "Reynad" Yanyuk for being the perfect combination of game knowledge, high-quality banter and NaCl, always making for a memorable cast.

The prize is awarded to these broadcasters who fully broke out in 2016, having very few or no major gigs in 2015.

Honorable mention: Adrian "Lifecoach" Koy - Lifecoach has always been known more as a player and streamer than as a caster but his recent appearances on the desk leave us hopeful for more such gigs in the future.


This year, the nominations for "Best new caster" go to:

Japan Daniel "DTwo" Ikuta for being the go-to specialist when it comes to Eastern Hearthstone and developing and mentoring the line-up of English speaking casters who deliver Chinese and APAC tournaments to western audiences.

United States James "Firebat" Kostesich for developing his Hearthstone talents further and brightening up the desks of StarLadder and Blizzcon with almost unmatched game insight.

United Kingdom Neil "L0rinda" Bond for being the newest high-level shoutcaster from the UK school and securing major HCT gigs marking his break-out.

United States Cora "Songbird" Georgiou for not only breaking into a male-dominated scene but continuously proving that she has what it takes in terms of knowledge and presence to be one of the best on the HCT desk.

United Kingdom Simon "Sottle" Welch for mastering the art of delivering in-depth analysis in an intuitive and engaging way, making this his speciality and improving greatly from his 2015 Gfinity gigs.

The nominees in this category have excelled at delivering high quality tournaments and events, both in terms of on-site organization and on-stream production.

Honorable mention: StarLadder - The StarSeries Invitational has been one of the most enjoyable tournaments this year and a big part of its success was the professionalism and experience in the StarLadder team.


This year's nominees for this category are:

Blizzard for producing fluently running tournaments, minimizing downtime between matches and producing essential out-of-game content to spice up the production of their major events.

DreamHack for operating Hearthstone's most presitigious LAN circuit in the west.

Gold Series for operating China's premier LAN circuit and being the driving force behind the region's improvement in 2016.

OGN for their work on the OGN KR Masters series, the defining offline events in South Korea.

TakeTV for maintaining the high quality of the SeatStory Cup franchise.

The prize is awarded to the most compelling, discussed and celebrated storyline of 2016, whether inside or outside the competitive battlefield.

Honorable mention: Redemptions at Blizzcon - The World Championship was unique in many ways, and one of those was the overarching theme of redemtpion, featuring not just individual players such as Naiman, but whole regions, too, as in North Americas' case.


The nominations go to:

Handsomeguy's triple grand finals for being a record-setting storyline which saw a player dominate a whole region with little to no contest and leading to sub-stories of its own, including the question about APAC's different seeding structure.

Pavel's comeback for being the theme accompanying the world champion on his road to the gold, referring both to his disappointing finish in 2015 and individual comebacks in his Blizzcon matches against Amnesiac and OmegaZero.

The HCT restructuring for flipping the entire Hearthstone scene upside down and introducing changes that would define the competitive climate for the year to come.

Xixo's consistency for marking the longest period a player has held GosuRankings' #1 World spot - 14 consecutive weeks - earning Xixo three "Best player" awards this year alone.

Yogg-Saron's nerf for being the most discussed card since undertaker and arguably the most celebrated change in Hearthstone since.

Not all stories are positive. This category acknowledges the most controversial topics of 2016, from disbanding teams to player drama.

Dishonorable mention: TerrenceM and DreamHack Austin - The vitriol and bigotry in Twitch chat during the DH Austin event caused one of the most heated debates in Hearthstone this year, leading to multiple editorials and initiating important conversations about chat moderation and policing the community during major events.


The nominees for Drama of the Year are:

Amaz vs Firebat for having one of the pettiest demeanors from a team owner towards his most accomplished and treasured players.

ATLC 2 crowdfunding for asking the Hearthstone community to fully back the lavish goal of $200,000 so that a second edition of Archon's Team League can be brought to life.

China's wintrading scandal for compromising the integrity of the local scene on a large scale and for resulting in multiple account bans following the reports.

Disbandment of multiple teams for perpetuating the dangerous discussion of Hearthstone's downfall as an esport and outlining clear problems with how organizations treat the game and vice versa.

The Purify outrage for rallying up the majority of the Hearthstone community against a card which made fun of the loud pleas for fixing the Priest class.

The prize is awarded to the card or deck which was the one to beat for long periods of time during this year's various metagames.

Honorable mention: Dragon Warrior for eventually outclassing the original Tempo Warrior and staying as the defining Warrior archetype for a long time.


The "Meta king" nominees this year are:

Aggro Shaman for giving aggro players the strongest deck since undertaker Hunter and for making totem golem and tuskarr totemic Hearthstone's most hated early drops.

Combo Druid for being a deck with virtually no counters which onset the major nerf dump that hit multiple key Druid cards, including force of nature.

Midrange Shaman for emerging as the dominant Shaman build after the nerf to Tuskarr Totemic and being a perma-ban in major tournaments.

Spell-heavy Druid (Yogg Druid, Malygos Druid, and so on) for reinventing how the class is played in the wake of nerfed Force of Nature while still doing uncounterable Druid things.

Yogg-Saron for being the most discussed and hated card in the new era of Hearthstone leading up to its much celebrated nerf. Sorry, undertaker.

The award goes to the most unique and enjoyable Tavern Brawls of the year, the testaments of Team 5's gameplay imagination.

Honorable mention: Top 3 for giving us a reason to play Deathwing, Dragonlord, alongside Barnes and Innervate.


And the actual nominees are:

A Friendly Game of Chess for giving us the chance to play one of Hearthstone's most interesting adventure battles against real players.

Heroic Brawl for re-defining the Hearthstone content watched on Twitch for a good week.

Nefarian Rises for aligning Anduin and Morgl against the deadly threat of Nefarian in a memorable co-op experience. 

Top 2 because where else can you put 15 doomsayers and 15 mind blasts in a deck?

United Against Mechazod for remaining the good old co-op bout that we all love.

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