It was an insane Friday at the Ericsson Globe. With twelve matches to be played, the broadcast for the second day of the BlizzCon European finals went on for close to 20 hours, ending just before sunrise.
Despite the exhausting schedule, the viewers were given one of the most memorable tournaments in Hearthstone history. Fan favorites were knocked out and underdogs fought tooth and nail for their spot in the top 8. There were nail-biting coin flips, lucky top decks, reckless aggression going against the composure of controls and lots and lots of five-star series.
You fill find full recap of the played games in the spoiler tags below as well as group stage standings and bracket pairings in case you don't have a whole day to spare just to watch Hearthstone (though we strongly encourage you do that). We've also compiled one of the most unexpected decks for this tournament - Thefishou's aggro Mage - which went 5-1 during the group stages.
Note: Only 28/30 cards from Thefishou's Mage deck were shown on stream. We've assumed the last two cards are second [card]Arcane Intellect[/card] and second [card]Water Elemental[/card].
Group D recap
Having bested Lifecoach in another five-game series, Thefallen advanced to the deciding Group D match to play Thefishou. Expecting another Mage, the Spaniard opened with control Warrior only to find out Thefishou had already anticipated his enemy’s move, bringing out his Shaman.
Thefallen nevertheless managed to win the first game and called out Thefishou’s Priest. From there, the Frenchman went on a tear, 3-1ing the series from being down 0-1, not even having to resort to his aggro Mage. With the sun rising over Stockholm and with the audience exhausted from the 20-hour marathon, Thefishou walked out of Ericsson Globe as a top 8 finalist.
The night was already past 03:00 CET before the final Group D matches began. Kolento and Thefishou were put on the main stream where Lifecoach and TheFallen were instructed to play off stream, to preserve viewers’ sleep schedule and sanity.
Both players opened with their 3-0 decks from Wednesday, Kolento rocking his aggressive Druid and Thefishou bringing out his Mage. The first two games went heavily in Frenchman’s favor, getting an easy victory in game one and clutch top decks in game two against the Shaman, triumphing on the back of double [card]Ice Lance[/card] plus [card]Fireball[/card] burst.
With Kolento down to his Handlock, casters and viewers alike expected the series to go 3-0 once again but the Ukrainian held his ground. One damage off lethal on T8, Kolento managed to live to the next turn and cast [card]Lord Jaraxxus[/card] to heal himself up and retire the Mage. From there, it was nothing less than flawless mastery of the build, carrying it past the Shaman hard counter and winning the favorable match-up against Priest. Kolento was thus crowned Group D champion.
Group C recap
Group C wraps up with Frezzar as second
It was another lengthy series to close Group C, as it becomes the entire weekend of BlizzCon Europe action. Opening with Paladin, Frezzar beat down CupCake’s Handlock down to one health and watched with delight as the Dane drew Jaraxxus as the last card in his deck – way, way too late for a comeback.
Frezzar was on his way to a 2-0 lead against the enemy Shaman as well, but a lucky top deck saved the Dane from death, drawing a clutch [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] on top of double [card]Azure Drake[/card] to burn the last remaining hit points of the otherwise stable Paladin. The Shaman was excellent in game three as well, facing a Priest in the longest ever stalemate, bringing the game to fatigue with barely any action for the first 25 turns and somehow beating Anduin in his own game.
Frezzar was thus reduced to his last remaining deck, a control Warrior. Although playing a bad match-up against Shaman, the Swede was able to tie the series and force a final fifth game against the aggressive Druid of CupCake. For the longest time, CupCake was in control, constantly threatening lethal and growing a monstrous [card]Shade of Naxxramas[/card] under concealment. Miraculously, though, just before he would die to a combo and a swing, Frezzar was able to top deck [card]Sylvanas Windrunner[/card], [card]Shield Slam[/card] it himself and steam CupCake’s Shade and turn him against him… for the lethal.
Frezzar Shield Slams his Sylvanas to abduct the deadly Shade of Naxxramas
Reynad crashes out as Frezzar marches on after another five game series
Tempo Storm's team captain and one of the best known pro players Reynad is out of the running for the Hearthstone World Championships, as he lost 2-3 to Frezzar in a tight series. Frezzar will face Cupcake next for the final Group C place in the round of eight.
Frezzar put himself in the driver's seat early with an upset victory over Handlock with his Priest deck despite being very much unfavoured against it. The two traded games until Reynad was left with nothing but his Aggro Rogue deck to take out Frezzar's Paladin and Warrior decks. Against the super dangerous Rogue deck, one of the fastest decks in the entire tournament, Frezzar's Paladin succumbed after just seven turns thanks to a dream curve for Reynad. In the final deciding game Reynad looked to have the strategic advantage holding back on clearing a BGH to bait out a Sludge Belcher which Frezzar did have in hand, but Frezzar appeared to read the game just that little bit better to take the win. Drawing Ragnaros on turn eight, Frezzar resisted the no-doubt strong urge to slam it down, instead opting to silence the Haunted Creeper of Reynad, trade and armour up. This meant that even the Leeroy Jenkins top deck and a shadowstep from Reynad could not save him due to the crucial two armour putting Frezzar just out of reach.
This series was a masterclass in the psychology of experienced pro players, with both showing near-psychic ability to read the game and what the opponent was likely to have in hand. Reynad's 0-2 record in the tournament does not do him justice, but he will not be going to the World Championship Finals in November.
In another five game thriller, MrYagut edges out Cupcake to top Group C
After overcoming Tempo Storm team captain Reynad on Thursday, Miracle Rogue specialist and former Warcraft III pro Mr Yagut took another victory to claim the easier path to the round of eight. Despite being considered by some the weakest of the four players in his group, Yagut has proved them wrong and now leaves his three opponents to fight it out between them for the remaining berth.
In a back and forth series, Yagut claimed the advantage in game one with his Warrior deck, but Cupcake's Druid levelled the score. Yagut's Miracle and Cupcake's Handlock took games three and four, before Yagut was able to close it out on Shaman in the deciding game. Yagut, who was slightly favoured by GosuGamers users, will advance to the round of eight on Saturday on the main DreamHack stage and is now just one win away from the World Championships. While regarded as an expert in Miracle Rogue, Yagut only managed two wins with his signature class this tournament and showed his versatility to take most of his wins with other classes. Cupcake will face the winner of Frezzar vs Reynad for second place in their group, with only one of those three players now capable of advancing any further.
After a tight series in his first game of the day and being upset by Greensheep in the first game, Thijs looked far more worthy of his favourite tag in the Group B decider.
Thijs opened on Priest and swept aside the Warrior, Priest and Shaman decks of Lowelo in relatively easy fashion to advance to the final day of the EU qualifiers for the Hearthstone World Championships. Thijs had been considered one of the heavy favourites coming in the tournament, but was made to work for it thanks to his loss to Greensheep on Day 1. While Greensheep then overcame Lowelo earlier today to qualify undefeated, Thijs had to come through an extremely close series against much improved Matthew before jumping straight into a series with Lowelo with little time to prepare.
Matthew opened the series aggressively on his Mage but stumbled upon a hard match-up, facing Thijs’ Priest. The Dutchman effortlessly weathered the storm by out-healing and out-boarding Jaina and entered game two, challenging Spaniard’s Handlock.
Commanded by Eredar Lord Jaraxxus, Matthew’s Warlock pressured Thijs hard. The Priest aggression was held off and bombarded back with 2-mana Infernals to tie the series. This scenario was repeated in game three, as Thijs’ bad draws and low Lightning Storm rolls put him one loss away from elimination.
Thijs still had his Paladin left and he brought it out for a nail-biting fourth game. Considered favored against the Handlock, the Paladin was in dominant position for the majority of the game, dwarfing the giant threats and pushing for damage. On T9, Thijs even had a coin-flip chance to win the game, but had his [card]Stampeding Kodo[/card] not failed him. The game became very difficult next turn as [card]Lord Jaraxxus[/card] was cast to heal up Matthew but deciding not to clear Thijs’ board and instead go for face was the mistake that retired the Warlock.
It is only in game five that Thijs got some actual luck. Staying a few points of lethal for several turns, the Dutchman was eventually able to half-clear the board with [card]Wild Pyromancer[/card], trade away his [card]Sylvanas Windrunner[/card] and steal Matthew’s [card]Cairne Bloodhoof[/card]. Consecutive taunters on the next stabilize the board for Thijs and shut out Spaniard’s dreams for a playoffs spot. Thijs survived for the time being, not drawing a single [card]Equality[/card] for the two games on his Paladin.
The Kodo will hit the Sunfury Protector, making Thijs work extra for his victory
In a series that went back and forth for the full five games, Team Dignitas' Greensheep managed to edge out Lowelo to top Group B. In the final game Lowelo missed the second attack of his Al'akir, before Greensheep was able to use his Faceless Manipulator on that Al'akir, combined with a Power Owerwhelming, to get exact lethal using Siphon Soul on the Shaman's taunt totem.
Lowelo took games one and three with Greensheep drawing level both times in games two and four before taking the series in game five. Lowelo's Warrior saw him through the first game despite Greensheep managing to keep himself just out of the lethal burst range for a number of turns in a very close game. If Greensheep had edged out the Warrior with his Paladin in game one, it could have been a very different series. Greensheep, who was a last minute substitution after being eliminated in the online Swiss qualifier by ThijsNL, avenged his loss to Thijs on Thursday. By making it to the next round, Greensheep can arguably claim the best performance ever by a British player in a major tournament.
Group A recap
Kaor wins the rematch against Max, on to playoffs
Having just 3-0'd Neirea with his Paladin, it was no surprise seeing Max open with Uther again, and facing Priest in the first game coloured him the favorite. The Italian managed to edge out his opponent, however, before the game could enter a heavy late-game scenario and Max had to choose another deck.
An aggressive Druid came out for the Brit to tie the series and force a Druid mirror for the third game and this is where misplays galore started happening. Missed lethals, lost card advantage and wasted value defined not just the Malfurion face-off but many turns in the subsequent games as well. Fighting to continue onto the playoffs, Max and Kaor continued going back and forth until the Italian got a perfect start on his Paladin against Max's Zoo, exhausted his recourced, healed and taunted up and extorted a concede.
Max's Paladin eliminates Neirea from BlizzCon Europe
The top two seed from Europe, Innovation's Neirea, is out of the run for the BlizzCon title. The Ukrainian, who just recently finished second at VGVN #3 behind Savjz and top four at Prismata Cup 2, found no answer to the control Paladin of British player Max and is the first player out of the tournament.
Max started the series strong, his [card]Kel'Thuzad[/card] doing miracle work against Neirea's Druid which almost 3-0'd Numberguy yesterday. Once Neirea's strongest deck was out, Max entered a favorable fatigue war against Ukrainian's Priest and once he survived that as well, out-healing the damage of the aggro Hunter was a piece of cake.
Max is still not out in the light, however, as he will be playing Kaor in the Group A decider. Winner joins Numberguy in the playofs.
Max showing the power of [card]Kel'Thuzad[/card] in Paladin
The Dane came into the winners match riding a huge momentum wave. The Innovation player was able to beat his team-mate and group favorite Neirea last night, coming back from a 0-2 deficit all thanks to Neirea's own Priest deck. Having overcome arguably the bigger threat, Italian player Kaor looked like an easier target.
Numberguy soon found out that was not the case. Opening with a ramp Druid, Kaor was able to eliminate Numberguy's killer Priest in game one and win the Druid mirror in game two, topdecking a critical [card]The Black Knight[/card] to kill a fat [card]Ancient of War[/card] in the latter. Reduced to his last deck, a Handlock, Numberguy seemed doomed, especially given the fact that Kaor was running double [card]Big Game Hunter[/card].
Numberguy edged out the Druid nonetheless and extended his tournament life for another series. He did it again against Kaor's control Paladin, carefully playing against Uther's [card]Equality[/card]es, eventually tying the series.
Game five had Kaor bring out his Priest and finally Numberguy was about to play a favorable match-up. Even though the Italian got some nice board clears with [card]Auchenai Soulpries[/card] and [card]Circle of Healing[/card], the late-game power of Gul'dan could not be overcome and the Dane snatched another reverse all-kill for a deserved top seed in Group A.