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Hearthstone World Championship Group Stages Day 1 LIVE - Kolento wins in Group of Death

Join us for full live coverage of the first phase of the Hearthstone World Championships like from Burbank, California. Sixteen players will battle it out to advance through their groups, with eight matches played today.


Live updates by Devin "Vidal" Beggs

(All times CET)

2056 - United StatesDTwo sends TaiwanTom60229 to the loser's bracket, 3-1

In game 1, DTwo's Hunter built a big board lead with an assortment of beasts. A pair of Freezing Traps denied Tom's Sylvanas twice, but Tom nearly recovered with a Death's Bite clearing the board and enraging his Grommash Hellscream. The Warrior fell short of the comeback when he played Sylvanas for the third time, making Unleash the Hounds just enough for lethal.

Dtwo won another unfavorable matchup immediately after, taking out Tom's Priest and racing to an early 2-0 lead. DTwo eliminated the Priest by keeping up constant pressure and carefully playing around Cabal Shadow Priest and Wild Pyromancer combos.

In game 3, DTwo's Webspinner allowed him a turn 6 The Beast and a 3-0 sweep looked imminent. Tom was able to fight back by clearing the board with double Lightning Storm and building a huge board. In the end, DTwo played to his outs, but was unable to draw Kill Command and Tom forced a game 4.

Tom fell behind to DTwo's Priest early in game 4, answering DTwo's threats with Doomhammer but taking a ton of damage in the process. DTwo topdecked Acidic Swamp Ooze to destroy the weapon, and later was able to advance from his group by Silencing Tom's Stoneclaw Totem for the kill.


2149 - DenmarkNumberguy falls to ChinaTiddlerCelestial 1-3

The match started off with yet another underdog prevailing in an unfavorable matchup: Tiddler's Handlock defeated Numberguy's Hunter by topdecking Sunfury Protector at a critical moment, setting up two taunted Molten Giants. Numberguy seemed to expect Zoo, mulliganing away Hunter's Mark as the game began.

With intimate knowledge of Tiddler's deck, Numberguy chose his Druid and kept Keeper of the Grove in his opening hand for game 2. The drama was extremely high as the rope nearly cost Numberguy the game. His turn ended before Sludge Belcher's death animation did, allowing Tiddler to clear the board with Ancient Watcher/Shadowflame combo. Numberguy wasn't punished, however, as his Force of Nature/Savage Roar combo ended the game two turns later.

Game 3 was a Druid mirror in which Tiddler's Sylvanas Windrunner stole a Spectral Knight. He followed that up with his own Spectral Knight, and struck while the iron was hot by playing Loatheb and Savage Roar to put Numberguy in range of a lethal combo the following turn.

Numberguy selected Zoo for game 4, but his Knife Juggler couldn't snipeTiddler's stealthed Shade of Naxxramas. Tiddler stabilized against the early onslaught and was able to play his Force of Nature/Savage Roar combo to advance to the winner's bracket.


2301 - ItalyKaor defeats United StatesTarei 3-1

The opening game was Tarei's miracle Rogue versus Kaor's Druid, in which both player's had slow starts. Around turn 7, it was an "Auctioneer-or-bust" situation for Tarei, but he never drew the essential card for his deck and Force of Nature sealed the game for the Italian player.

Tarei selected his Shaman for game 2, but Kaor was ahead all game long. In the midgame, a devastating Azure Drake + Swipe cleared the Shaman's board and dropped Tarei into range of yet another Force of Nature + Savage Roar lethal combo.

Game 3 was one of the most exciting games of the tournament so far: Tarei's freeze Mage against Kaor's druid. Kaor kept his life total high by hero powering as often as possible. The game was nearly out of reach for Tarei, but his last two cards were Archmage Antonidas and Bloodmage Thalnos. Thalnos gave the American exact lethal with zero cards left in his deck!

Kaor then picked his Warrior as a hard counter to the freeze Mage for game 4, and Tarei never had a chance. He couldn't muster enough damage through Kaor's Shield Blocks and constant Armoring Up, and dropped to the loser's bracket as a result.


1215 - ChinaNicolas beats South KoreaRenieHouR 3-1

The match got interesting right away when RenieHouR banned Nicolas' Paladin, one of the rarer classes in today's tournament. Nicolas then opened with Malygos Rogue against Priest. After a nice Gadgetzan Auctioneer into Conceal turn, RenieHouR wiped the board with Auchenai Soulpriest + Circle of Healing. Nicolas miscounted his mana when going for lethal, but it didn't matter because he had enough damage to finish it the following turn.

RenieHouR queued up his control Warrior for game 2, and controlled the midgame until playing Ragnaros the Firelord to drop Nicolas to just 10 life. Nicolas was forced to Sap Ragnaros, which opened the door for RenieHouR to tie up the series with Grommash Hellscream + Cruel Taskmaster.

Game 3 saw Nicolas' Handlock matched up against RenieHouR's Warrior. The Warrior played a Ragnaros that Nicolas promptly targeted with Faceless Manipulator. While RenieHouR's Ragnaros continually shot the worst possible target, Nicolas was able to wipe the board twice with Shadowflame and win with his copy of his opponent's Ragnaros.

RenieHouR picked Shaman for a game 4, traditionally a heavy favorite against Handlock, and had the strong opening of double Harvest Golem. The Shaman added Nerubian Egg to his strong board, which Nicolas cleared with Ironbeak Owl + Hellfire. That play prompted caster Artosis to quip "he doesn't give a hoot about his Owl." Lord Jaraxxus came into play and Nicolas put the game out of reach with Ironbeak Owl + Power Overwhelming + Shadowflame, advancing to the winners' bracket with a score of 3-1.


1251 - United StatesFirebat's miracle Rogue sweeps ChinaQiruo

Both players banned Hunter to start off the match, which then kicked off with a Rogue mirror. Firebat went all-in with a 10/10 Concealed Edwin VanCleef on turn 4. His gamble was rewarded as Qiruo couldn't recover from the massive damage burst, and the Chinese player chose Shaman for game 2.

Firebat jumped out to a commanding 2-0 lead in more typical miracle Rogue fashion the second time around, using Gadgetzan Auctioneer with a bunch cheap spells to assemble lethal damage.

Qiruo's last hope was his Priest deck, and started the game with a naked Injured Blademaster. Firebat had the perfect answer, with turn 4 Coin, Auctioneer, and Preparation into Conceal. He never looked back from there, keeping up steady pressure with minions while continually reloading his hand. Qiruo drops to the losers' bracket while Firebat advances to the winners' bracket.


0137 - United KingdomGreenSheep swept by South KoreaKranich's Shaman

Kranich's Shaman eliminated GreenSheep's Hunter in game 1, and GreenSheep interestingly chose his Handlock for game 2.

GreenSheep played an early Twilight Drake, but Kranich ignored and built an imposing board with totems, Feral Spirits and Loatheb. The Handlock countered with Hellfire, but his life total had dropped so low that the Shaman's advantage was insurmountable. Facing sure lethal, GreenSheep honorably Soulfired himself in the face.

For game 3, GreenSheep picked his Warrior control deck. Kranich again built an early board of small minions such as Zombie Chow, Haunted Creeper and totems, daring GreenSheep to have the Brawl. By the time the Brawl did come, it was too little too late as Kranich had shrewdly kept several strong minions in hand to reload. A timely Harrison Jones put GreenSheep's Fiery War Axe in a museum and the Korean player advanced to the winners' bracket.


0304 - ChinaRunAndGun can't stop United StatesStrifeCro's Zoo

Group D, aka the "Group of Death," began with Cloud 9's StrifeCro vs. RunAndGun.

StrifeCro picked his Hunter while RunAndGun opened with Zoo. StrifeCro invited a race but the Zoo player's Loatheb prevented his Unleash the Hounds. RunAndGun then put himself way ahead with a board of Doomguard, Dire Wolf Alpha, and Loatheb, and there was nothing StrifeCro could do.

StrifeCro responded with his own Zoo, setting up a really volatile mirror. RunAndGun had the Coin to accelerate his opening, and the two players jockeyed back and forth for board position. StrifeCro played Knife Juggler after Harvest Golem, sequencing to avoid throwing a knife at his opponent's Nerubian Egg. StrifeCro then topdecked a turn 7 Doomguard to press his advantage, tying the series at 1-1 soon after with Arcane Golem.

For game 3, RunAndGun chose control Paladin, but faced an extremely strong Undertaker opening from the American. The game was already out of reach for the Paladin by turn 4, with a Nerubian Egg giving StrifeCro insurance against Consecration, and RunAndGun was quickly down to just 11 life. Equality + Consecration came too late for RunAndGun and they were on to game 4.

StrifeCro had a slow start, missing his one drop, while RunAndGun had an early Feral Spirits. The Zoo player then built an imposing board in the midgame with Doomguard and Loatheb, unfortunately being forced to discard his second Doomguard. RunAndGun nearly stabilized at 2 life, but was forced to Hex StrifeCro's Flame Imp. He survived a few more turns but thanks to Life Tap, StrifeCro was finally able to draw lethal and move on to the winners' bracket.


0457 - UkraineKolento outlasts TaiwanFrozenIce 3-2

The final match of the day and the conclusion of the Group of Death began with FrozenIce banning tournament favorite Kolento's Shaman deck. The "Ukraine Pain Train" selected his Druid instead while FrozenIce, aka "the Kolento of Taiwan," picked his Shaman for game 1.

Shade of Naxxramas was an interesting turn 3 play from the Shaman, and it grew to 6/6 before Kolento used Force of Nature to clean up the board. FrozenIce had a huge board clear with Lightning Storm and followed it up with exact lethal the turn after thanks to a pair of Flametongue Totems.

Kolento then set up a virtually unloseable matchup for game 2 with his control Priest. He had a huge combo turn in the midgame with Wild Pyromancer/Northshire Cleric/Circle of Healing clearing the Shaman's board and drawing a ton of cards just before his turn expired. FrozenIce was then playing from behind the whole game, as Auchenai Soulpriest and Holy Nova kept his side of the board empty. Kolento then tied up the series with a pair of Thoughstolen Flametongue Totems and a cheeky "Thank you" emote.

Game 3 saw FrozenIce bring out his miracle Rogue, a Violet Teacher variant of the popular archetype. Kolento was able to win with tight play and some nice Sylvanas RNG, stealing FrozenIce's Violet Teacher to send it to game 4.

FrozenIce's last hope was his control Warrior. Predictably, it was a long, hard fought battle. Kolento's Thoughtsteals weren't impactful at all, in a matchup where they are generally important for stealing valuable legendaries. FrozenIce played a surprise golden Hogger and the back-and-forth continued all the way to fatigue, where the Warrior had a huge advantage thanks to his stacked armor. With no cards left in either player's deck, Kolento conceded and they moved on to game 5.

The first and only game 5 of the day began with Coin + Ancient Watcher for Kolento. FrozenIce had two Executes in hand as excellent answers to Handlock's numerous Giants. Golden Hogger made another appearance in the game, but Kolento built a huge hand size advantage in the mid game and it was only a matter of time. Kolento joins StrifeCro in the winners' bracket!

Tune in tomorrow for more coverage and live updates as the tournament continues.

- Devin "Vidal" Beggs


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