Hey everyone itzBolt here, this is a new series of articles that I will be doing for the rest of the July. It will follow my journey as I progress through a large collegiate tournament hosted by AfreecaTV with the help of Collegiate Starleague (CSL), known as the AfreecaTV International College Championships (AICC).
WHAT IS THIS TOURNAMENT?
AfreecaTV is working with Collegiate Starleague to bring their very first AfreecaTV International College Championship (AICC). The two finalists of this tournament will be sent to Korea for a chance to compete in the main event for a prize pool of $15,000! Players will be sent in from North America, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.
The top eight schools who participated in the CSL Spring league were given invite spots directly, with a player of their choice. Schools decided how they wanted to send in a representative, it was up to them if they wanted to host a tryout or just pick their best player. Twenty-four more players were put into the tournament from other schools and schools who already had a primary player were given a chance to send in an secondary player to play in a qualifier for a chance at a spot in the tournament.
I was given the primary spot and my friend, Forcedawg, was given the secondary spot and managed to qualify for the main tournament. We both represent our school, University of British Columbia (UBC).
Ðart (Illuminati/University of Southern California)
Dog (Complexity Gaming/UT Arlington)
Phonetap (Luminosity Gaming/St. John’s)
SilentStorm (Team Celestial/University of Toronto)
TheJordude (Complexity Gaming/Simon Fraser University)
- Conquest format
- Best out of Five series
- Players submit three decklists before the play date
- Each week has three rounds
- Top two advance to Korea
Every week players are put into a group of four based on seeding and two players make it out of the group. To advance to the next week, you must win two rounds.
Two players get matched up
Winner advances to the winners’ bracket
Winners play each other, winner advances to next stage
Losers play each other, winner of losers’ bracket plays in round 3
Loser of winners’ bracket plays against winner of losers’ bracket
Winner of this round advances to next stage
Every week you are given the players in your group before you submit your decklists, the nature of this allows you to research your opponents to see decks would be good against them. However, since not everyone is famous or well known it makes it hard to research unless you are playing against popular streamers and players.
I did what I could to research these players, I knew it wasn’t likely that I would find much about them. The first thing I looked at was if they played in CSL’s spring league. The next thing I looked for was if a google search with their battletag would bring me anything. If they were a popular streamer I looked at recent broadcasts and anything else related to them.
The players in my round of 32 group were BabyHitler, LeeSin and Phonetap.
He did not participate in the CSL spring league, google did not show anything and is not well known.
This left me with nothing to base any of my decks off of, I just assumed he would play “OP Meta Decks”.
Predicted lineup: Midrange Hunter, Handlock, Grim Patron Warrior
Luckily for me, I was able to get a little bit of information. Although this player isn’t very well known, he did play in CSL spring league. He played Mage once, Paladin twice and Warlock three times throughout the whole thing.
With all I got, I pretty much have to assume that’s his line up and try to guess the archetypes.
Predicted lineup: Freeze Mage, Midrange Paladin, Handlock
Phonetap was a lot easier to do research on as he is someone well known in the Hearthstone scene. He also played in the CSL spring league, his team actually won the whole thing.
In CSL he played Mage four times and Warlock seven times.
Phonetap recently won the ESL final with the line up of Midrange Hunter, Midrange Druid and Mech Shaman.
He also streamed a lot of Midrange Hunter and Grim Patron Warrior.
With the popularity of Grim Patron and how strong the deck is, I automatically assumed it would be part of his line up. Him streaming the deck also supported this idea. At the time, Phonetap recently left Hearthlytics, a notable Hunter player on the team is JAB so I assumed it would have some influence on his line up. JAB is a huge fan of Midrange Hunter, so that is where I put my money on. His last deck was honestly a toss up, I put my money on Warlock and assumed Handlock because he played the class so often back in CSL and it has a really good matchup against Grim Patron.
Predicted lineup: Midrange Hunter, Grim Patron Warrior, Handlock
My Lineup Preparation
Between players in the groups being released and deck submission deadline, I was pretty busy and I was also packing for my trip to Hong Kong (I will be playing the whole tournament during my Hong Kong vacation). I didn’t plan out my line up as well as I could have and it was apparent when I saw my opponents’ lineups.
I wanted to counter Grim Patron a decent amount so I put Handlock and a Taunt Druid in my lineup. I wanted to play another strong meta deck which made me put in Midrange Hunter, I didn’t want to play face because of its matchup against Grim Patron.
What ended up happening was my lineup was too focused on beating Grim Patron and didn’t focus too much on my research. I panicked in sending in my decklists because I had to submit them a day early due to the nature of my flight. I may have been better off running a faster Druid list for the Handlocks, and if I expected a lot of Midrange Hunters, I should have brought Face Hunter.
I listed all the favoured and unfavoured matchups against all my opponents in the group and I already knew they were going to be hard for me, each series was predicted to be all be very close in terms of the score.
These were the finalized lineups.
BabyHitler ended up not playing any of the “OP Meta Decks” I predicted him to. His lineup was actually pretty good against mine. Looking at his classes I figured he was playing Taunt Druid, Mech Shaman and Midrange Paladin. The druid ended up being a Fatigue Druid, but it also had combo which made it a bit different.
LeeSin ended up playing Warlock and Paladin, however his last class was Shaman. I assumed Midrange Paladin, Mech Shaman and Handlock. I did not play LeeSin, he was a no show so I have no clue what he was going to bring.
Phonetap also played two classes I assumed he would be playing, Warrior and Hunter. The Warrior did end up bringing Grim Patron, however, the Hunter was actually a Face Hunter and not the Midrange variant I predicted. I did not expect to see Phonetap bring out Oil Rogue as I have not seen him play it before.
My games were streamed on the secondary channel which can be found here.
Round 1 - BabyHitler
Taunt Druid vs Mech Shaman
Mech Shaman can usually spam board pretty quickly and pressure the Druid in the early game and finish them off in the mid game. A good Ancient of War is really good against the Shaman. However, in this game I double innervated the Ancient of War not expecting a Hex because it isn’t very common in this type of deck. It backfired on me and I didn’t have follow up. I soon lost the game after that.
Handlock vs Midrange Dragon Paladin
Paladins usually don’t have too much to push with so that matchup isn’t too bad. I started off with a Twilight Drake and a Sludge Belcher to follow up. I did not agree with my opponent equipping his Truesilver Champion and trading practically his whole board to kill my Twilight Drake. I made sure to tap a lot in this matchup and I wasn’t too worried about my health. I had a lot of AoE if I was ever behind and I was getting low enough to use Molten Giant. I didn’t want to extend too much against a Paladin so I didn’t play my Molten Giant the turn I had it for free. It also makes my opponent think I don’t have it in my hand until I actually use it. I played Molten Giant the turn I played loatheb to basically lock out my opponent from using spells. I basically controlled the rest of the game and won off my card advantage.
Taunt Druid vs Midrange Dragon Paladin
I didn’t start with a Wild Growth or Innervate. However, I was able to slow him down with my Senjin Shieldmasta. A Shade follow up was a good draw. By playing Belcher against his Azure Drake I was able to weaken his board enough for a huge value Swipe and having a decent sized Shade. The Ysera Awakens was pretty important, but even if I didn’t get it I was still in av ery good position with a large lead.
Midrange Hunter vs Midrange Dragon Paladin
Slow start, I just hero powered my second turn and equipped bow and didn’t attack because I had unleash in hand. Drawing both my Freezing Traps put me basically two cards down because I want to get them from my Mad Scientists instead. I was really happy to see the BGH come out because I had Dr. Boom in my deck and I got the Malorne off my Webspinner. I didn’t want the Big Game Hunter to go back, however, it might’ve been better than letting him send the Aldor back to his hand. He ended up getting a lot of value from the Emperor. The Paladin stabilized really well and I ended up not getting the out I needed and drawing the Malorne back from my deck.
Midrange Hunter vs Mill Druid
I basically tried pressuring the board the whole game without trying to overextend too much.
Round 2 - Phonetap
Midrange Hunter vs Oil Rogue
I got a decent curve to start pressuring the board. I didn’t really like all my options because they all seemed really weak. Haunted Creeper and Young Dragonhawk was not enough pressure. Animal companion was relatively easy to get rid of and Shredder was as well. I ended up going with Shredder. I am not sure I agree with the Preparation into Blade Flurry into SI:7 Agent because there wasn’t that much damage on the board. The consideration was to Animal Companion and one drop or KIll Command the SI. I think KC on the SI might’ve been the better play even though it didn’t pressure the board because later on the SI was pretty useful for him in clearing my board. The top deck on the Loatheb was super important because all my options were very sub par. Eventually I had enough pressure to win the game.
Handlock vs Oil Rogue
Generally a good matchup for Handlock. I was able to pressure and play my minions on the board and Phonetap was not able to draw any AoE clear for a very long time. I think this game was pretty much in my favour, but was my game to throw. I shouldn’t have tapped to look for darkbomb to kill the teacher. He had used both his Saps and Eviscerates. He didn’t use any of his weapon buffs yet.
Taunt Druid vs Grim Patron
I was able to get him super low, however, I don’t run combo in the deck so I wasn’t able to really push for damage. I should’ve played Zombie Chow to put more minions on the board because I had Savage Roar but I was scared of a weapon killing it for a heal. It was a pretty tough decision. The way he played the turn after, I would have won because he did not armour up.
Taunt Druid vs Face Hunter
I coined Wild Growth with no Shade because a Savage Roar on a Knife Juggler would have been fine or a hero power on the Worgen. Keeper and taunts back to back continuously pretty much just won me the game.
Really hard matchup for me and I didn’t get the taunts and heals I needed to survive and stabilize.
Round 3 - BabyHitler
All three matches were against his Mill Druid which were pretty much just me not overextending and putting up pressure. I won the series 3-0.
Both Phonetap and I ended up advancing from the group onto the next phase. All my AICC matches will be played from 3-6 AM in Hong Kong so I have to get used to playing at this time.
Make sure to follow my journey and tune into my next article on week two!