Just this Saturday, ESL helped host phase two of the Fireside Gathering Qualifiers for the Fireside Gathering Championship. The tournament had just about 100 participants, who are only eligible to play by winning a fireside gathering in their local area. The top 4 players of this tournament advance to go to a four player LAN in Burbank to compete for a $5,000 prize pool. I was one of the participants, as I had won a fireside in Vancouver, which you can read about here.
BRACKET AND STREAM
The bracket can be found here.
The VOD of the tournament can be found on the Play Hearthstone twitch stream. Here you can find a few matches from the round of 32, my match in the round of 16 and the remaining matches that brought each player to the top 4.
This is an open tournament so it is a bit difficult to build your line up towards specific people and specific line ups, like I did for AICC. However, I found it beneficial to look up the notable names entering the tournament and see what they’ve been playing and are most likely to bring.
Domdus is part of Team Magic Amy and some of you may recognize his name as he was a participant of the ESL LAN tournament not too long ago. He has also been doing very well in open qualifiers, recently playing in the One Nation of Gamers North America #6 tournament.
I used the ONOG NA #6 tournament as my research, he brought Druid, Hunter and Warrior to the tournament. They were Midrange Druid, Midrange Hunter and Control Warrior respectively.
His Midrange Hunter was not too out of the ordinary, notable cards would probably be Abusive Sergeant, Hunter’s Mark, Sludge Belcher and Snake Trap.
In the Midrange Hunter deck the only thing I saw that popped out was the Mind Control Tech.
The Control Warrior had double Brawl which is fairly common to tech against Grim Patrons. Ysera was also in the deck for late game.
From what I heard, this was pretty much the line up he used during the Fireside Gathering Qualifiers.
Leadpaint is part of Grand National Champions, he was also a player at the ESL LAN tournament.
I did a bit of research on him, but wasn’t able to get too much off the internet. I learned that for the WCA Qualifiers he played Hunter, Shaman and Warrior. Although I am not too sure what they are; they were probably Midrange or Hybrid Hunter, Mech Shaman and Grim Patron Warrior.
On stream in his recent broadcasts, I saw him play Aggro Rogue, Mech Shaman and some Control Warrior.
Hotform plays for ROOT gaming and is a very popular streamer who also does a lot of casting. I don’t think he plays in many tournaments or open qualifiers, but I was able to see what kind of decks he plays on stream.
He has been playing Midrange Druid, Freeze Mage, Malylock, Tempo Mage and Grim Patron.
One of the biggest names to be participating in this tournament, he won the Amazon fireside to qualify for this tournament. He is the founder of Tempostorm and is also a very big streamer.
The first thing I did was look on his stream to see what kinds of decks he has been playing recently. He played Mech Shaman, Combolock, Control Warrior and Face Hunter.
I heard that JustSaiyan was helping Reynad prepare for the tournament. This almost guaranteed that Reynad would be playing Grim Patron, JustSaiyan is one of the best Patron players and is a huge fan of the deck.
Reynad ended up bringing Mech Shaman, Aggressive Zoo and Grim Patron. He also ended up being an opponent I had to face in the round of 32.
Puffin used to be a very big name back in the beta days, he hasn’t been in very many tournaments since the disband of Clarity. He is still streaming Hearthstone. That was the only place where I could do some research.
On stream he was playing Tempo Mage, Handlock, Oil Rogue and Midrange Paladin.
My friend Boxception told me he helped Puffin with his line up, so it kind of gave me a hint that there would be a warrior in the mix.
I haven’t been playing too much since I have been on vacation for the whole July. When I got back, I did a lot of coaching and not much ladder myself. A lot of my deck selection was based on what has been working for me in AICC and sticking to the ol’ guns.
First deck in my line up would be Handlock. I predicted a lot of players to be playing Warrior. Handlock is favoured against both Grim Patron and Control Warrior, so I was definitely going to bring this one. I had my old Handlock list that I was using for AICC, however, while coaching a few players on Handlock who were both using Amnesiac’s list I decided to use that list for this tournament as both sessions were very successful on ladder.
The second deck was Warrior. I knew for sure I was bringing this to counter any aggro matchup and to bring double Brawl for Grim Patron. My Patron play isn’t as good as it needs to be to bring into a tournament. I still feel like Control Warrior is very strong. While I was looking up players’ potential line ups, I saw that people were running Revenge now. I don’t really like the card in the deck so I opted out of using it. I stuck with my old AICC list.
The third deck, I was considering bringing Oil Rogue but ended up deciding to go with Hunter. I chose Midrange Hunter but I think Hybrid Hunter would’ve been the better choice for any Hunter mirror matches as it’s slightly faster. Again stuck to what I was using prior to the tournament.
I lucked out on this one, I got a bye first round. This was huge because for this tournament you only need to get to top 4.
I played against a guy named EpiC, generally a lot of the names in this tournament will be lesser known players.
His line up was Rogue, Hunter and Warlock.
I started off with Warrior the first game as it was good against both the Rogue and Hunter. He had a poor start with no one drop, followed by having to Glaivezooka on an empty board. He played Wolfrider on turn 3 which meant either Face Hunter or Hybrid Hunter. I was able to clear it with a Cruel Taskmaster and he follows up with a Piloted Shredder which tells me it is Hybrid Hunter. Later on in the game I was starting to get low really early but I managed to stabilize my health and board with the help of Shield Block, Sludge Belcher and Shield Maiden.
I queued my Midrange Hunter and he switched to his Warlock, which ended up being a Handlock. I had a decent start play a lot of smaller creatures and pushing damage towards his face with my Houndmaster onto my Webspinner. I eventually got the turn 6 win as a Midrange Hunter which is pretty insane.
I hard mulliganed for Twilight Drakes and Mountain Giants, but I didn’t get either. I did however have Ironbeak Owl and Mortal Coil for his Twilight Drake if he played one. This is what ended up happening, however, I still had no threat to play. He followed up with a Mortal Coil of his own and a Mountain Giant. My only response was a topdecked Twilight Drake. He played Emperor, which forced me to Defender of Argus my Drake instead of developing my own. I still had no answer for his Giant. He killed my Drake and developed a Loatheb and Ancient Watcher along with a Sunfury Protector to protect his Giant. The Loatheb was well timed because I had Hellfire in my hand and it would’ve been an amazing clear. He pushed for more Damage and I had to Hellfire the turn after, luckily for me I had double Molten Giants for free and was able to taunt up. The game ended up being me clearing his threats after I finally stabilized and managed to put my own threats because he didn’t respect Molten Giants. I stabilized and put down my own threats and won the game.
My opponent for this round was Reynad, luckily I did a little bit of preparation so I knew what I was looking for for the most part.
His line up was Mech Shaman, Aggressive Zoo and Grim Patron Warrior.
I started off Hunter and into his Mech Shaman which is a good deck for us to bump into. I played a turn one Webspinner, in which he responded with a coin Mechwarper. Luckily I had a quick shot in hand and was able to shoot it down. He then played Whirling Zap-o-matic, I followed with an Animal Companion, all the outcomes were fine with me. Leokk would let me trade my Webspinner into it, Misha blocked it from attacking my face and made it awkward for him and Huffer would’ve just let me trade into it that instant. I got the Misha and he had to Powermace to finish it off. On turn four I had two plays, one was to play an on curve Shredder that died to Powermace, the other was to Mad Scientist hero power. The second option allowed me to Freezing Trap whatever my opponent buffed. Here is where Reynad messed up and maybe through the game for himself. He played Mechwarper and Spider Tank and hit my Scientist, the buff went onto the Spider Tank but now I had a freezing Trap. I was able to Eagle Horn bow the Mechwarper and force him to send back the Spider Tank. If he had just played the Mechwarper and killed the Mad Scientist first it wouldve buffed it and he would’ve been fine. I soon put enough pressure to just win almost through hero powering.
My two decks weren’t really good against Mech Shaman, if I drew weapons with Warrior it would be alright so that is what I decided to queue next. I didn’t end up getting the weapons and I didn’t end up getting Brawl when I needed it even though there were two in my deck. Double Armoursmith at the start did help out a lot though, but it wasn’t enough.
I queue my Warrior again and he plays his Warlock. This was an Aggressive Zoo from, it plays things like Argent Squire. I had a good start with Armoursmith on turn two followed by a Taskmaster to kill the Squire off as well as putting more minions on the board. Imp Gang Boss was not a problem as I had Deathbite ready to pull out from my hand. Reynad got an unfortunate series of juggles which ended up allowing me to clear his whole board, Shield Block and develop my Fiery War Axe. He developed a Voidcaller onto the empty board, I followed up with Sylvanas which is an amazing answer to the card. He abusives the Voidcaller and runs it in, getting a Doomguard and I still the Abusive Sergeant. I develop a Sludge Belcher and just armour up. He uses Power Overwhelming on his Argent Squire and plays a second Doomguard and discards Malganis from his hand. I Brawl the board and his 5/7 Doomguard lives, since he lost his Malganis I play Big Game Hunter to contest it as I have a Fiery War Axe up. He plays Loatheb and I just Alexstrasza his face and go full aggro. This puts me at a winning spot with lethal next turn.
Biggest mistake all tournament, I queued the wrong deck - I thought I didn’t play hunter yet. I instant concede and have to give him the free win. I would’ve been so mad if this is what caused me to lose the series. Handlock has a good matchup against his Zoo and his Warrior deck and with the way how this game works even if you’re favoured you can still lose. I made sure this didn’t tilt me for the next game, but I was a bit upset.
His last deck is a Warrior, which I expected to be Patron. I start with Twilight Drake and Mountain Giant in my hand. I draw into my second Mountain Giant after mulligans. I play a turn 4 giant as I have another one and back to back giant is extremely good. He cycles by using two Slams and has no Execute for it. I tap and develop the second giant. He plays Grim Patron, Inner Rage and Whirlwind to get 4 Patrons onto the board. I coil the first one and just develop a Loatheb and hit him for 16 damage. This was the best play because I had to make him answer my board with no spells. The only out for him was Warsong Commander, Unstable Ghoul - which he ended up having. The Unstable Ghoul wasn’t likely as he played one on turn two, where I responded with a Dark Bomb. Now I was in a hard spot, I didn’t have Hellfire in my hand to get rid of his board. I played a 4/10 Twilight Drake, Ancient Watcher and coined out a Sunfury Protector. He didn’t really have a good way of dealing with my board, he ran his Patrons into my Drake and then shield Slammed my Ancient Watcher. I cleared his board and played Boom. He executed my Drake and armoured up. I had a Sunfury Protector, two Boom Bots, Dr. Boom on the board which was 11 damage. I also had Hellfire and Defender of Argus in my hand. I made the play of hitting the small minions into the face and then using Hellfire. Finally using Defender of Argus to buff up my Doctor boom for an additional damage. The Boom Bot deathrattles hit 4 and 2, this left him at 1 health, but I was in no position to lose.
This round was against elmanbeastio, another name I am not too familiar with. This match was actually streamed on the PlayHearthstone channel which you can find the VOD here.
His line up was Demonlock, Tempo Mage and Midrange Hunter.
He played a Zombie chow early and I figured he was Handlock. Later he played an Imp Gang Boss and this gave me the clue that this was a Demonlock. I didn’t draw well this game, I started off with all my high drops at the start so I had no answers. Later on into the game I drew all my weapons back to back. I was waiting for a Brawl all game which I had two of in my deck.
I got the win axe against hunter, which mean made it awkward for him to play his two drop. Looking back at the game with the perspective from both players, I think his best play was to animal companion rather than just sacrificing the Piloted Shredder. I think that a coined Highmane would’ve done a lot more for him. The Armoursmith that came off the second Piloted Shredder was huge for me, I was able to draw a lot of cards off of it. I made the mistake of drawing at the end of the turn but it didn’t end up mattering because Loatheb was still the play. Loatheb play made it awkward for him because he couldn’t use spells and he had to Sludge Belcher which dies to my Loatheb. Taskmaster topdeck allowed me to draw an additional card and clear the board better. I was starting to get low but I had Shield Block and Shieldmaiden to stabilize later into the game. Those two cards with the combination of Shield Slam would allow me to deal with a Highmane at any point of the game. He cleared my board with a double Knife Juggler play, I responded by clearing by hitting my Deathbite into one, executing the other and playing my Shieldmaiden to put on pressure and gain some effective health. The rest of the game was pretty much just me clearing his board with weapons and spells. Elmanbeastio eventually ran out of burn and minions, conceding to give me the win.
I queue my Handlock into the Hunter deck again. I had Mortal Coil but as Webspinner doesn’t put out too much damage, I waited until turn three to coil and tap the same turn. A turn 4 Twilight Drake for me is really good against his Core Rager that he coined out. He plays a trap and hero powers, he bluffed it as a Freezing Trap but ended up being a Snake Trap. I play Belcher as a response and just pass so I can send it back to my hand the turn after. He plays Loatheb and ends his turn. I send my Belcher to the face and it is a Snake Trap. I decide to Ancient Watcher and Defender Argus both the Watcher and Drake. I trade my Drake into the Loatheb because of the fact that Ironbeak Owl would just destroy my hard earned minion. He did end up topdecking the owl which made me feel good about my play. He ended up roping and not killing my Slime which allowed me to trade into the Core Rager. The Highmane play was good for me because I actually had the answers in my hand - Ironbeak Owl and Darkbomb, with a Defender of Argus on board. He had Owl, Unleash the Hounds and Hunter’s Mark which cleared both my big taunts. I was still generally healthy with 15 health and I was a bit greedy on the Molten Giant seeing the Defender of Argus thinking I could get a very low mana cost giant. I instantly played Dr. Boom and traded with a minion with my Earthen Ring Farseer. He did a ton of face damage to me, leaving me at 8 and had a bunch of burn spells in hand. I ended up topdecking the Antique Healbot which won me the game.
I queue up my last deck of Midrange Hunter and he switches to his Mage. He plays Mana Wyrm and I coin Quick Shot. He follow up with a Knife Juggler. He made an interesting play of playing Counterspell instead of Frostbolt, which did work out for him. My Animal Companion got denied. He plays his apprentice and bolts my Knife Juggler. I luckily draw Mad Scientist and just hero power. I trade and am able to play my Piloted Shredder. He plays his Sylvanas and sends his Mad Scientist back. This made it really awkward for me because I couldn’t turn 6 Highmane. I had to Kill Command and then run my Shredder into it and then bow whatever came out. What seemed like a bad portal at the time, ended up winning him the game - Deathwing OP. I played Highmane and Webspinner, Webspinner I probably should have saved for the Mirror Entity. He got a pretty lucky Ragnaros shot onto my Highmane. I flood my board and pressure the face. He plays Deathwing and puts me on a clock and I have no good answer for it. The bad thing about Deathwing is that you lose all the cards in your hand. However, my opponent actually ended up drawing Arcane Intellect, into Azure Drake which basically countered the bad effects of Deathwing.
The last match - Hunter vs Hunter. We’re both playing Midrange but his is a bit more defensive than mine with him running Sludge Belchers. We both have slow starts, with no low drop minions. He Animal Companions into Leokk and I get a Huffer which I have to trade due to Houndmaster. He plays Piloted Shredder which I answer with a Freezing Trap and hero power. I play Harrison Jones, but maybe I should have coined out the Highmane. He played his own Highmane. This was an interesting play. I could have played Mad Scientist, Quick Shot my own Scientist and then coin out the Eaglehorn Bow. However, I was scared of an Unleash the Hounds so I Hunter’s Mark the Highmane, Quickshot, Bow the Hyena and play my Scientist. I eventually lost because he just had a ton of burn in his hand with double Kill Command, double Quick Shot.
Although I didn’t get to the top 4 and qualify for the trip to Burbank it was still a great experience. I got to play and managed to beat Reynad in the round of 32. I got my match streamed to 6-7k viewers, which was pretty cool. This was the second time I was put on a huge stream, the first time was last year’s Last Call Qualifiers.
The jersey I was rocking on stream was a present from my friends, so shoutouts to them!
You can follow me on my social media!