On May 10, I participated in a special fireside gathering; what made this one special? This Fireside Gathering was Blizzard sanctioned.
These sanctioned events are hosted by local organizers and act as qualifiers for an online tournament, where the winners of each fireside tournament may participate in; these are referred to as Stage 1 tournaments.
In Stage 2 players will be participating in their region’s online Fireside Championship Qualifier, which will be a single elimination tournament in which the top four advance to the next stage. These four players will advance to the Fireside Championship with a $5,000 prize pool and the winner get’s a seed in the World Championship Regional Qualifier.
Held at Players Wanted Games and Collectibles, Vancouver, British Columbia
Deck Prediction and Selection
While planning my decks I decided to figure out what my opponents would be playing. Although I personally did not know a lot of the players attending this event, I was able to use exactly that to my advantage.
What I mean by this is, since I did not recognize a large portion of the names signed up for the tournament, I was able to predict that many did not play in online tournaments as often as I do (or do not play Hearthstone as often as more competitive players). This led me to believe that most players would be playing decks that are relatively cheap or decks that are deemed easier to navigate. I predicted a lot of Druids, Hunters, and Warlocks.
My line up for this tournament consisted of three somewhat aggressive and fast decks. I played an aggressive Demon Zoo, Face Hunter, and a double combo Midrange Druid. I put a lot of emphasis in building decks that were faster than my opponents especially in the mirror matches. I was sure about bringing Demon Zoo and Face Hunter to this tournament, while my third deck was undecided until I finally reached the venue of the tournament and had to submit my decklist.
I finally decided on Druid due to the fact that Wild Growth can outright win you games. There was the chance that since I predicted a lot of Hunter, there would be Control Warriors to stop them which makes Druid really good and having a faster Druid would put me in favour when playing in the mirror. My line up also has a mind game factor that can potentially put people on tilt really easily. Losing games to Face Hunter and an aggressive Demon Zoo can be pretty annoying and tilting. Winning games based on Wild Growth can also frustrate people. Even the slightest mistake may snowball into a victory in some games, and that is why players that aren't prone to tilting do so well in such settings.
Note that Grim Patron Warrior at the time was still not as popular as it is now. People were still learning the deck in terms of playing it and building the deck itself. I was not as comfortable playing the patron deck at this Fireside due to inexperience, as I was busy with school the week before. Another factor was fatigue; playing at a live event can get pretty tiring due to the long hours and not being in the comfort of your own home. I did not want to make any silly mistakes that could cost me the tournament due to being too tired to correctly play such a complex deck.
I do emphasize the fact that you should play decks you are comfortable with and know well rather than "over powered" decks.
Pretty standard list; I ran double combo for the increased chance of drawing it and to be faster than the other Druids out there. Harrison Jones for the weapon classes; I ended up facing a fair amount of them. I didn’t think that there would be too many Handlocks, so I thought one Big Game Hunter was fine.
Also a pretty standard list. I ran two Ironbeak Owls to increase the chance of drawing them as an out and to be able to get through more taunts easier. I ran two Eaglehorn Bows over the two Glaivezookas.
I made my list a lot more aggressive by putting in Leper Gnomes. I took out one Voidwalker and one Dire Wolf Alpha because they weren’t doing much for me. I value Dire Wolf Alpha less and less and sometimes don’t even run it anymore, because the buff doesn’t seem as good to me as it used to.
Top 8 Playoffs
Best out of 5
Same decks whole tournament
Round One: Mellowjin [Hunter, Priest, Warlock] 3-1
Looking at the line up, it wasn't too bad for me. Priest could beat my Hunter and Warlock if it can stabilize. My expectation was Zoo, but it turned out to be a Handlock. Besides that I pretty much expected all Hunters in this tournament to be Face Hunters.
In the first game I queued up Druid because it is such a good all round class. This turned out to be the fastest game I had the whole day. On turn one I coined out Wild Growth, this was followed up by a Shade of Naxxramas and a Piloted Shredder. He played a Twilight Drake, but I had Keeper of the Grove and Innervate hero power to answer it. He then plays a Voidcaller and I finish him off with a Savage Roar and a hero power, finishing the game in five turns.
Second game I decided to queue up face hunter again as people tend to play the same deck after losing with it. He did stay with the same deck, so I got a matchup I was favoured in. However, he had a really good opener that answered my early aggression and then stabilized enough to win the game. He started off with Dark Bomb, into Ancient Watcher and Ironbeak Owl. Later on he played Malganis and taunted up his Twilight Drake.
I decided to switch to my Warlock in case he wanted to play Priest, which I figured would have Deathlords. He switched to Hunter and I was able to kill him before he could kill me. Defender of Argus was very useful in this match up.
In the last game I was able to outrace him with my own hunter.
Round Two: Berry [Rogue, Warlock, Warrior] 3-2
I knew Berry’s line up because we shared our decks with each other prior to the tournament. His decks were Oil Rogue, Demonlock and Control Warrior.
I decided to start with Face Hunter first because I tried to avoid facing his Warrior with it, also Rogue is a really good match up for the deck. I got what I wanted and matched up my Hunter against his Rogue for a relatively easy win.
Next I decided to queue up Druid because it’s decent against his Warlock and good against his Warrior. I was able to combo him out of the game and was up the series with a 2-0 score.
My last deck was my Warlock and with the tie system that looks at all rounds and the number of games won, Berry chose to play Rogue. He knew he was favoured in the match up with all the AoE clears the deck has.
In the fourth game, he had an amazing start with his Warlock deck that I couldn’t compete with and just lost a lot of tempo to.
It was now tied 2-2, but I have a really good winrate against Control Warrior with my Zoo deck so I was pretty confident. Although he had the Fiery War Axe to start, I was able to put enough pressure and keep a relatively big board throughout the game.
Round Three: Flax [Hunter, Warlock, Warrior] 3-2
I would say if the decks line up properly I am decently favoured against this line up. I predicted Face Hunter, Zoo and Control Warrior. However, it turned out to be Face Hunter, Handlock and Grim Patron Warrior. This was the only Grim Patron I saw throughout the whole tournament, as stated earlier it was still not as popular as it is now and was in its early stages of the deck.
In the first game I got a favoured match, as I started with Face Hunter against his Handlock. Unfortunately he had a pretty good hand against my Hunter, as he started with Ancient Watcher into Ironbeak Owl. Later he played Twilight Drake into Antique Healbot with a second Healbot and Molten Giant following shortly after it, which allowed him to stabilize the game and let him finish me off.
Next I queue up my Warlock against his Hunter and he had an insane start finishing me off with an Arcane Golem. Now I was down 0-2 and needed to pull off a reverse sweep.
In a last ditch effort I queue up my Druid thinking that it was my most favoured match up because I expected Control Warrior and not Grim Patron Warrior. In the end I somehow managed to win.
Next queue up my Warlock and then my Hunter, both games he did not get a single Patron combo off.
Round Four: AngryBrian [Hunter, Mage, Priest] 3-2
This was the last round of swiss, both AngryBrian and I were 3-0. He had an insane record so far, not having dropped a single game. He went 3-0 in all three rounds and I was given the task of ending his win streak.
Looking at the line up my predictions are: Face Hunter, Freeze Mage, Control Priest. I expected Freeze because Mech Mage was on the decline and the Tempo variant was not as popular as it is now.
I decided to sneak in a win with my Warlock against his Freeze Mage, as I expected him to play it first to get a quick win off any of my other two decks. It’s a very hard match up and it’s especially hard when they get the secrets they need to stall along with AoE. He was also able to get an 8 card reduction with Emperor which helped him a ton.
In the second game I decided to switch to Face Hunter only to meet a Lightbomb Priest. He had Deathlord to stop my aggression along with double Holy Nova.
It was looking grim, having to reverse sweep but the deck I had to play against wasn’t too bad. I started off with my Face Hunter for the mirror match and was able to pull out a win by drawing more minions than him and him only having spells in his hand.
I queued Druid next and he also drew very poorly, only drawing his traps so I was able to finish him off pretty quickly.
In the last game he did not have enough early aggression to keep up with my board and he did not have Explosive Trap to clear my board in time.
Round One: Ynohtna [Hunter, Mage, Warlock] 3-0
I queued up Druid because it was a pretty solid start against his line up. Not much to say this series, overall I just drew better than his Hunter. He queued it up three times and lost so it was a quick 3-0.
Round Two: Slizzle [Druid, Hunter, Rogue] 3-1
I started off with my Hunter hoping that I would be able to snipe Rogue again for my free win. Unfortunately I didn’t get the Rogue. The Druid started off really well with Wild Growth, Keeper of the Grove and two Druid of the Claws with a Wrath inbetween.
I decided to switch to my Druid and he played Hunter, surprisingly this wasn’t a Face Hunter, instead it was a Midrange Hunter. He didn’t really have a good start so I was able to pull off a win. There were no Freezing Traps to slow me down either.
I went back to my Face Hunter, because I expected him to stay on his Midrange Hunter. I took the favoured match up and managed to win.
My last deck was Warlock which was unfavoured against his Rogue which I expected him to switch to because it’s better to take the stronger deck first if you aren’t in a rush and want a better record. I played around AoE as much as possible and built a decent size board and on my last turn I played Dr. Boom. He lethaled me by using Blade Flurry but because of the AoE it actually killed my Boom Bots which ended up hitting him for 1 and 3 causing him to die as well. This caused a rematch.
I was able to win the second time with a really good Voidcaller and playing around AoE once again. I finished him off with Doomguard and advanced to the finals!
Round Three: AngryBrian [Hunter, Mage, Priest] 3-2
It’s a rematch! I was getting very tired at this point and did not manage to sneak out to buy some food in between matches. I made a very crucial mistake that did almost cost me the series. I expected him to play Freeze Mage first, I should’ve let him win against one of my decks, instead I put druid out as my first hero and won the match. The rest of my line up is really bad against Freeze Mage.
In the second game he once again matched my Hunter with his Priest and just destroyed me.
I played my Warlock into his Hunter and he outraced me and I was now facing a 1-2 series, where he just needed to win once with Freeze Mage which is favoured against both my decks.
I started off with Hunter and I manage to pop his block and kill him before he was able to Alexstrasza. If I popped his block a few turns later I was most likely going to lose the game.
In the last match of Warlock vs Mage, he was able to get 3 out of 4 secrets out early and had Emperor reduce 8 of his cards. However, he made a crucial mistake of playing a Doomsayer that ended up costing him the game against my Leper Gnome.
Celebration picture. Noobberry (Left), itzBolt (Middle), AtsuenArashi (Right).
Fun Facts and Statistics
The organizer of the event (@matticus) has provided an interesting infographic of the whole tournament. It can be found here: https://infogr.am/vancouver_hearthstone_stats
My Deck Stats: