HCT Winter Championship — Recap

HCT Winter Championship — Recap

After four days of intense play on the sandy shores of Nassau, the Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT) has crowned its first international champion of 2017 at the Winter Championship. The first four players that will compete at this year’s Hearthstone World Championship in January were identified on Saturday, and we winnowed our way to an overall victor from the original pool of 16 competitors on Sunday. Here’s how it all went down…

Bracket Highlights

Early on, we saw a lot of tense group stage matches, with 9 of the 20 matches going to a full seven games. ShtanUdachi and LvGe established early dominance, advancing first in their groups with 8-3 scores. SamuelTsao had to fight the hardest for his spot in the playoffs, playing the maximum of 21 games in his three matches.

The playoff bracket punished a previously successful LvGe, and SamuelTsao ended his run just shy of a spot at the World Championship. In the closest series of the tournament, Fr0zen narrowly defeat Neirea in game seven of their match. The notable newcomer DocPwn upset veteran HCT competitor Tarei, securing a berth in the World Championship that will take place in early 2018.

SamuelTsao, Fr0zen, and DocPwn were joined by ShtanUdachi after his 4-0 trouncing of LovelyChook. While ShtanUdachi had to force game seven to advance over SamuelTsao in the semifinal, Fr0zen blazed past DocPwn without dropping a game on the other side of the bracket. In the grand final, however, ShtanUdachi got to play the exact plan his deck lineup was built for, and ended a back-and-forth final decisively in game seven.

“I felt that out of all the lineups, his was the strongest — and you know when ShtanUdachi brings ‘normal’ decks, something’s going down,” said HCT caster TJ “Azumo” Sanders. “He’s got a pretty sick read on the meta.”

Congratulations to ShtanUdachi! You can see the complete tournament bracket on the Hearthstone Esports Winter Championship page.

Deck Analysis

As previously suggested in our Winter Championship Preview — which also includes all of the players’ decklists and tournament format information — Warrior was the most banned class for last weekend’s entire tournament. Out of a total of 54 bans, Warrior was banned 40 times, leading it to only see play 14 times (bear in mind, both players pick a class!). With Warrior largely off the table, the second-most popular class in the tournament, Rogue, led pick rates at 64 times played, followed closely by Priest, Mage, and Warlock. Shaman and Druid both saw slightly less play overall.

“I’m not surprised [by the Warrior bans] at all. None of the Pirate Warriors had tech to beat Pirate Warriors in them.” – Alex “Raven” Baguley, HCT commentator

Shaman led the tournament in overall performance with a 58% win rate, ahead of Rogue and Warlock at approximately 55%. Priest lagged behind with a 40% win rate, faring slightly worse than Druid and Mage, who had 50% and 45% win rates respectively. Class win rates can be deceptive, though — Fr0zen was one game away from winning the Winter Championship sporting a lineup featuring all three of the worst-performing classes.

ShtanUdachi deserves credit for the impeccable deck choices he brought to the tournament. Never losing a series, he went 20-9 over five matches. Six of his game losses came in the semifinals and finals, where he put up his first losses with his Mage and Shaman decks; his Warrior was banned in all five series.

Miss any of the action? VODs will be available on the official Hearthstone YouTube channel.

Congratulations to ShtanUdachi on his incredible victory, and to Fr0zen, SamuelTsao, and DocPwn on qualifying for the Hearthstone World Championship!

Did you successfully predict ShtanUdachi or Fr0zen for the Choose Your Champion event? Planning on trying out any of these players’ successful decklists while we wait for Journey to Un’Goro? Who are you hoping to see play in the Spring Championship? Let us know in the comments.