Who's the best Hearthstone pro of all-time?
(Featured image via Blizzard.)

The Best Hearthstone Pros of All-Time

Sep 19, 2017
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(Featured image via Blizzard.)

Since Hearthstone was officially released in March 2014, many players have stood out as exceptional. Between tournaments and streaming, certain players have become household names in Hearthstone. These days, there are dozens of professional Hearthstone players, but with this many talented individuals, it gets a bit harder to figure out who is truly amazing. We took a trip down memory lane to put together a list of the best Hearthstone pros of all-time, and I’ll give you a hint: if you know anything about Hearthstone, the first three names aren’t going to be a surprise.

1. Firebat

Firebat
Photo via Liquipedia.

Firebat was the first player to ever win a Hearthstone World Championship. After Hearthstone officially launched, Blizzard set up a yearly World Championship that offered incredibly tough competition and, of course, a grand prize of $100,000. At the time, Firebat was a nobody in the Hearthstone scene, but he swept through the competition, decimating Xixo in the finals with a decisive 3-0 score. Oh, he was also 18 at the time.

After winning the World Championship, Firebat got the recognition he deserved, and went on to win a handful of other tournaments. Throughout the end of 2014 and all of 2015, Firebat was the Hearthstone pro to watch, collecting five first place and four second place finishes at major tournaments.

However, since 2015, Firebat hasn’t won anything, or even podium-ed. He himself admits that he’s no longer one of the best players, and prefers to dedicate his time to casting and streaming. Firebat has a long track record of interacting with the community, and he’s hosted several tournaments of his own. In fact, Firebat created an entirely new tournament format, dubbed “Batstone,” that uses new rules each time. GosuGamers puts out an awards section for Hearthstone each year, and one of the sections is Best New Caster. Last year, Firebat won it with a full 75% of the community vote, the most decisive vote on any of the polls.

Firebat may not be a professional to watch any longer, but he’s still a big name in the scene. His discussions about the game are always insightful and on-point. His casting is excellent, even when unaccompanied. He spends most of his time making the Hearthstone community better for everyone. Firebat might have taken a step back from professional Hearthstone, but he’s almost universally loved and respected — a rare feat in the modern gaming industry.

2. Pavel

Pavel
Photo via Liquipedia.

Pavel is the most recent Hearthstone World Champion. And he’s only 19! Unlike Firebat, Pavel was on the radar for a while before the championship. However, most of the discussion about Pavel wasn’t exactly positive. See, Pavel has the unique distinction of being the professional who won the most games during the time when Hearthstone’s meta was almost universally detested. Unfortunately, Pavel has become a bit of a punching bag for the community’s distaste of certain mechanics.

The first tournament Pavel won – the qualifiers for the World Championship – was off the back of a ridiculously lucky play. His opponent, Amnesiac, had the game all but wrapped up with a Malygos on board and lethal everywhere. Pavel, in a Hail Mary, plays Babbling Book. He gets Polymorph, probably the only card that could have saved him, and goes on to win the match 4-3. Babbling Book was renamed by the community “Paveling Book” after this incident. With this, Pavel became the poster child for lucky wins.

However, Pavel has done his damnedest to get rid of that title. Of course, randomness still contributes to his wins, but Pavel has placed first so many times, in such a consistent fashion, that you can’t deny his skill anymore. He took home the World Championship with a 4-2 win against DrHippi, bringing home a prize of $250,000. He followed that up with two more first place finishes in major tournaments, as well as a few podium placements. Pavel also holds the #1 place on GosuGamers’ top players, and has for months, with a 71% win rate in all tournament matches. Let that sink in for a moment. Pavel has proved himself over and over, and easily makes our list of the best Hearthstone pros of all time.

3. Ostkaka

Ostkaka
Photo via Liquipedia.

We’ll round off our top three with our final World Champ. Ostkaka was the second player to win the Hearthstone World Championship, but he’s a bit of an outlier here. He hasn’t won any tournaments aside from the World Championship. However, at the time of the World Championship 2015, everyone figured that either Thijs or Ostkaka would win it. Even without any first place tournament wins under his belt, everyone respected Ostkaka as one of the best players in the scene. He and Thijs ended up pitted against each other in the second round, and most viewers assumed this was the match that would, ultimately, decide the outcome of the entire tournament. Turns out they were right–Ostkaka proved his skill to the world, and finished the final round with a clean 3-0 against Hotform.

Ostkaka is an anomaly within the Hearthstone scene. He appeared out of nowhere, didn’t win any tournaments, and didn’t stream. Without any real community presence, Ostkaka was widely regarded as one of the best professionals in the scene. After he won the World Championship, he continued to compete but, unfortunately, hasn’t won a single tournament since. He’s still an amazing player, but he seems to have disappeared from everyone’s minds. Ostkaka’s trajectory reminds us that without streaming regularly, it’s difficult to maintain your reputation in the Hearthstone scene.

4. Thijs

Thijs
Photo via Liquipedia.

Thijs was considered the best player in Hearthstone for the better part of a year during 2015-2016. Although he had competed in – and won – tournaments before, his fame was largely kicked off by the Archon Team League Championship. It was a team event hosted by Amaz and Archon, with teams of three players squaring off against each other.

The Archon tournament may be the best comeback story of all time. Thijs competed on team Nihilum alongside Lifecoach and RDU. They didn’t do well in the group stage, placing sixth out of eight, which meant they were up against the ropes in an elimination match. They won, and made it to the next phase of the tournament. Then, the team lost again, and were once again forced to play a redemption match to carry on. And they won it. Again. In the seeding bracket, they lost their first match and their third match, which made them one of two teams who had to climb the ladder. The Archon finals consisted of two teams playing, then the winner advancing and immediately playing the next match. Nihilum was forced to play every single match, and won them all, for the grand prize of $150,000 – the largest prize pool in Hearthstone history at that point.

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All three of the Nihilum players became well known after this, and Thijs followed up the Archon tournament by winning the European championship the next month. His match against Ostkaka in the World Championship was considered to be the true finals of the event. He barely lost 2-3, in some of the most intense matches I’ve ever seen. Freeze Mage mirrors, Murloc Paladin calculations – truly some of the best Hearthstone ever played.

Since then, Thijs has fallen a bit in the standings, but he’s still up there as one of the top players. His steam has become wildly popular and regularly draws in the biggest crowd on Twitch during the night and early morning hours in North America.  He has fallen down to 11th on GosuGamers, but after holding the top place for nearly a year, Thijs clearly deserves his place on this list.

5. Kolento

Kolento
Via Liquipedia.

Kolento might be the longest playing Hearthstone professional who has never fallen out of favour. He was winning tournaments back in 2014, and he’s still winning – or coming second – today. Many people regard him as one of the smartest players in terms of deck choice and piloting. It’s rare to see Kolento make an error, and he uses his decks like scalpels. He competed in the first World Championship in 2014 – lost in the first round – and he just came second in the qualifiers for the 2017 World Championship. The playing field has gotten a lot bigger, but Kolento certainly hasn’t lost his touch.

As a longtime member of Cloud9, Kolento has brought home six major tournament wins, and a handful of placements. His stream isn’t as popular as it deserves to be, but it draws in quite a few viewers. Kolento also created Miracle Rogue, an archetype that dominated ladder and tournaments until Blizzard stepped in and nerfed it. His total tournament earnings are higher than almost any other player, with the exception of two of the World Champions and a small number of others. He brings home wins, and I doubt we’ll see him leaving the scene any time soon.

6. Amnesiac

Amnesiac
Photo via Liquipedia.

Amnesiac is another younger player, currently only 17 years old. When he was 15, Amnesiac won the Americas Championship, a regional tournament hosted by Blizzard as a qualifier for their Wold Championship.

Very similar to the Ostkaka vs. Thijs hype, Pavel vs. Amnesiac was the game to watch in the 2016 World Championship. Unfortunately they played each other in the quarterfinals, meaning Amnesiac was unable to show his strength. Still, the player is widely respected for his skill in the game – even if he is a bit of a hothead on Twitter. Amnesiac easily earns a place on this list, and is ranked fifth best player in the world by GosuGamers. Hopefully we’ll see a lot of good things by this young professional going forward.

7. Orange

Orange
Photo via Liquipedia.

Orange is often overlooked. He doesn’t have a massive stream, and he’s not a flashy guy. But his tournament finishes speak for themselves. Between 2015 and now, Orange has earned six major tournament firsts, more than nearly any other professional. Unfortunately, he’s been unable to compete at a World Championship thus far, which I believe is a large part of why he is often overlooked.

Orange shouldn’t be underestimated by anyone. Currently ranked fourth in the world, Orange is one major tournament win away from being considered a top player. He just qualified for the Summer Championship, which I’m hoping will lead to a World Championship appearance. Some of his biggest tournament firsts have been the most recent Dreamhack, as well as SeatStory Cup III and VI. Orange is no slouch, and he’s certainly a Hearthstone player to keep tabs on.

8. Xixo

Xixo has a bit of an “always the bridesmaid never the bride” vibe going as far as his tournament history goes. He’s been around since the start, like Kolento, with a competitive history dating back to 2014. Xixo does have a handful of impressive victories behind him, but honestly his other tournament finishes might be more impressive. While most professionals have a few high finishes amongst a ton of low finishes, Xixo has consistently made top 10 in nearly every tournament he’s entered. In fact, of the 61 tournaments he has entered on his Liquipedia profile, he has made top ten in a full 55 of them. That’s insane.

Much like many of the other professionals on this list, all it would take is one big tournament win for Xixo to be regarded top of the game. In fact, last year GosuGamers named him the best Western player, even above Pavel, the World Champion for that year! As they said, “we judge the game’s greats not by how many medals they win, but for how long they can stay relevant and on top of the competition.” I think that’s a very true statement, and it’s impressive for both Xixo and Kolento to have stayed so relevant for so long. I doubt we’ll be seeing him go anywhere any time soon.

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Stephen Draper
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Stephen has a degree in English from Brock University. He grew up playing video games and card games, always having an affection for strategy. He picked up League of Legends in early Season One and has since achieved Diamond rank multiple times. He also picked up Hearthstone in Beta and has since achieved Legend consistently. When he isn’t reading, writing, or gaming, he’s probably watching other people game.
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