Xixo holding the cup at the Starladder I-League tournament

Xixo Takes Starladder I-League with a Turn 4 Win

Jul 15, 2016


The Starladder I-League Season Two Hearthstone tournament concluded this weekend. This tournament is a collaboration between Starladder and I-League. I-League is an exclusively Chinese bracket, while Starladder encompasses the other regions. Both groups have their tournaments separately, then the winners face off. Season One had one of the Chinese players, Robin, taking the cup home. This time around, a German player was able to emerge victorious.

The finals consisted of eight players, six from Starladder and two Chinese players from I-League. Those players faced off in group stages, and then the final four battled it out. With a hard fought battle from all, the German player Xixo was able to claim first place. He was followed by the Chinese XieShuai, who put up a great fight.

Xixo and his Decks

Xixo is a well-established player in the North American and Europe tournament scene. He has floated between teams, but currently sits on team NAVI (Natus Vincere). His lineup for this tournament consisted of Yogg Druid, Control C’Thun Warrior, Midrange Shaman, and Tempo Mage.

Game five is one that everyone was left talking about. Which is ironic, considering it was the shortest match – by far. Xixo played Tempo Mage against XieShaui’s Renolock. XieShaui had a slow hand and tapped on both turns two and three. Xixo didn’t quite have that problem. He played Mana Wyrm into Sorcerer’s Apprentice, into Flamewaker, Mirror Image, Coin, Frostbolt face. This combination of cards left XieShaui at nine health, on turn three. He was able to clear some of the board, but Xixo simply Fireballed to finish the game. Turn four lethal. It really showed off the potential of a strong opener.

Starladder I-League tournament turn four kill
Xixo’s turn four kill with Tempo Mage.

One of the most interesting things about Xixo’s lineup is the Midrange Shaman. Nearly every competitor brought Aggro Shaman instead. Xixo managed to convincingly beat them all. There was some luck involved in many of his victories, but he proved that Midrange Shaman is still quite strong. Something he did that was quite unique was how often he hero powered. In many games, he had hero powered three times by turn six. He used the synergies of the deck through Thunder Bluff Valiant and Thing from Below. He also simply created a stream of value that his opponents had to deal with. By doing this he managed to press his advantages and come out of poor matchups on top.

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XieShuai’s Lineup

XieShuai is one of the two Chinese players in this event. He made his way through the difficult I-League bracket, and continued climbing to the finals here. He currently has no team, hopefully this tournament placement will help him in that regard. His lineup for this tournament was Combo Renolock, Tempo Warrior, C’Thun Druid, and Aggro Shaman.

XieShaui’s Renolock is the combo variant, which relies on Leeroy Jenkins + Faceless Manipulator. As such, it does not run many other finishers, such as Jaraxxus. This lead to the perfect situation for Xixo. Control Warrior is quite good against combo decks, due to the additional armor they stack up. Renolock typically beats Control Warrior due to Jaraxxus, but this variant removed Jaraxxus. He did not manage to find any luck with his Renlock, as it was simply too slow to beat any of Xixo’s decks.

XieShaui’s Tempo Dragon Warrior was piloted with extreme effectiveness. Right off the bat he impressed by using his Execute on turn two to clear a Totem Golem. Most players feel that they should save Execute for better targets, especially against Midrange Shaman. XieShaui correctly surmised that he needed to press damage fast if he wanted to win, and he wasted no time. This was followed up with a simple series of extremely aggressive plays for the win. It showed the power of tempo, making bad trades for board control, and simply pushing damage hard. He certainly had some lucky draws, but he still managed a very convincing win.

Reading your Opponent – a Takeaway

Reading your opponent is something that is important in every form of Hearthstone. In tournament play, this is only made more important by knowing your opponent. Guessing what deck they will play makes a massive difference to how your decks line up. We saw this here, as Xixo correctly played his Control Warrior into XieShaui’s Renolock without Jaraxxus.

However, here, the reading was far more important than simple deck guessing. In game four, XieShaui had a perfect hand. He had double Innervate, Coin, and Dark Arakkoa. Seeing this, he immediately hit confirm. If you are unaware, when you finalize your mulligan, it shows your opponent how many cards you threw back. Xixo saw that XieShaui kept four cards as a Druid, and because of this he kept the Hex that he was holding.

XieShaui ended up winning this game anyway, but he got punished severely for allowing his opponent to have information. This can be done in many ways in Hearthstone. Quick mulligans, hovering a spell over a minion, and choosing whether or not to attack are all examples. Hearthstone is a card game, but knowing your opponent is a game changer nonetheless.


Xixo was able to take a very convincing victory over XieShaui in the finals. His risky Tempo Mage plays paid off big time. He proved that his Midrange Shaman could take on Aggro Shamans and decimate them. He piloted his old favorite, Control Warrior, with ease, and he adopted the new Yogg Druid seamlessly. He correctly read his opponents, and played a confident game. He comes out as the Starladder I-League Season Two champion, and it is well deserved!

Xixo holding the cup at the Starladder I-League tournament

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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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