The Starladder Hearthstone tournament, paired with I-League has moved on to the final stage. The tournament boasts some of the top players from all over the world, as the North American, European, and Chinese victors of the earlier tournaments come together for the finals. There are eight players, six from NA/EU and two from China. The format is Conquest, where each player brings four decks, and then chooses to ban one of their opponent’s decks. They do a best of five with their three remaining decks, and a player cannot use a deck that he has already won with. The group stage of the finals is Round Robin, meaning every player plays every other player. Group A has now concluded, and here are the results:
Kolento came first with a match score of 3-0, dominating the group. Kolento is a very well-known player in the North American and European scenes. He is Ukrainian and plays for team C9, as well as being a prominent streamer. He has incredible tournament showings, with firsts in eight large tournaments over the past year and a half. He is largely regarded as one of the best players in Hearthstone. Here he brought Midrange Druid, Oil Rogue, Zoo Warlock, and Murloc Paladin. Murloc Paladin is not a deck that has been seen at a tournament before, but both Kolento and LVXIAOBU brought it, so it may be around to stay. Kolento banned Druid whenever his opponent had it, choosing to ban Mage against Dog who did not bring Druid. Kolento went 3-1 in his first match against Cipher, losing the first game to Cipher’s Freeze Mage, then sweeping after. His second match against Dog was quite close, going into the fifth game, but Kolento managed to claim victory yet again. In his final match against LVXIABU, he dropped the first game to LVXIAOBU’s Aggro Shaman, then swept. He won a particularly interesting game in the Murloc Paladin mirror, a game showing just how much skill Kolento has. His 3-0 score leaves him with an easy advancement to the next round.
Cipher came second with a match score of 1-2. He was able to come second because he, Dog, and LVXIAOBU all ended with a match score of 1-2, so their individual games were used to determine placements. Cipher’s game score was 5-6, giving him the least number of losses and the second place spot. Cipher is British and plays for team Fade 2 Karma. He is an old name in the Hearthstone community, but he rarely places well in tournaments. Here he brought Freeze Mage, Secret Paladin, Midrange Druid, and a Reno Warlock running the Leroy combo. He also banned Druid whenever possible, banning Warrior against Dog. His first match against Kolento started off with a win, then immediately down spiralled into a 1-3 defeat. His second match against LVXIAOBU resulted in an incredibly quick 3-0, Cipher showing how strong his plays can be. His Reno Warlock in particular had a flashy win through a Leeroy + Faceless combo for twenty damage from hand. His final match against Dog didn’t go as well, resulting in another 1-3 for Cipher. However, because of his 3-0 victory he was able to claim the second place spot and advance.
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Dog came third with his match score of 1-2 and a game score of 6-7. Dog is another well-known player in the North American/European scene. He is one of the only players who is going to school full time while playing Hearthstone professionally. He is an American and plays for team Liquid. He doesn’t have very many tournament wins, but he has quite a few high placements. To this tournament he brought Freeze Mage, Dragon Priest, Grim Patron Warrior, and a Demon Handlock Warlock variant. He banned different decks each game, banning Druid, then Paladin, and finally Warlock. He started off doing very poorly, losing his first match 1-3 vs. LVXIAOBU, largely due to his Dragon Priest underperforming. He then faced Kolento and despite a much closer match, he simply couldn’t go all the way, and Kolento defeated him in the final game, leaving the score 2-3. Dog finally caught a break in his last match against Cipher, where he managed a quick 3-1, allowing him to hang on and barely advance to the next round.
LVXIAOBU came in last with the same match score of 1-2, but a game score of 4-7. He is a well-known player in the Chinese circuit, with several high tournament finishes including one major win in a China vs. Korea Masters tournament. He is Chinese and plays for EDward Gaming (EDG). Here he brought Aggro Shaman, Reno Warlock, Midrange Druid, and Murloc Paladin. As with many of the others, he banned Druid whenever possible and banned Warlock against Dog. His first match went well as he took a quick 3-1 against Dog. His Murloc Paladin in particular put in work, dispatching Dog’s Dragon Priest with ease. His second match showed the exact opposite result, however, as he went 0-3 against Cipher, and his Murloc Paladin deck could not pick up a single win. Although he was able to pick up one win against Kolento, the end result was the same as he lost 1-3. Despite his strong start, his particularly low scores in the second and third match leave him in last place, and he has been eliminated from the tournament.