Here at Hearthstone Alley, we are committed to growing the Southeast Asian (SEA) Hearthstone scene, and bringing you the biggest Hearthstone news and personalities in SEA.
However, when something as big as Dreamhack (the biggest Hearthstone tournament yet) comes along on the international stage, we can’t pass up the opportunity to talk about it. For those who have not seen the Dreamhack vods, you can find them on viagame.com.
World Cup? What World Cup?
Before we begin, you might have heard that there was a controversy during the finals match; we’ll talk about it at the end. [Scroll down to point 12 if you don't have the patience to read the rest of the article.]
But the rest of Dreamhack also had many other cool storylines and things worth noting. Things such as….
1. Great Casting
Casting is a difficult job to do well. You need to be knowledgeable about the game, articulate, as well as be entertaining. Dreamhack really nailed the correct formula for casting, with a trio of ChammanV, Artosis and ThatsAdmirable, and a pro as the guest-caster.
It was really interesting to hear the pros do casting, as they give you so much insight into what’s going on in the competitor’s heads.
2. Unknown Names Emerging from the Open Bracket
Before Dreamhack started, Forsen made this video predicting who would emerge from the 256 member open bracket to take the final 4 slots in the tournament, and proudly claimed that he is very good at making such predictions.
He named well known Hearthstone personalities such as himself, KitKatz, Xixo and Spo. It turns out that it was none of these 4; relative unknowns like Nabutte, Frezzar, Dandido and Kaldi took the slots instead. Of the 4, Frezzar even continued on to reach the Quarter-Finals!
3. Most Overlooked Storyline
TidesOfTime was one of the hottest pros coming into the competition, having won Season 1 of Deck Wars. However, due to an error on the Dreamhack website, he thought his match was on Day 2 instead of Day 1, so he went drinking the night before and was kind of hung over on the day of his match himself. Needless to say, he was eliminated.
4. Biggest Disappointment
…goes to Team Curse and particularly, Savjz. Team Curse was recently formed in early-May, bringing big name players like Darkwonyx, KitKatz, Alchemixt and Savjz together. Many considered this the strongest team in Hearthstone; people were looking forward to Dreamhack as Team Curse’s first tournament.
However, Alchemixt was unable to travel to Dreamhack due to flight delay issues, KitKatz was unable to emerge from the open brackets, and both Darkwonyx and Savjz failed to get out of the group stage. Savjz, in particular, did not win a single series.
5. Most Interesting Deck of Dreamhack
Darkwonyx will, however, receive the award for playing the most interesting deck of the tournament.
His super high-curve (and super expensive) Ramp Druid deck has neither Ancient of Lores nor Cenarius, but ran a gamut of legendaries (Harrison Jones, Sylvanas Windrunner, Cairne Bloodhoof, The Black Knight, Barron Geddon, Ragnaros the Firelord and Ysera) together with 2 Ancient of Wars and 2 Faceless Manipulators, making it look more like a Control Warrior than a Ramp Druid.
This deck was actually quite successful, but it did lose to Rdu’s Freeze Mage.
6. Most Impressive Play of Dreamhack
During one of the last matches of the open bracket, Dandido had a Ragnaros the Firelord in hand at turn 8 while his opponent Lothar has an empty board. The casters were saying that 90% of professional players will play the Ragnaros and let it deal 8 damage to the face.
However, Dandido did not play the Ragnaros, as if he knew that Lothar had a Big Game Hunter in his hand, which he did. The casters were clearly impressed by this single play of Dandido, and Artosis thought this play alone showed that Dandido could win the whole tournament.
7. “Wait, What? THAT Card is in His Deck?!?”
Gaara played an Emperor Cobra in his Ramp Druid deck, which actually made two appearances. On the second instance, the opponent had an Argent Commander, and the casters admitted that due to the Emperor Cobra’s rare appearances, they don’t know if its power affects a minion with Divine Shield (note: it doesn’t).
The casters suspected that Gaara’s opponent (Frezza) didn’t know either, so he killed the Cobra just to play safe.
8. Best Mindgames Move
Reynad opened with Beatdown Face Warrior in his Semi-Finals match-up against Rdu, a deck choice which surprised everybody and drew applause from the audience.
People were expecting all Warrior decks to be Control Warrior, since the Beatdown Warrior decks are not known to be strong, although they are strong counters to some decks. Turns out Reynad did a master move, as Beatdown Warrior turned out to be a strong counter to all three of Rdu’s decks.
Eventually this deck did lose to Rdu (to a lucky top-deck) in the second game of the series.
9. Most Valuable Card
The Black Knight. This card alone won three games for Amaz including a crazy back-and-forth game between Amaz and Gaara.
When The Black Knight hits a big taunt and leaves behind a 4/5 body, the tempo swing is so tremendous that many players will find themselves too far behind to catch up. In a Druid-heavy meta, The Black Knight is too powerful a card to ignore, and most decks should consider adding it.
10. How Dreamhack will Affect the Meta, Going Forward
After Gaara won Dreamhack Bucharest in April, lots of people started to adopt his winning deck, inserting plenty of Double-Faceless Manipulators/Ancient of Wars Ramp Druids into the meta.
This time round, it is safe to assume that people will adopt more Freeze Mage decks after Rdu’s success with it in the final series. I don’t think we’ll see more Priest on the ladder, because most Amaz fans are already playing Priest (and languishing in the lower ranks).
We might see a bit more of the Druid (the most popular deck of Dreamhack), but the current meta is already Druid-heavy. So, if my predictions are correct, what are good counter choices? Against a Druid-heavy meta, Shaman decks are quite strong (Hexes are good against huge minions), and people should tech in a Black Knight if they have one (see point 9 above).
If more people are adopting Freeze Mage, Control Warrior (high armour) is the best counter to it. Face Hunter may also work, with 2 Flares to remove Secrets. (As Reynad have taught, always save one Flare for the appearance of Alexstrasza). Face Hunter is also a good counter to Shaman, which is gaining popularity in a Druid-heavy meta.
11. Most Exciting Match/Most Exciting Series/Most Unbelievable RNG
To be completely honest, I feel that Amaz did not play well with his Druid, but got lucky a few times (particularly with The Black Knight). Many professional players and casters also felt so, and articulated that Amaz was the underdog for most of his matches.
However, from the second day onwards, Amaz was dominating the storylines of Dreamhack. From his “Wait, how did he do that?” board clear in his first game vs Gaara (a move which left the casters dumbfounded), to an unbelievably exciting come-from-behind victory over Realz, coupled with his crazy Ragnaros RNG of the final game of Dreamhack vs Rdu. It is as though in every match that Amaz plays, something exciting will happen.
The fact that Amaz was not really favored coming into the tournament (he’s gonna play Priest? Really?) and almost won the whole competition as the underdog would have made the biggest storyline of all, if not for….
12. The Controversy
For those who have not heard by now, Dreamhack was won by 17-year old Rdu, a (presumably) high school student from Romania.
However, his win was shrouded in controversy when towards the end of the second match with Amaz, someone sent him a message in Romanian, indicating that Amaz’s only card in hand was a Hunter’s Mark (the public can see Amaz’s cards due to the live stream).
Thousands of fans saw this message on live stream and roared in protest online, particularly on reddit. Some have accused Rdu of receiving codes for Amaz’s cards in his hand in the guise of messages such as “Hello Mom!”.
After the match was over, Rdu notified the Dreamhack administrators about this, and there was a 20 min delay between the second and final game while the administrators reviewed the video footage, and made Rdu remove all his friends from his chat. (Rdu was actually interrupted in the middle of the third game to ask him to remove more accounts from his chat).
Eventually, the administrators ruled that the message would not have affected the outcome of the game, and awarded the win to Rdu.
I’m just gonna give a few more quick points about this controversy in bullet form:
- Amaz was not notified on the real reason for the 20 min delay until the finals was over. This was a major oversight on the part of the admins, and everybody is in agreement on this, even Artosis, who defended the admins on all other issues.
- Amaz released a classy video (link) shortly after the episode, exhorting fans to stop witch-hunting Rdu, stating his beliefs that Rdu did not cheat and indeed deserved to win. Amaz did criticize Dreamhack (for not informing him) and Blizzard (since they can easily prevent this in the first place with some kind of tournament mode).
- Reddit was flooded with so many posts about the controversy that Reddit had to change its moderation policy after this episode.
- Rdu was extremely distraught by this episode, and was worried that his professional career might be over since he is being branded a cheat. Many Hearthstone personalities have come to his defence (including Artosis and ChanmanV).
- While the online furor is somewhat expected, it is (in my opinion) quite unfair for Rdu to be witch-hunted by thousands of people online. As Artosis have explained, the most likely explanation was that Rdu’s friends (being young kids themselves) got too excited and did something stupid. Another possible explanation was that a jealous person decided to sabotage Rdu by making him appear that he has cheated. Either way, it is not difficult for Blizzard/Dreamhack to track down the person who sent the message and investigate it further if necessary.
- This controversy is such a huge blemish to Hearthstone as an eSport, you can be certain that Blizzard will make some changes such that nothing like this will happen in BlizzCon. I think the easiest way is to have a “chat-lock” mode, which will prevent chat messages from popping up.
- Were the administrators right that the message would not have affected the outcome of the game? The answer is no. If Rdu suspected that Amaz’s card was a Flare, Rdu might have used Alexstrasza on himself. If Rdu had done so, Amaz would have had a small chance to come back and win the game. Definitely, the message which exposed Amaz’s card has poisoned the game. At the same time, the board state and cards in hand were strongly in favour towards Rdu; it would have been unfair to him to ask him for a rematch. I personally think it is okay to award the match to Rdu, but only with Amaz’s consent (and knowing Amaz, he would probably do so).
The controversial message in question (“He has a bow and a Hunter’s Mark” in Romanian):
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Redeemed started playing Hearthstone from February 2014, and is passionate about growing the Hearthstone Community in Singapore and South-East Asia.
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