HCT Spring Championship Preview

HCT Spring Championship Preview

The 2017 Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT) is set to identify the next four competitors headed to the Hearthstone World Championship beginning Friday, July 7 in Shanghai. You can catch all of the Spring Championship action live over on the official Hearthstone Twitch channel, but here’s a glimpse of what you can expect during the tournament.

The Tournament

HCT continues to use the Conquest format for tournaments. The Spring season updated the rules from HCT Winter—moving to best-of-five matches with one ban—so each player must bring four different classes total.

Initially, four players—one from every region—are seeded into four groups. After the dual tournament group stage concludes, the top two players from each advance to the single elimination playoff bracket.

In addition to their share of the $250,000 prize pool, four spots at the Hearthstone World Championship are on the line – so all four semifinalists, regardless of their home region, will qualify to the World Championship.

The Players

All 16 players in attendance represent some of the best Hearthstone competitors in the world. Yvehenni ‘Neirea’ Shumilin and XHope are making repeat appearances from the Winter Championship, and Neirea is joined by fellow previous Hearthstone World Championship attendees Jason ‘JasonZhou’ Zhou, Aleksandr ‘Kolento’ Malsh, and Jun Hak ‘Kranich’ Park. Neirea will show up with purpose, as he lost the best-of-seven quarterfinal against eventual finalist Frank ‘Fr0zen’ Zhang in the seventh game at the Winter Championship – one game shy of securing his berth at the World Championship.

Europe’s showing for the Spring season is comprised of a sea of noteworthy, established veterans, but for several of these players the Spring Championship is a breakout opportunity. While expectations will once again ride high that Europe’s top tier talent, who have fought through a highly competitive HCT region, are strong favorites, placing highly on the Legend leaderboard is enormously difficult in China, and Americas players were the most successful in the Winter Championship.

Players:

Hoej

Hoej had an amazing year in 2015, that featured 2 major tournament wins and multiple top 8 finishes that resulted in him joining team Na'Vi. His 2016 performance was noticeably weaker, but still kept him afloat with a couple major top 4 appearances. He is now back in full force 2 days after joining a new team called Planet Odd together with his former teammates Xixo and Surrender. Hoej is a very kind and peaceful player often streaming in company of his pet parrot called Pidgey. His early playstyle was mostly mid-range oriented, but the year of the kraken solidified him as one of the best Renolock players. In year of the Mammoth he can easily pilot any successful lineup and aside from today's win he also won GamersOrigin Hearthstone Challenge in February this year. His twin brother also plays a bit of Hearthstone and attends some of the offline events together with Hoej.

Paladin
Warrior
Rogue
Shaman

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Neirea

Back to back 2017 Europe Playoffs Top4 means that Team Liquid Neirea is an expert in swiss format regardless of the metagame. Being one game away from qualifying to the World Championship he now gets another chance that awaits him in Shanghai. No stranger to top 8 finishes he is still looking for that 1 big tournament win. One of his most known qualities is innovation and bringing interesting decks to the tournaments that always have at least a couple of cards that are different from the usual trend.

Mage
Druid
Rogue
Warrior

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Rdu

Rdu was arguably the most deserving player to qualify for the Spring Championship. Representing G2 he was one match short of qualifying over Pavel last year in the last call tournament as the top European point earner. Two times DreamHack Summer Champion, he is not only consistent with his tournament performance, but also puts an incredible amount of hours into grinding online cups and ladder. He is favoring aggro playstyle that carried him today, including a new aggro shaman build (designed together with ShtanUdachi and Fenomeno), but he doesn't shy away from more control heavy lineups if he thinks that they fit the metagame.

Druid
Mage
Warrior
Shaman

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Kolento

Representing Cloud9 Kolento is one of the most decorated Hearthstone players of all time having 6 major tournament wins under his belt. He visibly stepped away from the open competitive scene in 2016, but with his pro Gold Series win in China and simultaneous rank 1 Legend on both EU and NA he is now stronger than ever. He practices alone and innovates a lot, which can be seen on his very popular stream. Even though he doesn't show much emotion when he plays, he is definitely thinking about redeeming himself for the 2014 Top8 Blizzcon loss and is aiming at the title.

Druid
Rogue
Warrior
Shaman

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Mage

Mage is a longtime player from New Zealand who has yet to have a strong performance but has frequently made it to playoffs or in previous years the ANZ Championships, it’s easy to count him as one of the most consistent players from the ANZ scene.

Paladin
Mage
Rogue
Shaman

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Tredsred

Just missing out on Asia-Pacific Playoffs last season, Tredsred made it to the Playoffs for Spring. He ended swiss with a 6-1 score and managed to punch his ticket to Shanghai by defeating his much-better known countryman GundamFlame.

Paladin
Warrior
Rogue
Mage

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CitizenNappa

Relatively new to the competitive scene CitizenNappa had a break out performance this weekend and is now headed to Shanghai!

Druid
Warrior
Rogue
Shaman

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Kranich

Easily the most recognizable player from this group of qualifying players, Kranich came to BlizzCon 2014 and BlizzCon 2015! At BlizzCon 2015 he 3-0’d Lifecoach twice in groups to advance from his group. Kranich is also a member of the South Korean Hearthstone Global Games team which is 4-1 and set to advance to the next Round!

Druid
Paladin
Rogue
Mage

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Muzzy

Muzzy is a well-respected American player who many players feel has been long overdue for a strong HCT finish. As part of the Luminosity lineup (a team that has now sent back-to-back players to HCT seasonal championships), Muzzy’s shown strong results in 2017, placing 2nd at PAX East Major the first week of March and then placing 7th/8th at the ONOG Major Circuit Austin the following weekend.

Mage
Druid
Paladin
Shaman

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Kuonet

Relatively new to the competitive scene and recently moved to the United States, Kuonet plays hearthstone with many of his countrymen such as Tom60229 and Pinpingho. Kuonet was thinking about not returning this morning to play since he was 4-2 but his friends convinced him he should and now he’s headed to Shanghai!

Mage
Paladin
Druid
Warrior

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DiegoDias

DiegoDias has been a power house in the Latin American scene for the last three years. Qualifying to the Top 8 of at least 1 Copa America Major every year for the last 3 years, and winning one in 2015, DiegoDias is one of the most consistent players to emerge from the Latin American scene.

Paladin
Druid
Rogue
Warrior

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Ant

Ant was part of the original wave of competitive Hearthstone Players to rise in 2014. Competing at the 2014 Hearthstone Americas Championship, Ant was one of the top 16 players in the region. Prior to this weekend’s Spring Playoffs, his only other HCT accomplishment was DreamHack Austin 2016 where he placed 5th-8th. Today’s win quintupled his lifetime earnings for playing competitive Hearthstone!

Druid
Warrior
Mage
Shaman

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OMJasonZhou

Jason Zhou has recently won the 2017 Gold Super Premier Spring (which gives him the ticket to the next HCT Champs); he is also the winner of the 2016 Super Premier Summer. Jason was also among the top 4 in the 2016 BlizzCon and did well against North America players in the CN vs. NA back in Jan, 2017. So it’s suffice to say that JasonZhou is a decorated veteran and have ample experience in both domestic and international stages.

Paladin
Druid
Rogue
Shaman

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OMXhope

A grass-root player who emerged from the Stone League (an open-to-all grass-root event where players played in local internet café, and gradually progress from city level to provincial to regional then national. I.e.: Detroit à State of Michigan à North East region à All America), and eventually find himself playing on the international stage. 3rd in the 2016 Super Premier Summer; 2nd place in the 2016 Gold Hearthstone Final; one of the top 8 in the 2017 HCT Winter Champs and runner-up in the recent 2017 Super Premier Spring. Hope has proven himself that he has what it takes to become an elite HS player, and he has also stated several times that he really looking forward to win a tournament.

XHope defeated Dogggg in the recent 2017 China vs. Europe to clench the final and bring home a Ferrari

Druid
Priest
Warrior
Shaman

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ahqDogggg

Dogggg is a journey man in China HS scene, in the 2017 CN vs. EU, Dogggg defeated Orange and Pavel (previously 8-0) who are on a hot streak in the Knockout stage to make it to the final but was defeated by XHope. He won the 3rd place in the 2017 Gold Super Premier Spring. For him, able to play on international stage at the HCT Spring Champ is definitely a career high for him.

Druid
Paladin
Rogue
Mage

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Trunks

Trunks is a dark horse that has recently emerged from the Super Premier Spring. He is number 1 ranked in the group stage with a record of 6-1. In the Round of 8, he was on top again with 6-2 which left viewers in awe. What Trunks is lacking is that he didn’t have much experience in playing on big stages, so when he advanced into the semi-final, against more experienced opponent, he seems to unable to find his rhythm.

Mage
Druid
Paladin
Rogue

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The Decks

With all the deck lists locked in, here are some exciting trends and noteworthy decks you can keep an eye on in the Spring Championship. You can also copy these deck lists to play for yourself with the new Deck Importing feature!

Spectators will no doubt be interested to see how Quest Rogue performs considering the announcement that The Caverns Below is receiving a balance change in an upcoming patch. Rogue was the second most popular class behind Druid across the tournament lineup, but Quest Rogue is far and away the most common deck – and the only style of Rogue being played in the Spring Championship.

Quest Rogue was least popular with Americas players, but every Asia-Pacific competitor has it in their lineup. Each region had one class that was brought with 100% consistency—Druid for the Americas and China, Warrior for Europe, and Rogue for Asia-Pacific—but the other regions are bringing multiple Druid and Warrior archetypes.

Five of the Quest Rogue lists are an identical core list, while the remaining six trade cards like Swashburglar or Backstab for more aggressive Stonetusk Boars or tech choices like Hungry Crabs, Tar Creepers, or a Golakka Crawler, hoping to target specific aggressive decks. Other tech choices that were popular in this tournament include Spellbreaker in Pirate Warrior or Gluttonous Ooze in Jade Druid and Burn Mage. Some highly-specialized techs make the occasional appearance – like the two players running Eater of Secrets to target Ice Block.

A total of approximately 13 different styles of deck are in play, representing seven of the nine Hearthstone classes. Only one player, xHope, is bringing Priest, and the only other truly unique decklist is JasonZhou’s Jade Shaman with Spirit Echo.

Some regional tendencies exist – Americas players have broadly opted to play for the late game, bringing Jade Druid, Quest Warrior, and two of the three Control Paladin lists in the tournament. Asia-Pacific favors a more aggressive style, bringing more Token lists than other regions and being the only region to field no Jade Druid whatsoever. Pirate Warrior has fallen out of favor in China, as well.

Overall, no single archetype other than Quest Rogue was brought by more than half of the players in this tournament. The most common after Quest Rogue was Token Shaman, with eight players choosing it. Several players brought similar lineups by class, but no two players brought the same lineup by archetypes.

Look for control players to ban Jade Druid or Quest Rogue to protect their best matchups. Aggressive players will try and eliminate the decks that outlast them, like Control Paladin or Quest Warrior, where they exist; otherwise they’ll ban decks that can outrace them, like Token decks.


For additional information about the Spring Championship, including broadcast times, casters, and more, check out our guide on how to Watch the Spring Championship.

Who did you vote for in Choose Your Champion? What deck list are you going to experiment with using Deck Importing? Let us know in the comments!

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