Now that the dust has settled on the Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT) a champion has emerged. Taking place in Taipei on Sunday, April 28, 2019, the Hearthstone World Championship saw Casper ‘Hunterace’ Notto walk away with the win and $250,000 USD.
The Hearthstone World Championship saw Hunterace battle Torben ‘Viper’ Wahl for the crown with Hunterace eventually winning 3-2.
The HCT Championship is the culmination of a year-long calendar of events including Tour Stops, Playoffs and Seasonal Championships that took place around the world.
Hearthstone World Championship
The World Championships saw 16 players descend upon the Taipei Heping Basketball Gym in Taipei, Taiwan and compete over four days of intense competition for the title and a share of $1 million USD.
Four groups were established from the 16 players, each with four players. Each group was split into pairs who played against one another over the first three days of competition. Eight competitors were eliminated at the end of the Group Stage, with the final eight playing on for the championship.
Hunterace was placed in Group C and easily won his first matchup against ‘Ike’ 3-1.
Hunterace lost the first game to Ike’s Tempo Rogue as his Control Shaman wasn’t a winner on the day. After the first game though, Hunterace took control and saw Ike concede the Token Druid to his Summoner Mage.
At the late stages of the final match, Hunterace used Conjurer’s Calling on the Tending Tauren (a 6-cost minion) he stole from Ike with a Mind Control Tech. Conjurer’s Calling destroys a minion and then summons two new minions of the same cost.
Having the Twinspell Keyword meant that Hunterace could cast Conjurer’s Calling twice. On his first use, he received Meteorologist and Argent Commander. The latter has a Divine Shield and Charge, making it a particularly lucky minion to get.
Casting Conjurer’s Calling again, Hunterace destroyed the Argent Commander and received a second Argent Commander and Violet Warden. Not only does Violet Warden have Taunt, but it also has Spell Damage +1. Given that Hunterace was using his Mage deck, he almost couldn’t have asked for a better card.
Ike had, in the previous turn, drawn The Forest’s Aid which is an 8-cost Druid Twinspell that summons five 2/2 Treants. However, due to Hunterace’s luck with Conjurer’s Calling, Ike didn’t even bother to use the spell a second time, instead choosing to concede.
In his second Group Stage match, Hunterace was defeated 1-3 bu ‘justsaiyan’ and was placed in the Lower Bracket. Here he played ‘A83650’ in the Group C Decider, eventually finishing 3-2.
Hunterace was beaten in the first game by the Tempo Rogue and lost the second game to Midrange Shaman. In both matches, Hunterace used his Control Shaman Deck but stayed with it for the third match against Zoo Warlock.
Hunterace managed to win and went on to win the next two games using Tempo Rogue and Summoner Mage.
In the solo Stage, Hunterace was first paired with ‘bloodyface.’ He won 3-1 then moved onto ‘SNJing,’ also winning 3-1. Finally, Viper and Hunterace faced off for the Hearthstone World Championship.
The games went back and forth with Hunterace’s Tempo Rogue winning the first. Viper took the second game with his Summoner Mage and Hunterace took the third with his. The fourth match went to Viper’s Midrange Hunter but it was the final match that saw Hunterace use his Control Shaman to take the victory.
The slow, Control Shaman deck used by Hunterace did not look great to start with, though he did draw the 5-cost Hagatha’s Scheme on turn three, which was a boon. However, after turn three, Hunterace had just one solitary Wrath of Air Totem out.
On his fourth turn, he drew a second Hagatha’s Scheme, which left him without any minions to Viper’s EVIL Genius, Argent Squire, Goblin Lackey and 3/2 Knife Juggler with +1 attack from the Goblin Lackey. Again, Hunterace was forced to use his Hero Power and summoned a Searing Totem.
Viper’s fourth turn saw more minions summoned, including a second Abusive Sergeant and a Witchy Lackey. The Witchy Lackey turned EVIL Genius into Duskbat and the Argent Squire was thrown into the Searing Totem, destroying both. After Round 4, Hunterace had 17 health and Viper had 28.
Playing the Hagatha’s Scheme that had been upgraded to 2-damage for all minions saw Hunterace clear all but Duskbat from the board. Viper responded by playing Magic Carpet, Flame Imp and Mecharoo, however, on turn six, Hunterace drew Mind Control Tech. Because Viper had played Magic Carpet, both Mecharoo and Flame Imp had Rush and when Hunterace stole the Mecharoo he used it against Flame Imp.
Drawing and playing a Dire Wolf Alpa, Viper played it between Magic Carpet and Duskbat, giving them both +1 Attack. He also played Crystalizer which dealt 5-damage to his hero but gave him 5-armour. Magic Carpet killed Stoneclaw Totem and the Rushed, +1 Attack Crystalizer killed Mind Control Tech.
Viper used Duskbat to deal face damage leaving Hunterace with one minion and 12 health and Viper with three minions, 18 health and five armour. Hunterace used the Jo-E Bot to deal 1-Damage to the Magic Carpet and then used his second Hagatha’s Scheme to deal 5-Damage to all minions, giving him a board clear. He then used his Hero Power to summon a Healing Totem.
On turn seven, Viper played Arch-Villain Rafaam which gave him two Legendaries in his hand and 17 in his deck. The two in his hand were Nat Pagle and Subject 9. While Nat Pagle is handy to draw potential additional cards, Subject 9 isn’t hugely useful as its Battlecry lets you draw five Secrets.
Hunterace responded by immediately using Hex on Arch-Villain Rafaam and playing Omega Defender to gain a 2/6 Taunt minion. Viper’s next draw gave him Catrina Muerte which he played and which resurrected Crystalizer.
Hunterace’s next draw was Lightning Storm and he played Swampqueen Hagatha. The spells he chose were Elementary Reaction and Rain of Toads which became the Drustvar Horror’s Battlecry as per Hagatha’s Battlecry.
Viper’s next draw was Azalina Soulthief, which got a huge reaction from the crowd. Viper played that and Pat Nagle, giving himself a copy of Hunterace’s hand and a look at what he was facing. A visibly shaken Hunterace drew Walking Fountain, used his Hero Power to summon Wrath of Air Totem, used Lightning Storm and killed all but Catrina Muerte and Nat Pagle, killed Catrina with Hagatha and then played Drustvar Horror.
At the end of the turn, Hunterace had seven minions, four with Taunt and 12-health while Viper was left with Nat Pagle with only 1-Health. Viper drew and played Griftah choosing Stranglethorn Tiger and Gurubashi Berserker. The former went to Viper and the latter to Hunterace.
Viper then dropped the Drustvar Horror and drew Hogger while Rain of Toads dropped three 2/4 Toads with Taunt.
Using his Drustvar Horror and two Toads, Hunterace removed two of Viper’s Toads before playing Witch’s Brew twice to gain 8-health, putting him on 20.
On his next draw, Viper got Archmage Vargoth and played Lightning Storm then Archmage Vargoth before passing. At the end of his turn, Archmage Vargoth casts Lightning Storm again, clearing Hunterace’s minions from the board.
However, in a draw that drew a huge response from the crowd, Hunterace got Mind Control Tech. Playing it immediately, he stole Viper’s Drustvar Horror. He then played Giggling Inventor which summoned two 1/2 Taunt Mechs with Divine Shield.
Viper’s next draw gave him two cards, thanks to Nat Pagle, and he drew Kalecgos and Vereesa Windrunner. Unfortunately, due to the two Lightning Storms, Viper had four Overloaded Mana Crystals, only giving him six to use. Viper played Hogger and cleared one of the Taunt Mechs from the board.
Hunterace played his Walking Fountain, used the Mind Control Tech to kill the last of Viper’s Toads, cleared the Gnoll created by Hogger with the Giggling Inventor and used Walking Fountain’s Rush to take Hogger off the board. In the process, he stole 4-health, giving him a total of 24. He also used Drustvar Horror to remove Archmage Vargoth from the game. Using one of his Ancestral Healing cards, Hunterace restored Walking Fountain to full health and gave it Taunt.
As it also has Windfury, he used it to attack Griftah, removing him from the board and stealing another 4-health to give him 28. He also used the second Taunt Mech to clear Nat Pagle. Finally, Hunterace used his Hero Power and summoned a Wrath of Air Totem.
Viper drew and played Oondasta on his next turn which summoned the Stranglethorn Tiger from his hand by using Rush and Overkill to clear Walking Fountain. Viper then used one of his own Ancestral Healing cards to restore Oondasta and give it Taunt. Hunterace responded by playing Gurubashi Berserker and Zilliax which used its Magnetic ability to fuse with the Taunt Mech and Rush to attack Oondasta.
As Zilliax also has Divine Shield, it stayed on the board. With Oondasta down to 3-health, Hunterace used the Mind Control Tech to deal the damage and take Oondasta off the board, leaving Viper without a Taunt minion. Doing face damage with Drustvar Horror, Hunterace removed all of Viper’s armour in one attack. Viper played Giggling Inventor and Commander Rhyssa before using Stranglethorn Tiger to remove Zilliax.
On Hunterace’s next turn he used Far Sight and drew Shudderwock reducing its cost to 6-mana. He played Twilight Drake and Acolyte of Pain before removing one Taunt Mech with Gurubashi Berserker and Drustvar Horror.
Drawing Houndmaster Shaw and using his Hero Power to draw another Azalina Soulthief, Viper played the former and also The Glass Knight, missing on copying the Shudderwock from Hunterace’s hand. Following some attacks, the board has four minions on Viper’s side and one on Hunterace’s.
Hunterace then played Shudderwock, which as always, is an incredible late-game card. Repeating all of the Battlecries he’d played previously leaves Hunterace with a 16/10 Shudderwock, a stolen Commander Rhyssa (thanks to Mind Control Tech), one Taunt Mech with Divine Shield, three 2/4 Toads with Taunt and a new Drustvar Horror in his hand. Viper looked visibly upset when the Shudderwock was played, knowing the likely outcome.
Having a 16/10 Shudderwock also means that Hunterace has lethal.
However, Viper played Kalecgos, discovered Demonbolt and played it to destroy Shudderwock.
After a couple of fairly slow turns, Hunterace had Twilight Drake, Commander Rhyssa, Giggling Inventor and one Taunt Mech with Divine Shield while Viper had Kalecgos, Commander Shaw, High Priestess Jeklik and The Glass Knight with Divine Shield.
Viper had also used Witch’s Brew to restore his health to 24.
The next few turns saw Viper and Hunterace trade minions off each other without any real change. Viper had one card remaining and drew Bloodmage Thalnos which was absolutely terrible. He played Gruul but then Hunterace finally drew Hagatha the Witch and cleared all but Gruul from Viper’s board.
Knowing that he was unable to win, Viper conceded and Hunterace was crowned the Hearthstone World Champion for 2019.
The final game of Viper and Hunterace’s series is incredible to watch and one of the most insane Hearthstone games I’ve ever seen. Do yourself a favour and check it out.
With HCT finished, Hearthstone esports moves on to Grandmasters. Beginning on May 17, Grandmasters is the new, top-tier of Hearthstone esports and will see 48 of the world’s best players, across three regions, compete in two eight-week seasons.
The top 8 will compete at BlizzCon 2019. The Grandmasters are;
Muzahidul “Muzzy” Islam
Torben “Viper” Wahl
Dylan “FroStee” O’Mallon
Chris “Fenomeno” Tsakopoulos
Yashima “Alutemu” Nozomi
Brian “bloodyface” Eason
George “BoarControl” Webb
Dasol “Ryvius” Sim
William “Amnesiac” Barton
Elias “Bozzzton” Sibelius
Kim “Surrender” Jung-soo
Francisco “PNC” Leimontas
Raphael “BunnyHoppor” Peltzer
Kim “che0nsu” Cheon Su
James “Firebat” Kostesich
Vladislav “SilverName” Sinotov
Chen “tom60229” Wei Lin
Cong “StrifeCro” Shu
Aleksandr “Kolento” Malsh
Cho “Flurry” Hyun Soo
Frank “Fr0zen” Zhang
Thijs “Thijs” Molendijk
Euneil “Staz” Javiñas
Lucas “Rase” Guerra
Jaromír “Jarla” Vyskočil
Jang “Dawn” Hyun Jae
Fei “ETC” Liang
Pavel “Pavel” Beltukov
Liu “Shaxy” Wei-Chieh
Ryan “Purple” Murphy-Root
Jon “Orange” Westberg
Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung
David “Dog” Caero
Joffrey “Swidz” Cunat
Tsao “SamuelTsao” Tsu Lin
Jerome “Monsanto” Faucher
Linh “Seiko” Nguyen
Wu “BloodTrail” Zong-Chang
Paul “Zalae” Nemeth
Kevin “Casie” Eberlein
Kenta “glory” Sato
Facundo “Nalguidan” Pruzzo
Dima “Rdu” Radu
Pathra “Pathra” Cadness
David “Justsaiyan” Shan
Casper “Hunterace” Notto
Tyler “Tyler” Hoang Nguyen
For more on Hearthstone esports, check out the website.