Asia-Pacific Sums Up Summer Playoffs
With the third regional Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT) Summer Playoffs having finished up this past weekend, we’ve got our full roster for the HCT Summer Championship next month! Congratulations to Jinsoo, glory, BloodTrail, and Tansoku on their strong performances in the Asia-Pacific Playoffs.
These four, along with Leaoh, Rugal, YuYi, and XiaoT from China, will join the top four from the Europe Playoffs and the Americas Playoffs for the upcoming Summer Championship at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles from June 28 through July 1. In 2017, glory made it to every Asia-Pacific Playoffs, so his success here at the first seasonal playoffs of 2018 feels especially well-earned.
Even Isn’t Odd
Although Even Paladin was overwhelmingly the most popular deck in play by this third consecutive Playoff weekend, the top four in Asia-Pacific advanced on the back of a diverse range of decks, including glory’s Even Shaman.
Across the field, Taunt Druid vanished entirely over the course of these three weeks, and Control Priest and Control Warlock’s popularity declined (despite their appearances in successful lineups). Spiteful Druid’s relative absence from the Europe Playoffs is notable in retrospect, as is the popularity of Tempo Mage in the Americas.
Now that the HCT Playoffs are over, pro players will be working hard to identify which decks are tournament-worthy since the balance changes went live.
Here’s a glimpse at the behind-the-scenes action from some of the Asia-Pacific Playoffs venues!
What Stood Out to Sottle
We caught up with Simon “Sottle” Welch after the Asia-Pacific Playoffs to ask him what caught his eye from the weekend’s competition.
“The most memorable series for me by far was the final one of the broadcast between Tansoku and XiaoDai,” he said. “The series as a whole was an absolute marathon, with both players taking the maximum amount of time on almost every turn. The Druid mirror was insanely close—both players matched each other with a Spiteful Summoner into Deathwing on curve, then reached a huge stalemate in the late-game with five-plus minions on board. For four or five turns in a row, each player was one damage off lethal as they played around each other’s remaining cards perfectly.”
In reviewing the evolving meta, Sottle says that Asia-Pacific seems to have learned from Europe and the Americas, with players taking fewer risks with their lineups. However, two of the players who qualified to the Summer Championship did so by operating “just that little bit outside the meta,” he said—glory with his Even Shaman lineup, and Tansoku with Control Warrior.
So, now that we know the full field of Summer Championship competitors, which region does Sottle thnk will win?
“Asia-Pacific put up a strong field of players to send to the Championship—but with the usual suspects of Surrender and tom60229 failing to make the cut, despite playing exemplary Hearthstone, I feel like the ball is in America’s court,” he said. “With China and Asia-Pacific both fielding a group of players with limited HCT experience, I think I favor an American—although perhaps not a North American—to bring it home at the championship.”
That concludes the Summer Playoffs for HCT 2018! We’ve got some exciting stuff coming in the weeks ahead as we look back on the HCT Playoffs experience and ahead to the Summer Championship, where the first four players bound for the 2018 HCT World Championship will be identified.
Hopefully the HCT Playoffs season has been as exciting for you as it has been for us! Which region do you think is the strongest heading into the Summer Championship? What kinds of decks do you think the pros will bring now that the balance changes are live? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments!