Sinisa Bucan, December 22, 2016

The Best Hearthstone Matches of 2016

You’re probably busy exploring the mean streets of Gadgetzan and meeting all sorts of goons, sorcerers, and assassins. The Feast of Winter Veil is already under way, and Azeroth is covered in snow and merry decorations. While you’re enjoying the festivities, why not take a look at the best matches Hearthstone had to offer in 2016?

Ostkaka vs MorGalad – HCT Europe Winter Preliminary

This was a regular David vs. Goliath story, in which an unknown player called MorGalad faced Ostkaka, the reigning World Champion. The match was intense, amounting to five full games and the first major upset of 2016. We saw MorGalad play very intelligently in the opening Patron Warrior vs. Control Warrior game.

MorGalad did everything in his power not to let Ostkaka know that he was actually playing Control Warrior, and then punished him on turn 7 by playing Brawl after Ostkaka unleashed his Grim Patrons. The final game was also very exciting, Ostkaka actually almost won the entire thing, but he was just 1 damage short and MorGalad was able to close it down.

Amnesiac vs. Nostam – HCT Americas Winter Championship

This match is notable for several reasons. The first one is that it established Amnesiac as something of a prodigythe 15-year-old was the youngest professional Hearthstone player in the world at the time. For him to get to the Grand Final of the HCT Americas Winter Championship was already a great success, but now he had the chance to take it all.

On the other hand, Nostam wasn’t even supposed to be there. It was Fibonacci who qualified to the Americas Winter Championship, but because he was unable to attend, Nostam took his place and made it all the way to the final. There were lots of exciting moments in this five-game series, but in the end, it was Amnesiac who became the Americas Winter Champion.

Naiman vs. BunnyHoppor – HCT Europe Winter Championship

These two players met in the semifinals of the Europe Winter Championship in what was probably the single most exciting match of the tournament. The highlight was the third game between Naiman’s Freeze Mage and BunnyHoppor’s Aggro Paladin. It was exciting because it was the first glimpse of a new kind of Freeze Mage deck, one that relies more on burn damage than controlling the board. It was also a truly amazing feat due to the insanity that went on, including Piloted Shredders, Lightwells, and playing to your outs in the riskiest way possible.

YouKnowWP vs. Loyan – HCT Europe Spring Preliminary

This was a great series overall, but what truly makes it worth watching is Loyan playing a trick on YouKnowWP. Loyan got WP down to 10 health and had a lethal next turn by playing Grommash Hellscream and enabling enrage with Shield Slam. The problem was, he already had 6 shield and Tank Up, which meant that he couldn’t use his hero power because it would have killed Grommash instead of just damaging him.

Yet if he straight-up didn’t use his hero power and ended his turn, that would have been a dead giveaway and WP would know something was up. Loyan could have played Bloodhoof Brave, but that would have increased the chances of WP healing up. In a very sly move, Loyan roped out and used the “Oops” emote signaling to his opponent that he panicked and ran out of time before he could decide what to play. WP didn’t suspect a thing and was met with an enraged Grommash the following turn, who promptly ended the game.

Casie vs. Iner – HCT Europe Spring Championship

The series between Casie and Iner was the fastest I’ve ever seen played at a Hearthstone tournament. Both players are extremely quick thinkers and play so fast that it almost seems automatic. It was so fast that it was almost impossible to process what was happening. Considering that the vast majority of Hearthstone matches are played out slowly and methodically, this was just entertaining to watch.

Cydonia vs. Rosty – HCT Americas Spring Championship

This was a fantastic Grand Final indeed, but what made it memorable was a high risk/reward play in the game between Cydonia’s Zoo Warlock and Rosty’s Midrange Hunter. The game was over very quickly in a spectacular way. On turn 4, Cydonia played Dark Peddler, which offered him the choice between Tournament Attendee, Reliquary Seeker, and Young Dragonhawk. 

Cydonia had only two cards in his hand... two copies of Power Overwhelming. The temptation was too great, and Cydonia played Young Dragonhawk. Rosty didn’t recognize the threat, and Young Dragonhawk subsequently dealt 18 damage on the following turn, ending the game. Rosty couldn’t help but to look over to Cydonia and crack open a smile.

LikeaBawse vs. Cerasi – HCT Europe Summer Preliminary

LikeaBawse is one of the most emotional and expressive players in Hearthstone. The Greek player won the first two matches with his Zoo Warlock and Aggro Shaman, but Cerasi tied the series back up thanks to his own Zoo Warlock and Aggro Shaman. 

It was all down to the Token Druid faceoff. The match itself wasn’t as dramatic for us as it was for LikeaBawse, who showed off a rollercoaster of emotions just about every turn. He was victorious in the end and dedicated the victory to his newborn daughter.

Pascoa vs. Topopablo11 – HCT Americas Summer Preliminary

We couldn’t go through this list without offering at least one crazy Yogg-Saron turn. One such turn happened in a game between Pascoa’s Token Druid and Topopablo11’s Tempo Mage. Things were pretty even until Topopablo11 slowly began to pull away in the late game. Pascoa ran out of options and settled for throwing down Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End.

This move marked the end for Topopablo11. Yogg-Saron cleared both of Topopablo11’s minions, buffed itself to 11/13 with taunt and Infest, summoned Call of the Wild, and put Arcane Giant in Pascoa’s hand, which he promptly played. Topopablo11 could do nothing but smile, scratch his head, and concede.

Handsomeguy vs. Yulsic – HCT Asia-Pacific Summer Championship

The finals of the HCT Asia-Pacific Summer Championship wasn’t amazing because of the games, but because of the overall story. This was the match that cemented Handsomeguy’s position as the king of the Asia-Pacific region. Not only did he have the most HCT points in the world by a wide margin, he also made it to all three regional finals of 2016.

He already won the Spring Championship and now he had the opportunity to become the only player in the world to win two regional championships in a row. He did just that and became one of the most successful Hearthstone players in the world.

Pavel vs. DrHippi – Hearthstone World Championship 2016

There’s just no way that we’d go through this list without including the Grand Finals of the Hearthstone World Championship 2016.

Pavel’s story is pretty remarkable, as he didn’t qualify for any of the three season Europe Championships. Instead, he made it to the World Championship the hard waythrough the Last Call Invitationals. On the other hand, DrHippi played in the finals of the Winter Championship and won the Summer Championship. This was unquestionably one of the most important Hearthstone matches of the year.

It was another fantastic year for professional Hearthstone. We expect to see it grow even further in 2017, especially with all the changes Blizzard has announced. In the meantime, enjoy these matches. Happy Feast of Winter Veil!

Sinisa Bucan

Siniša is a writer and translator from Croatia, a small European country on the Adriatic coast. Apart from being a passionate Hearthstone player, he enjoys all kinds of video games, including strategy, role-playing, adventure, and action. Other interests include listening to indie rock and travelling. You can follow him @SinisaBucan.