This year’s ESL Katowice’s Hearthstone final tells an amazing and inspirational story. The tournament was in conquest format; a deck that has won a game cannot be played again. Orange, an unknown player from Team Darkstar, faced off against Amaz after conquering his way through the 530 player open bracket. “Best Priest in the World” Amaz, owner of Team Archon and champion of IEM Shenzhen, brought an odd line-up of decks to the final: Warrior, Priest and Mage.
In contrast to Amaz’s line-up, the current meta suggests that Hunter, Rogue and Mage are the three strongest classes of which Orange brought two: Hunter and Rogue. Orange’s third deck was a midrange control Warrior tuned with the interesting tech cards of Bomb Lobber, Frothing Berserker and Piloted Shredder in place of the more standard late-game bombs. These cards allow him to accelerate his play, by applying heavy midgame pressure, rather than stalling for Alexstrasza-Grommash kill-combos.
Orange had a clear plan going in: force an unfavourable matchup for Amaz’s Priest by pitting it against his Rogue and Warrior decks, win the Hunter vs. Mage skill matchup, and avoid the Warrior Rogue matchup. On the other hand, Amaz’s goals were to queue up his Warrior against Orange’s Rogue, beat his Hunter with his Mage, and then clean up with his Priest. Unfortunately for Amaz, the matches didn’t go as planned.
The first match was Amaz’s Mage vs. Orange’s Hunter; Orange seized the tempo in the midgame with a massive Unleash the Hounds going up 1-0 against Amaz. In the next game, Orange’s Rogue just barely snuck a win by Amaz’s Priest where he was forced to sap Dr. Boom not once, but twice! However his Gadgetzan Auctioneer simply proved too difficult to remove and put Orange up 2-0. Finally in Warrior vs. Priest the Bomb Lobbers and Piloted Shredders pulled their weight and allowed Orange to make outstanding trades. Amaz was never really able to seize board control and the match ended when Amaz attempted to steal a Sludge Belcher by using Shadow Word Death on his own Sylvannas but unfortunately stole an Armorsmith instead resulting in a 3-0 result from Orange.
Orange won a whopping $13,000 as well as 100 points towards the Hearthstone Championship Series. The hearthstone community be seeing a lot more of Orange in the future he has also qualified through the open bracket for Viagame House Cup but will doubtless be invited to many tournaments in the future on the back of this big win. The message to take away from ESL Katowice is that Hearthstone as an e-sport is an open field and anyone with enough dedication can become a champion.