After a thrilling ESL Hearthstone Legendary Series Season 1 final in Burbank earlier in the year, the Legendary Series made a stop at the IEM Expo in Katowice with a US$30,000 prize pool in tow. Lots of new faces to the scene got a chance to prove themselves against established Hearthstone pros, which made for great matches, as recapped in detail below!
James vs. Inderen
Inderen, most famous for for beating reigning world champion Firebat in the round of 16, faced another up and coming talent in James in the first quarterfinal match of the day.
Known for this avid use of demonlock, James coasted to an easy game one victory, also due to Inderen getting very unfortunate card draws on his oil Rogue. But undeterred, the Dane went back to his Rogue for game two, where he managed to record his first win of the series in the Rogue mirror matchup. After two pretty straight forward games, the RNG came into play for game three. Inderen may have quite possible played the first ever golden Mekgineer Thermaplugg in competitive Hearthstone thanks to his Unstable Portal, which was the nail in the coffin for the overwhelmed Paladin.
But the German kept faith in his Paladin deck, choosing it again for the important elimination game against Inderen’s ramp Druid. After a strong start and pulling Inderen down to seven life, the Paladin player did seem to hit a brick wall though in the Druid’s big creatures. Unable to overcome these obstacles, Inderen managed to safely hold out in the end, finishing up the series 3-1 in his favor.
RDU vs. Orange
Before the start of the tournament, RDU apparently made Orange think that he’ll choose a Rogue in the matchup, baiting out a Warrior pick from Orange. Let’s find out whether the bait paid off.
And the answer is... kind of. Initially it paid off dividends as RDU’s ramp Druid managed to take care of Orange’s Warrior easily to start off the series. But the Swede did not stick to his beaten Warrior deck and instead opted for his rogue against RDU’s midrange Hunter deck in game two, enjoying superior card draw with a stellar Gadgetzan Auctioneer - Preparation combo on his way to tie the series up at 1-1. Both players went through all their decks in the first three games, which brought out RDU’s mech Mage for game three against Orange’s own version of Hunter. But as it turns out, RDU ended up being the better hunter while playing his mage. A mirrored Webspinner gave the Romanian an incredibly fortunate Malorne drop and both his Blast Mages dished out perfect RNG, giving RDU the match point after game three.
Bringing out his midrange Hunter again to finish things off he struggled against the Warrior deck, which redeemed itself for the earlier loss in the series. At the end it all came down to a hunter mirror match and RNG was most definitely on Orange’s side. With everything on the line it all came down to a 50-50 Ragnaros play for Orange, who managed to snipe RDU at eight life, propelling himself into the semi finals!
Lifecoach vs. Nalguidan
Lifecoach, the highest ranked player in the world at the moment, had to face South American champion Nalguidan in the third quarterfinal.
The legendary Webspinner RNG from earlier continued in this series, giving Nalguidan a King Krush in his match against Lifecoach’s mech Mage. But he would not even need the charging dinosaur to get a game one victory against the big favorite from Germany. He looked strong in the second game as well where he pulled out his oil Rogue to deal with Lifecoach’s signature handlock. And even though the latter played the game incredibly patiently, he began to lose ground towards the end of the match. With no other way to win the game, Lifecoach followed in Orange’s footsteps, betting it all on Ragnaros with a 25% chance to win. And, how else could it be, Ragnaros went for face tying up the series at 1-1.
Unfortunately Lifecoach seemed to have used up all of his luck with that Ragnaros play, being handed a terrible starting hand on his druid in game three. Nalguidan, who stuck to his rogue, kept sapping away any threats on the board on his way to eventually retaking the lead in the series. In the do or die game four, Lifecoach again opted for his Druid, aiming to end the game with a Force of Nature - Savage Roar combo. But he was instead forced to use his Force of Nature to clear the board mid game, which played right into Nalguidan’s hand, who replenished his board with a Muster for Battle - Quartermaster combo, swinging the game back in his favor, ultimately resulting in a 3-1 victory over tournament favorite Lifecoach.
Amaz vs. SirKristjan
The last quarterfinal saw Intel Extreme Masters Shenzhen winner Amaz face up against free to play player SirKristjan, who showed that you don’t need to invest any money in Hearthstone to succeed.
And in a stunning game one, Amaz’s signature Priest got completely crushed by SirKristjan, whose aggro Hunter did not lose a single point of health while beating down the favorite en route to a quick victory. Amaz fared much better in game two though, getting revenge against the Icelander’s mech Shaman, which never really seemed to take off. After getting overrun in game one, the Priest deck finally showed its strength versus aggro decks.
The series looked to swing back in favor of SirKristjan in a drawn out game three, where his Shaman deck managed to get off to a way better start, even drawing out some BM from SirKristjan who felt confident in the flow of the game. But Amaz repaid the overconfidence with a beautifully closed out endgame, denying the Shaman deck its first win. And even though the SirKristjan lost two consecutive games with the Shaman he tried it yet again versus Amaz’s amazing control Warrior deck, which had no issues brushing the Shaman aside for a third straight victory and a semi final ticket for Amaz.
Inderen vs. Orange
Orange showed throughout the tournament that miracle Rogue still has a place in the meta when combined with Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil. His double Gadgetzan Auctioneer, combined with Preparation and an array of further spells gave the Swede an insane draw advantage over Inderen, whose Druid had no answer, ultimately conceding game one. But his Druid would not fare any better in game two against Orange’s aggro face Hunter, who got the beasts he needed for a stylish double Kill Command death blow from his Piloted Shredders, instead of his deck.
After two unsuccessful games with Druid, Inderen switched to his trusted mech Mage to get his first win in the semi finals and he was in the driver’s seat early, taking control of the board against Orange’s Warrior. But as Warrior’s often do as games go into lategame, Orange managed to wrestle control away from Inderen, handing out the first sweep of the tournament. Orange takes out Inderen, 3-0!
Nalguidan vs. Amaz
Amaz saved his Priest for later in the second semi final series, choosing his control Warrior in game one against Nalguidan’s oil Rogue. Even though Amaz managed to recover from a pretty bad opening hand, his double BGH hand proved utterly useless against Nalguidan, who secured game one for himself. Amaz made up for his loss in game two, where his Priest allowed him great board control, also thanks to stealing equality from Nalguidan’s paladin deck. A random Nat Paggle drop from a shredder was not enough for Nalguidan to win game two, which makes a return to competitive play for the fisherman highly unlikely.
Mech Mage beats aggro Hunter, based on a single game observation that is. Nalguidan was forced to use his kill commands early to stop the flood of mechs flowing out of Amaz’s hand in the third game, which spelled doom for the Argentinian shortly after. Nalguidan was repaid for the disheartening game three with the best possible Paladin opener in the next match. Muster for Battle - Coin - Quartermaster - GG. Nothing more needs to be said. But when it came down to the wire in the important final game of the best of five, Amaz prevailed with his trusty control Warrior against Nalguidan’s Hunter and punched his ticket to the grand finals against Orange.
Orange vs. Amaz
One player from the open bracket and one invited pro. What a perfect end to an amazing tournament.
Amaz brought out his mech mage to start of the grand final series against Orange, we picked his Hunter to start things off. Even though Amaz managed to out-aggro the Hunter early on, he did not get the stealth spare part that he needed to safely drop Antonidas for the late game, which lost him all the board control he had from the beginning, costing him game one.
As Amaz had shown in the tournament, if things don’t go his way, he brings out the Priest. Only in this case he picked it against Orange’s miracle-oil Rogue, which would be a tough matchup for Amaz on paper. And as the analyst panel correctly predicted, Amaz’s Priest would eventually lack in late game damage to close the game out, allowing Orange to set up a huge double Tinker’s Oil turn, doing more than 20 damage and putting him in a commanding position in the series.
No matter the setback, Amaz kept faith in his Priest for the first elimination game of the grand finals, knowing he had to win three straight games against Orange’s Warrior to wrestle the title away from the Hearthstone newcomer. But it was not meant to be for the Hong Konger, who at the end fell victim to Orange’s second sweep of the tournament.
This makes Orange your ESL Hearthstone Legendary Series Katowice champion!
The ESL Hearthstone Legendary Series finals were a thrill to watch and if you missed out on any of the matches, check out the Youtube playlist with all the VODs from Katowice!
Thank you for tuning into the livestream and we hope too see you again for the next season of the ESL Hearthstone Legendary Series!