XiXo and Tides top the big ESL deckbuilder challenge

For the second week in a row, the ESL Hearthstone Legendary Series rewarded creativity and deckbuilding ability around a twist. Last week, competitors had to fit all four Brewmaster cards into each deck, shifting the meta and seeing Rogue come out ahead as the most popular and potentially most lethal class.

This week’s ‘secret ingredient’ was more up Barney Stinson’s alley, with every competitor having to fit seven legendary cards of varying mana costs into their deck - a minimum and maximum of seven legendary cards per deck - in tribute to the event’s sponsor: the movie Seventh Son.

Dog and XiXo bring on the night

What once more became clear throughout the competition was the class distribution among the players. Last week, a lot of synergy evolved around the combo power of Rogue cards paired with the Brewmaster. This time, the challengers had to work the legendary cards into the rotation of decks without making them utterly useless. Druid, Warlock, Rogue and Hunter quickly evolved out of that mix, these classes seemingly having the best use for high and low-cost legendary cards all meshed together.

Starting off the showdown was a battle of fan favorites, with compLexity’s Dog and Tempo Storm star Hyped entering the arena to unleash their legendary power first. Dog proved he had bite as well as bark, keeping the upper hand and once again navigating his favorite class successfully through most of the matchups, putting his faith in the nature’s hands. The Druid with Thalnos, Tinkmaster Overcharge and high-curving legendaries like Cenarius and Dr Boom put Hyped in hot water. Hyped’s favorites, Rogue and Mage, couldn’t handle the Druid’s power, and got eliminated from the series. The only match Hyped could win was the mirror, a small glimmer of hope before he was chopped down and eliminated from the series by Dog’s Rogue deck.

This match set up the clash of two friends and training partners: Dog and XiXo. The pair know each other, respect each other and like each other - which was visible for every viewer watching the stream. Constant spamming of emotes, XiXo getting up and leaving to pray to RNGesus before ending a turn on a Ragnaros coin flip, lots of shared laughs via webcam and insanely quick play - this series had it all.

The series also presented fans with a great showcase of two of the best Hearthstone players in the Western world at the moment. After XiXo got off to a great start with Hunter, Dog rallied back with his own take on the hated class, equalizing the series at two apiece. The final showdown seemed to be going Dog’s way for the longest time, with him pushing all his chips onto the table only to be utterly disappointed by a timely Alextrasza topdeck crushing his dreams. On the back of that card, XiXo healed from three life to fifteen while also putting lethal on the board without Dog having any answer to it whatsoever.

This exciting starting point in XiXo’s run was followed up by a comeback against Trump. The Mayor of Value Town put up a good fight, having taken a different approach to the legendary stipulation. While most people went with the most power in their Druid deck, Trump decided to chose legendary minions outside the BGH range. This allowed Troggzor to make a rare appearance, filling the seven mana spot, usually occupied by Dr Boom.

This take on Druid showed a lot of promise but ultimately couldn’t get the mayor re-elected, with his young competitor fighting back from an early disadvantage at the polls. XiXo’s fierce campaign still had a few aces still up its sleeve, getting back on the good side of Hearthstone by catering to its green-minded voters. Malfurion put forward some good arguments, and in the end it looked like fate was predestined when XiXo went for the 25% Tinkmaster Overcharge gamble, turning the almighty Tirion Fordring into a small squirrel with an Innervate combo to finish things off.

With compLexity’s star beaten and the TSM standout eliminated, next on deck was Tempo Storm founder Reynad. The popular streamer known for his creative and daring deckbuilding embraced the challenge of having to put legendary cards of varying mana costs into his decks, his take on the task straying away from conventional wisdom the most. While everyone tried a bread-and-butter Druid, Reynad dared to go for the mill version with Mukla, Groove Tender, Naturalize and Clockwork Giant. When most people were concerned with winning through the board as Rogue, Reynad brought the Malygos version. Also unforgotten is the return of the steady and enduring Fisherman Nat Pagle in the Paladin deck, who used to be one of the most common legendaries in competitive play until the nerf hammer threatened his livelihood.

However, all of these efforts sadly didn’t quite pan out the way the Tempo Storm star wanted, with him suffering a sweep at the hands of XiXo. The German ladder god from Team Archon extended his streak to three wins as Cloud 9 player TidesofTime waited in the wings...

Time for Tides

After all the glory and hype of the previous four matchups, now came a sadder and more frustrating one. Tides’s match against XiXo ended in a double DC by the German, causing TidesofTime to advance by default - the frustration was visible on the face of the former Dignitas Dota 2 pro. It got even more frustrating for the Cloud 9 player as his next opponent, Chinese superstar TiddlerCelestial, experienced disconnect issues as well, this time in the middle of game four.

Up until that point it had been an even and interesting match wherein Tiddler had got a great early start into the series with his Paladin snowballing Tides’s Druid right into elimination. The call was then answered by the very aggressive Hunter the American player brought to the tournament, somehow fitting in seven legendaries while also pushing the pedal to the metal with Wolfrider and Arcane Golem going straight for his opponent’s face. However Tides did it, the deck proved to be successful and got him two wins, leaving only a Mage standing in his way. Unfortunately that match was not for us to see, with TiddlerCelestial disconnecting and unwillingly forfeiting the game.

However, darkness of disconnects and DDoS attacks on players was met with the brightness of sportsmanship and exemplary fairplay. Moments after Tiddler was gone, TidesofTime went to his Twitter account and made it known that he would play both XiXo and TiddlerCelestial again off-stream.

After that, there no more disconnects or exciting killing measures from outside the board. MaSsan versus TidesofTime played with any hiccups but with a whole lot of hilarious reaction faces from the TSM player. Every time Tides had a perfect - or even remotely good - answer to MaSsan’s plays, his ‘poker face’ told a tale of agony. A Sylvanas getting silenced, a Tinkmaster giving Tides a 5/5, a Mortal Coil at just the right time - all of these simply added to MaSsan’s pain.

However, MaSsan’s might have been eased somewhat by him pulling out some of the most stylish plays of the entire tournament, such as a Deathwing destroying two Molten Giants and an opposing Loatheb while also discarding two Death’s Bites and a Harrison Jones from his own hand. While some of the other players also brought the powerful dragon, only MaSsan ever got to play him - and with a lot of style. Unfortunately, not even that value play was enough to overcome TidesofTime, who turned Deathwing into a 1/1 squirrel and had the Eredar Lord of the Burning Legion doom MaSsan’s world.

With that the tournament ended, seeing XiXo and TidesofTimes taking home three wins while Dog trots home with one win to his name.

To stay up to date on the ESL Hearthstone Legendary Series, be sure to keep an eye on the official site.


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