It’s back, and it’s better than ever! Yes, ladies, and gentlemen, boys and girls, the United Hearthstone League has hit shelves once more for season 2, bringing with it a whole plethora of new characters for you to root for. This season has brought 16 players to the fore to duke it out, including returning champion RidiculousHat; some of them are returning favorites, but many more have joined the fray from all over the wider Hearthstone community. If you haven’t already, why not check out the ‘Players’ tab right above this article and get yourselves acquainted?
Enough of that anyway, let’s get to what you’ve all been waiting for: The action.
The season’s inaugural match saw Jordan Lingo of the Daring Reporter podcast take on Toast the Badger of the Twittersphere at large. In the most suitable way to kick things off, Jordan Lingo opened with a Quest Paladin, only for the meme dream to be crushed by good old fashioned Cubelock (featuring special guest, Skull on 4). Game 2 was a straight up meme-off, with Toast’s Shudderwock OTK Shaman failing to deal with Jordan Lingo’s Galvadon; words I never imagined I would type in all my days of Hearthstone analysis. In Game 3, Spiritsinger Umbra developed an insane board for Jordan Lingo in his Deathrattle Rogue, with a whole lot of Cairne Bloodhoofs being played. Unfortunately for Toast, she was playing Mind Blast Priest, and those 4 attack minions just sealed the deal. 2-1 to Jordan. At match point, all that remained for Jordan Lingo was to take a win with his Big Spell Elemental Mage, with Toast sticking to the Mind Blast Priest. However, Jordan heavily misplayed, and did not draw Frost Lich Jaina; this match was going all the way to the decider. The final game of slow control deck vs. Shudderwock Shaman unfortunately for Jordan went just the way we expected, with the 60+ damage OTK proving to be pretty powerful against a deck now lacking Ice Blocks. A truly fantastic duel, right down to the wire, with Toast taking the series 3-2.
Continuing this fine start to the season, we saw RedKnight, representing Dad Legend, up against Aleirri of the HSInnkeepers podcast, in a stream which saw more technical difficulties than a peg-legged pirate on a treadmill. RedKnight led with a Quest Warrior, up against Aleirri’s Tempo Rogue. While Aleirri had plenty of tempo tools like Saps and Vilespine Slayers, a rapid quest completion was enough to result in a DadLegend victory. RedKnight’s Spell Hunter fought valiantly against Aleirri’s Spiteful Druid in Game 2, but was ultimately undone by being hit in the face by a Tyrantus twice. Game 3 was a long, drawn-out battle between Aleirri’s Baku Paladin and RedKnight’s Spell Hunter, with the Build-a-Beast hero power coming out second best against Aleirri’s pure volume of dudes. A special mention has to go to the Witches Cauldron, which survived for far longer than it should, and somehow managed to generate Aleirri an Earth Elemental. Aleirri wrapped up the series with a fairly ridiculous series of events against RedKnight’s Big Spell Mage, involving not 1 but 2 Al’Akirs being played, courtesy of the myriad of options Tempo Rogue has of generating purely random value. 3-1 Aleirri.
Match 3 kicked off a bumper Wednesday of Hearthstone, with RidiculousHat of Coin Concede fame against LoremasterEve, representing Velen’s Chosen. Eve’s Shudderwock Shaman weathered the storm of Hat’s Spiteful Druid early in game 1, including a Spiteful Summoner on 6, and eventually had amassed the full combo. To quote Hat: “We got Wocked.” Game 2 lined up a lot more favorably for Hat, with his litany of whirlwind effects in his Tempo Warrior lining up very nicely against all the 1 health dudes in Eve’s Baku Paladin. Game 3 was over as soon as it started, with Hat’s Even Shaman getting a blowout series of draws which Eve’s Spiteful Druid was powerless to contain, with no AOE in the deck. Unfortunately for Eve, game 4 continued in much the same way, with an uncontested Vicious Fledgling in a Spiteful Druid mirror very quickly snowballing out of control, giving Hat the series at 3-1. Quick, but by no means not entertaining.
Up next on our Wild and Wicked Wednesday, Breezy of Team PhenomsPro took on Rod Johnston of Tier 5. Rod’s Quest Rogue did exactly what it was supposed to do, quickly obliterating Breezy’s Shudderwock OTK Shaman in game 1. Game 2 was a super interesting battle of Shudderwock philosophies, with Rod instead opting for a Midrange Elemental Shaman rather than the OTK build, and Kalimos turned out to be the game’s defining factor, allowing Rod to swing the board completely in his favor. Game 3 in a quick 3-0 sweep was dictated wholly by Rod’s Whirlwind + King Mosh combo in his Odd Control Warrior, clearing Breezy’s Spiteful Priest board in emphatic fashion, with the game closed out by a very interesting Mind Control decision from Breezy, who opted against taking a Tar Lord, instead taking Darius Crowley.
To top off this wonderful Wednesday, we witnessed Nate Wolfe of Into the Wild waylay Spyvrr of 1600 Dust. In game 1, we witnessed Wolfe’s Taunt Druid have far too much reload potential for Spyvr’s Quest Warrior, overwhelming the Warrior with Taunt minions in incredibly ironic fashion. Game 2 saw an Even Spiteful Mage of all things for Nate Wolfe once again overwhelm the Quest Warrior, the series so far really highlighting the deck’s overall weaknesses to midrange decks. Game 3 once again saw a Spiteful deck from Wolfe take on the Quest Warrior, but this time Wolfe could not amass the huge mid-game push, with Sulfuras eventually dealing enough damage to Wolfe’s life total to get the Quest Warrior on the board for Spyvyr, and generate him a little momentum perhaps. Momentum which continued to go Spyvyr’s way in game 4, with his Cubelock going super aggressive against the Spiteful Priest, and actually managing to close out the game in turn 8. This was, once again, going all the way to game 5: Wolfe’s Spiteful Priest looking to avoid a reverse sweep, up against Spyvyr’s Tempo Mage. As it transpired, Duskbreaker completely ruined the early game minion plan for Spyvyr, and the Spiteful Summoner-produced Ultrasaur was just unanswerable in a deck with no hard removal. 3-2 in another fantastic series to Wolfe.
Part 1 of a double header on Thursday saw Blizzlet’s Daniel ‘Stormraige’ Shelden take on the Happy Hearthstone’s Andrew Brown. Game 1 was over almost as soon as it started, with Stormraige’s Baku Hunter being blown out of the water by Andrew’s Tempo Mage, Elven Archer and all. Game 2 was equally one sided, with Andrew’s opening hand of double Spiteful Summoner and double Ultimate Infestation in his Spiteful Druid not really doing much to contest Stormraige’s turn 6 Quest completion in his Quest Rogue. Andrew stuck by his Spiteful Druid for the following game against Stormraige’s Baku Quest Warrior, and was rewarded by not drawing both copies of Ultimate Infestation, eventually putting enough midgame threats on the board that Stormraige simply ran out of removal. Stormraige then stuck with the Baku Quest Warrior for the fourth game of the series, and the taunts completely overwhelmed Andrew’s Even Shaman; at one point Stormraige had 53 Health. Time for game 5; Stormraige’s Baku Hunter needed to not lose for a third time, this time against the Even Shaman. As it transpired, it did just that, running out of steam for the third time. Week 1: Andrew 1, Shelden 0.
Our penultimate match, and final match on Thursday, saw the Clock’s Mike Lowe hit up CMPlummer of the 1600 Dust podcast. Game 1: Another Druid, another Spiteful Druid for Mike, while CMPlummer opted for an Odd Rogue. CMPlummer got a Duskfallen Aviana off a Blink Fox, played it, and gave Mike Lowe a 0-Mana Spiteful Summoner, ultimately sealing out the game. CMPlummer continued his odd theme, this time opting for a Baku Quest Warrior, hitting a heavily favourable matchup with Mike’s Control Warlock sans Doomguard; the lack of any big chargers meant Mike could not apply any meaningful pressure to stop Sulfuras. Control Warlock really got into gear against CMPlummer’s even Shaman, where the lack of card draw was heavily punished by an early Azari, with Plummer never really threatening lethal. Onto game 4, where Mike Lowe’s Big Hunter took a grindy win against Plummer’s Odd Rogue, winning it all with a King Krush lethal off all things. Absolutely glorious.
To round off a wholly fantastic week of Hearthstone in the United Hearthstone League, we had Virsica of the Hero Power podcast in one corner, while as opposition we had 1600 Dust’s Ziggysera. Ziggy opened with her Spiteful Druid, her Cobalt Scalebane and Spiteful Summoner double act completely overwhelming Virsica’s Zoo Warlock. In Game 2 Virsica played a Tiger Taunt Druid, making things super awkward for Ziggy’s Rush Warrior, with no early minions for the reactive deck to play off, eventually reaching 50 health and making things impossible for even a big ol’ Grommash to get there. Ziggy’s Tempo Mage made sure Virsica’s Baku Hunter just never got onto the board and closed the game out with burn in game 3, while in game 4 Ziggy’s reactive tempo tools in her Warrior finally got the desired matchup against Virsica’s Zoo Warlock list, Lich King eventually generating too much value for Virsica to handle. Game, set and match, Ziggysera.
So, what have we learned from Week 1 of the United Hearthstone League, this early in the meta? Well, you will all be thrilled to hear: Cubelock is pretty good, going 3-0, while Zoo performs not quite so well, at 0-2. Aggressive Paladins and Druids (particularly the Spiteful variety) also proved to be reliable choices, in news that probably surprises nobody. At the opposite end of the spectrum to the giants of the early metagame, we had Hunter’s dismal 1-5 record, with only Mike Lowe’s Big Hunter bringing a win to the table; Baku and Spell Hunter both looking a little iffy right now. The biggest surprise this week has to be Warrior, with everyone who brought Warrior (that’s a whopping 7 people!) putting up a win with the class at some point, with a few different variations on strategy in the mix. Rogue gets the award for most variety this early on, with 5 competitors bringing 4 different archetypes, with Quest Rogue coming out as one to watch with a 100% winrate at 2-0. Shudderwock OTK Shaman, the big talking point prior to the expansion launch, shows that it struggles a lot with inconsistency and polarised matchups, and perhaps a more midrange approach may be the way to take the class. Priest and Mage had eminently forgettable weeks, both putting up 33% winrates and 2-4 records in all their games; perhaps the magic users still need to figure out the direction to take.
Until next week’s Weekly Recap, I’ve been rebobson, and thanks for reading!
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The winner of Week 1’s Weekly Pick’em is: @Straydoghs
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