Meet the 16 players battling for their Hearthstone World Championship Dream!
This weekend marks the final chance for sixteen great Hearthstone players to leave their mark in history and qualify to the World Championship. But who are they? And what is the Fall Championship about? Allow me to explain.
If you’re looking for a brief overview of the Fall Championship, the lovely Amy Chen has already posted a Viewer’s Guide that goes over details such as how you can earn Hearthstone packs just by watching the action, so be sure to read that post once you are done reading through mine if you would like to learn more on that.
The overarching goal for the vast majority of these players will be to secure one of the last four invitations to the Hearthstone World Championship which is taking place from December 16-18.
As Sottle explained previously on Twitter:
We already knew nine of the competitors qualified to the Hearthstone World Championship as early as August 25th. As of the time of writing, XiaoT secured his spot through qualifying via the China Gold League and xBlyzes won his invite through winning the Grandmasters Last Call event at the end of August.
Four of the remaining Five Invites will be determined through the Hearthstone Fall Championship weekend. The fifth and final invite will be handed out via the Chinese closed system, to be announced shortly after the proceedings.
Hearthstone Fall Championship Group Format
The Fall Championship uses a unique system to determine who advances to the next stage.
Once the Top Eight is determined, the remaining players play a Single Elimination match to secure their Top Four finish and Worlds Invite.
The Summer Championship employed a similar system which I will use as an example:
Essentially, the starting goal for each player within their group is to make it to the Final Two. Once you arrive in the Top Eight, the brackets converge and you play against different players from your initial group. Using the previous example, DeadDraw & Levik faced different players in the Top Eight.
In this particular tournament however, there is a snag; Habugabu has already attained his invitation to the Hearthstone World Championship as the prior graphic has shown. Therefore in accordance with Rule 4.6. II of the official Grandmasters Rulebook, his invite would be passed down through a complex system of checks that only hsesports has full knowledge of.
Meet the Players battling for the Hearthstone World Championship!
With the context out of the way, I will now go over my initial thoughts over the four different groups and which I believe to be the one in particular to pay the closest attention toward. All the statistics I will be using from here are found courtesy of D0nkey’s website: https://d0nkey.top/, which I highly recommend utilizing if you are looking for information surrounding the Hearthstone Esports Ecosystem.
As for information to do with the Chinese players on the roster, I will be referring to Bennidge’s tweet surrounding each individual player. Bennidge covers a lot of information surrounding the Chinese Hearthstone scene that is missed in traditional Western media so make sure to give a follow there if you are interested.
Do you have a favorite player already to win the Hearthstone Fall Championship? If not, join me while I present you their stats and backgrounds!
KZGXiaobai / Furyhunter / Habugabu / Plastiik
Masters Tour Win-Rates:
- Furyhunter = 125-58 / 68.30% Win-Rate
- Habugabu = 80-44 / 64.52% Win-Rate
- KZGXiaobai = 46-33 / 58.23% Win-Rate
- Plastiik = 26-21 / 55.32% Win-Rate
When looking at these stats, it’s immediately apparent that Plastiik is by far the biggest underdog of Group A. His qualification to this event comes off the back of an impressive Top Eight finish at Masters Tour Vashj’ir with subsequent deep runs in Masters Tour Five & Six. Whether it will be enough to stack up against arguably two of the five best players in Hearthstone right now remains to be seen.
Notably in Bennidge’s tweet surrounding KZGXiaobai, they commented that they tend to succumb to pressure much more than many of their Chinese colleagues. This could prove especially fatal against the dynamic duo of Furyhunter and Habugabu. If one or both of the European superstars are unable to break out of this group though, that would be a significant upset to be sure!
Gaboumme / PocketTrain / Glory / Tansoku
Masters Tour Win-Rates:
- Gaboumme = 29-19 / 60.42% Win-Rate
- Glory = 85-60 / 58.62% Win-Rate
- PocketTrain = 64-47 / 57.66% Win-Rate
- Tansoku = 75-60 / 55.56% Win-Rate
Group B is definitely the most even distribution in relation between talent and Masters Tour Win-Rate. On the one side we have the 2020 World Champion, Glory, alongside his fellow Japanese competitor Tansoku. Who himself won Masters Tour Murder at Castle Nathria by beating Glory in the finals! Simultaneously securing himself his spot at the Hearthstone Fall Championship.
The Hearthstone Fall Championship Group of Death
From Europe we have PocketTrain; A rising star among the British Hearthstone scene and is never seen far from Rank One Legend. Sometimes on multiple servers! Pocket is well known for his love of combo style decks, and was one of the main proponents behind Boar Priest’s viability as a tournament lineup staple. Additionally as a part of the Meester Tournee Oefen Groep, (MTOG) he has a close connection with players like Furyhunter and Habugabu and could arguably be one of the best five players in the world by the end of 2023.
Also from Europe is Gaboumme, a French player who while lacking some of the credentials of his Group B rivals, was still able to achieve a 65% win-rate among the Masters Tours he competed in this year and was able to win several french LAN events in very stacked fields, as French tournaments tend to be. While Gaboumme may be the dark horse of Group B, his contemporaries would be unwise to underestimate him. As he has said himself, he is an “Established strong player on French Soil, looking to conquer the Hearthstone world!”
I personally believe Group B to receive the Group of Death stamp aka: the hardest group to qualify out of, and will be the Group I will be paying the closest attention to as Day One proceeds. All of these Hearthstone players have a substantial legacy behind them, and will be bringing their A-Game to the Fall Championship without a doubt!
Bunnyhoppor / 5KSLoveStorm / Zochi / Aojiru
Masters Tour Win-Rates:
- Bunnyhoppor = 104-53 / 66.24% Win-Rate
- 5KSLoveStorm = 62-35 / 63.92% Win-Rate
- Aojiru = 75-60 / 55.14% Win-Rate
- Zochi = 40-40 / 50.00% Win-Rate
The overshadowing presence of Bunnyhoppor in Group C cannot be understated. One of the best five players in the world, and one of the oldest veterans of Hearthstone Esports. Bunnyhoppor has done it all: Consistently reaching Top 25 nearly every season, qualifying for and winning a nearly endless list of tournaments, (including a Top 4 finish at the 2019 World Championship) and even managing a popular stream every day.
That being said, 5KSLoveStorm isn’t a slouch to winning at the highest levels of play. They already won Masters Tour Onyxia’s Lair at the start of the year, and according to Bennidge they also secured a win in the Chinese Gold League. The only Chinese player to date to reach such a pinnacle. Bennidge also noted that LoveStorm wasn’t overly fond of playing against other Chinese players, but that won’t be an issue in the Group Stages.
The remaining asian players in the Hearthstone Fall Championship, Aojiru from Japan, and Zochi from South Korea, have had solid results of their own but not to the same degree that these two titans have. Either of these players making the Top 8 would be a major upset, and remains a massive wall for the asian players in the group to surpass to make it to the Hearthstone World Championship.
Spring / KZGXmg / Gregoriusil / Ustyacmd
Masters Tour Win-Rates:
- Gregoriusil = 72-44 / 62.07% Win-Rate
- Ustyacmd = 41-26 / 61.20% Win-Rate
- KZGXmg = 70-47 / 59.63% Win-Rate
- Spring = 27-20 / 57.45% Win-Rate
The final Group, Group D, has the most wildcards of the four groups competing for the Hearthstone World Championship this weekend. Unlike the veterans and stars we see in each of the other groups, this is a group of four newer players looking to carve out a legacy of their own in Hearthstone Esports.
From Italy, Gregoriusil is a name many Masters Tour Qualifier grinders would recognise as he made a name for himself over 2021 & ‘22 qualifying to the Masters Tour through winning the online Best-of-Three Qualifier Tournaments. Though perhaps lately he has been more renowned for his Office memes he posted for almost one month straight on Twitter.
The other European competitor in Group D is the Finnish player Ustyacmd. While not as recognisable as his fellow Finn, Habugabu, they have been a consistently high ranked ladder grinder ever since records appeared in 2020. Similarly to Plastiik, Ustyacmd had their breakout performance over the last three Masters Tours of 2022. Finishing 36th, 5th, and 60th respectively.
China vs The West
Finally, the last two Chinese players looking to secure their place in the Hearthstone World Championship are ZKGXmg and Spring.
According to Bennidge, Xmg used to primarily bring aggro lineups to Chinese tournaments but has since shifted over to a more balanced lineup approach in the tournaments they participate in. As well as being present in almost all of the Chinese equivalent Hearthstone events that give them access to the World Championship this year, but never quite crossing the finish line.
While Spring has been mentioned in a similar vein to how I previously described PocketTrain in Group B. A rising Chinese star who won a major event, and looks to be rising in prestige.
From a Western perspective there’s generally not much we can glean out of the Chinese Hearthstone scene. However, China has been arguably the best performing region in the Masters Tours of 2022. As such, we should expect a very good performance out of all of the players participating from there this weekend.
With all that in mind, it will be interesting to see whether the Chinese players will be able to stop Europe’s dominant hold over Hearthstone Esports. Even in the Fall Championship, Eight of the Sixteen Competitors hail from Europe!
Be sure to tune into the event live on the Hearthstone YouTube channel starting at:
- 12:00 am PT
- 9:00 am CEST
- 4:00 pm KST
Make sure to stay tuned on Esports.gg for more Hearthstone news and updates. Until then, we’ll see you in the Tavern!