HTC Invitational Recap: Forsen Wins First Major Tournament
Phone manufacturer HTC hosted a single elimination Hearthstone tournament over this past weekend. With $5,000 up for grabs, the turnout for the 16 player invitational was higher than expected. Hosted on TSM Trump's Twitch channel, the event took place over two days and featured the likes of Kolento, Hyped, Strifecro, Savjz, and more. Each match was a best-of-five played utilizing the Conquest format where the winner must claim victory with all three decks prepared for the tournament.
While Forsen, the only free agent at the event, would claim victory, there was a series of very entertaining matchups prior to that.
Round of 16
Neirea vs. Forsen
Neirea's Grim Patron Warrior vs. Forsen's Mech Mage - Winner: Neirea
Neirea's Malygos Shaman vs. Forsen's Mech Shaman - Winner: Neirea
Neirea's Midrange Druid vs. Forsen's Mech Mage - Winner: Forsen
Neirea's Midrange Druid vs. Forsen's Zoolock - Winner: Forsen
Neirea's Midrange Druid vs. Forsen's Mech Shaman - Winner: Forsen
Grim Patron is a tough matchup for Mech Mages. With no way to completely wipe the board combined with the fact that cards like exist and you can see why it's a hard time. Forsen manages to deal with Neirea's first onslaught but wastes enough resources on it that he can't reestablish his board presence. A one of at the tournament, Neirea's Shaman mills Forsen's entire deck thanks to his inclusion of and the fact that Neirea is running lots of low cost spells. Forsen's Mech Mage steamrolls the Midrange Druid and a misplay on Neirea's part the next round allows Forsen to even up the series. With three decks aiming to snipe Druids, many gave Forsen the clear edge going into the last match. once again makes a less than spectacular appearance and leaves the Shaman playing catch up. He only manages to do so when Neirea top decks and late into the final round, solidifying his defeat.
Ekop vs. ThijsNL
Ekop's Grim Patron Warrior vs. Thijs' Hybrid Hunter - Winner: Thijs
Ekop's Grim Patron Warrior vs. Thijs' Grim Patron Warrior - Winner: Thijs
Ekop's Zoolock vs. Thijs' Handlock - Winner: Ekop
Ekop's Hybrid Hunter vs. Thijs' Handlock - Winner: Ekop
Ekop's Grim Patron Warrior vs. Thijs' Handlock - Winner: Thijs
The first Hybrid Hunter of the tournament, Thijs deck looks like it's going to struggle against s but manages to push Ekop below five HP. He draws into his and it looks like he might just survive but Thijs top decks the one and only s to take the win. Thijs follows that up by getting his combo off first until a determined Ekop utilizes to push the momentum in his favor. Thanks to a however, Thisj manages lethal. Only one win away from claiming the match, Thijs plays extremely greedy with his Handlock deck and it ends up biting him as Ekop avoids the sweep. With no giants in hand, again it doesn't look great for Thisj. The new Hybrid Hunter can push for early wins just as quickly as Face Hunter whilst still maintaining some Mid-Game pressure. Ekop wins leaving a Grim Patron Warrior and Handlock to show down. This is typically bad for the Warrior as most Handlocks have started running two s because of the aggro meta. So when Thisj draws into two in his opening hand, easy answers for any s, it doesn't look good for Ekop. With he knocks Thisj down to four HP, but then the taunts come out of the woodwork and Ekop can't manage to break through.
Savjz vs. Hyped
Savjz' Midrange Demon Zoo vs. Hyped's Mech Mage - Winner: Hyped
Savjz' Hybrid Hunter vs. Hyped's Control Warrior - Winner: Hyped
Savjz' Hybrid Hunter vs. Hyped's Handlock - Winner: Hyped
It's been a tough couple of weeks for Savjz. He misunderstood the rules of Challengestone and was swept there, he is hoping to rebound today in a more standard format but Hyped has other ideas. We miss most of round one thanks to a spectator bug but Hyped claims that one. Savjz is then stuck against Control Warrior with a Hunter, typically an unfavorable matchup, so when Hyped draws into all his weapons early in the game, Savjz just fizzles out. Against another control deck, Savjz tries to rush down his opponent but once the giant walls go up, it's nearly impossible to break through, and when a joins the fray, that spells game over for Savjz.
Strifecro vs. Dog
Strifecro's Hybrid Hunter vs. Dog's Midrange Shaman - Winner: Strifecro
Strifecro's Handlock vs. Dog's Midrange Shaman - Winner: Dog
Strifecro's Grim Patron Warrior vs. Dog's Midrange Paladin - Winner: Strifecro
Strifecro's Handlock vs. Dog's Midrange Paladin - Winner: Strifecro
One of the most one-sided series during the tournament, Strifecro and Dog traded blows very quickly. The Hybrid Hunter rushed down the Shaman before it could answer but then out valued the Handlock. Midrange Paladin is terrible against Grim Patron Warrior because the dudes are really just ways to proc . Despite the fact that Dog has teched his deck against Handlock, running two , Strifecro is using a . Although Dog manages to deal with the copied , he simply has nothing to stop the weapon from attacking and loses the series 3-1.
Kolento vs. Firebat
Kolento's Midrange Druid vs. Firebat's Midrange Paladin - Winner: Kolento
Kolento's Grim Patron Warrior vs. Firebat's Midrange Paladin - Winner: Firebat
Kolento's Grim Patron Warrior vs. Firebat's Oil Rogue - Winner: Kolento
Kolento's Midrange Demon Zoo vs. Firebat's Face Hunter - Winner: Firebat
Kolento's Midrange Demon Zoo vs. Firebat's Oil Rogue - Winner: Kolento
Firebat continues to be one of the biggest innovators in the Hearthstone scene. His Midrange Paladin deck runs both and and though it drops round one against Kolento's Midrange Druid, it picks up the slack when facing his Grim Patron Warrior. Unfortunately we never got to look at his entire deck, but with other cards like and in it, we'd really like to see it posted online. Firebat is also the only one to have ran Oil Rogue and it appeared to be his lone weak point. Without ways to keep up with high health minions and aggressive curves, it just doesn't pack the punch that it used to, and that costs Firebat the match.
TidesOfTime vs. Zalae
TidesOfTime's Dragon Warrior vs. Zalae's Hybrid Hunter - Winner: TidesOfTime
TidesOfTime's Murloc Warlock vs. Zalae's Hybrid Hunter - Winner: Zalae
TidesOfTime's Hybrid Hunter vs. Zalae's Grim Patron Warrior - Winner: Zalae
TidesOfTime's Hybrid Hunter vs. Zalae's Handlock - Winner: TidesOfTime
TidesOfTime's Murloc Warlock vs. Zalae's Handlock - Winner: TidesOfTime
So we gave props to Firebat for changing up the usual formula, but TidesOfTime straight up brought decks that are basically unheard of in competitive play. His Dragon Warrior certainly caught Zalae by surprise as the Hunter had issues dealing with the large minions. His first attempt at a Murloc deck goes surprisingly well, but he can't quite secure the win. When Zalae gets a Turn 5 combo off, Tides just concedes the match. He then matches that aggression with his own Hybrid Hunter deck, taking Zalae down in just six turns. The Murlocs return for the final round and Zalae doesn't respect the burst. Rather than setting up his , he makes a very greedy tap, and it ultimately costs him the match.
Rdu vs. Sjow
Rdu's Mech Mage vs. Sjow's Grim Patron Warrior - Winner: Rdu
Rdu's Hybrid Hunter vs. Sjow's Grim Patron Warrior - Winner: Rdu
Rdu's Aggro Paladin vs. Sjow's Grim Patron Warrior - Winner: Sjow
Rdu's Aggro Paladin vs. Sjow's Midrange Druid - Winner: Rdu
Apparently no one told Rdu that Mech Mages are supposed to lose to Grim Patron Warriors. Two s in his opening turns allow him to keep Sjow from using any of his weapons effectively. Frozen for life, Sjow loses. Rdu then tries to rushSjow down, but he manages to get a huge . Obviously a cause for worry, with a sigh of relief Rdu draws a to narrowly secure the win. Aggro Paladin isn't really good against a deck with s. The many minions with low attack just serve as ways to keep the party going. It looks as if Sjow might be able to turn the series around when Rdu does nothing but hero power for the first three turns but he's still able to ramp more quickly than Sjow's Druid so he moves on to the quarterfinals.
Trump vs. Chakki
Trump's Ramp Druid vs. Chakki's Face Hunter - Winner: Trump
Trump's Control Warrior vs. Chakki's Face Hunter - Winner: Chakki
Trump's Handlock vs. Chakki's Mech Mage - Winner: Trump
Trump's Control Warrior vs. Chakki's Mech Mage - Winner: Trump
Dignitas is infamous for their Hunter decks and Chakki doesn't disappoint. Yes, he has some issues against Trump's Ramp Druid, but with an opening of two s and a , all aggro decks would have cried. It performs much better against he Control Warrior which has a much slower opening but Chakki's performance on Mech Mage is lackluster. He plays well until Trump starts to stabilize and then decides to go empty his hand on Trump's face while he still has . It's almost like he's tilting because when the same thing starts to happen against Control Warrior, he just concedes and gives up the series.
Kolento vs. Forsen
Kolento's Midrange Druid vs. Forsen's Midrange Demon Zoo - Winner: Kolento
Kolento's Midrange Demon Zoo vs. Forsen's Mech Shaman - Winner: Forsen
Kolento's Grim Patron Warrior vs. Forsen's Midrange Demon Zoo - Winner: Forsen
Kolento's Grim Patron Warrior vs. Forsen's Mech Mage - Winner: Kolento
Kolento's Midrange Demon Zoo vs. Forsen's Mech Mage - Winner: Forsen
Kolento starts off slow but makes up for it in the late game as his Druid emerges victorious. Forsen gets a protected behind taunts and is ready to buff it so Kolento wastes a lot of resources getting it off the board. This keeps him from staying up to pace with Forsen and the series is evened. Kolento's Grim Patron Warrior looks to have all the pieces together but the early aggression of Mech Mage was simply too much. Forsen tries to channel his inner Rdu, attempting the same technique he did the day before. But the board presence proves to be too much and we go to a game five. Kolento comes out of the gates aggressively, discarding in favor of a Turn 5 . It's a risky move, one that sees Kolento gain complete control of the board. However, an ideal drawing of gives Forsen the means to wrap things up and move on.
Thijs vs. Hyped
Thijs' Hybrid Hunter vs. Hyped's Mech Mage - Winner: Hyped
Thijs' Hybrid Hunter vs. Hyped's Control Warrior - Winner: Thijs
Thijs' Handlock vs. Hyped's Control Warrior - Winner: Hyped
Thijs' Handlock vs. Hyped's Handlock - Winner: Thijs
Thijs' Grim Patron Warrior vs. Hyped's Handlock - Winner: Hyped
Weapons are a Hunter's worst enemy. gives Hyped a and that alone basically wins him the game. The tables are turned during game two however, as the Hybrid Hunter sustains consistent pressure throughout the first ten turns, never giving Hyped a chance to breathe. It smothers the Warrior, leaving Thijs to come back with his Handlock deck. That match up usually goes in favor of the Warlock until late game arrives. However, Hyped takes every chance to stack armor and keep himself out of reach while Thijs has to keep tapping for cards. Slowly but surely he is whittled down until comes to end things. Two Handlock decks going at it is always entertaining, the balance between pressure in hand and force on the field is one that's incredibly interesting to observe. Thijs' experience with the deck showed as Hyped roped himself into a loss despite having the game in the bag. He doesn't make the same mistake a second time, securely getting on the field, leaving Thijs very little to do with no minions to combo off of.
TidesOfTime vs. Rdu
TidesOfTime's Murloc Warlock vs. Rdu's Mech Mage - Winner: TidesOfTime
TidesOfTime's Dragon Warrior vs. Rdu's Mech Mage - Winner: TidesOfTime
TidesOfTime's Hybrid Hunter vs. Rdu's Mech Mage - Winner: Rdu
TidesOfTime's Hybrid Hunter vs. Rdu's Hybrid Hunter - Winner: TidesOfTime
We talked about how Mech Mage was in a weak spot during the Kinguin Pro League finals and apparently Rdu didn't get that memo. Granted TidesOfTime isn't exactly running in the meta decks, his Murloc Warlock stomped Rdu and his Dragon Warrior made Rdu run out of cards very early on. Its win against Hybrid Hunter proves that it can win given the correct circumstances, namely having the right answers at the time, but we wonder why Rdu didn't try another one of his decks. It looks as if his Hybrid Hunter might perform up to par as he has a large number of minions on the board but TOT decimates him with into and . Good luck coming back from that one as a Hunter.
Trump vs. Strifecro
Trump's Ramp Druid vs. Strifecro's Hybrid Hunter - Winner: Trump
Trump's Control Warrior vs. Strifecro's Hybrid Hunter - Winner: DRAW
Trump's Control Warrior vs. Strifecro's Hybrid Hunter - Winner: Trump
Trump's Handlock vs. Strifecro's Hybrid Hunter - Winner: Strifecro
Trump's Handlock vs. Strifecro's Handlock - Winner: Strifecro
Trump's Handlock vs. Strifecro's Grim Patron Warrior - Winner: Strifecro
This is one of the few must watch series of the entire tournament. Not only are we treated to five incredibly close matches but we also get an extremely rare draw! (You can thank for that one)
Seriously though, you should go watch this. Trump wins the first match after Strifecro can't top deck a . Then there's a tie followed by a rematch where Trump edges out his opponent. Then Strifecro rebounds, rushing down Trump's Handlock, then beating him in a mirror match, before winning thanks to a lonely little . Just go watch it!
Forsen vs. Hyped
Forsen's Mech Mage vs. Hyped's Control Warrior - Winner: Forsen
Forsen's Mech Shaman vs. Hyped's Control Warrior - Winner: Hyped
Forsen's Zoolock vs. Hyped's Mech Mage - Winner: Forsen
Forsen's Mech Shaman vs. Hyped's Mech Mage - Winner: Hyped
Forsen's Mech Shaman vs. Hyped's Handlock - Winner: Forsen
With a Control Warrior, it's a bit harder to punish the Mech Mage for wanting to play low attack, low health minions. A 50/50 keeps Hyped in the match but puts Forsen firmly on top. This late in the game, and with Hyped having no way to clear it off the board, Forsen is allowed to keep getting value out of it. Infinite s for the win, literally. Again, bites Forsen as he needs it for lethal but has to leave it on the board for multiple turns, allowing Hyped to mill him out. Forsen rebounds however with his Zoolock deck which builds up too much of a field for Hyped to clear it in time. Hyped puts pressure on Forsen who's forced to again play and Hyped gladly uses on it. As a Mech Mage, he takes full advantage of the milling. But Forsen gets one last shot at winning with his Mech Shaman, this time against a Handlock. Sticky minions prove too much for Hyped and he ends up dropping the match.
TidesOfTime vs. Strifecro
TidesOfTime's Dragon Warrior vs. Strifecro's Handlock - Winner: Strifecro
TidesOfTime's Dragon Warrior vs. Strifecro's Hybrid Hunter - Winner: TidesOfTime
TidesOfTime's Murloc Warlock vs. Strifecro's Hybrid Hunter - Winner: TidesOfTime
TidesOfTime's Hybrid Hunter vs. Strifecro's Hybrid Hunter - Winner: Strifecro
TidesOfTime's Hybrid Hunter vs. Strifecro's Grim Patron Warrior - Winner: TidesOfTime
TidesOfTime does really well dealing with the Handlock's early powerspikes. However, over time he runs out of removal and simply can't deal with the giants from Strifecro. Tides starts off the next match with the majority of his weapons, and while that does allow him to keep Strifecro from complete board control, he does have to be careful about taking too much damage. But Strifecro stalls out and dies to a from Tides' . Tides has some really bad knife juggles and it looks like it will cost him dearly, but he plays his cards well enough that Strifecro has no choice but to ignore his board and that's enough for TOT to get the win. Strifecro's Hybrid Hunter finally picks up some slack and does win out the mirror match, forcing a game five. His Grim Patron Warrior does let him down as he doesn't draw into either of his s.
Forsen vs. TidesOfTime
Forsen's Mech Shaman vs. TidesOfTime's Murloc Warlock - Winner: Forsen
Forsen's Zoolock vs. TidesOfTime's Murloc Warlock - Winner: Forsen
Forsen's Mech Mage vs. TidesOfTime's Murloc Warlock - Winner: TidesOfTime
Forsen's Mech Mage vs. TidesOfTime's Dragon Warrior Winner: Forsen
TidesOfTime's luck really runs out once he hits the finals. His Murloc deck never really gets rolling while the Mech Shaman gets too solid of a footing for him to deal with. He sticks with the Murloc, hoping to get a quick win but ends up surrendering on Turn 3. At this point, the Forsen faithful start to realize that he might finally get a major tournament win but this time around Tides' deck curves out properly. And though his Dragon Warrior starts off well enough, the pressure from Forsen is enough for him to seal the series in his name.
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