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Dreamhack Valencia Results and Winning Paladin Decklist

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DreamHack Valencia took place from July 14-16, with a much improved prize pool of $27,500. This brings it into line with DreamHack Summer, Winter, and Austin.

DreamHack events are rapidly growing in popularity, and this time around there were 249 entrants. The event was played as best of five Last Hero Standing, with a ban. There were nine rounds of Swiss, with cut to top 16 single elimination. At the end of the Swiss, six players on 7-2 missed out. The players to qualify for the knockout phase were:

Dethelor (9-0), Tars (8-1), Dawido (8-1), TechnoGoose (8-1), StanCifka (8-1), Silasftw (7-2), Crane333 (7-2), erikbeck (7-2), Evangelion (7-2), C4mlann (7-2), Rubo (7-2), Cipher (7-2), Bunnyhoppor (7-2), Weasel (7-2), Fenomeno (7-2), kbushi (7-2).

The story of the top sixteen was Evangelion's N'Zoth, the Corruptor Paladin. Going into the final, the Spanish player had won all of his matches in the single elimination stage 3-0, all with the same deck.

In the final, he faced Crane, who had had a very different journey. Crane had won two of his matches 3-2, and the other 3-1. The lineups also couldn't be more different. Crane had brought an aggressive set of decks, while Evangelion's were very greedy control decks.

Crane's decks were: Yogg Druid, Aggro Shaman, Zoo Warlock, Dragon Warrior

Evangelion's were: N'Zoth Paladin, Midrange Shaman, Reno Warlock, C'Thun Warrior

Crane banned Warrior, Evangelion banned Druid. Unsurprisingly, Evangelion opened up with his Paladin. He defeated Crane's Dragon Warrior to extend his win streak with the deck in the knockout stage to ten games in a row. Crane ended the streak in game two with his Aggro Shaman, but Evangelion countered with his own Shaman, a greedy midrange variant, and took a 2-1 lead. He finished off the match by beating Zoo in the fourth game, and became DreamHack Valencia Champion.

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Sottle's guide to this deck is available here. Some of the tech and stylistic choices are different in this list, but the guide will be fine if you want to give this deck a go.

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    • By Zadina

      On Sunday, we saw the semifinals and the grand final of the 2018 Hearthstone Circuit Tour. A champion was crowned between Fr0zen, JasonZhou, tom60229 and Surrender. Who was it?
      Semifinals
      In the first semifinal, China and North America's representatives faced off one another. JasonZhou elected to ban Fr0zen's Mage, a class that proved to be dangerous during this championship. Fr0zen's Cubelock lost two out of three games, but it paid off at the final deciding game. Jason just couldn't draw any of his Aggro Druid tools and Fr0zen protected himself behind the wall of the Voidlord. Thus, it was Fr0zen who progressed to the finals with a final score of 3-2, although we still have to commend JasonZhou for a second top 4 finish in a row.
      The other semifinal was held between the two APAC contestants: Surrender versus tom60229. Surrender weirdly elected to ban tom's Priest and not his Warlock; I'm not sure if that was the right call to make, although Surrender did beat the Warlock with his Druid (but lost to it with his Rogue). However, what seemed to matter most is that the Korean player drew Patches the Pirate in both of his Rogue games - a straw of bad luck that contributed to his downfall. With only that Druid victory under Surrender's belt, tom60229 easily beat one of the most difficult opponents he could face with 3-1 and secured his spot in the final. Tom should be given extra credit for his exceptional Druid play in this match-up.
      The Final
      Fr0zen's line-up was more favourble, since he had specifically targeted meta decks with his slow, Control-focused decks. He quickly went ahead with a score of 2-0, securing victories with his Mage and Priest.
      At that point, a small mishap took place. Perhaps seeing that Fr0zen was ahead, after having won the audience and having become the crowd favourite of the Amsterdam venue, someone jumped the gun and released the celebration confetti. The American player smirked during this, while tom60229 remained stoic. Perhaps it was this calmness that helped the Taiwanese player turn the match around. 
      Fr0zen only had his Jade Druid remaining, a deck that had been commended on by the casters for including the more Midrange package of Violet Teacher and Mark of the Lotus. In the third game, Fr0zen overextended against tom60229's Priest and he resorted to topdecking during the late stages. While the American player was desperately hoping for an Ultimate Infestation that would never come, tom60229 got his machine gun going and took his first victory.
      In the Druid vs Rogue game, tom's Swashburglar got an Innervate. On his next turn, Taiwan's champion elected to go for an all-in play, that resulted in a 10/10 Edwin VanCleef. It's a risk that usually pays off against Druid, since it doesn't have early hard removal. Indeed, tom60229 managed to equalise the score.
      The last game was a battle between Druids. Fr0zen again overextended too early and he was left with no cards for the end. He tried to fend off the Jade onslaught with back-to-back Spreading Plagues, but it was too late. Chen "tom60229" Wei Lin would be crowned as the 2017 Hearthstone World Champion, the first champion from Asia!
      Final Remarks
      Tom60229 may have been an outsider here, but he won through hard work and dedication - combined with a small amount of luck, as the case usually is in Hearthstone. Some may remember his unusual for the time, yet effective Highlander Mage deck from the Summer Championship. His decks weren't particularly innovative, but his plays were solid - especially with his Druid against Surrender. He reverse-sweeped his opponent, even after that disheartening confetti incident!
      Frank "Fr0zen" Zheng has also worked really hard and it was no coincidence that he got here. His decks targeted the current meta, giving him numerous favourable match-ups throughout this tournament. While it did lose the three crucial final games, I truly believe his best deck was his Midrange Jade Druid. It shows how Druid can turn back to its Midrange roots when we finally bid farewell to the Jade package. The Control Mage deck was also particularly nasty, although I do prefer Sintolol's version: it offers more outs and win conditions in the late game. And, as already stated, you should definitely watch the quarterfinal between Fr0zen and Sintolol: it was the best match of this weekend!
      JasonZhou's and Surrender's participations are also admirable. This is the second year in a row that the Chinese player finishes in the Top 4 of the Hearthstone Circuit Tour. He knocked out some really tough opponents during this tournament (Kolento, Muzzy, DocPwn). Surrender, on his part, displayed tremendous talent and potential. The final result would have been completely different, if these two semifinalists had drawn better in their respective matches.
      That's it for this year and we are looking forward to 2018, since the structure of HCT will change drastically! We should also expect a new patch in a month from now, which may or may not contain balance changes.
    • By Zadina

      Saturday's schedule included the Group Stage knockouts and the quarterfinals. Spoilers incoming!
      Deciders
      These were the matches between the players who had 1 victory and 1 lost during the Group Stage. Three out of the four deciders were sweeps. From Group A, tom60229 quickly removed Orange off the competition with a 3-0 sweep. The same fate awaited Muzzy who lost from the experienced JasonZhou in the Group B decider game. Lastly, another NA champion fell in the Group C decider, as ShtanUdachi made wreck of Purple. It's interesting to compare Shtan's fast and confident pace in this match-up, compared to his quarterfinal performance, which we will talk about later on.
      The only contestant, who proved to be more of a challenge for his opponent, was OmegaZero; he fought valiantly but ultimately fell to Fr0zen prowess in the Group D Decider game (3-2). One of the highlights of this series was in the second game, with Fr0zen spotting a nice way to find lethal. The Mage vs Priest game was also interesting to watch, showing how DK Jaina can sometimes outfatigue DK Anduin.
      Therefore, tom60229, JasonZhou, ShtanUdachi and Fr0zen proceeded to the quarterfinals, where the winners of the Group Stage were waiting for them.
      Quarterfinals
      The first quarterfinal was between JasonZhou and DocPwn. The Canadian player took a 2-victory lead, but then Jason proved why he's considered one of the most experienced players in the world and one of China's best representatives. Jason destroyed DocPwn's Rogue, winning against it in a spectacular reverse sweep (2-3) - just as he did with Kolento in the Group Stage. It was also impressive how fast these three victories happened: it tooks Jason something less than 30 minutes to bring DocPwn from an advantageous position to defeat and elimination.
      Then it was time for practice partners and contestants from the same region, SamuelTsao and tom60229, to face off against one another. Just like during the first day, Samuel's inexperience was pretty evident. His Priest play was just... slow. Thus, tom didn't have trouble taking him out with a score of 3-1.
      And we move on to probably the best match of the day: Sintolol versus Fr0zen, with the latter being the last representative of his region. Before their game, Fr0zen had stated that he had 10% chance of winning, since both players ran control decks and Sinto's Mage was more aggressive, and he needed (sic) a miracle to win. Well, miracles do happen in the World Championship! I recommend that you watch this series!
      In the first game, Fr0zen was forced to Psychic Scream Sinto's Dragoncaller Alanna, making it possible for the German player to draw her exactly when needed and secure the victory. Sinto's Mage remained undefeated in this tournament and it shows its power against meta decks like Highlander Priest, although Fr0zen did put up a good fight. Fr0zen won the Jade Druid mirror game, but then his Mage fell to Sintolol's Druid. The last deck remaining for Sintolol was his unique Dragon Combo Priest. Fr0zen, being an exceptional Control player himself, managed to succeed where Sinto's previous opponents seemingly failed: he read completely through the playstyle of that deck, denying Sinto the opportunity to steal his minions even by damaging them on purpose! The American player skillfully piloted his own Priest around Sinto's and evened out the score. The last nail-biting match was between Fr0zen's Mage and Sinto's Priest. Sinto quickly lost his combo pieces, but then he was miraculously saved by a Frost Lich Jaina pick-up. The game started heading into fatigue, with Sinto running out of cards slightly faster. It all culminated into a battle of DK Jainas, with both players trying to find ways to create Water Elementals via her Hero Power and Sinto making some impressive plays again. However, Fr0zen highrolled for a second time for 7 damage with Dragon's Fury (he had already done so earlier in another crucial turn) and that's when Sintolol started cracking under the pressure and made a couple of mistakes. In the end, it was Fr0zen who progressed to the semi-finals as America's last representative (3-2)!
      After this amazing match, the last quarterfinal was yet another battle between giants: Surrender versus ShtanUdachi. Surrender is the only representative from Korea, while Shtan was Europe's last hope to progress to the semi-finals. This series wasn't as impressive as the previous one, but the final match between Surrender's Priest and Shtan's Jade Druid is the one to watch out for. It's also probably the longest match of the day. With Surrender ahead at 2-1, Shtan maximised his armor gain and his Jade Golem counter quite fast. On the other hand, Surrender had all the Highlander Priest tools right on curve. Near the end of the game, even though Shtan seemed to have the edge, Surrender noticed what both casters and audience failed to see: he could still win the game. And that he did, thus becoming the last semifinalist!
      Final Remarks
      It's pretty obvious, after the previous day too, that Big Spells Mage is the deck to look out for in this tournament. It's won some unbelievable games and it's proven that it's a force to be reckoned with in fatigue, even against Highlander Priest. I think Sinto's Big Spells Mage is better, since it's more aggressive. Dragoncaller Alanna has proven wrong everyone who underestimated her in the beginning of Kobolds & Catacombs. In contrast, Fr0zen's Mage is much more conservative, matching his preferred control-oriented playstyle.
      Speaking of Fr0zen, his performance was certainly impressive today. He totally read through Sintolol's Dragon Combo Priest. He was better in the "who can find the ping" late game with Frost Lich Jaina. And he kept North America still in the competition, when favourite Purple and DocPwn fell. We should still commend Sintolol: he wasn't that well known in the general public, but he's been a consistent ladder player for a while now, he showed some incredible plays and he definitely made a name for himself in this Championship. Lastly, Surrender himself and his Priest gameplay are just on another level. The Korean player has demonstrated amazing skill and he's one of the favourites to win.
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    • By Zadina

      Friday was the second day of the group stage of the HCT 2017 World Championship. Here's what happened (spoilers ahead)!
      Group C
      This group had only champions from Europe and North America: ShtanUdachi represented Russia, Ant represented the US, Sintolol represented Germany and Purple represented Canada. The first match of a day saw Alexey "ShtanUdachi" Barsukov easily beat Anthony "Ant" Trevino with a score of 3-1.
      Then, it was time for one of NA's favourite's Ryan "Purple" Murphy-Root to face off against Thomas "Sintolol" Zimmer. Sintolol is one of the few players that has brought Big Spells Mage in this tournament and Purple opted not to ban it, which turned out to be a mistake. Purple took a quick 2-0 lead in the beginning, but Sintolol came back with his Combo Dragon Priest against Purple's traditional Higlander Priest. Even though Purple denied Sinto's 4/18 Twilight Drake with a clever play involving a stolen Inner Fire, the German player still managed to win that game with a 44/44 Kabal Talonpriest. Sintolol then proceded to reverse-sweep his opponent (3-2). Overall, this was one of the series with the smartest plays.
      Afterwards, Purple easily eliminated Ant with a clean sweep (3-0). The other game of Group C was the battle of European giants: ShtanUdachi versus Sintolol. Sinto's Mage remained unbanned again and he managed to take the first game against ShtanUdachi's Jade Druid. In the last match, Sintolol made an impressive play with his Priest, involving stealing ShtanUdachi's Fandral Staghelm and using a pre-obtained Nourish. The German player humbly admitted later that he hadn't planned this play, it was just luck but it was enough to crown him as the victor of Group C with a score of 3-1.
      Group D Match W-L Sintolol 2-0 ShtanUdachi 1-1 Purple 1-1 Ant 0-2 Group D
      Group D has representatives from all 4 big regions: Surrender from Korea, OmegaZero from China, Fr0Zen from the US and Neirea from Ukraine. Jung-Soo "Surrender" Kim had a tense first match against Zheng "OmegaZero" Lin. The Korean player, whom a lot of people have voted for, ultimately won the series with 3-2. Then, it was Yevgeniy "Neira" Shumilin against Frank "Fr0zen" Zhang. Neirea must have noticed the performance of Sintolol's Big Spells Mage, because he quickly banned Fr0zen's Mage (he's a notoriously good Freeze Mage player). However, this wasn't enough since the American player easily beat Neirea with a score of 3-1.
      Neira also lost with the same score from OmegaZero in the elimination match. Thus, both of Ukraine's players (Kolento and Neirea) were eliminated.
      The winner's match between Surrender and Fr0zen was intense. The Korean Summer Champion also saw that Mage was a force to be reckoned with and he banned that deck, letting the audience finally see a Warlock deck in action during the World Championship. Surrender played impressively with his Priest in the first game against Fr0zen's Druid. However's Fr0zen won the two next games in a row, putting Surrender in a difficult position. The next match, with Fr0zen's Cubelock and Surrender's Aggro Druid, was very close: Surrender got lucky in the end and he evened out the score. In the last game, Cubelock proved to be a liability for Fr0zen, as his draw was weak, and Surrender managed to come out at the top of his group (3-2).
      Group D Match W-L Surrender 2-0 Fr0zen 1-1 OmegaZero 1-1 Neirea 0-2 Final Remarks
      It became apparent from this deck that players, who brought unique decks and not the usual meta ones, stood out. We saw that the previous day with Orange's Hunter. Now, it was Sintolol's Big Spells Mage that made the difference in Group C. The experienced players of Group D must have noticed that Mage's performance, because Fr0zen's Mage was banned in both games he played. On the other hand, the traditional Priest, Druid and especially Rogue meta decks have had an average performance, while Fr0zen's Cubelock showed that maybe Warlock isn't so powerful as it seems.
      If there was one player that left an impression to the audience, it was Europe's sole champion to secure a guaranteed spot in the quarterfinals, Sintolol. He made some really smart plays that left everyone with their mouth open and he remained humble and sincere in his post-game interviews. On the other hand, the Group D winner Surrender had two very close games (3-2). Even though he showed his talent with Highlander Priest once again, it was mostly luck and not skill that helped him win these two games. Of course, he still remains a favourite for the World Championship and his reactions are always amusing to watch.
      The decider matches are currently underway and we'll be back later today with another recap!
    • By Zadina

      The final stage of the HCT 2017 Worldc Championship has kicked off with the group stage. On Thursday, we saw matches on groups A and B. Beware because spoilers are following!
      Group A
      This group consists of Frederik "Hoej" Nielsen, Julien "DocPwn" Bachand, Jon "Orange" and Chen "tom60229" Wei Lin. The first match of the day was between the Danish Hoej vs the Canadian DocPwn (2-3). This was one of the longest matches, with both players displaying exceptional skill. It all culminated into the 5th game, where DocPwn managed to get his Keleseth Rogue early game going and beat Hoej's Priest. In the other game, tom60229 from Taiwan easily beat Orange from Sweden with a score of 3-1.
      The two defeated players, Hoej and Orange, proceeded to play against each other. Hoej's Murloc Paladin, the deck that made him stand out compared to other contestants, betrayed him as he lost 3 times in a row with it! Thus, one of the favourites for the World Championship was eliminated. DocPwn also sweeped his opponent tom, but he had a much harder time. Their last game, with Keleseth Rogue for DocPwn and Jade Druid for tom, had quite a few upsets and you should definitely watch it.
      The decider match between Orange and tom60229 will take place on Saturday.
      Group A Match W-L Total W-L DocPwn 2-0 6-2 Orange 1-1 4-3 tom60229 1-1 3-4 Hoej 0-2 2-6 Group B
      Muzahidul "Muzzy" Islam, Jason "JasonZhou" Zhou, Aleksandr "Kolento" Malsh and Samuel "SamuelTsao" Tsao play in this group. Muzzy, who represents America and is one of the favourite's to win the World Championship, beat the Chinese JasonZhou with a score of 3-1. In the next match, even though SamuelTsao made some mistakes, he managed to even the score with the Ukranian legend. In their final game, the young Taiwanese's Priest beat Kolento's Druid with an impressive 46-damage OTK (3-2).
      The elimination series between Kolento and JasonZhou is totally nail-biting! The two experienced players evened out each other and it all came down to the final game with a Keleseth Rogue mirror match. Jason drew better and he managed to eliminate crowd favourite Kolento (along with everyone who voted for him) with a score of 3-2. SamuelTsao managed to beat Muzzy with the same score in another intense series. Their last match (Warlock vs Priest) had a lot of upsides, but in the end luck smiled to SamuelTsao.
      The decider match between Muzzy and JasonZhou will take place on Saturday.
      Group B Match W-L Total W-L SamuelTsao 2-0 6-4 Muzzy 1-1 5-4 JasonZhou 1-1 4-5 Kolento 0-2 4-6 Final Remarks
      Thursday was a day of surprises, particularly unpleasant ones for Europe. Favourites Kolento (RIP packs) and Hoej were eliminated; I am mostly suprised about Hoej, since he had one of the strongest deck line-ups of this Championship. Statistically speaking, I don't think we'll have a European World Champion this time.
      On the other hand, outsiders DocPwn and SamuelTsao managed to come out on the top of their groups. DocPwn's effort is certainly admirable, since he's not exactly a full-time professional Hearthstone player: he was calm, level-headed and showed some exceptional critical decision making. In contrast, Samuel's youth and inexperience were quite evident, but his opponents also underestimated him. I think he has a lot to show for in the future.
      The not-so-surprising highlight of the day was Warlock being banned in almost all matches. Among the decks that stood out were Orange's Hunter (he's the only one that brought one and he won 2/2 of his games with it) and JasonZhou's interestingly teched Aggro Druid.
      Day 2 of the Group Stage is currently underway, so make sure to watch it!
    • By Zadina

      The two Hearthstone developers talked to IGN about the design process behind some of the most impactful cards from Kobolds & Catacombs.
      First of all, Peter Whalen and Mike Donais confirmed that there will be an update on February, a month after the World Championship. This patch will contain new events and possibly balance changes. They will take a look at the meta as it's been and as it is in the World Championship and they will decide accordingly.
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      The two devs talked next about the other dominating class of the current meta: Priest. Mike Donais pointed out that Highlander Priest was already doing well, so it was only given one new card: Psychic Scream. On the other hand. Big Priest has a pretty medium win rate, even though it can feel frustrating to play against. It's also a deck that will lose several cards in the upcoming rotation. At this point, the devs repeated that they are looking forward to develop and see in action new playstyles in the post-Barnes era. Finally, during the design process Twilight's Call could summon any minion, not just Deathrattles, but this was deemed too powerful.
      The next class to be discussed was Rogue. The team is happy with how balanced the Kingsbane Rogue deck turned out to be. Some internal iterations of the Rogue legendary weapon were dual-wielded daggers or a weapon that had the Battlecry: Discover a card, everything you draw is a copy of that. Mike also talked about Valeera the Hollow: he expected her to be more powerful than she already is, but maybe players will find a way to use her more in the future.
      There were a few words about Hearthstone's currently weakest class: Shaman. The devs think that the Shaman Spellstone is a powerful "sleeper" card, although maybe there's presently not a proper deck for it. They were also slightly worried about Unstable Evolution. Another "sleeper" card for them is Warrior's Drywhisker Armorer.
      An important point is that when asked about Corridor Creeper, Peter said that it's "one of the cards that raised a red flag". Lastly, they talked about King Togwaggle and the numerous iterations he had - all around swapping decks with your opponent. The penalty on the spell card isn't high enough on purpose, because they didn't want Togwaggle to be a super competitive card.
      I've tried to summarise the most important points, but you should definitely check out the entire interview on IGN. There's much more detail behind the design process of Kobolds & Catacombs, while there is also temp artwortk of cards as well as two cards that never made it into the game!