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HCT 2017 World Championship Day 1 Recap

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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!

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