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HCT 2017 World Championship Day 2 Recap

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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!

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