During the AM vs. EU Mercenaries finals of the 200k Hearthstone Global Inn-vitational, fans saw the first look of high stakes Mercenaries esports. The meta revolved around a handful of powerhouse Mercenaries including Diablo, Cairne Bloodhoof, Malfurion and Ragnaros, but new Deadmines arrival Cookie, the Cook had an impressive showing.
Per hallowed Hearthstone esports tradition, the final series of matches between Fr0zen of team AM and Thijz of team EU was a sight to behold. Both teams had lucky rolls throughout the set, but Fr0zen's particular string of losing rolls caused even the most ardent Mercenaries fan to roll their eyes.
How 2-0 turned to 2-3
Luna won two matches to give team AM a strong lead. Hunterace started the EU comeback off the back of an impactful 2-speed Cookie deathblow trigger and, now 2-1, all Fr0zen has to do is win one game vs Thijz and his nature composition
But that becomes complicated as soon as turn two. A predictable 2 speed tie occurs between Fr0zen's Cairne and Thijz's Brukan. If Fr0zen wins the tie, Diablo gets to cast a multiple trigger Fire Stomp. If Thijz wins the flip, Diablo dies. This situation happens often in the matchup and, as the commentators correctly identified during the broadcast, setting up the 50/50 is the optimal sequence for Thijs and his nature comp.
Hats off to Thijs for his additional correct decision of using Malfurion's AoE heal ability during this impactful turn. The 1-2 value punch of sniping Diablo while also healing Samuro to high HP warranted Fr0zen's concession soon after.
Further Fr0zen misfortune
The score is now 2-2 and Fr0zen still needs to win with the recently nerfed Diablo / Cairne lineup. Team EU returns with a shadow composition featuring Vol'jin and Natalie Seline in the starting lineup.
And, as soon as turn 2, another 50/50 over whether or not Diablo dies or not emerges. Natalie's Shadow beam is at 3 speed and so is Cairne's Endurance aura. Fr0zen has to focus all of his RNG karmic power on winning this coin flip. If he does, he is heavily favored.
The commentary desk is surprisingly honest: "I don't know what you do if you don't win this flip".
Fr0zen's face and Thijs' hands tell the eternal story of Hearthstone esports:
Fr0zen is down, but not out. In fact, a clever play using Tavish's Bear trap as a way to dodge damage from Ragnaros Meteor gives Fr0zen one last chance to come back from this game. In fact, it set's up the following board state:
Is this Ragnaros RNG deciding the fate of two veteran players? The esports script sure is getting a bit predictable.
The winning play by Thijs is to play DIE INSECTS and cross his fingers. The ability targets randomly but is recast if it kills an enemy. In this instance, Thijs has a 75% chance to get one recast, 66% chance to get two recasts, and then a final 50% coin flip. If the spell ever lands on Tavish then things stop dying.
You can see for yourself how things went down.
It was a hard loss to swallow for Fr0zen but longtime competitive Hearthstone players have no shortage of similar stories. RNG is an integral part of Hearthstone and the debate over whether or not it is good for the game should forever stay dead – RNG is fun don't worry about it.
However, Mercenaries balance at the highest levels seems to routinely result in 50/50 speed ties. It is particularly alarming when certain matchups ensure 50/50 coin flip turns due to the undeniable power of Mercenaries like Diablo and Cairne.
Future Mercenaries balance patches are en route and Blizzard devs have already commented on the speed tie concern. Popular opinions on how to lower competitive reliance on coin-flips include nerfs to Diablo and changes to a handful of abilities that currently start off cooldown during turn one.
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