From December 12 to December 14 (KST), KeSPA held a HearthStone tournament with a total prize pool of 21 million KRW (about 18K USD). The KeSPA Cup was held twice, in 2005 and 2007, starting with StarCraft: Broodwar in 2005, and was re-hosted in 2014, seven years after its revocation. It was the first time that HearthStone was in the KeSPA Cup. The first HearthStone KeSPA Cup featured eight of Korea's top players, including BlizzCon representatives Cheonsu and DDaHyoNi. Jeon Byung-hun, chairman of KeSPA, announced in a statement that he would support the continuation of the HearthStone KeSPA Cup competition.
Jong-chul "Caster" Park is a HearthStone player in Korea and a member of Team Sunbi. He was the first player to qualify in finals for both major leagues in Korea and is one of the most highly skilled Mage players in Korea. In HearthStone Masters Korea(HMK) Season 5, his opponent even banned Caster's Mage in the finals. Caster has been praised for his overwhelming performance since spring 2016.
HearthStone Masters Korea Season 1 Ro16
WECG HearthStone Korea Regionals 1st place
Afreeca HearthStone Battle Royal Season 1 2nd place
HearthStone Masters Korea Season 5 1st place
2016 HCT Spring Quarter-Finals
2016 HearthStone KeSPA Cup 1st place
On December 14th, during the 2016 HearthStone KeSPA Cup final at Gangnam Nexon Arena, Caster beat Cheonsu after a full set of Bo7 matches and became the winner of the first HearthStone KeSPA Cup tournament. Amid a Great Age of Pirates meta, Caster chose distinctive control decks and showed a high level of performance throughout the games.
First, can you tell us how you feel about winning the first individual tournament?
I had doubts about if I would win the KeSPA Cup because it had been a while since I played in a major tournament. I barely advanced to the next round after a 0-3 loss on the first day. I thought if everyone was playing the top tier decks, I would have a good chance to win by bringing their counter decks. My decks might seem a little weird, but I'm glad that my strategy worked.
Why did you bring control decks in this Great Age of Pirates?
Pirate decks have a very strong opening, but they tend to depend on their first hand and the following draws. But since I'm in the tournament, I'd like to win with my own talent. So I brought these control decks and won.
How did you come up with the Priest deck?
I was watching a foreign streamer playing Priest decks and thought that it was pretty decent. It was effective against both Freeze Mage and Druid. I had many decks to self-ban but kept playing Priest because I thought Priest was good.
You won because Cheonsu's Reno Mage dragged him down. Did you foresee that?
Yes. I played a lot of Reno Mage myself. I knew everything I needed when Freeze Mage faced Reno Mage. I knew his deck and thought I could never lose because I was confident with my Freeze Mage.
When was the moment you faced your biggest threat in the finals?
I encountered Face Warrior with Priest. I had Reno, and Kazakus in my deck but they just never showed up. I was worried that I might lose at that moment.
There are Pirates everywhere in the Ladder. Can you give us any tip?
Pirate decks are indeed very strong, but they're not unbeatable. Old control decks have a slow tempo, but if you have enough effective early minions and spells to cover that weakness, you should have a decent win rate.
How do you feel being the first winner of the KeSPA Cup?
I'd like to get another KeSPA Cup title in the next run. Though the trophy is a bit heavy... It will be a long lasting and memorable reminder once I decorate my house with it.
This year, APAC hasn't been a satisfying experience for you, do you have any goal for the next year?
My school life will be busier next year; I just got into graduate school. I'll probably have less free time, but I'd still like to participate in the international tournament more often.
Any last words?
It's been a great experience to show a variety of deck archetypes even for such a short period. I'm really thankful for the supporting fans.
You can find the HearthStone KeSPA Cup videos at KeSPA YouTube Channel.
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