The 2018 Hearthstone Championship Tour is in its final moments. No more Tour Stops, just the Winter Playoffs, its subsequent Championship, and the climax of a year filled with intense competition: the World Championship. With twelve of the sixteen players having secured a ticket to the final stage, the pressure is higher than ever for players to do well. It’s now or never. Plenty of reason to take a look at each region’s list of competitors for their respective Winter Playoffs, and highlight some standout names.
Second in line to choose its representatives is Europe. During the year, the region has once again proven itself as the strongest, consistently having higher point thresholds for each seasonal Championships’ Playoffs. With the highest amount of Master players, it’s tough to choose the best storylines to follow, but we’ve pinned it down to the four below!
Chris “Feno” Tsako
Feno finds himself in an interesting position. As the runner-up in the Last Call standings, the Greek is not entirely reliant on his own performance to grab a ticket to the World Championships. Should hunterace make it to the Winter Championships and secure a ticket to Taipei there, the Last Call Standings trickle down, and Feno will receive the Last Call invitation.
This is, of course, not a safe horse to bet on. A much safer call is looking at Feno’s track record in 2018, and extrapolate that data. From the get-go he has made it to the top 16’s in numerous Tour Stops, culminating in his first victory at the very last moment, when he hoisted the HCT Orange County trophy. While winning a Tour Stop is a great achievement, Feno’s dedication and perseverance are deserving of at least a seasonal championship appearance.
Elias “Bozzzton” Sibelius
It’s been a year of ‘almosts’ for Bozzzton. After starting the year with semi-final finish at HCT Germany, the Swede reached a top eight, multiple top sixteens and barely missed out on other top sixteens based on tiebreakers. Ending the year the same way he started it, Bozzzton managed to grab another 3rd/4th place at DreamHack Winter last December. A top four finish at the Playoffs would be a fitting reward for such a performance.
In order to secure his ticket to the Winter Championships, Bozzzton isn’t piloting anything too crazy. Even Warlock, Hybrid Hunter, Odd Rogue and Control Priest are all their respective class’ most-brought decks coming weekend. This specific combination, however, is quite uncommon: only one other player has brought it.
Kevin “Casie” Eberlein
When it comes to Casie, the story is quite similar to Bozzzton’s: he’s been so close, so many times. Five top sixteens, a top eight, a third/fourth and a silver medal in Tour Stops are nothing to be scoffed at. Add a second place finish at SeatStory, and a semi-final run at the German Nationals, and you’ll get why many feel it’s high time for the German to be rewarded with a prestigious title.
Casie’s line-up is about as straightforward as it can be: the four most popular classes’ most popular archetypes. A Conquest strategy as old as the format. Interestingly, however, this specific combination of Hybrid Hunter, Even Paladin, Control Priest and Even Warlock is only being brought by one other player.
Oldřich "Faeli" Mahdal
Early on in 2018, when the new HCT season had barely begun, Faeli was the one whose name rose to attention. He had a blistering start of the year, flaunting his flexibility by qualifying for the first Wild Open and grabbing a silver medal at HCT Oslo not shortly after that. After a couple of top sixteens in the middle, Faeli’s motor started to warm up again in December: he finished second and third/fourth in consecutive Tour Stops.
Much like Casie, Faeli is bringing a very to-the-point line-up. The Czech also brings Hybrid Hunter, Even Paladin and Control Priest, but there is a difference: Faeli is bringing Odd Rogue. This deck can give him a significant edge against line-ups with decks like Cloning Priest or Cube Hunter in it.
The European HCT Winter Playoffs are played on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13th of January, starting at 10 am CET. You can follow the action on Hearthstone's Twitch channel.
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