Hearthstone Grandmasters' regular season concludes this weekend. For 6 players, it's do or die.

The first year of Hearthstone Grandmasters is reaching its climax. A strange thing to consider early October—last year around this time, the competitive season still had a third left to go. This weekend the 48 Grandmasters spread across Europe, Asia Pacific and The Americas will determine two things. Firstly, it will be decided which eight players make it to their region's Playoffs and are still in contention for a ticket to the Global Finals at BlizzCon.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, this weekend we'll know which six players will be demoted and no longer be a Hearthstone Grandmaster.


How Grandmasters' relegation works

When Blizzard announced more details about the Grandmasters system's debut, they phrased the process of relegation frustratingly ambiguously. The announcement read that, after the first year had concluded, the bottom two players in each region were "at risk of relegation", without providing further details. Not too long after Sam Braithwaite, the Global Director of Hearthstone Esports, clarified that "at risk of relegation" meant: "Will be relegated."

That basic rule hasn't changed since. With the three regions each split in two divisions, this means that the six players who finish eighth in their respective divisions this weekend will wave goodbye to their Grandmasters title.

Standings are easily understood: the player with the fewest wins out of the 14 matches played is in last place. In case there is a tie, Blizzard's tiebreakers kick in. The official rules, as of writing, read:

"In a two-way tie, players head-to-head performance. The player who accumulated the most wins in matches against the other will be ranked higher." In case more than two people are tied, Blizzard will use a modified version of the popular Nestadtl Sonneborn-Bergerscore: "Calculated for each player by adding the sum of the Season Scores of the players he or she has defeated. Each time the player is defeated, their score is added to the sum."

In case literally everything is tied between three or more players, Blizzard will create a special bracket for the players to face off in.


The Americas - Division A

In Division A of The Americas, the three bottom players have their destiny in their own hands this weekend. It's a bit of a puzzle, but let's first look at the standings heading into the final week. In the table below, all statistics relevant to the relegation process have been listed. "Is playing against" defines the players who the competitor is meeting this weekend. "Crucial players defeated" lists the players said competitor has already defeated earlier in the Grandmasters season, but only defeated opponents that influence the "head-to-head" outcome.


Placement: Player: Wins: Is playing against, this weekend: Crucial players defeated: Tiebreaker score:
6th Firebat 5 ETC
ETC 31
7th ETC 4 Firebat
StrifeCro (2x) 20
8th StrifeCro 3 Firebat
Firebat 19


The competition is pretty intense in Division A. Clearly, StrifeCro is in a bad position. With a match win rate of 25%, the American needs to pull himself up by his bootstraps to avoid elimination. He must win both of his matches in order to keep his Grandmaster title. Merely winning one match won't do the trick, even if ETC loses both of his matches; ETC has defeated StrifeCro twice in the season, so would win the head-to-head tiebreaker. StrifeCro would win a head-to-head against Firebat, though.

Should StrifeCro win both matches, things can get messy. If ETC wins both of his matches as well, Firebat is relegated based on Firebat's head-to-head performance against StrifeCro. If ETC wins against Gallon but loses to Firebat, Firebat will have 6 wins, StrifeCro will have 5 wins and so will ETC, but ETC will be victorious based on the head-to-head. In the case ETC wins against Firebat but loses against Gallon, everything will come down to the final tiebreaker score, which can still be influenced by other players' performances this weekend.

To summarize: StrifeCro must win both of his matches, Firebat just needs 1 win. ETC is safe with two wins or only a win against Gallon, but could get in tiebreaker trouble if he wins against Firebat only.




The Americas - Division B

Placement: Player: Wins: Is playing against, this weekend: Crucial players defeated: Tiebreaker score:
6th PNC 5 Rase
7th Zalae 4 Rase
8th Rase 3 PNC
- 20


Division B has all the signs point towards Rase's relegation. Much like his colleague StrifeCro in the other group, the Brazilian likely must win both of his matches to get out. With a loss to Zalae he's automatically out; Zalae would bump to 5 wins. If Rase wins against only Zalae and Zalae loses his match against Bloodyface, it comes down to the final tiebreaker score for Rase—as it stands Rase would be eliminated there too.

For Zalae, evidently, the opposite goes. He can eliminate Rase all by himself by securing a win over him, and could leave it up to tiebreakers if he only wins against Bloodyface. It looks like PNC is safe, and will maintain Grandmaster status. Even in the worst-case scenario where PNC loses both matches, Rase defeats Zalae and Zalae defeats Bloodyface, it'll be up to the tiebreakers to determine PNC's fate. As it stands PNC's tiebreakers are 9 points ahead of Rase's, so there's quite some wiggle room.


Europe - Division A

Placement: Player: Wins: Is playing against, this weekend: Crucial players defeated: Tiebreaker score:
5th Rdu 5 Orange
Swidz 30
6th Swidz 5 Thijs
7th Orange 5 Viper
8th Viper 4 Orange
Swidz 25


Viper finds himself at the bottom of Europe's Division A. Not half a year after he faced off against Hunterace in the most memorable World Championship finals to date, the German is close to demotion racking up only 4 wins this season. But Division A in Europe is not as sorted as you may think. It's actually the most complex group of all.

If Viper wins both his matches he could jump from being 8th to being 5th, depending on all the other match outcomes. Even if he just wins 1 match this weekend, he could be safe based on tiebreakers. Orange can secure his spot by winning against Viper, as that would put Orange at 6 wins with Viper at most reaching 5.

But even Swidz and Rdu are at risk. If either one of them loses 0-2 the others could still catch up, and even surpass them. The tiebreakers are so incredibly close, with so much depending on what the other players will do, that it's nearly impossible to predict how they'll swing.



Europe - Division B

Placement: Player: Wins: Is playing against, this weekend: Crucial players defeated: Tiebreaker score:
6th Bozzzton 5 Feno
Seiko 32
7th Seiko 4 BoarControl
8th Feno 3 Bozzzton


Feno comes in last in Europe's Division B. That feels incredibly weird, because the Greek is heading to BlizzCon in about a month for the Global Finals—a tournament spot he earned by winning Grandmasters Season 1. With only three wins, and tiebreakers 7 points behind Seiko (the head-to-head is even), it feels as though two wins is a must for Feno to survive. He'd win a head-to-head tiebreaker with Bozzzton confidently if he wins both matches though, as that would mean Feno defeated him twice.

Seiko isn't facing any of his direct competitors anymore, and his head-to-head record is as even as can be: he has both won and lost against Feno and Bozzzton earlier in the season. His opponents, BoarControl and Casie are in the middle of the pack this season, but he has lost to both of them before. In tiebreakers he's almost perfectly placed between Feno and Bozzzton as well. His matchups this weekend aren't particularly spicy, therefore: two wins and he's safe, one loss and it could get dicey.

Bozzzton's priority should, obviously be to win both of his matches. Even with one win he is safe. For Bozzzton the water gets hot if Seiko wins both of his matches, and Feno also manages to win twice. Then all of a sudden it's a head-to-head between Feno and Bozzzton to determine relegation. And that's not a head-to-head Bozzzton wins.


Asia Pacific

Sadly (for the viewers), the fight for Grandmasters survival is not nearly as close as it is in the other regions. As a matter of fact, in Division A the outcome has been determined already: BloodTrail, with 1 win under his belt at the moment, will be relegated.

In Division B only two players fear elimination: Blitzchung, who currently sits at 4 wins, and Pathra who has won twice so far this season. They won't face off against each other either, so the outcome could be confirmed early. Both play their first match on October 5th. If Blitzchung wins against Alutemu then, or against DawN on the 6th, Pathra is relegated. Only if Blitzchung loses both matches and Pathra wins both of hers it'll be tiebreakers that cut the knot. Even then it looks favorable for Blitzchung: his tiebreaker score is 24 heading into the final weekend, while Pathra's is 10.


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Comments :1

  • 1

    level 1 jamberine

    Nice article! It inspired me to look closer into the tiebreaker scenarios.

    Americas Division A:
    If Firebat, ETC, and Strifecro tie at 5 wins, ETC is actually always out.

    The wins are:
    Firebat: Gallon, muzzy, ETC, Purple, Nalguidan
    ETC: Strifecro * 2, Nalguidan, muzzy, Firebat
    Strifecro: Nalguidan, Firebat *2, Gallon, Purple

    We can replace the tied players with their wins (5):
    Firebat: 5 + gallon, muzzy, purple, nalguidan
    ETC: 15 + nalguidan, muzzy
    Strifecro: 10 + nalguidan, gallon, purple

    Firebat beats Strifecro, since they both have wins against nalguidan, purple, and gallon, and muzzy has more than 5 wins.

    Strifecro beats ETC, since they both beat nalguidan and gallon+ purple will have at least 7+7=14 wins (note that for this scenario to happen gallon beat ETC), which is greater than muzzy's max 8 wins + 5.

    Americas Division B:
    If Zalae/Rase tie at 4:

    Zalae: 4 + saiyan*2 + pnc (at least 25)
    Rase: 4 + fr0zen*2 + amnesiac (at least 20)

    If (PNC)/Zalae/Rase tie at 5: (PNC could or could not be tied, depending on his game against amnesiac)

    PNC: 10 + monsanto*2 + bloodyface (at least 32)
    Zalae: 5 + pnc + saiyan*2 + bloodyface (at least 34)
    Rase: 5 + pnc + fr0zen*2 + amnesiac (at least 31) (note: pnc and amnesiac play)

    These situations depend a lot on the results of other games. Rase is in the worst position here. However, Saiyan plays both fr0zen and monsanto, and there are a few more games between relevant players, so there is still plenty of hope for Rase in these scenarios.

    Europe Division A is too hard. It'll be interesting though.

    Europe Division B:

    If Seiko and Feno tie at 4:

    Seiko: 4 + bunny, jarla, bozzton

    Feno: 4 + casie/bozzton, jarla, bozzton

    Bozzton can't beat bunny, so in this scenario Feno would have to beat Casie. In this scenario Casie beats Seiko and has 8 wins, which would cause a tie if bunny goes 0-2. Otherwise, Feno is relegated.

    If (Bozzton)/(Seiko)/Feno tie at 5:
    Bozzton: seiko, bunny, casie, pavel, boar
    Seiko: 5 + bunny, boar/casie, jarla, bozzton
    Feno: seiko, casie, bozzton, jarla, bozzton

    Feno's tiebreaker score is always worse than both of the other players, largely because his wins against bozzton don't give many tiebreaker points. However, as mentioned in the article, Feno would win the head-to-head against Bozzton if Seiko wins both his matches. (Interesting that a win against a low scoring player is good for the head-to-head tiebreak for relegation but bad for the 3-way)

    Asia-Pacific Division B:

    The tiebreakers for pathra if she goes 2-0 and blitzchung goes 0-2 are actually quite good, largely because she would be beating the top 2 players in the standings right now. Actually, it comes down to whether frostee or alutemu place higher:

    blitzchung: 4 + frostee, tom60229, glory

    pathra: 4 + alutemu, tom60229, glory

    Frostee and alutemu are currently tied, but in this scenario, alutemu would be beating blitzchung, so pathra would actually be favored to stay in.

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