Hakjun “Kranich” Baek: the Hearthstone player who proves that skills matter more than RNG



It’s true that luck is inevitably important in Hearthstone. Hearthstone is a Collectible Card Game, a game where players draw a card each turn. The match can shift completely based on which card is drawn next, so it is easy to assume that luck is more important than skill in Hearthstone. However, there is more to winning Hearthstone than just pure luck. It is a keen mindset, an acumen for prediction, and an adeptness for preparation, not luck, that brings victory in Hearthstone.

Hakjun “Kranich” Baek, a Korean professional Hearthstone player, is one of the players that proves that luck is not everything in Hearthstone. He was first recognized as a Hearthstone player when he made it to the Round of 16 in the CN vs. KR Masters Season 2 and became the representative of Korea in the BlizzCon WCS 2014 Hearthstone shortly after. In the BlizzCon WCS 2014 Hearthstone, Kranich made it to the semifinals after defeating many of the world’s best Hearthstone players.



During the quarterfinals of the BlizzCon Hearthstone, he defeated Kolento with his one-turn-kill deck using Raging Worgen. His Worgen OTK deck became the base for the Patron Warrior deck. He had broken a fixed idea, and opened a whole new style of play.

After Kranich returned to Korea, his winning streak never seemed to break. He was unstoppable, wracking up many victories. What was most remarkable about Kranich was that he did not use pre-existing and already-famous decks; he used his own decks that centered around his unique play style. With his skills in Hearthstone, Kranich joined the renowned European professional gaming team, Team Dignitas, on Jan 26th, 2015.

Kranich did not stop there. He had made it to BlizzCon again in 2015. Although he lost against ThijsNL in the quarterfinal, the audience was greatly impressed by how Kranich did not give up throughout the match.



Kranich won the Best Player Award in Hearthstone at the 2015 Esports Awards. In his modest comment on winning the award, Kranich mentioned that “there are many other players who are better than me, and I think I won this award just because I was lucky.” On March 20th 2018, Kranich joined the Pittsburgh Knights and is continuing to show his skills as one of the best Hearthstone players in the world.  

Kranich is the player with the most notable career among Korean Hearthstone players. However, he is not satisfied with his current state and is always pushing himself to go even further. “I know I’m still not good enough. That’s why I’m always analyzing myself and trying harder.” This is what Kranich often says during his streams. Thinking outside of the box when making a deck is what made Kranich the skilled player he is today.

In the first IGEC-ESPORTS DEEP DIVE, Kranich will be talking about his expertise as a professional Hearthstone player. You’ll be able to hear about his life as a professional Hearthstone player, and how he has been able to think outside of the box.


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