Week 2 of the Archon Team League Championship has come and gone, and with it some clarity in the standings. Team Value Town and Forsenboys matched up first on Day 1, with Team Archon and Tempo Storm rounding out the day with a battle of titans desperate for a win. The team conquest format proved interesting in spicing up the competition, as we saw our first bit of Priest and perhaps the return to form of Patron Warrior. And as teams get more acquainted with this format, I expect mind games and scouting to play a bigger part, as we see more and more counter-picks and next level thinking.
Value Town vs Forsenboys
We started the day with a relatively standard matchup, however, with the only notable deck being the first Priest representative of the tournament, Dog, coming out first against Ostkaka from Forsenboys, piloting oil Rogue. Dog was able to Harrison Jones an oiled up Dagger from Ostkaka, and with constant board control was able to easily secure the first victory for Value Town. Trump came out next for Value Town piloting midrange Paladin, losing quickly to Chakki’s aggro Paladin, kicking off a series of losses and the beginning of a horrible day for the Value Town captain.
Kibler and Forsen played a set of games next, Kibler first winning with a hybrid face Hunter deck versus Forsen’s freeze Mage, and then benching the opposing captain with a victory on taunt Druid. Dog continued to ramp up the pressure against Forsenboys, with a victory over Ostkaka in the oil Rogue mirror match. With Kibler and Dog having two victories each, it was now up to Trump to tally two victories to close out Forsenboys.
But those victories would not come easily for Trump, who would manage to lose four games in a row to Forsenboys before finally finding a win with his control Warrior deck against Ostkaka’s Rogue to tie the series at five games each. The final matchup saw Trump’s midrange Paladin deck against Ostkaka’s rogue again, with Ostkaka managing to gain initiative on board long enough to top deck a lethal Deadly Poison to top off Trump’s 1-6 day, who lost four games with his Paladin deck.
Forsenboys win 6-5
The second match of the day pitted two of the bigger teams in Hearthstone against each other, with Team Archon trying to take down Tempo Storm. Zalae came out for Archon first, piloting his favorite deck in Patron Warrior, against Hyped’s control Warrior list. An excruciatingly long game allowed Hyped to stabilize, eventually sitting at 1 HP before several Shield Blocks and an Alexstrasza would bring him up from his failing life total before fatiguing the Patron player out of the game. Next up for Archon was Xixo, piloting oil Rogue yet again, against Eloise for Tempo Storm playing freeze Mage. This ended up being another painfully slow game, ending in the freeze mage player sustaining off of two Ice Blocks before burning her opponent out.
Firebat was next for Archon, hoping to stabilize before going into too deep of a deficit. His opponent, Gaara, would try to take down Firebat’s freeze Mage deck with his choice of face Hunter. Firebat, with one hundred percent certainty of his victory, played an Alexstrasza on himself rather than the lethal Fireballs in his hand. Despite the BM, he would still take the game to the chagrin of the casters and twitch chat. Xixo would secure his first win for himself against Gaara next, sending Tempo Storm’s hunter specialist to the bench with a loss in the mirror match.
Eloise and Firebat ran their respective Warlock decks into each other next, with Firebat on his traditional aggressive Zoo strategy against Eloise’s handlock control. A sluggish start for Firebat would spell his doom, as Eloise was never in any real danger before dropping her late game power options and taking control of the game. Xixo again came out next, this time trying to score a victory with his trademark oil Rogue again, against Gaara attempting to redeem the face Hunter. With Gaara not putting a quick enough clock on the combo deck, Xixo was able to even the series out at 3-3.
Gaara again saw the bench, this time losing to Zalae’s Patron Warrior deck and putting Tempo Storm in a tough spot, having only rogue to send out next. Archon chose Zoo to attempt to bring about match point, with Firebat’s explosive start of Flame Imp, Nerubian Egg, Power Overhwelming and Void Terror to put Hyped in an incredibly clunky position as the combo player. Relentless pressure from Firebat sent the match to 5-3, with Zalae as the final player Archon needed to see in the winner’s column. Zalae would be bruised by Hyped’s Rogue before finishing the match out against Gaara who, like Trump, ended his day with crushing losses.
Team Archon wins 6-4
Kicking off the second day of matches for Week 2, Cloud 9 looked to get on the board against Team Liquid. The match started off with Ekop trotting out Patron Warrior against Neirea’s familiar freeze Mage. With several turns of nothing, the two combo decks reached critical mass when a Patron turn from Ekop popped Neirea’s ice block, unfortunately prompting lethal fireballs to Ekop’s face from Neirea the turn after. With the threat of the bench looming, Ekop re-queued the Patron Warrior into Savjz’s Druid deck. The risk would prove fruitful for Cloud 9, as Ekop evened up the series. Matching Cloud 9’s bravery, Team Liquid sent Savjz’s Druid deck out one more time, facing Kolento’s oil Rogue. An innervated Harrison on a 2 durability hero power from Savjz created an enormous card advantage for the Team Liquid Druid, but would not be enough to fend off the inevitable damage from Kolento’s Rogue.
Two fresh faces stepped forward for Game 4, with StrifeCro bringing out Malygos Warlock for the first time for Cloud 9, looking to beat Team Liquid’s face Hunter offering. SjoW’s Hunter was able to achieve a victory so fast in this matchup that it was debatable whether or not Team Liquid even knew what type of Warlock deck StrifeCro was playing. Ekop came out next for Cloud 9, with the steadfast SjoW playing his Patron Warrior design against the Cloud 9 midrange Hunter. A mid game slugfest boiled down to an unchecked Warsong Commander, eventually calling in all of her drunk friends to bring Team Liquid into the lead, and retiring SjoW for the day.
Kolento’s freeze Mage queued into Savjz’s Druid deck next, with freeze Mage taking a drawn out, but fairly one-sided battle. StrifeCro’s Warlock attempted to gain a victory next, facing Neirea’s oil Rogue in a seemingly favorable matchup. With liberal use of Antique Healbots and Thaurissan, StirfeCro’s combo-centric Warlock deck was able to vault Cloud 9 back into the lead. StrifeCro’s midrange Paladin stepped up next, looking to force game point against Savjz’s Druid. A slow start from both decks allowed StrifeCro to generate board initiative early, with the big threat Druid deck unable to fend off the tempo advantage StrifeCro continuously generated.
Only Ekop remained for Cloud 9 now, looking to score a victory with midrange Hunter against the trio of decks Team Liquid had in their stables. Neirea first sent oil Rogue out, out tempoing the board control-based deck to a quick victory. Savjz brought Druid in, next, hoping to extend the match a few more games. However, a 0-5 day was in store for another big named player, as Savjz suffered a loss at the hands of Ekop, securing Cloud 9’s first victory of the event.
Cloud 9 wins 6-4
Leading off the final match of the day, Nihilum captain Lifecoach brought out his trusty handlock deck against FrozenIce’s face Hunter for Team Celestial. An almost scripted game, FrozenIce brought Lifecoach’s life total down to single digits, but several board sweepers and Molten Giants would easily secure a victory for Nihilum. With Lifecoach staying in for Nihilum, Celestial sent in Tiddler in what would be a Patron Warrior mirror match. An insane missed lethal from Tiddler due to missed attacks from roping out on his turn, a 2 health Lifecoach was seen fist pumping excitedly on his webcam as he queued up an enormous Frothing Berserker attack to win the game and retire for the day.
Tiddler was able to redeem himself in the next game, however, getting a victory on his Warrior against Nihilum’s Thijs, playing Rogue. Nihilum sent out RDU’s aggressive face Paladin deck next, seeing a relatively bad matchup on the other side of the table in FrozenIce’s face Hunter. An enormous Knife Juggler, Unleash the Hounds turn would from FrozenIce put RDU’s back to the wall before, eventually evening up the series at two games apiece. Thijs’ Druid easily disposed of ForzenIce’s druid next, while stumbling with his Rogue deck against SilenStorm’s Zoo Warlock. A rematch would retire Thijs, as midrange Paladin from SilentStorm would catch the Nihilum Rogue off-guard.
RDU and FrozenIce squared off next, RDU’s face hunter proving to be too much for FrozenIce, and yet another Rogue fell in this match. Perhaps to alleviate this issue, the oil Rogue mirror match was queued next, with Thijs ripping victory from the jaws of defeat with an outrageous damage turn against a huge board from FrozenIce. RDU needed to get a victory with his aggressive Paladin deck next, and an impressive mid game involving Quartermaster on curve and Dr. Boom on 8 mana would propel RDU to the victory and a 2-0 record from Nihilum.
Nihilum wins 6-4
After Week 2, Forsenboys and Nihilum sit at the top of the standings with two wins. On the other end of the spectrum, Team Celestial and Tempo Storm see themselves at 0-2 and facing elimination from the event without tallying victories soon. On the meta side of things, the clear losers this week were Druid and Rogue, with neither deck performing solidly the entire week. Midrange Paladin made a showing this week with mixed results, and Priest got its first showing and win in the event. Moving forward, like I said, I expect to see more variation and scouting from teams, as we’ve seen some continued picks from players, and countering what they’ve played or what you believe they will switch to becomes more and more important. Week 3 begins next Wednesday at 18:00 GMT with Team Liquid taking on Nihilum.