With the start of Week 4, we’re officially past the halfway point of ATLC, but the playoff picture is just as cloudy as ever. Team Celestial came into the week desperate for their first victory, while Value Town looked to spoil Nihilum’s unbeaten record to reclaim their share of the top. The teams who will play the last chance playoffs immediately after the round robin stage are still very foggy, however, so let’s get right into it!
Nihilum vs Value Town
Nihilum looked to preserve their undefeated ATLC streak against Value Town, who have shown great resilience from their single defeat, and strong play throughout the entire tournament. Dog lead off with mech Mage for Trump’s team, while Thijs opened things up with a traditional oil Rogue list. Despite early aggression and great mid-game tempo, a strong combo turn with a Fel Reaver on the board for Dog would spell defeat for Value Town, fatiguing the Mage deck out for a full suite of information for Nihilum. Lifecoach sent out Handlock next for Nihilum, while Kibler brought more aggression to the table with mech Shaman. With an explosive start, Kibler set the tempo of the game, putting Lifecoach down to precarious life totals by only the fourth turn, and a greedy play from Lifecoach would let Kibler push through lethal with 11 points of burn damage. Thijs and Dog met up again next, with a favorable matchup for Dog’s mech mage coming in the form of Thijs’ Druid deck, and Thijs would never be in the running in game three.
Game four involved a classic Hearthstone ladder staple, with Lifecoach’s Handlock facing down Trump’s control Warrior, with the match going nearly to fatigue, and a top decked Grommash from Trump stealing victory from the Nihilum captain. Rdu came out next for Nihilum, and with his team down 3-1, his midrange Hunter snatched a quick victory from Trump’s Handlock to close the gap slightly. Lifecoach and Trump reprised their earlier matchup, this time swapping Heroes, though Lifecoach’s flavor of Warrior was, predictably, Patron. An intricately played game from both sides, Trump would succumb to Lifecoach after a well-executed Frothing Berserker turn. Kibler’s Hunter would come out next for Value Town against RDU’s Shaman deck, and a quick victory for Value Town put Kibler at a staggering 8-0 record over the course of the event.
Hoping for a shot at redemption for his Shaman deck, RDU immediately re-queued into Trump’s Handlock, garnering a quick victory for Nihilum, evening the match up. Facing retirement for the second time in the match, Trump again brought Handlock out, this time facing Thijs’ Druid. Despite Thijs running two Big Game Hunters, Trump’s army of fatties would close the game out with ease for Value Town, dodging both of the 3 mana removal spells. However, Thijs’ luck would trend upwards, evening the series in the mirror match against Dog. With Lifecoach’s Handlock and Dog’s Druid being the two winless decks, the match point would be decided by a turn 5 Savage Roar forcing through an incredibly early lethal, giving Value Town the match, and their share of first place.
Value Town wins 6-5
Cloud 9 vs Forsenboys
Cloud 9 and Forsenboys began the day as two of the teams fighting to avoid the last chance playoff round, with Cloud 9 looking up at Forsenboys in the standings. Kolento and Ostkaka lead off with a traditional oil Rogue vs Patron Warrior matchup, with Ostkaka’s combo proving to be the more potent of the game. StrifeCro’s control Warrior came out next against Forsen’s Zoo Warlock, with Forsenboy’s getting a quick two game lead over the Cloud 9 squad. Cloud 9 sent out Kolento’s Rogue deck again, meeting up against Chakki’s aggressive Hunter deck, with Cloud 9’s Rogue player able to thwart Chakki’s early aggression. Cloud 9’s captain Ekop brought his midrange Hunter list to the battle next, with Forsen’s mage receiving the brunt of the beating, evening the series at two. Kolento and Chakki again matched up, with Mage on Cloud 9’s side and Hunter for Forsenboys. Battling through several of Mage’s sweepers, Chakki was able to push through for lethal to take the lead back in the series. StrifeCro’s control Warrior would kick off a win streak for Cloud 9, taking a grueling match against Ostkaka’s Rogue. Paladin would be Cloud 9’s next choice, with StrifeCro again the pilot, against Chakki’s own Paladin list. The aggressive Paladin mirror would lean towards Chakki for the first few turns, but StrifeCro’s draws and RNG rolls would be extremely favorable, allowing StrifeCro to finish his day up.
With Cloud 9 winning for the first time in the match, it now fell to Kolento’s Mage and Ekop’s Warlock to close the door on Forsenboys. Ekop’s Zoo would prove too much for Forsen’s freeze Mage, allowing Kolento the honor of attempting to finish off a team that was down five games to three, a feat that has proved tough through the first weeks of the ATLC tournament. Forsenboys sent out their captain in the freeze Mage mirror match, but an extremely clunky draw from Forsen proved too much of a handicap, allowing Kolento to breathe a sigh of relief with an effortless win.
Cloud 9 wins 6-3
After a brief disruption due to the Grand Tournament announcement, Day 2 started with Team Celestial looking to score their first victory against Tempo Storm. Hyped and Tiddler kicked things off, with Hyped’s oil Rogue matching up against a traditional Patron Warrior from Tiddler. Strong board presence from Hyped wouldn’t matter, as a turn 10 Warsong Commander, Grim Patron combo allowed Celestial to start off on a strong note. FrozenIce’s Hunter would generate a victory for Celestial next, however it would be because Eloise queued up an incorrect deck, which is against the rules of the event. As a result, Game 3 would be played between Gaara’s face Hunter and SilenStorm’s Druid. Unable to wrest the title of aggressor away from Gaara, Silentstorm’s life total quickly reached zero to give Tempo Storm their first game of the match. Eloise properly queued up her Mage deck this time, with Silenstorm hoping to avoid benching on the other side of the table. Eloise would be unable to control the board with her frosty game plan, and Silenstorm would put Team Celestial in the driver’s seat for their first win of the event.
Tiddler again notched up a victory for Celestial, finishing off his own with his second victory. For game six, Eloise’s freeze Mage again sought victory against Silentstorm, this time piloting Shaman. With plenty of ways to generate card advantage against the board-based aggro deck, Eloise tallied up a victory to stop Tempo Storm’s skid. Hoping to run it back, Eloise again re-queued, this time in a zoo Warlock mirror against FrozenIce. Unfortunately for Celestial, a simply superior draw from Eloise would bring the match even closer, with Eloise being the first player for Tempo Storm to finish her day up. Patron Warrior from Hyped ran into Silentstorm’s mech Shaman, but despite Silentstorm’s early board control and threat of lethal, the combo aspect of Patron was able to clear the board, allowing Hyped to regain control and even the match at 4. With momentum entirely on their side, Gaara’s aggressive Paladin deck obtained another victory after an intense battle of board control against FrozenIce’s Zoo Warlock, putting Hyped in position to finish pushing the dagger through Team Celestial’s heart. The weapon of choice to stop the heartbreak for Celestial was Silentstorm’s mech Shaman, but for the second time this tournament a Fel Reaver against a Rogue would end up in a cardless Shaman deck, and Hyped would take the victory through fatigue damage.
Tempo Storm wins 6-4
Another mid-table clash between two high-profile teams, Team Liquid began the match sending out Savjz piloting another mech Shaman list. In familiar fashion, Team Archon’s Xixo was piloting oil Rogue on the other side of the board, but significantly less Fel Reaver things would happen, allowing Savjz to score first blood. SjoW tried to continue demoralizing Xixo with an aggressive Hunter deck, again against Xixo’s Rogue. However, a turn 7 combo pushed SjoW to near lethal, eventually succumbing to direct damage from the Rogue. Savjz’s Handlock deck was Liquid’s next choice, against an unusual Shaman deck from Zalae. Unfortunately for Zalae, his deviation from the norm would not prove fruitful here, with Savjz’s Handlock controlling the game from the start. Sjow and Firebat were next up, a standard Patron vs Zoo matchup featuring a turn where a Mal’Ganis stared down five Patron Warriors, with SjoW increasing Liquid’s lead.
Neirea made his first appearance of the match piloting Druid, looking to exert even more pressure on Archon with a win against Xixo’s Hunter. Unfortunately, the Hunter aggression would prove indefensible, bringing Archon to within one game. Zalae’s Patron Warrior would aim to bench Neirea, again piloting Druid, but enough anti-Patron tech cards would seal the victory for Neirea. SjoW’s hunter deck would push Archon to game point, defeating the aggressive Firebat’s non-traditional freeze Mage, though this is the second week in a row he’s piloted the deck. Archon turned to Zalae to right the ship, piloting the ever familiar Patron deck against the remaining deck from Liquid, Neirea’s freeze Mage. The poor matchup for Neirea resulted in an easy, albeit slow, win for Archon. Zalae queued up another victory with Shaman next, putting too much pressure on Neirea’s controlling strategy for the Liquid Mage to recover. Firebat’s own freeze Mage would turn the heat up against Neirea, pushing the game to match point and threatening to steal a win from a dominant performance from Liquid. Firebat would be slightly less lucky with his Warlock offering, though, with a relatively quick turn 9 victory from freeze Mage giving Liquid their second win of the day.
Team Liquid wins 6-5
After 4 weeks, Team Celestial still sits at the bottom of the standings, remaining winless. Their hopes of progressing through the tournament look slim, requiring nothing but victories against their remaining opponents, with some help coming from the rest of the league. A 5-car pileup exists around 3rd place, though through tie-breakers there is a bit of clarity. Archon, Liquid, tempo Storm, and Forsenboys sit at 2-2, and the coming weeks feature many mid-table battles that should clarify who will play the last chance playoff round. Week 5 beings next week, Wednesday at 18:00 GMT with Team Archon and Value Town squaring off in an enormous top of the table battle.