America took the whole tournament with just one win in a twist so sharp, it made both players and casters laugh.
The Inn-vitational was the very first competitive event to showcase the new Witchwood cards, being held mere 24 hours after the release of the expansion – the fatal Friday 13. The rules were quite simple: America is to clash with Europe in four matches, and in the end one representative of the two teams will face the other in a winner-takes-all final.
Europe won all four matches in the bracket.
Orange beat Alliestrasza 3-1
Tyler beat Dog 3-1
RDU beat Savjz 3-1
Sjow beat Firebat 3-2
This was a very convincing performance from the EU team and they began to prepare the celebrations for when the whole tournament is swept. The finalists chosen by the two teams were RDU and Firebat respectively.
Four wins also meant four bans that Europe could take advantage of, and they went for Rogue, Paladin, Warlock and Priest. That left Firebat very little choice, so he picked Hunter, Shaman and Mage for the final battle.
RDU went for Hunter, Paladin, and Warrior.
Given the celebratory nature of the event and the light-hearted atmosphere, the casters were having lots of fun and could afford to be facetious at times. ‘RDU will 100% win, that’s exactly how Hearthstone works’ they said jokingly. And then the games started.
Firebat took the first game with his Shaman against RDU’s Pally. He then switched to Hunter against a Priest and won. The European contender took the next game and kept the class, facing against Mage. This turned out to be the last matchup of the Inn-vitational. Just as RDU thought the game was in the bag, Firebat Discovered his way into 17 damage and shot down his opponent with the help of two Sorcerer’s Apprentices.
This came as a surprise to RDU, as well as the casters and the viewers. Even though Europe were flawless up at that point, they knew the rules – winner takes all.
Casters TJ Sanders and Nathan Zamora jokingly asked Firebat what feels better: his Inn-vitational victory or his World championship title back in 2014. Playing along with the tongue-in-cheek conversation, Firebat declared this victory much more important, as it is more recent.
RDU also felt good after the game, despite the defeat. He said that he would like to play Shaman more but is afraid that his fans won’t take that lightly. In his words, there will be another week or two of fun experimentation with crazy decks, after which he will start seriously preparing for the high-profile competitive tournaments to come.
All in all, this was a very fun event and a pleasure to watch. I secretly hoped the players will go full-in on the new Witchwood gimmicks but given the very short amount of time they had to prepare, it’s understandable that the old archetypes won’t go away in the blink of an eye.
More serious Hearthstone is coming next, and we’re about to experience the real metagame shift and all its implications. Stay tuned.