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Tespa Hearthstone Collegiate Championship: A Retrospective

4 months ago


Tespa Hearthstone Collegiate Championship: A Retrospective

These past few months, I had the opportunity to compete with two other teammates at my college, Grand Canyon University, in the Tespa Hearthstone Collegiate Championship. In this 7 week series, teams of 3 compete to prove which college is the powerhouse of their respective regions, and this is our story.


Tryouts for the team were pretty short and sweet. The two best players quickly made themselves obvious and once chosen, began to work. We quickly began to craft graphs and spreadsheets to see what decks were viable and which were subpar. However, we had to bond as teammates before we could begin to do any real work. We went out to eat at a local place and just talked about life, classes and such.  We quickly became friends and eventually were ready to do work.


We had about 2 weeks to decide what decks to bring. One teammate was an adamant aggro player, while another was primarily midrange, leaving myself to fill the control portion of our 3 man hivemind. We knew that Odd Paladin had been destroying ladder and previous HCT Tour stops, so that was the first deck we agreed on. With this, we had two options. A full aggro lineup, or a split lineup with 2-2 aggro and control/midrange decks. I insisted we include Deathrattle Hunter, the most used deck at previous tournaments, solidifying our split lineup idea. Now the question was, what else? Shudderwock Shaman seemed strong, but not one of us could think of a way to fit it in our current lineup without decent tech choices and counter ability. Instead, we opted to include Evenlock with heavy anti aggrotech, such as double Doomsayers and double Sunfury Protectors. Lastly, we included a Myra’s-less Odd Rogue, opting instead to include a Scalebane for extra midrange pressure. With decks ready and tech decided on, we were ready to begin our competitive win streak.


Week 1: Arizona State University


This was an epic of a start to a season as ever. ASU has repeatedly disrespected our university and a rivalry with little grace formed between us. Few words were exchanged when we went into the queue for our games. We brought Evenlock, Tempo Mage, Deathrattle Hunter, and Token Druid, with the druid being banned. After bans, they had Odd Rogue, Odd Paladin, and Malygos Druid. We queued our mage into the first two matchups and got smacked by their aggro. We were disheartened as we expected to be destroyed by our rivals, but we didn’t give up. We queued our warlock and all he had to win with was his Malygos Druid. We managed to win with a clutch Bloodreaver Gul’dan draw, and then we had to face the facts. We have to win with this mage at some point. Instead of waiting, we queued it immediately. It was a roll, thanks to a clutch mana wyrm secret keeper start, and ending in a double fireball lethal. This was it. The final game to decide which Arizona team was best. It was Malygos Druid versus Deathrattle Hunter; Because of clunky draws from them and Devilsaur Egg shenanigans on our end, ASU concedes on Turn 6. We were victorious in a reverse sweep to open our season.


Weeks 2 & 3: Claremont Mckenna College and University of California - Irvine


Our team started to struggle. Our knowledge of the meta was fine, we knew the exact stats on matchups, but we ran into a problem that all card game players can relate to: Money. None of our collections were entirely complete and unfortunately overlapped quite a bit. Because of our status as college students, none of us had the ability to drop a massive amount of money on packs, and thus we were scouted and destroyed by these high tier teams. Claremont went on to be the only undefeated team in the Western region in regular play and Irvine went on to a 6-1 record, losing only to Claremont. One more loss and we were out of regular season play.


Week 4: University of Alberta


Alberta has always been a powerhouse for Hearthstone. Their consistently high finish had us incredibly worried because of how close our previous games had been, and this seems like it would be no different, Our Druid mirror match was a quick win, which was followed up with a decisive Evenlock victory over their Odd Rogue. However, this is where our cracks began to form. Our Evenlock choice had been a debate up until now, and it was proving vulnerable. We lost a control matchup against their Odd Warrior and quickly began to bicker. It seemed like we were going to lose as the arguing continued after losing the mirror, but there was hope, we weren’t going to end like this. Their druid had mistakenly been teched for Aggro matchups, and we took full advantage of that weakness. Once Bloodreaver Gul’dan pulled 2 Vulgar Homunculus, 2 Hooked Reavers, and a Dread Infernal, they conceded. We prevented the reverse sweep.


Week 5: Clovis Community College


This was an odd one. No one knew who these guys were, and somehow they got this far in the tournament with a 3-2 scoreline. Once we had added each other, the bright orange numbers told us exactly how. They had done it by pure skill alone, indicated by the high legend players they had. With an early loss by our Odd Paladin against his Token Druid, we were worried. However, the insisted on queueing their Evenlock, enabling us to sweep them with knowledge of the tech and teamwork we used to keep track of their cards. They removed us from their friend list as soon as we won, signaling they were extremely upset. We literally used the power of friendship to dominate the opponent.


Week 6: University of California - Santa Cruz


To be honest, there isn’t a lot to say about this match. This team was anywhere from rank 20 to rank 10. It was a pretty easy 3-1 sweep, with one loss being Odd Rogue versus an Odd warrior. Even that was relatively close. Not only did they not play along to the armor game plan that destroys rogue. Instead, they played Dr. Boom on turn 7 and nearly died to a Cold Blood + Leeroy combo. However, once that unfavorable was out of the way, it was a pretty easy clean up from there. There isn’t a lot to analyze, tons of misplays on their end enabled us to win without much worry.


Week 7: University of California - Berkeley


This was it. We were both 4-2. One of us was going to the playoffs, one of us was going home. We had made a change to our lineup, that being we brought Murloc Mage instead of another deck we usually bring, Evenlock. This was done to throw off our opponents, and my teammates insisted it was a great deck; Because of this, we queued it up first against their Evenlock. We knew we were favored in this matchup, but a hellfire and double defile by turn 5 crushed our dreams of taking an easy first win. We lost our only guaranteed win in the entire match. After looking at some stats, we queued Odd Paladin against their DR Hunter. A turn 5 Level Up! Took us to game 3 with a 1-1 game line, which was our own DR Hunter vs. Taunt Druid. An amazing Bloatbat + poisonous adapt + Terrorscale Stalker gave us the absolute most clutch win of all. Now, the hard part. Winning with Murloc mage. The first opportunity was against the Taunt druid. However, everytime a board was established, we were smacked down with a large taunt or a swipe. Oakheart confirmed we had lost. Now, we were in familiar territory. Game 5. Murloc Mage vs. Deathrattle Hunter. By turn 4 we had a Murloc Warleader and lots of board, and there was nothing they could do. GG was called and we had done it. We qualified for playoffs.




Unfortunately, playoffs were relatively disappointing. Aside from toppling the number 2 seed, University of Utah, we were simply unable to play due to the fact that the two-day event was scheduled for the same weekend thanksgiving break was to start for all universities. Many had to drop from the tournament, while we had to make do with mobile and having members missing with those playing with bad connections. We were taken out on the first game of day 2, and I’m adamant that we could have done better if scheduling had been done well and we had a break before our games.


In the end, we placed extremely high for a rookie season of three legend players who had never played together before. I look forward to not only competing again but seeing just how far we can go.


-Cole Ricke