Going into our match against Team Liquid this past week, we knew that the stakes were high. A win would position us at the top of the standings, with a chance to be guaranteed a slot in the finals, while a loss would send us into the middle of the pack and force us to win even more matches to make our way to the live finale.
Our preparation and deck selection for our match against Liquid was fairly typical, since they have tended to bring a very predictable range of decks. After our previous loss to Archon in part due to my own inability to find a win with Druid, we decided to go back to our working formula, with me on Hunter and Mech Shaman, Dog on Rogue and Mage, and Trump on Warlock and Warrior. To keep ourselves from becoming too predictable, Dog played Tempo Mage rather than Freeze, while Trump played Control Warrior and Zoo rather than Patron and Handlock.
Things did not start well for us, when Trump opened with Control Warrior against Neirea’s Druid – a historically terrible matchup. Druid is one of the weaker decks against our lineup overall, so it was quite unfortunate that it ended up getting essentially a free win. I managed to get us on the board in the next round against Savjz and his MechShaman deck, though he was nearly able to assemble enough burn to kill me from a high life total.
Trump’s struggles continued in the next two games, as his Zoo list lost to Savjz’s Handlock and his Control Warrior deck fell to MechShaman, sending Savjz home for the day. With Trump benched, Dog was thankfully able to get things closer to even when he put on an RNG clinic with his Flamewakers and Arcane Missiles against Sjow’s hunter, and then Trump pulled us to even when he picked up a win with his Zoo deck against Neirea’s Freeze Mage.
That particular match was a strange one, both in terms of the way it played out and how it ended up happening in the first place. We were very surprised that Liquid didn’t send Neirea’s Mage deck out when Trump was benched, since it would guarantee that he didn’t run the risk of playing against Control Warrior, and we suspected he might not actually be playing Freeze. Last week, Neirea played Echo Mage, and an early Duplicate threw Trump for a loop and had him playing around Molten Giants and otherwise navigating the game in ways that he would not have if he had better knowledge of what he was up against. Thankfully, the misinformation did not cost him, and we managed to even up the match.
Dog pulled us ahead with a strong performance with his Rogue deck against Sjow’s Hunter, but I couldn’t keep things going as my Mech Shaman deck fell to that same Hunter deck in the next game. With the score tied at games to 4, I managed to win a clutch match against Neirea’s Freeze Mage with my Shaman deck, ensuring that we could lean on Control Mage vs Freeze to clinch the series. I think I could have done a few things differently in retrospect to improve my changes to win, but I’m thankful that things ultimately ended up going my way.
In the penultimate g ame, Sjow managed to pull off a 50 damage lethal with Patron to beat Trump’s Control Warrior deck, but Neirea could not find a miracle of his own, and Trump managed to close things out thanks to good old Armor Up.
The win put us into essentially a four-way tie for first place, with all four teams facing off against one of the others in the final week for guaranteed spots in the live finals. We play Tempo Storm in the first match on Wednesday, with the winning team securing the #1 seed if Cloud9 wins, and the #2 seed if Nihilum comes out on top. Additionally, I have essentially a head-to-head matchup with Hyped for the Master of Duels title and the $5000 prize that comes with it. I’m currently in the lead at 11-3, but Hyped is right on my heels at 11-4. Only Chakki is really in striking distance of either of us at 10-5, so it’s quite likely that the result of our games on Wednesday will decide the title.
So there’s just $5000 for myself and the potential for my team to win our share of $250,000 more on the line on Wednesday. No pressure, right?
I’m looking forward to it.