With a busy schedule over the past week including four league matches in five days – along with celebrating the 4th of July in the middle – I wasn’t able to find time to do my usual write-ups. At this point, the group stages of the Vulcun Deckmaster League have reached their conclusion, and now only the playoffs remain. Did I make it? Well, let’s recap my last few matches to find out.
After losing my first match against StrifeCro, I faced off against Kang, or the artist formerly known as HandsomeGuy. Under that alias, he qualified for the Viagame House Cup #3. Funny anecdote – one of the editors of GosuGamers posted on Twitter that was doing a write-up on that event, and he tried Google Image searching “Handsomeguy Hearthstone”, and got pictures of me instead. That made me chuckle.
After my win in the Archon Team League with Mech Shaman, I was pretty impressed by the deck’s power level, since I was able to pull out victory even without a great opening. I decided to replace the Paladin deck from my previous lineup with Mech Shaman, leaving me with these decks:
I ended up beating Kang pretty convincingly in two games with Shaman and Druid after he banned my hunter, despite once again having a fairly poor opening with no turn two play with Shaman. He made a couple of questionable plays, including playing a Freezing Trap into a board when he should have known I had a treefolk from Force of Nature in my hand from a previous Freezing Trap. We talked a bit after the game about some decisions he could have made differently and how they might have impacted the outcome. It’s always nice to have friendly opponents who are interested in chatting after a game.
My next match was against Theude, who was another qualifier winner. I didn’t have much time to prepare for the match and scout his tendencies due to the holiday weekend, so I ended up just running the same lineup as I played against Kang, except replacing the midrange hunter with hybrid.
Theude also banned my hunter, and was playing Warlock, Priest, and Mage. I felt like my aggressively slanted lineup was likely weak to priest, so I banned that. I managed to win the first game once again with Mech Shaman, but lost the second to his MechMage deck with my Druid. I nearly came back from a really disadvantaged early position, but made the perhaps ill-advised decision to risk a two in seven chance of dying to a spare part in his hand rather than use Savage Roar to clear a Snowchugger late in the game (in the hopes of drawing Force of Nature or a Druid of the Claw for lethal) and lost. I then fell to his Warlock deck in the final game, in large part due to a timely Abusive Sergeant plus Big Game Hunter taking down my Ancient of Lore in the late game.
That put me to 1-2 in the group stage, with only Neirea left to play. My history against Neirea competitively is that he absolutely crushed me with Handlock 3-0 in the VGVN #3 tournament back when I first started playing competitively and had no idea how to play against the deck, so I was hopeful to get revenge. Interestingly, Neirea was the only 3-0 player in the group at this point despite being one of the qualifier winners, which I think speaks highly to the level of competition in our group in particular.
After my poor performance with Druid in the previous week and my general distaste for the class’s position in the current metagame, I decided to replace it in my lineup with Paladin. I don’t think Paladin is particularly great either, but it’s strong against Handlock (which I suspected Neirea might play), and reasonable against pretty much everything except Freeze Mage and Patron Warrior, making it significantly stronger in the best of three with a ban format.
Neirea played Warlock, Paladin, and Mage, and I banned Mage in fear of Freeze lining up well against my Paladin, while he banned my hunter.
Fun fact: 100% of my opponents banned Hunter against me.
I opened with my own Paladin, running into his Warlock, which turned out to be Zoo. I had a very strong opening with Zombie Chow into Knife Juggler into Muster and managed to take the game down in short order. In the second game, Neirea once again played Warlock, while I played Shaman. I had my first really good draw with Shaman in all of the games I’ve played it in recent tournaments, curving out with Cogmaster into Mechwarper into Coin-Fel Reaver. I lost almost my entire deck to Fel Reaver’s drawback, but Neirea lost almost his entire life total and board to its body, and a fortunate topdecked Crackle that didn’t roll the minimum allowed me to close out the series 2-0.
Another fun fact: I won 100% of my games with Mech Shaman in my leagues in the past month, including 3
That left me at 2-2 in the group stage of the league, tied with both Theude and Strifecro, while Neirea ended 3-1 and Kang 1-3. Given that there were no posted rules regarding tiebreakers or advancement out of groups, I didn’t know whether or not I would advance to the playoffs, so I contacted the admins last night to inquire as to what to expect next. Unfortunately , it turns out that the primary tiebreaker is head-to-head matchups, which means that because I lost to both Theude and Strifecro – despite being the only player to beat the top finisher in the group – I won’t be moving on to the next stage of the tournament.
That result is a little frustrating, since I also tied for a playoff spot and missed out on tiebreakers in the Kinguin league, as well. There, at least, I knew where I stood because the rules were announced beforehand, and I had a poor game differential in the event overall. I hope to see future leagues take tiebreaker situations into consideration in advance, and communicate clearly to their players what they should expect – as well as to try to set up the league structure to avoid as many potential ties as possible. I understand that lots of organizers aren’t necessarily used to the particulars involved in such matters, but I expect we’ll see improvement as time goes on.
In any event, I appreciate Vulcun inviting me to play in the league. It was a fun event to be a part of, even if my final result was a bit disappointing. Good luck to everyone in the playoffs – looks like I’ll be focusing on the Archon Team League for the time being!