Hearthstone
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ShtanUdachi wins Hearthstone's 2017 Winter Championship

ShtanUdachi wins Hearthstone's 2017 Winter Championship

For Aleksey "ShtanUdachi" Barsukov, everything had been building to last weekend - the Hearthstone Winter Championship - where he has managed to claim his first tournament victory, despite already being well known as the creator of many of Hearthstone's more prevalent - yet creative - decks. ShtanUdachi began the tournament with a strong showing, topping his group with only three rounds lost, utilising his favoured Tempo Deck builds to gain early advantages in both matches he played - his first against reputed names XHope and Fr0zen, the latter only managing to win a single round against ShtanUdachi. Fr0zen would go on to place second in Group A, however, struggling to get his Rogue Deck to work to his advantage. Elsewhere in the group stages, Neirea and Lovelychook topped Group B, LvGe and DocPwn qualified from Group C with Tarei and SamuelTsao topping Group D. What did surprise was Pawel and OmegaZero, two of the bigger names in Hearthstone esports failing to make it past the group stage. Pawel just missing out against newcomer LvGe, and struggling to make his Mage Deck stick in his tiebreaker match against DocPwn. OmegaZero, however, really failed to show up in the tournament, claiming three rounds in his first game against SamuelTsao but - defeated and deflated - ended up decimated by former Team Dignitas' GreenSheep in a 0-4 sweep. When it came to the knockout stage, ShtanUdachi proved from the start that he was prepared to go all the way, claiming the first game against Lovelychook as a clean sweep thanks once more to his safer Tempo Decks. He found himself stuck up against SamuelTsao in the semis, though, with the latter's strong Aggro Shaman putting a hold on ShtanUdachi's progression. Finally getting his Mage Deck to work up against a Rogue Deck, ShtanUdachi found a bit more rhythm and went on to win the game 4-3, a close opportunity for SamuelTsao. As many expected it was Fr0zen who made it to the semifinals alongside Canadian DocPwn, but he never got a look in. Fr0zen kept the game in his control, DocPwn first struggling to make his Druid work and when switching to Priest found no quarter, the game ending 4-0 to Fr0zen. The finals between Fr0zen and ShtanUdachi were not quite as easy, however. All seven games were played in the series, with Fr0zen clearly determined to repay ShtanUdachi for his strong defeat in the group stages earlier in the weekend. Despite the closeness of the series, however, each match was over fairly quickly - both players looking to crush their opponents before their could. As a comparison, all seven games were played in nearly the same time as Fr0zen's 4-0 victory in the semis. It was a tense series of back-and-forths, however. beginning with Fr0zen taking the lead, then ShtanUdachi before it equalised at 3-3. Having already played through his Rogue, Warlock and Shaman Decks, it was left to ShtanUdachi to play his favoured Tempo Mage build. ShtanUdachi kicked off the final match with a great deal of damage, keeping Fr0zen on the defensive and having to counter at every turn. Even a mid-game Reno heal wasn't enough to stop ShtanUdachi, who was lucky enough to draw Alexstrasza two turns after and secure a two-turn kill. ShtanUdachi later said that he decided to play less innovative, creative decks - a facet he is well-known for - in favour of more security. It seems it worked, with the $60,000 grand prize going to the Russian player.