Nvidia Hearthstone comp pits you against the pros
We get the lowdown on Nvidia’s Hearthstone clash that puts the pros and amateurs against each other.
Hearthstone is getting huge. Blizzard’s critically acclaimed, card battling Heroes of Warcraft title is emerging as one of the world’s top eSports, and not just a way to kill time when Twitch streamers are waiting for their next LoL match. With plenty of tournaments already paving the way for pros to compete in, graphics giant Nvidia is also pledging its support for Hearthstone, and has recently announced its very own tournament – with the best broadcast on Twitch.
It’s not just for the pros this time around either: Nvidia’s card slinging tournament will see professional battlers go up against eager amateurs for a slice of a $25k prize pool – along with coveted qualification points for November’s Hearthstone World Championship.
Registration for the tournament is already open and closes on March 19, while group stage gameplay will then commence from March 26 to May 14. The grand tournament finals kick off on May 16, when the top 16 pros take on the top 16 amateurs in best of five, single elimination bracket playoffs.
In anticipation, we’ve spoken with Trig Esports' pro card slinger Jan "Faramir" Engelmann about the upcoming tournament, the state of Hearthstone as an eSport, and what tricks and tips you need to keep in mind if you’re an amateur competing.
It’s been a year to the day since Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft first officially launched on PCs and Macs, and over 500 cards, one adventure (with another on the way shortly) and one expansion later, it’s already gathered 25 million registered accounts. Phew. That’s plenty of players throwing digital cards around, and it’s managed to capture the attention of pro competitors and casual gamers alike.
And now Nvidia’s upcoming tournament aims to pit the two worlds against each other to see who’s capable of coming out on top. Compared to the well established likes of League of Legends and Counter-Strike, Hearthstone is still incredibly young, but it’s made up of a friendly yet competitive scene. Even if, according to Engelmann, there are still a few fixes that could be made:
“There are definitely still a few things to improve on,” he says, “but I think Hearthstone is coming into its own as an eSport. Tournaments like [Viagame] House Cup for example, or SeatStory Cup really embody what Hearthstone stands for: friendly competition with a great atmosphere.
“I got into it by watching LoL streamers playing it in between their queue times. It’s definitely a radically different game from MOBAs but there is a different kind of excitement in Hearthstone. It’s a lot about strategising and smart thinking – outthinking your opponent on a lot of levels. That might not erupt in big ‘hype’ moments like in other eSports like Dota 2, LoL or CS:GO, but it’s still fascinating to watch.”
It’s not just playing the game that’s fun either; its enthusiastic crowd of casters and pros make the complex and deep game enjoyable as a spectate too, even for those just starting out.
“It’s an entertaining game to watch even for people who are playing it on a lower level,” Engelmann says. “It involves a lot of decision making, more than most people realise, especially with deck selection and deck building. It never gets boring to watch especially if the casting is as great as in the scene we have right now.”
Nvidia’s upcoming tournament has a $25k prize pool and pits top pros and amateurs against each other in the May finals. Do you think this will stir up some great competition? Does the nature of Hearthstone mean that even amateur players have an even chance of making it to the finals?
“If you play well, you should be able to compete with the pros,” Engelmann tells us. “And this tournament gives the chance for 16 amateur players to mess themselves with the best of the best. I am really looking forward to playing against my friends from the pro scene as well as playing against unknown newcomers.
“I hope there’ll be players from the amateur side that can make a splash into the scene,” he adds. “I think players that can play consistently on a high level while being smart in their deck selection have the best chance to win the tournament.”
While getting a slice of that $25k will be on plenty of players’ minds, it’s the qualification points for the Hearthstone World Championship that the pros will be looking to scoop, as every point you can grab will count towards November’s grand slam event.
Engelmann’s keen to make it to the finals, hosted at the annual BlizzCon, and competing at Nvidia’s event puts him one step closer to his dream: “I’m definitely seeing myself competing at the World Championship. I barely made it into Phase 2 of last year's qualifier but this year I’m coming back better prepared and more eager than ever to take home the title.”
“The road there will be filled with a lot of hurdles I have to overcome, but I am confident that me and my team can work together to achieve this goal.”
Engelmann also has a few tips for any budding Hearthstone enthusiasts hoping to get in on Nvidia’s tournament, and playing only makes up a small part of it – you’ll be needing to master your deck creation: “You need to make sure that every card in the deck fits a certain role. You can't just put in a card that you think ‘maybe could be good sometimes,’” he says. “Every card needs to serve its purpose, and if you achieve such a deck and know its match-ups well, you should be well prepared for the tournament.”
“I would advise the amateur players to play decks they are comfortable with. There’s no reason to play decks you heard are broken if you’re not able to play them on the highest level.”
We might be seeing a bit of a reshuffle next month too, as the recently announced adventure (Blackrock Mountain) is hitting servers then, and brings along 31 new cards: “The meta game might just get shaken up a lot,” says Engelmann. “I feel like there are some key nerfs coming up, so we will just have to wait and see.”
Stay tuned, as it looks like Hearthstone will continue to cause a real ruckus in the eSports scene.
Nvidia’s Hearthstone Pro/Am Tournament kicks off from March 26, with the grand finals taking place on May 16. Registration closes on March 19. Get the best pro gaming stories delivered straight to your inbox with the Red Bull eSports newsletter.