Hearthstone continues to be one of the fastest-growing eSports in the online gaming genre, captivating both the casual player and the competitive scene.
Quickly becoming the most popular collectible card game (CCG), Hearthstone on the most basic of levels involves designing specific decks around a central theme of classes from Blizzard’s popular World of Warcraft franchise. Each class has a different playstyle, with unique cards that are exclusive to that specific class (there’s also a general pool of cards that every class can use). Mages have a vast amount of spell cards that do direct damage, hunters have beast minions, priests have spell cards centered on healing and buffs, and so on.
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Last Updated: 01/03/2021 - 12:00 UTC
How Hearthstone is Played
Cards can vary in rarity from common, rare, epic, and legendary and can either be weapons, spells, or minions to put on the board. At the start of each match, players pull three to four cards (the player that has the second turn each round starts with four cards) out of a deck constructed of 30 cards. The ultimate goal to victory is simple, burn down the opposing player’s 30 health points before they take down yours.
For more advanced players, building a deck with cards that can be combined together to create devastating combos or used for counter-strategies is important. The flexibility of different strategies and popular cards from each patch is known as the current metagame. Cards can be obtained by purchasing them with an in-game gold currency or special achievements. This in-game gold currency is obtained through daily quests or can be purchased with money.
Hearthstone’s Growing Popularity
Hearthstone’s biggest draw is its free-to-play platform and its easy introduction to beginner players. While it initially started on the PC platform, it has recently established a mobile version of the game. Allowing players to access the game from anywhere has nearly doubled Blizzard’s profit margin for Hearthstone, pulling in roughly $20 million a month combined.
Events & Hearthstone Tournaments
The competitive scene has exploded with the increasing popularity of Hearthstone. Tournaments can range from local, to regional, to even worldwide. Fireside Gatherings are your local, community driven tournaments that basically anyone can start up. All you need is a minimum of eight players and a public gathering place (such as coffee shops, internet cafes, book stores, college campuses, etc.). Tavern Hosts (the person responsible for hosting the event) can then get approval from Blizzard to hold a sanctioned Fireside Gathering. Winners of these sanctioned events can then compete in the Fireside Gathering Championship Qualifier.
A sanctioned event must adhere to the following format (known as the Conquest format):
All matches are a best-of-five series (meaning the first player to reach three wins advances)
Decks must be submitted prior to each stage from the player and include three unique classes
A player can only win one game with each deck (the deck then becomes retired)
Qualified winners of the Blizzard sanctioned Fireside Gathering events will then compete against each other in their respective region’s Fireside Gathering Championship Qualifier. This online tournament will follow the same Conquest format from the Fireside Gatherings and feature single elimination brackets. The top four players from the qualifying tournament will then move on to the Fireside Gathering Championship.
After the four finalists from each region are determined, they will then face off against each other for first place and a grand prize of $2,500 (second place receives $1,500 while third and fourth place each get $500). The same format (the Conquest format) will be used in this tournament as well. The winner also is guaranteed a spot in the Regional Qualifier, regardless of their rank.
Before the Regional Qualifier tournament begins, a play-in tournament known as the Last Call Tournament takes place. Any player that has acquired the Legend card pack (earned by achieving the Legend rank in Ranked Play) is eligible for their respective region’s Last call Tournament. The tournament uses the Last Hero Standing format (a best-of-three series), single-elimination format. The player will declare three classes and a deck associated with that class. For the first match, both competing player’s decks are chosen at random. The winning player gets to keep their deck from the first game while the losing player must switch to one of their two remaining decks. The top 16 players from this tournament will then advance to the Regional Qualifier with the seeding format being 25-40 based on the results.
The Regional Qualifier is comprised of 40 players from each region that compete in a double elimination tournament. Players are seeded based on their standings in the 2015 Hearthstone point structure. The top eight players who have earned the most points will be exempt from the first two rounds, joining the rest of their region for the round of 16. The winner of that region’s Fireside Gathering Tournament will be seeded 24th in the tournament (their seeding may be higher based on the amount of points they’ve accrued). The rest of the tournament representatives compromise those eligible from the Last Call Tournament. The tournament then commences with the regional representatives determined. Below is a list, by region, of the total number of eligible participants for the Regional Championship:
United States & Canada: 6 players
China: 8 players
Australia & New Zealand: 2 players
Latin America: 2 players
Taiwan: 2 players
Southeast Asia: 1 player
Europe: 8 players
Korea: 2 players
Japan: 1 player
Now that the elite players have risen to the top, it’s time to determine who will represent each region in the Hearthstone World Championship. The top four players from each region (America, Europe, China, and Asia-Pacific) will compete in a group stage to determine who will move on to play at BlizzCon.
The first round of the tournament will consist of four players in each group. The top two players from each group will advance to the second round and automatically qualify for the Hearthstone World Championship. The format is a single-elimination bracket.
The granddaddy of all tournaments, the Hearthstone World Championship, is played annually at Blizzard’s yearly BlizzCon on the big stage for a total prize purse of $250,000. The first round of the tournament features four groups consisting of four players in each group. The top two players from each group will then advance to the second round.
The second round is an eight player single-elimination bracket, featuring a quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals to determine who the Hearthstone World Champion will be. All matches will be a best-of-five. The winning deck is retired but the loser may use the same deck in a future games.
Hearthstone Real Money Betting
As with all the popular eSport games, betting has become an attractive aspect for Hearthstone. The most common bet is on head-to-head matches during tournaments. Proposition bets can also be made, such as which player will be the first to do damage, the first to play a legendary card, do the highest damage from a single card, etc. In addition to this, traditional bets, such as picking a player before the start of a tournament to win it all, can be made.
Don’t want to bet with real money? No problem. Some betting institutions, such as GosuGamers, have a feature called ValueBet. This feature allows bettors to place bets on matches using items found in their Steam inventory (an estimated value is given for each item).
Get an Edge Betting on Hearthstone
The better understanding you have of the game, the more educated your bets can be. Knowing what the current meta is, popular strategies that are used, and the individual strengths of each class can significantly increase your odds of a successful bet. For instance, if a specific player has all control decks (typically a deck with late game cards – i.e. warrior, handlock, mage, etc.) and is playing against a player who has all rush decks (typically an early aggression deck – i.e. hunter, murloc, rogue, etc.), the odds favor the player with the rush deck. To further compound this, researching individual players is huge as well. Knowing what type of playstyle they prefer, their in-game decision making, and skill level is important. A large quantity of competitive players will stream on Twitch, giving bettors a superb platform to inspect different players.
Specific resources, such as liquidhearth, can also assist bettors. Hearthstone news, patch notes, live streams, and upcoming events can be found here. A significant amount of guides are also published here, with everything from helpful resources for beginner players, to advanced decks, and even articles on the currents trends found in Hearthstone.
Unlike team oriented games such as League of Legends, Dota 2, Heroes of the Storm, or Smite, Hearthstone can be closely associated with a poker style of game. In the moment decisions and using diverse strategies will ultimately determine the winner of a matchup. In essence, Hearthstone boils down to numbers and probabilities. The most successful bettors will do their homework on individual players, their strengths and weaknesses, and develop a probability chart for their chances of winning using certain decks and against certain decks.