04.06.2015
Season 2 LAN Finals Preview
It's that time once again. After many weeks of hard fought battles, 16 players have been selected for the ESL Legendary Series Season 2 LAN Finals. There are some familiar names and there are some new faces, but suffice it to say, these 16 players are the best of the best. From June 5th to June 7th, these 16 finalists will duel to decide who will be crowned Season 2's Champion.

For those of you who haven’t been able to watch every single week of the Legendary Series, the Redemption Tournaments and the Last Chance Open, you’re in luck. Consider this the hub for all the background information you need to get caught up with all the players and what you can expect to see come June 5th.

 

Adrian ‘Lifecoach’ Koy 

Team: Nihilum

Qualified: 1st week of Legendary Series

 Lifecoach was the first player to qualify for the LAN finals and the only player to qualify before the release of Black Rock Mountain. Lifecoach has been one of the top players in the Hearthstone scene since the beginning. While relatively quiet at the start of his career, he has placed in the top 10 Legend players every season on ladder and other professional players have lauded him with praise on his play and consistency. He has a good amount of tournament experience to boot. He won the Kinguin Pro League Season 1 Group Horde, the Kinguin FOR Charity – Spring Edition 2015 and the ROOT Gaming Invitational and placed second in the Kinguin Pro League Season 1 and the Pinnacle 2.

While Lifecoach did qualify, it was not without struggle. He ended up losing his first set of the tournament to Koroneko 3-1, dropping him into the loser’s bracket. He quickly made up for his loss by defeating Liimujx 3-1 to make it to the second day. The second day started off just as difficult as the first as he played a close series against Strifecro winning 3-2. After the tough start he seemed to turn it up to the next level beating Azuzu 3-1 and defeating Gcttirth in a convincing 3 game sweep.  Lifecoach likes to play with decks that are consistent and decent against a majority of classes. In week 1, he brought a Ramp Druid and Handlock both of which are solid decks with few major weaknesses and a Kel’Thuzad Paladin which took control of the tempo and rarely gave it up. Even though he didn’t show his talent within the BRM expansion in the Legendary Series, he did place second in the Kinguin Pro League and top 8 in the Seatstory Cup III, both of which were played after the expansion, so we can confidently say he adjusted to the meta changes quite well. Suffice it to say, Lifecoach knows what he is doing and has shown a consistent level of success in the professional Hearthstone scene, we can expect the same level of expertise at the LAN final.

 

 

 

Aleksandr “Kolento” Malsh

Team: Cloud9

Qualified: 2nd week of Legendary Series

 Kolento is a player that needs little introduction. He has been and is one of the more prominent members of the Hearthstone competitive scene and streaming community. He has been top 5 on the Legend ladder every season and is well-known for often being the first to reach Rank 1. He is also well-known for adjusting existing deck lists, or even creating his own, to reach the top of the ladder rankings such as the infamous Miracle Rogue deck. His tournament resumé is also nothing to sneeze at. He took part in 18 tournaments and placed first in 10 of them.His first place finishes include the Dreamhack Hearthstone Championship, Kinguin Pro League Season 1, Viagame House Cup #1 and CN vs EU Season 2.

Kolento’s journey to the LAN final started off rocky, falling into the loser's bracket after 0-3 to Lemurian. He then defeated Luffy in a close 3-2 series and qualifying for the quarterfinals. Sunday started off much better for Kolento with a 3-1 victory over Silentstorm and winning the rematch against Lemurian 3-1. It came down to the wire in the finals against Roger, but Kolento rose victorious after a nail-biting 3-2 set. Kolento brought a Warrior, Druid and Priest deck to the tournament all with the brand new Emperor Thaurissan card from the Black Rock Mountain expansion. His inclusion of Thaurissan in all his decks shows his natural ability to discover powerful synergies and deep understanding of what mechanics and strategies are the most effective. His decks all benefited greatly from Thaurissan's ability to reduce mana costs. His late game Control Warrior could play his more expensive cards sooner, his Ramp Druid could lower the cost of the Savage Roar combo and ramp quicker with cheaper mana costs and his Priest, which is an early/mid game, tempo style Priest, used high impact cards sooner and maintain a tempo advantage over the opponent. Kolento has shown that he has a variety of strengths from deck building to near perfect play, and combined with his experience in tournament play, he is definitely a favorite to take the Legendary Series LAN championship.

 

 

 

Santiago “Kabi” Rodriguez

Team: Under The Radar

Qualified: 3rd week of Legendary Series

 A relative unknown in the competitive world of Hearthstone, Kabi came out guns blazing and made his mark. He has hit Legend nearly every competitive season including a rank 5 achievement that earned him a spot at the Blizzcon qualifier. His tournament experience is limited with a short stint in the Blizzcon qualifier, but he's sure to make waves at the LAN finals if his play at the Legendary Series is anything to go by. Kabi is a testament to the wide range of talent from all around the world that can be found through the Challenger Series.

Kabi started out strong with a 3-0 victory over Ostaka before falling to the quarterfinals in a close 3-2 series against Savjz. Kabi shifted to next gear on Sunday dropping only 1 game to TooWet in the first series and then sweeping Ignite in the semifinals and winning a convincing 3-0 revenge match against Savjz. To the tournament Kabi brought a Warrior, Druid and Hunter deck, all of which included some interesting changes. The Warrior deck, while the same structure as a late game Control, made some small changes to the late game Legendaries including Ysera and Baron Geddon in favor of cards like Alexstrasza. His Druid ran no copies of the Savage Roar combo, considered a staple in most Druid decks, and incorporated a large amount of taunts and a copy of Kezan Mystic. His Hunter was not an aggro or a Face Hunter but instead was a midrange Hunter with a copy of Ragnaros. All these changes seem a bit silly on their own, but Kabi had his reasons for all these changes. Kabi came into the tournament with a strategy to tweak his decks to give him an advantage over Freeze Mage. And from his dominating performance at the Legendary Series, we can see that his strategy worked. If Kabi can bring this level of preparation and strategy to the LAN finals, we may see this up-and-coming player crowned as the Champion.

 

 

 

Andrey “Reynad” Yanyuk

Team: Tempo Storm

Qualified: 4th week of Legendary Series

 Who doesn’t know who Reynad is? An experienced card game player known not only brought his talents but his entrepreneurial spirit. The founder of the team Tempo Storm, it has grown into one of the most well-known Hearthstone teams with expansions into other games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. His skills in the game are just as impressive as his business skills. He began his adventure into Hearthstone early in the game’s release and was one of the first streamers to make it big. He brought an interesting perspective to Hearthstone, being one of the first players to seriously work on deck building and theory crafting within the limited set of the initial release. One of his most well-known additions to the meta was Zoolock which is still a viable deck build to this day. He has achieved Legendary in every season of Hearthstone and is always looking for new and interesting decks and variations whenever he is playing. His tournament play has been scarce but impressive with 1st place finishes at the Battle of the Best Invitation #1 and Lord of the Arena 1, a top 4 finish at Dreamhack Viagame Hearthstone Championship and top 8 finishes at Seatstory Cup II and International Esports Tournament 2015.

Reynad started off strong with a convincing 3-0 victory Domdus and a 3-1 victory over TooWet, earning him a semifinal spot in Sunday’s bracket. Reynad showed a small chink in his armor in his rematch against Domdus dropping 2 games, but in the end he advanced to the finals where he played a close series against Amaz ultimately winning 3-2. Reynad brought a Druid, Warrior and Warlock with him to the tournament. The Druid is a standard Ramp Druid and the Warlock is a pretty normal Handlock, but the Warrior deck is a bit more interesting. Reynad decided to bring the new Grim Patron Warrior instead of the classical Control Warrior. At the time, the Grim Patron Warrior was the merely an idea, an untested deck that had seen no evidence of being successful. Reynad was able to see the potential of the deck and made adjustments to better fit the meta. He added more card draw options and included some stable mid to late game minions to round out his deck. He was able to combine the old meta with this new deck and showed that it can be viable. As we saw in the later weeks, Patron Warrior proved to be one of the more powerful decks to come out of BRM. Reynad brings experience few other professional Hearthstone players have and has an intuitive sense of the flow of the meta which he uses in his deck building. We can expect Reynad to be a contender for the Championship and he is sure to bring his own flavor of deck to the tournament.

 

 

 

Jeffrey “Trump” Shih

 

Team: Team SoloMid

Qualified: Redemption Tourney #1

 Trump, aka the Mayor of Value Town, is one of the original Hearthstone all-stars. He saw some success as a Starcraft II player, but now is seeing possibly even more success in Hearthstone. He was one of the first to make it big streaming Hearthstone and still sees overwhelming viewership. He brought about a methodical play style that allowed him to become an Arena monster and in turn made him into a powerful ladder player. He has shown his expertise in judging a card's value and class strengths by reaching Legend rank with free-to-play decks like Mage, Warlock and Shaman. He participated in some of the first Hearthstone tournaments, including the Innkeeper’s Invitational, Fight Night and Seatstory Cup #1. While he has taken place in multiple tournaments he has yet to take a first place victory in any of them. Despite this, he is well-respected among the pro players due to his experience and history within the game and its scene, along with his precise play.

Trump had a bye from the first round of games thanks to his placing in the past weeks of the Legendary Series, but this did not slow down his play. He was able to win in a 3-0 victory over Ignite and moved on to face Savjz for a spot at the LAN finals. It was a close match, but in the end Trump came out on top in a 3-2 set and earning himself a place at the LAN finals. To the Redemption Tournament Trump brought a Hunter, Warlock and Warrior decks. Trump is a master at the slow play and prefers to run late game, control-style decks, they fit with his play style the best. To match with this preference, Trump ran with a Midrange Hunter deck instead of a full on rush deck. He also brought a Handlock deck which matches much better with his style than a Zoolock or a Demonlock. His Warrior deck was also the classic late game Control Warrior instead of the popular Patron Warrior that was becoming standard at the time. Trump sticks to his strengths and knows his weaknesses, he waits for his opponent to make a mistake and strikes with full force.  While he prefers slower decks, Trump has shown proficient skill in faster decks if he knows it will be the most successful option. Trump’s calculated play has given him success in the past and there is little doubt that it give him a good chance at the LAN finals.

 

 

 

Frank “Leadpaint” Kissick

Team: N/A

Qualified: Redemption Tourney #2

 While the name Leadpaint might not ring any bells to the casual viewer, if you closely follow the Hearthstone professional scene you would know that he has been around for a while and has experience playing against the best. He may not have won any of the regular season Legendary Season but he was one of the rare few who was able to qualify for more than one week during the season. If that is not enough of a testament to his skill, then his qualification through the Redemption Tournament should be. There is little information on his past tournament experience, but he has shown great success in the Legendary Series so we can expect some good things from him at the LAN finals.

Leadpaint brought a Warlock, Druid and Warrior deck to the Redemption tournament, mostly standard fare. He did decide to bring a Control Warrior in favor of the Patron Warrior, which would match with the slower play style of his other decks. The most interesting decision he made in his deck builds was the inclusion of Malygos in his Warlock deck. It included quite a few spells like Hellfire, Imp-losion and even Soulfire to take advantage of the Spell Damage buff from Malygos. It seems that he hid the Malygos within a somewhat standard Demonlock deck. This shows not only his strong foundation but his willingness to experiment and take advantage of his opponent’s expectations. We could see some interesting deck builds from Leadpaint at the LAN final.

 

 

 

Shengyuan “Roger” Luo

Team: Wayi Spider

Qualified: Redemption Tourney #3

 Another powerful player that isn’t a household name. Roger has been seen as one of the best players coming out of Taiwan, being able to stand toe-to-toe with many of the bigger names in the Western scene. His recorded tournament experience is limited but impressive. He took place in the Viagame House Cup #2 and #3 placing 2nd and top 4 respectively. He also got 3rd place at HKESC Winter 2014, but otherwise he has been relatively quiet in the Western world. While a relatively young player to the Hearthstone scene, he has become respected as a powerful player focuses on the basics and perfecting his play.

The three decks Roger brought to the tournament were Warlock, Druid and Warrior. If you didn’t notice, these three decks are kind of the competitive meta at this stage and have been considered solid and stable decks within the meta for months now. While it can’t be said Roger does not like to experiment with builds, it can be shown that even among players who have gone to more tournaments or have more experience he can hold his own with the standard deck lists. He does not need gimmicks or tricks, he just plays the game at a high-level. I would not be surprised to see Roger make it quite far into the LAN bracket.

 

 

 

Sebastian “Ostaka” Engwall

Team: ROOT Gaming

Qualified: Redemption Tourney #4

 Ostaka may be a younger player, but that does not make him a lesser player. Ostaka is an up-and-coming Hearthstone player who has been rocking the professional scene in recent months. He came seemingly out of nowhere to take 2nd at Seatstory Cup III and has now qualified for the Legendary Series LAN; a short, yet impressive, resume. Although the casual viewer may not know who Ostaka is, he is definitely well-known within the competitive community. Kabi has spoken in length about Ostaka’s strength and called him one of his toughest matches at the Legendary Series. He has been recognized as one of the best players on ladder and all he needed was a small break to make a name for himself, and he definitely has here.

Ostaka chose to bring a Warrior, Druid and Warlock classes. It may seem quite basic, but there actually lies an amount of variety in his deck builds. He brought a Patron Warrior, a Ramp Druid and a rare Zoolock. On their own they are good decks that have good win percentages, but together they show the diversity of Ostaka’s skills. He is able to play it fast or slow, for late game or for tempo, he can be a threat from every angle. He may be one of the harder opponents to prepare for as he can adapt to any changes in the meta and take his skills in multiple play styles to be successful with most, if not all, decks.

 

 

 

Austin “Silentstorm” Li

Team: Team Celestial

Qualified: Last Chance Open Finals

 A name that we should all know, the returning Champion of the Legendary Series Season 1, Silentstorm. He started off strong with a 2nd place finish at the Prismata Cup 2 back in late 2014, but then seemed to quiet down. He then showed up at the last Legendary Series ready to rock and made it to the Legendary Series LAN where he eventually was crowned as the Champion of the inaugural Season. He is now back and ready to show why he won it all… but what is this? He qualified in the Last Chance Open? What happened? What is great about Hearthstone is that truly ANYONE can win. Before the first season of the Legendary Series, Silentstorm was a relative unknown but rose to become the Champion. This season, he almost didn’t make it thanks to Kolento and Roger. You never know who is going to win for sure, everyone has as a good a chance as another. Popularity does not equate to skill, so don’t be surprised if your favorite player does not win the finals. While we do not know what decks Silentstorm brought to qualify for his LAN spot, we can just look back at last season’s Legendary Series, or even this season’s Legendary Series and see his consistency and solid play. Despite the fact that he didn’t qualify through the regular weeks of the Legendary Series or the Redemption tourney, he has shown that he is a top-level player and a contender for a second title. If anything this says volumes about the competition this time around.

 

 

 

Andrew “Kitkatz” Deschanel

Team: N/A

Qualified: Last Chance Open Finals

 Kitkatz is a player that has been a consistent figure in the scene, both in the professional world and the competitive ladder. Well-known as a master Warrior player, Kitkatz has shown a high level of proficiency at all classes and all styles. He has not really participated in a tournament since his top 8 finish at World Cyber Arena 2014, but he has been an active player with top Legend finishes. He has been a member of multiple different teams and for good reason, not only is his knowledge of the game deep, he knows how to play against or as most if not all of the decks in the game. His skill with the Warrior class shouldn’t be overlooked either, he has been able to make his Warrior builds a threat at all points in the meta and is able to mold the deck to be most effective. Kitkatz is a serious contender for the Championship and might make this tournament his first big LAN victory.

 

 

 

Jaron “Demigod” Nolasco

Team: Vicious Syndicate

Qualified: Last Chance Open Finals

 There is not much info available on Demigod, but he is a member of Vicious Syndicate, an impressive group of up-and-coming players. Demigod is a multi-Legend player who has seen success in Community Tournaments. He did have top 8 finishes at the American qualifier for Katowice and at the ESL Challenger Series. But while this will be his first large LAN event, he is quite a skilled player and has shown that he can play against much more experienced players.

 

 

 

Stephen “Domdus” Vu

Team: N/A

Qualified: Last Chance Open Finals

 Domdus is quite the persistent fellow. He was not only in the 4th week of the Legendary Series but also the 3rd Redemption Tourney. When he was unable to qualify in either of those events, he came to the Last Chance Open and finally earned a spot at the LAN final. We can’t look at how he played at the Last Chance Open, we can see how he did at the other tournaments. While he did fall to Reynad in the Legendary Series 3-0, he defeated Bunnymuffins 3-0 to make it to the second day. He then swept LuigEzz 3-0 in the first Sunday game. Unfortunately, he lost to Reynad again in a much closer set 3-2. He did end up qualifying for the Redemption Tourney #3, but fell to Silentstorm 3-1 in the first round. He did not let the losses get to his head however and soldiered on to qualify over dozens of other players at the Last Chance Open.

We don’t have any info regarding the decks he used at the Last Chance Open, we can take a look at the decks he brought to the Legendary Series, in this case a Warrior, Druid and Paladin. Domdus decided to go with a Control Warrior over a Patron Warrior while choosing the old standard Ramp Druid. His choice of Paladin was interesting and could be a personal choice or one that he thinks plays to the weaknesses of the standard meta decks. He has shown diversity and a never give up attitude that is key in big LANs such as this one.

 

Case “Koyuki” Kiyonaga

Team: Illuminati

Qualified: Last Chance Open Finals

 Koyuki is one of the older players that have qualified, not so much in age as in time spent being a pro. He was one of the first players to participate in tournaments in early 2014 and one of the earliest players to become a pro in the first place. He has not been seen in the professional scene for a while as his last tournament showing was the Master Builder Series – Week #3 in early 2015 where he got 2nd place. He has been a relatively quiet player in recent history, but has been a well-respected player, well-known for calculated play and a solid grasp of the basics, his break from the professional scene should not be seen as meaning his skills have diminished at all.

 

 

Ryan “Wwlos” McMurray

Team: Vicious Syndicate

Qualified: Last Chance Open Finals

 Wwlos is the second player from Vicious Syndicate to qualify along with his teammate Demigod. His resumé is short and little has been seen of him in the professional scene. His is a multi-Legend player who has seen some success at Community tournaments with this LAN tournament being his first major professional break. His qualifications from the Last Chance Open shows the amount of skill he possesses despite his ambiguity. This may be Wwlos’ moment to become a more well-known Hearthstone professional

 

 

 

Christopher “Phonetap” Huynh

Team: Under The Radar

Qualified: Last Chance Open Finals

 Phonetap also has limited information regarding his history but he has taken part in a few smaller tournaments like the HearthStats League Season 1 and top 16 at the BlizzCon World Championship Qualifier Season 5 with showings at the Legendary Series Challenger League last season. This may be his first big tournament showing, but he has one of the best Asian players to come from the East and has been known among the pro players for a while now. You cannot count Phonetap out in the tourney, not by a long shot.

 

 

 

Brian “Th3rat” Courtade

Team: Illuminati

Qualified: Last Chance Open Finals

 The final player to qualify for Season 2 of the Legendary Series LAN is Th3rat. He may not be one of the popular players but he has made waves within the professional scene. He was one of the main reasons Grim Patron Warrior is as popular as it is now by reaching Rank 1 Legend with the deck. He pretty much showed the world how good this deck can be, and the past several weeks shows just how right he was. There is little other information regarding his play style or accomplishments, but if he is able to figure out the strength of the Grim Patron Warrior as quickly as he did, his natural intuition at the game can be considered top notch and should be considered a dangerous bonus to his obviously stellar play. He is definitely a wild card, but his chances are just as good as any of these 16 players.

 

Well that’s all of them, all 16 qualified players for the Season 2 Legendary Series LAN Final. It is amazing just to see the diversity of players we have, some old favorites and some new faces, much like last season’s tournament. The Legendary Series is without a doubt the place to find all the best players in the world and we get to see them all face off June 5th to 7th on twitch.tv/esl_hearthstone. Keep in mind tickets to attend the event live are still on sale via Eventbrite.