Esports 2018 review: Tom Matthiesen on Hearthstone and hopes for Artifact

With 2018 drawing to a close, we've asked some friends to look back on the past year in esports and share their stand-out moments. Here's esports writer and Hearthstone specialist Tom Matthiesen with his thoughts on the past 12 months and hopes for 2019


What was the high point of the year?

The first thing that jumps to mind is David “Justsaiyan” Shan qualifying for the Hearthstone World Championships. This year’s HCT sytem in Hearthstone finally was able to prove that the best players in the game are consistent and showed there’s no reason to be dismissive about competitive results in Hearthstone. After a long build-up, him qualifying for the event was the cherry on the cake.

Aside from that, I don’t think I’ve ever had a more electric experience than watching Cloud9 win the Major, early this year. I know it pales in comparison to the achievements of Astralis this year, but C9’s win had everything it needed to be one of the most memorable tournaments ever. I still feel the adrenaline of watching their final game!

And the low moment of 2018?

Man, that’s a tough one. The Hearthstone scene is not a very dynamic one, in the drama sense. Players are extremely friendly with each other and they rarely, if ever, really argue. My lowest point with regards to esports was probably Team 5’s (the Hearthstone development team) announcing that they’d indefinitely shelf the development of a tournament-esque mode for the game.

It was announced in February that they were working on it, then went quiet for more than half a year (leading to speculations and fantasies about the mode running wild), and then out of the blue announced that they’d shelved it in part because they couldn’t live up to the expectations the community had. Like, maybe you should’ve kept us updated about what we could expect then, right? Still bitter about that, evidently.

Storyline of the year?

To other Hearthstone esports fanatics it might be weird that I mentioned Justsaiyan over Hunterace in my first answer. But that’s just because the climax was so memorable. The storyline of the year has to be Hunterace’s. This is a guy who showed up a couple of times last year and was touted as the next big player.

Hunterace just did it, and made Hearthstone 2018 his year

And then, this year, he just went off. Top finish after top finish, Hunterace was the first player this year to make sure the haters were at a loss for words. His consistency has been ridiculous; unfathomable if you decide to do the math. But no, Hunterace just did it, and made Hearthstone 2018 his year.

What were you playing and watching in 2018?

I don’t play many different games consistently. I’m a bit boring when it comes to that. There’s two games that I play a lot: Hearthstone and CS:GO. And then there’s games that have rotated, which I mostly played with friends in the evening, to hang out. PUBG was there first, but I uninstalled that in July because every game I got angry at how bad the game’s state was.

Ever since that, my friend and I picked up on Heroes of the Storm more. I’m not really into MOBAs, but HotS allows for casual and quick fun, too. You don’t have to play a very committed game. Then there’s some Black Ops 4, couple of single-player games… And Artifact, of course! Let’s hope Valve performs a miracle surgery on that one soon.

What would you like to see in 2019?

More esports! As I said earlier, I hope Valve manages to drag Artifact out of the hellhole it’s sunk into now. As a card game esports lover it’s always a pleasure to see the niche expand. And I really like the gameplay itself! Other than that, I hope Fortnite will become an actual esport. Epic can do great things with their game’s competitive scene, but it requires more than just throwing dollars at it. I don’t play the game myself, but it’d be good for esports in general if Epic makes it a well-rounded esport.

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