by Sören “Fantasy” Vendsahm
It was just around 5 PM at the North American West Coast – Burbank, California to be exact. The tense and tight series between Luminosity Gaming and compLexity Gaming was in the last moments, with Hunter starring down lethal but also having set up his Warlock opponent to kill him with one final burst of damage. The last draws would not only decide this particular game, but also the series and the winner of the Trinity Series tournament. Two Flare draws signaled just one thing, defeat. The concede button was pushed and suddenly the compLexity Gaming side erupted in joy, hugs all around, giggles, laughter, and pure joy from Crane, superjj, and Mryagut – three months of hard work, concentration, and a bit of fortune had come to an end – a crowning end. compLexity Gaming is officially the Trinity Series champion!
The road to that moment was filled with ups and downs, close calls, and sometimes bitter defeats. After an impressive 3-0 start into the tournament, beating Cloud 9, Alliance, and Luminosity Gaming, the team around SeatStory Cup 4 winner JJ struggled to clinch a playoff seed in advance. Losses to TempoStorm and Team Liquid left the door open for an epic collapse and a win over G2 edged them ever so close to the secured berth, but a Tempo Mage disaster against Virtus.Pro put them on the brink of elimination. It wasn’t up to compLexity’s cards anymore, but up to either TempoStorm or Cloud 9 to push one of coL’s rivals out of the playoff spot. In the end that team was TempoStorm, who were able to win over G2. The coL trio had the tickets to Burbank secured and were only three more wins away from glory and the sizeable prize pool of $75,000.
Coming into the offline portion as the lowest seed meant a tough opponent straight up, regular season champion Team Liquid. Throughout the regular season Liquid only had to concede out of two matches in total, making them the clear favorite to walk away with the title in Southern California.
The match was surrounded by cool storylines with plenty of history of the two teams. Back in the days it was Dog and SjoW representing compLexity Gaming – now they went up against their old team. Also to note, the week in which Liquid beat coL during the regular season, superjj was not playing – when asked about it, Dog answered: “This week it will be easier!” A bit of friendly banter, followed by an unusual ban strategy by Liquid. They went into the tournament with a plan, banning Druid instead of the feared Pirate Warrior. Many on Social Media and on the teams were in disbelief and in the end it came back to bite them. With Liquid on match point, coL only had the Pirates remaining to win two in a row – which ended up happening. Neither the Murloc Paladin with the Curator tech was enough, nor the Reno Mage in the end. coL walked away 6-5, just how they won most of their games throughout the series – with hours of Hearthstone and back-and-forth counterpicks.
Next up was a meeting with Luminosity in the Upper Bracket Finals. A direct run to the Grand Finals was at stake with LG being the only team at the Trinity Series playoffs coL was able to defeat in the regular season. Luminosity was poised to avenge that stain on their record, opting for a ban of their Paladin and not their Hunter. Rexxar was going to get some playtime in Burbank, would it be enough?
The answer was a tentative yes for Rexxar, who couldn’t win a single game due to a timely Reno coming down, but at least his squad pulled through. Especially the Midrange Shaman piloted by Zalae did work, eliminating coL’s Druid, Priest, and Paladin to finish out the series. LG was a lock for the finals, coL had to endure a marathon session of Hearthstone on Championship Saturday to reach their goal.
First it was a match against VP though, standing in between coL and another rematch with LG. Virtus.Pro’s Naiman, DrHippi, and Bunnyhoppor had haunted coL in the regular season with a 6-2 victory on the heels of Tempo Mage running wild. As if it was following a script, the series ultimately came down to just that again – a 5-4 score for coL with VP having only the Tempo Mage left. A great ramp start from coL’s Druid fell just barely short of ending the Tempo Mage’s run right before it even started, but a Rag flip and the last available pieces of burn ended Malfurion and pushed the series into the deciding Game 11. It was Reno Lock against Tempo Mage and just as the Mage deck is high-risk, high-reward, in clutch time the bounces didn’t go VP’s way. Four Flamewaker pings failed to connect with a 2/1 Brann, opening the door for the party crasher 4/13 Twilight Drake to come down on curve and ruin every hope VP had remaining. Reno Mage coasted to a win after that, setting up the third and final clash between coL and LG in Trinity Series.
Going into the game, it was as even as it could be. In the direct confrontation the two teams were 1-1 in series with LG having a slight edge in overall games – 10-11. During the regular season coL won this matchup 6-5, then just a day earlier had to concede at 4-6. It all came down to this. NA vs. EU, LG vs. coL, with the Trinity Series title, bragging rights, and $75,000 on the line.
Just as it had done almost all season, coL drew first blood with Murloc Paladin, but then had their “serve” broken immediately by LG finding enough cycle in their Aviana-Kun-Malygos combo deck to put Uther and Thrall out of their misery. The tides had turned, Luminosity was back in the driver seat, dictating the pace of the series with a lead.
The results after that went as anyone could expect. The teams bounced wins off each other with coL’s Priest not getting past LG’s Reno Lock, which then fell to Jade Druid finding an aggressive start and pressuring just a bit too much. 3-3 with Jade Druid against Dragon Priest, which then ultimately lost to Reno Warlock. The core matchups that had anchored the entire Trinity Series went through their last hurrah of the season. After the dust had settled it was 4-4 with coL having Reno Lock and Freeze Mage remaining, LG being left with their Hunter and Midrange Shaman.
The heavy board clear and greedy playstyle of compLexity Gaming, piloted by Crane, prevailed against the Bloodlust attempts by LG’s Shaman and put coL into the match point scenario. Could the Hunter of LG blow past two decks? Chakki had revealed a Flare tech in the deck in the interview on Day 2, making the deck rather strong against Freeze Mage. On top of that, the day before it was LG that decided to queue the Hunter into the Warlock as a counter-pick, which would have worked if it wasn’t for an Reno on curve. So LG was still in a decent spot, despite being down a game in the series. Unfortunately for them, the first Tracking of the game destroyed most of their thought-out gameplan and coL with a Brann-Kazakus combination on Turn 7 into two 1-mana Potions and an Earthen Ring Farseer heal for 6 were just enough to weather the barrage of Steady Shots, Quick Shots, Bow hits, and minion attacks thrown at their faces. Luminosity couldn’t piece together the final points of burn.
compLexity Gaming wins the first ever ESL Trinity Series, one of the biggest tournaments in Hearthstone’s history. Congratulations to Crane, superjj and Mryagut!