Taiwanese Hearthstone player Chen "tom60229" Wei-Lin beat U.S. stalwart Frank "Fr0zen" Zhang to win the Hearthstone Championship Tour World Championship on Sunday in Amsterdam.
It may have started with millions of Hearthstone players around the world, but only 16 were invited to Amsterdam to compete in the Hearthstone World Championship and vie for its $1 million prize pool. The championship matchup was a battle between Fr0zen, the player with the best deck lineup, and the player who has been playing the best throughout the tournament, tom60229.
With the USA flags and chants on full display, everything seemed to be going the way of Fr0zen. After one dominating game on Highland Priest and a win on Control Mage with a single point of health, Fr0zen was up 2-0 in the grand finals. Confetti was falling, literally - and preemptively.
After the cleanup of the premature confetti, Fr0zen was on championship point with just his Jade Druid deck left. Tom60229 brought out his Highlander Priest, and Fr0zen lost when he couldn't find Ultimate Infestation as Tom moved to 4-0 on his Priest deck. Game 4 was a very quick one as tom60229, thanks to an Innervate from his Swashburglar, made a 10/10 Edwin Van Cleef on turn 2. Needless to say, we had our very first winner-take-all game in World Championship history.
It was Jade Druid vs. Jade Druid one last time, and tom60229 showed off his next-level game knowledge. Why would you ever keep a 10-mana card in your opening hand, you might ask. Tom answered that by promptly plopping down Ultimate Infestation on turn 10, while Fr0zen searched frantically for the same card, leading to a concede from the North American.
Tom60229's championship is a unique and dramatic story of redemption. Back in the first-ever Hearthstone World Championship in 2014, tom60229 was eliminated from the event without winning a single match. Now, over three years later, tom60229 qualified for the World Championship again, this time through Last Call.
The $250,000 finals prize, fame and storyline aside, the champion said he is most proud of bringing the first World Champion title to the Asia-Pacific region.
"It's been an honor to play against some of the best Hearthstone players in the world," tom60229 said in a statement. "All the hard work I put in this year paid off - I feel I really deserved this win."