Among the four players who rose to the top at the 2018 Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT) Americas Summer Playoffs are two from the United States that really need their handles to differentiate them. David “killinallday” Acosta and David “dog” Caero played incredibly May 12 and 13 to secure their berths at the upcoming Summer Championship, and both took time to sit with us and discuss their deck lineups and strategies, as well as how they felt when they won the critical decider matches at the end of the tournament.
Validation for dog
Team Liquid’s dog brought Control Warlock, Control Priest, Spiteful Druid, and a Control Warrior featuring Azalina Soulthief to the Americas Playoffs—a lineup he considers something of an anti-aggro strategy. “I automatically banned Quest Rogue,” dog said. “If they didn’t have Quest Rogue, I would usually ban Spiteful Druid, because my lineup has a hard time dealing with it. All of my decks can beat Warlock.” His decks ran tournament-appropriate countermeasures, like the Skulking Geist in Control Priest, due to his overall game plan.
After making it out of the Swiss rounds and into the top eight, when asked whether he would change his deck lineup in retrospect, dog said, “I don’t like my Warrior deck. I would probably switch it to Fibonacci’s Recruit Warrior. Fr0zen was trying to tell me to bring it, but I didn’t really listen—I looked at it and I’m like, ‘This looks bad.’ He tried to convince me with like two hours left to submission. Other than that, I’d probably add a Holy Fire in my Priest, maybe a Tar Creeper instead of a Fledgling in my Druid—just one or two cards.”
This is dog’s first Championship appearance, but he notes that he’s made it to several Playoffs over the years. “I’ve always been pretty competitive,” he adds. When he secured his Championship berth, he said, “This validates me as a player.” He plans to play the game extensively and continue to stream while preparing for the Summer Championship, and sends special thanks to his teammates on Team Liquid, “…and to Feno, for convincing me to bring Spiteful Druid.” Next, he sets his sights on qualifying for the HCT World Championship.
Asked what advice he would give to aspiring Playoff hopefuls, dog says, “Play a lot. Go to a lot of tournaments; play a lot of online cups. Playing in tournaments is different. Everyone gets jitters. Put yourself in uncomfortable positions.”
The Year of killinallday
Quest Rogue specialist killinallday brought his favorite deck, then rounded his lineup out with Even Paladin, Spiteful Druid, and Cube Warlock. He says he was trying to hedge against Warlock and Spiteful Druid, running four decks that he felt allowed him to be flexible against a variety of lineups. “My typical ban was Paladin, because Paladin lineups are focused on sweeping my Quest Rogue,” killinallday said. “My Cube Warlock has an anti-aggro package—where almost everyone else brought Mountain Giants and Prince Taldaram, I brought Stonehill Defender, Doomsayers, and Plated Beetles, because I knew I was going to be leaving Mage up a lot.”
Looking back, killinallday says he wouldn’t change his decks. “I had a very good feeling about it—I knew I was going to be very favored versus the field,” he said. “The one person I worried about playing against was Garifar—he brought quad aggro, and he doesn’t have Warlock.” (Luckily for killinallday, Garifar went 3-4 in the Swiss rounds.)
A victorious killinallday was thrilled to make it to the Summer Championship after narrowly missing top eight at two HCT Playoffs in 2017. “I’m happy, to put it simply,” he managed to say after calming down. “Making it to the Championship is a huge step in the right direction for my Hearthstone career. I’ve been trying to do this for three years now, and while I may not have been able to before, I’m just super happy that I am now.” This is an opportunity he won’t take lightly. “Between now and the Championship, I’m going to definitely prepare a lot,” killinallday added. “I’m going to practice a lot.” (He went on to talk about practicing his Quest Rogue game, but the recent balance changes may affect that plan!)
The list of people killinallday had to thank was huge: “Tarei, leadpaint, Ant, NaviOOT, Korextron, PNC, Nalguidan, Luker, Acumaker, my team Endemic, and many others I’m sure I’m forgetting.” Trying to rattle off that list as he came down from the high of his on-stage, on-stream victory was no doubt taxing. He concluded by saying that his goal is to go to the World Championship. “The chance to compete for the title is worth way more than the money to me. I want to keep proving that I’m a good player, and that I can keep toping these tournaments. Making it to the World Championship is way more important than anything else—nothing less will satisfy me.”
Congratulations once again to these two Hearthstone veterans on their first HCT Championship appearances! We’re excited to see how they perform next month at the Summer Championship.
We’ll reflect on some other highlights from the three Summer Playoffs next week. What did you most enjoy about the back-to-back-to-back weekends of competition? Who are you cheering for to make it to the World Championship? Let us know in the comments.