The Shard Cup finale, the Cup of Fate (sponsored by Colin), is coming just this weekend. Now that the pods have been finalized, I would like to take a look on the pods and try to predict the outcome for the top 16. However, my opinion is definitely biased (as would anyone’s who has teammates competing), so feel free to comment if you feel like I’m wrong or you think I’m missing info. Now, without further ado, to the pods!
Kindmime [Dragonborn] Top 8 Blood Cup, Winner Diamond Cup, Top 2 Ruby Cup
Djinni [XPL] (Top 4 Sapphire Cup)
Nicosharp [Cornerstone] (Top 2 Wild Cup)
Kindmime has secured the first place in standings by a wide margin, and he’s clearly the favorite in his pool. However, it’s worth noting that he’s played every tournament with different decks—and while three of those runs ended in the top 8, there were a few rough finishes for him too. This indicates that for a successful performance, Kindmime really needs to be comfortable with his deck choice. However, with plenty of time to prepare, I think he will be. Speaking of other challengers, both Nicosharp and Djinni have demonstrated bursts of exceptional play, but I don’t think that will be enough to pass the favorite and get out of this group.
dameneon [The Chosen] (Top 4 Blood Cup, Winner Sapphire Cup)
Fliperon [the Collective]
ShadowM (Top 4 Wild Cup)
dameneon has had one solid performance after another since he began attending the major tournaments. He doesn’t seem tied to any deck, playing what he feels suitable for the meta (excluding maybe aggro or feast decks). Fliperon, on the other hand, is a very strong player/deckbuilder, who’s yet to produce a top-8 performance in a major tourney. ShadowM, in his Wild Cup top-4 run, piloted a very weird version of Mono-Sapphire which didn’t look like it had a chance to compete at this level, and Chemosh didn’t really have good placements anywhere before. All this leads to this pool being decided between dameneon and Fliperon, probably in a favor of dameneon as he’s had proven results of good finishes. Fun Fact: before the pod shift (and when I thought top 16 was pod 1 vs. pod 16; pod 2 vs. pod 15 etc), they were the two players I expected to see in the finals.
Fridged [HexTechs] (Top 4 Sapphire Cup)
Gwaer [RatedHex] (Top 8 Ruby Cup)
wolzarg (Top 4 Diamond Cup)
Fridged is a clear favorite in this pod, having both a top-4 finish in the Sapphire Cup and a win in one of the HexTechs Open series tournaments. While everyone expects him to play Mono-Sapphire, it doesn’t make life easier for others in his pod. Fridged is one of the most experienced pilots of the current iteration of mono-sapphire, so he can outplay his opponents even if they are prepared for his deck choice. Gwaer might surprise again with his home-brewed rogue deck, and he has a chance to pass Fridged if he makes the right call. Wolzarg / Afterlife don’t look like players who can attempt to pass the group stage at this moment, considering the other contenders.
zebuli (Winner Wild Cup)
Hapson [the Collective]
SaDOlution (Winner Wild Cup)
I will give the position of favorite here to Hapson: he plays extremely well when it matters, and he is very good at surprising people with his deck/card choices. Zebuli and SaDOlution won the Wild Cup together as a team, but that has been their only notable performance and I’m not sure yet if they can keep up on the same level.
Showsni (Berkeley) (Top 4 Diamond Cup)
Koma [The Chosen] (Top 2 Sapphire Cup)
I’ve never met Showsni in game or seen him playing, so I can’t really tell what to expect from him. However, the stable season and a qualification from the 5th place speak for themselves. Koma has only placed once—with his top-2 Sapphire Cup run—but his feature matches and his play in 8-man queues have shown that he controls his deck very well. I would expect him to keep up at the same level. Phallanx and fierock didn’t show anything spectacular in the season, so I will give this pod to Koma or Showsni.
Enyma [the Collective] (Top 8 Sapphire Cup)
tongkill [Momcards.fr] (Top 4 Ruby Cup)
DeckOfManyThings [the Collective]
If Enyma is in his prime, I’m pretty sure he’ll be the one who advances from this pod. Yes, he has a history of choking in the later swiss/early playoff rounds, but early in the tournament he’s an unstoppable force most of the time. If something doesn’t work for him and he falls short, I can see any of the other three taking the crown. DeckOfManyThings finished second in the August 2014 HexTechs Open and Isengard won the November 2014 HexTechs Open; both are veterans who have proven their skill. Tongkill has played well recently, including his top-4 finish in mid-season Ruby Cup.
Cirouss [HexTechs] (Winner Ruby Cup)
EvilDans (Top 8 Sapphire Cup)
rKeKoke (Top 8 Blood Cup)
Cirouss seems to only keep getting better and better as time goes on, and he will be very well-prepared for this tournament. Yngvar has been one place out of of the top 8 twice, so he will be motivated to break that curse. EvilDans and rKeKoKe both had top-8 runs, but both times that looked more like a spike than a trend. Overall, Cirouss looks like a safe bet to make it to the top 16.
Cleverboy [XPL] (Top 2 Diamond Cup)
Kaldheim (Top 8 Ruby Cup)
Fensale (Top 8 Sapphire Cup)
Antisocialz (Top 4 Wild Cup)
Cleverboy only started playing competitively this season, but has already shown good results, tending to play control decks. Another control player in this pod sems to be Fensale, who has qualified to the invitational on the back of Blood/Diamond control. In a battle between those two playing the same archetype, I’ll probably favor Cleverboy as a more versatile player, but that could change in favor of either player. Kaldheim is another new contender, grinding his way to the invitational with—and instantly becoming famous for—a dwarf deck (apparently being referenced by his name most of the time, i.e. Kaldheim Dwarves). The matches between dwarves and control should be very interesting, as they can easily go either way. In the end I would favor Cleverboy, as he seems to have a better chance to go 3-0 than Kaldheim does; but if it comes down to a tiebreaker, their chances are pretty even.
kayas [Cornerstone] (Top 2 Wild Cup)
Theyeti seems to be an easy favorite in this pod for me. His history of good performance trails from qualification for HexTechs Pro Invitational and scoring a top 4 finish there. NeroJinous is another veteran player, but it looks like he’s lost his momentum. Kayas’ only notable finish was top 2 at Wild Cup, where he played Mono Sapphire, so that doesn’t really tell us much, and Kalassar hasn’t done anything special either. So, once again, it doesn’t look like anyone’s in a position to prevent Theyeti from securing his top 16 spot.
Saeijou (Top 8 Blood Cup, Top 8 Ruby Cup)
Kuzimo [Chosen] (Top 8 Diamond Cup)
What were the two clear one-favorite pods before the shift have been merged into a very interesting duel. Kuzimo has already proven his ability to keep himself competitive in long-term series, qualifying and making the top 16 in the HexTechs Pro tournament. Saeijou, of his 3 shard cups, has made it to the top 8 in two (3rd one being Wild). It’s hard to predict how this pod will go between those two; however, one can easily say that neither Andrew or Virneburg are very likely to interrupt their battle for top 16.
Pheelon [Dragonborn] (Top 8 Diamond Cup)
Diamondwolf (Top 8 Blood Cup)
The problem in predicting this pod is in the fact that Diamondwolf hasn’t played for quite a while—but he was always showing solid results before, so we should not discount him from contending for top 16. However, even if he shows up in form, the favorite of this pod will stay the same—Pheelon is another veteran player, who recently finished in the top 8 of the Diamond cup and won the HexTechs Open tournament. Rarlig has shown stable above-average results, has never really reached the top tables, and we don’t expect Karatevater to disturb Pheelon either. Diamondwolf’s performance (and his chances of beating Pheelon) is the real question in this pod.
HexedHavoc [HexTechs] (Top 4 Ruby Cup)
LakosPolan (Winner Wild Cup)
PhenomYSR [Momcards.fr] (Top 4 Wild Cup)
Arcanis (Top 2 Wild Cup) [Cornerstone]
Havoc is an obvious favorite of the pod, if we take a look at his achievements (starting from a win on the 2nd Alpha Tournament of Streamers a year and a half ago). Take a note that in this long run he hasn’t fallen short, making sure he kept himself relevant at all times. The other three players’ notable finishes are all in the Wild Cup. It was the most recent tournament, so it might indicate the growth of a player—on the other hand, it was a team tournament, so it doesn’t necessarily indicate the level of personal skill.
Shinshire [the Collective]
Black_Roger (Top 8 Diamond Cup, Top 4 Wild Cup)
Homunculus (Top 4 Blood Cup)
ropette [Momcards.fr] (Top 4 Wild Cup)
Shinshire. If he doesn’t try to glue a jet turbine and a helicopter propeller to his car, he’s going to end up riding into a top 16 on all four wheels. However, he might make some strange choices on what he plays (as he often does) which could leave an opening for the other contenders. Black_Roger missed the two Season 1 events, but performed quite well in the other three. Homunculus was always around, making top 8 here and there with his control builds. Ropette is quite a new (at least to the scene) but already promising player who scored a Wild Cup top 4 with his team. If Shinshire falls to his deck techs, I expect the ever-present Homunculus to be able to advance.
Xantosch [HexTechs] (Winner Blood Cup)
henip [Momcards.fr] (Top 4 Wild Cup)
Piecetinker [the Collective]
A very tight spot with three players having good chances to advance. Xantosch won the first cup, but didn’t quite prove to be consistent so we can’t call him a favorite. Henip only started playing in the later Shard Cups, but performed well. Piecetinker is an unstable yet highly explosive force of the Collective team who relies on his good mood as a base of his performance.
Kroan [the Collective] (Top 2 Blood Cup)
Strife [Dragonborn] (Top 8 Ruby Cup)
GPrime [the Collective]
The second very close pool to judge. Both Collective members here are pretty equal and very solid players. Strife has had some solid finishes and tends to play in-line with the popular metagame. JohnDruitt is less likely as a top-16 candidate but he’s still in a position to fight here, as I’ve seen him in games and he doesn’t make many play mistakes.
Future [the Collective] (Top 8 Diamond Cup)
The two Russians against the world: both Noise and I are known to be piloting Ruby/Sapphire often—but the main virture of Ruby/Sapphire is being able to adapt to any deck trying to counter it. FunnyFatGuy mostly plays control decks (including two variations on mono Sapphire); I expect him to either keep this choice or go for Diamond/Ruby (which is a smart call with Noise and I being around). However, I don’t really think either of those 2 options could really lead to success this time, so either Noise or I advancing is the most probable outcome.