The Trinity Series is the best competitive event in Hearthstone.
Yes, that sounds like a very bold statement, but it only really sounds that way if you were never watched the first season earlier this year. We love the Hearthstone Championship tour for the highest level of competition, massive prize pools and title of being named World Champion. That event takes the best individual players in the world and matches them up head to head, but what if I told you Hearthstone was best as a team esport? This is not an ad by ESL or a ploy to increase ratings, instead this is a call for any fan of Hearthstone to witness and, more importantly, enjoy Hearthstone in a different form.
Break it down for me, what is the format?
ESL Trinity Series is a Hearthstone league with a seven-week regular season leading up to playoffs with a total prize pool of $150,000. The league is made up of eight different teams, each team consisting of three players from that organization. Each team has a single matchup each week in a Best-of-11 Last Hero Standing format. Last Hero Standing format means that a deck is eliminated after it suffers a loss while the winning deck must be used until it suffers a loss. Each team faces every other team in the league, totaling seven weeks, and the top four teams in terms of win-loss record advance to the playoffs. All big sports and esports have a premier league that gives a consistent cadence of high level play, and Trinity Series fills that void for Hearthstone.
How does team Hearthstone even work?
Prior to the weekly matchups, the players must work together to build the decklists and develop their strategy. For each matchup, teams will submit nine decks, with two of them being banned in each matchup. Teams will then pick six decks to play from the remaining seven non-banned decks. Each of the three players choose two decks that they will ‘pilot,’ meaning they will be the one actually playing the game when the deck is being used. The cool part of it is that the three players are all mic’d up and talking to each other, making all of the decisions throughout the series. This type of format was seen throughout the Hearthstone Global Games, and it creates a much more collaborative and exciting atmosphere with players discussing and relying on one another’s perspective.
Ok I get the format now, but why is that so much more entertaining?
For starters, the Trinity Series gives the spectator access to something that no other tournament does: what the players are thinking. Throughout matches, the casters will shift audio over to one of the two teams and you actually get to hear exactly what the team’s decision process is, in addition to their reactions to plays. It is surprisingly insightful to hear the mental process that goes into every single turn for these pro players, and also wildly entertaining to hear them bicker and crack jokes together.
With the Last Hero Standing format, it is important to be able to counter the decks of your opponents. For that reason, it is not always smart to simply bring the best decks in the meta and instead surprise your opponent as the decklists are hidden from your opponents. This results in some pretty wild decks and a nice break from the typical meta. For example, only one week has been played and we already saw Zoo Warlock, Death Knight Mage and Small-Time Recruits Paladin all played at the highest level. You can expect a lot more variety as these players only get more creative as the season progresses.
Aside from the amusement from hearing everything the teams are saying and the variety of decks, Trinity Series is all about entertainment. The normally boring and awkward breaks in between games are filled with skits and puzzles. The skits done from the casters include everything from putting on chemical experiments to replacing the talent with knock-off stunt doubles and do a great job of preventing the typical lulls you find during any esports tournament. When they casters do need a break, a puzzle entitled ‘Can You Spot the Lethal?’ comes up and it provides the viewers a Hearthstone board state and gives a time limit on how to find a very intricate way to kill your opponent. Or it takes a page out of Pokemon and gives you a sounds byte from a pro and asks you “Who’s That Pro?”
Okay, this sounds awesome. How can I watch?
Trinity Series Season 2 airs live every Wednesday & Thursday from September 27th to November 16th at 1 PM (ET) on ESL’s Hearthstone channel.
Enjoy! (I am sure you will)