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Hearthstone World Championship Group Stages Day 1 LIVE

Artem Uarabei

Join us for full live coverage of the first phase of the Hearthstone World Championships like from Burbank, California. Sixteen players will battle it out to advance through their groups, with eight matches played today.

The final match of the day and the conclusion of the Group of Death began with FrozenIce banning tournament favorite Kolento's Shaman deck. The "Ukraine Pain Train" selected his Druid instead while FrozenIce, aka "the Kolento of Taiwan," picked his Shaman for game 1.

Shade of Naxxramas was an interesting turn 3 play from the Shaman, and it grew to 6/6 before Kolento used Force of Nature to clean up the board. FrozenIce had a huge board clear with Lightning Storm and followed it up with exact lethal the turn after thanks to a pair of Flametongue Totems.

Kolento then set up a virtually unloseable matchup for game 2 with his control Priest. He had a huge combo turn in the midgame with Wild Pyromancer/Northshire Cleric/Circle of Healing clearing the Shaman's board and drawing a ton of cards just before his turn expired. FrozenIce was then playing from behind the whole game, as Auchenai Soulpriest and Holy Nova kept his side of the board empty. Kolento then tied up the series with a pair of Thoughstolen Flametongue Totems and a cheeky "Thank you" emote.

Game 3 saw FrozenIce bring out his miracle Rogue, a Violet Teacher variant of the popular archetype. Kolento was able to win with tight play and some nice Sylvanas RNG, stealing FrozenIce's Violet Teacher to send it to game 4.

FrozenIce's last hope was his control Warrior. Predictably, it was a long, hard fought battle. Kolento's Thoughtsteals weren't impactful at all, in a matchup where they are generally important for stealing valuable legendaries. FrozenIce played a surprise golden Hogger and the back-and-forth continued all the way to fatigue, where the Warrior had a huge advantage thanks to his stacked armor. With no cards left in either player's deck, Kolento conceded and they moved on to game 5.

The first and only game 5 of the day began with Coin + Ancient Watcher for Kolento. FrozenIce had two Executes in hand as excellent answers to Handlock's numerous Giants. Golden Hogger made another appearance in the game, but Kolento built a huge hand size advantage in the mid game and it was only a matter of time. Kolento joins StrifeCro in the winners' bracket!

Tune in tomorrow for more coverage and live updates as the tournament continues.