15-year-old William ‘Amnesiac’ Barton books a spot in the 2016 Hearthstone World Championships after winning the Americas Winter Championship this past weekend.
Over the weekend, Blizzard held the Hearthstone Americas Winter Championship, the first major event of the game’s annual Championship Tour. Despite some tough competition, the winner of the tournament was 15-year-old prodigy William ‘Amnesiac’ Barton.
Amnesiac has been one to watch for many Hearthstone fans since he began his rise in 2015. Strong performances over the course of last year’s championship circuit led many to tip the player as a top prospect for the future, and he was soon signed by prominent eSports collective Team Archon.
However, this weekend’s win was far from straightforward; after a slim victory over Talion on Friday, Amnesiac suffered a whitewash defeat to Nostam on Saturday. This meant that he would be relegated to the lower bracket and be matched with even more capable opposition on his route through the tournament.
A re-match with Talion and a meeting with AlSkyHigh saw Amnesiac proceed to the grand final — where his opponent would be none other than Nostam. Armed with the experience of their prior encounter, Barton came out on top after losing one game to his opponent’s druid deck.
Amnesiac will now progress to the Hearthstone World Championship, where he has a guaranteed spot among the final 16 competitors in the tournament. He was awarded $25,000 for his win at the Americas Winter Championship, and looks set to claim a portion of $1 million prize pool assembled for November’s event.
All of this is an enormous accomplishment, given the enormous popularity of Hearthstone and the massive amount of players that the game attracts. Moreover, it’s important to remember that the hugely talented Amnesiac is a 15-year-old who still brings his mother to tournaments for moral support.
As the game undergoes significant changes in order to maintain its relevancy, it’s great to see new stars flourish on the competitive scene. The core of eSports is good competition, and players like Amnesiac rising through the ranks is the best way to ensure that a high level of play is maintained and the meta continues to be pliable.
While World of Warcraft might not be the leviathan it once was, Hearthstone remains a huge part of Blizzard’s outlook for the future. With an engaging content schedule in place and a prosperous competitive scene, the card game could feasibly be a prominent part of the publisher’s catalogue for years to come.
Hearthstone is available now on PC and mobile.