2016 is almost over, and we here at The Meta are celebrating by paying tribute to the teams, players and vague concepts that made it worthwhile. Our MVP awards will be ongoing throughout the holiday season, so check in now and then to see who and what we decided to shower with praise.
It seems wrong to call a human being the Hearthstone MVP, especially when the 2016 BlizzCon champion Pavel “Pavel” Beltukov basically displayed the charisma of a newborn deer. Part of Hearthstone’s lack of consistent tournament personalities can be attributed to its fickle nature as a card game, but when you also account for the fact that it’s become much more difficult to qualify for BlizzCon, you get a high level of variance in which pros show up at the big tourneys and which ones don’t. It’s no surprise, then, that Hearthstone’s real MVP wasn’t a person, but a new set of rules.
As Hearthstone’s massive card pool threatened to ruin the entire competitive play experience earlier this year, it seemed like there would be no escaping the dilemma. But with the April release of the H.P. Lovecraft-inspired Whispers of the Old Gods, suddenly all those concerns disappeared. By limiting the scope of competitive play to “Standard” cards—i.e., cards released in the past year or in the basic sets—Whispers transformed the metagame into a dynamic, flexible component of Hearthstone. Now, if players don’t like a card or a metagame, they can just wait for the release of a new card set and the whole game will morph into something new. It’s a good thing, because if not for these changes, Dr. Boom would have probably just taken the throne as Hearthstone MVP for the rest of eternity.