Hearthstone has been full of incredible talent and characters, but there’s only one First World Champion– introducing Firebat. The #4th Most Influential Hearthstone Player of All Time!
Esports.gg and Frodan are collaborating to reveal the Top 8 Most Influential Hearthstone players of all time!! We will be revealing a new player every day in the run-up until Christmas. At number 4 it's James "Firebat" Kostesich!
Top 8 Most Influential Players of All Time
Introducing James "Firebat" Kostesich!
Playing Hearthstone in 2021 and then going and listening to old Firebat videos might remind you of watching a classic movie. You see ideas that you're familiar with, hear things that sound obvious, and you wonder. The short-sighted might then scoff, but what we need to respect and remember is: he was First.
Becoming an Original
Firebat was the First World Champion-- and NA, no less! (North America took home the very first Worlds, though no region has yet to repeat a Worlds victory.) In 2014 Firebat showed up in the first wave of competitors and crushed the field of this brand new game at just 18 years old. In a dominant 3-0 finals he defeated Tiddler Celestial to become a household name, backed up by some impressive new technology.
Because I know-- you're probably used to counting when you play Hearthstone. You absolute mad lad. And yet, that's the thing about the originals-- they did it before it was cool. Before it was the Assumed, the Standard, Assisted, it had to start somewhere. Before deck trackers there had to be a world full of people who never thought about the math. Hearthstone was a game that wasn't fully understood, and the dirty work still had yet to be done.
Firebat blazed that trail.
"I'm one of the few players that does all the math... spreadsheets on spreadsheets on spreadsheets on spreadsheets... of all the math between draws, RNG... I get really in depth and into it! When I commit to doing something I try to do it as best as I possibly can."
"...then when I had my lineup set I ran 86 tournaments with eight people (just eight high legend people from my friend list, most of the time different people) and played in that format and experimented with how I was going to ban and such and really tested the numbers. So every single match for Blizzcon was basically something I had done already."
Firebat was the poster child for the talented, methodical grinder with the time and focus to win. It was no wonder that he took a brand new game by storm. That first leap ahead of the competition is a massive one, both to realize and successfully capture. But Firebat nailed it, and was rewarded heavily. One of the all-time highest prize-money earners in Hearthstone, Firebat had a direct response to how and why he was so good:
"I really think anyone that has passion can achieve whatever they want if they work for it. I have spent many, many, many, hours studying every aspect of the game with spreadsheets and learning math concepts so I can understand it better. Just working for anything that even gave me a 0.1% better chance of winning. And if someone shares the same passion I believe they could be a world champion as well."
Firebat hosted the Omnistone podcast with Frodan and Kibler to kick off a long tradition of Hearthstone content made by professionals. The gang took their experience grinding hardcore Hearthstone and gave the first glimpses into an otherwise unseen world. In a game as complicated and ever-changing as Hearthstone, a way to parse and process the world was met with ravenous demand from the community. Podcasts to this day are a mainstay in Hearthstone culture, and Omnistone set the Legendary bar high.
Through it all, and to complete the trifecta, Firebat maintained a steady flow of YouTube videos for years. Capturing his moments from streaming and limit-testing, the channel has been uploading almost nonstop since Hearthstone began.
Firebat literally paved the way for almost every avenue of Hearthstone content, even professional competition, simultaneously. It's rare to see an Original Hero, so young and so enthralled with the system of the game. He literally set the audio, visual, and technical standards for the game at the same time. If you heard it, saw it, or tried to play like it, you were trying to emulate Firebat-- whether you knew it or not. His was a handprint impossible to wipe away.
In a premier degree of honor, the card Fiery Bat from the Whispers of the Old Gods expansion was named after him. For a player named after a player named after a card, it seems like a perfect full-circle. But in the middle of that loop forever sits a part of the fiery soul of James Kostesich-- the burning engine that helped build the heart of what Hearthstone is today.
In a mysterious turn of events, Firebat's presence disappeared from the internet late in 2021. His Twitter deactivated, and no word has been heard since. But some still say that when you try to count lethal, just whispering his name invokes a deep and mystical RNG. You can almost feel the chill of math in the air... say it with me now.
"Firebat-- Firebat-- Firebat."
Thank you to one of Hearthstone's most influential people: James "Firebat" Kostesich!