The king of dragons conquers another and earns his place as one of the most trusted allies of the game.
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 5 it's Brian Kibler!
Top 8 Most Influential Players of All Time
Hearthstone was built on the backs of giants. Magic: the Gathering, the greatest card-game-giant of them all, had been captivating audiences young and old for over twenty years before Hearthstone's debut in 2014. By then the faces and names of the most famous spell-slinging, cardboard-flicking Giant Hunters had already been long since cemented in history.
But one Hall of Famer stirred in their den of gold as Hearthstone awoke: a man that strove beyond giants. He had looked up into the sky from the shoulders of Magic, and his vision would go on to shape the card games of the next twenty years. Giants weren't enough-- he commanded the might of flight and fire, and his blazing trail was only just getting started. On trusted wings he ferried thousands of players from the land of giants into a new world-- Hearthstone's world.
Introducing the Dragonmaster: Brian Kibler.
The Magic Years
Kibler is one of the most iconic characters in Magic's competitive history: charming, friendly, and wildly skilled. He effectively grew up on the Pro Tour, Magic's most prestigious playing field-- he Top 32'd PT New York in 1996 at the age of fifteen (gabJAM).
The Road to Hearthstone
Kibler began his foray into Blizzard and Hearthstone long before its release in 2014. After dominating Magic, Brian took his first leap into game design-- the beloved dream of many a tournament grinder. He spent his "retirement years" at Upper Deck, the creators of the World of Warcraft TCG, where he would work as a lead designer for the game.
(As a sweet little competitive cherry, Kibler even took home the $40,000 prize pool of the first VS System Pro Series circuit, a game that lived in his retirement years between 2004 and 2009. It seemed no game was safe from the Dragonmaster's influence!)
He not only dominated tournaments at the highest level, but became someone to be trusted with the blood of the very games themselves-- and he certainly didn't stop at the WoW TCG. Over the years Kibler worked to develop a number of games: Chaotic, SolForge, Ascension, VS System, Drawing Dead, and Eternal. When he went to work on something, people got excited. Wherever he went to play, people followed. Kibler became someone that, simply put, people wanted to see more of.
Kibler burst onto the scene as active and fiery competitor in the first few dragon-heavy sets in Hearthstone. A midrange king from his time in competitive Magic, Kibler was ready. He threw down in the board-centric metagames of 2015 with Control Priest and Midrange Paladin. Some of his namesake cards included Twilight Guardian, Blackwing Corruptor (in nearly every deck it could be in) and even Chromaggus. (Talk about a golden age of Hearthstone where you could play eight mana cards that don't do anything right away!)
The Magic community knew he was good, but Hearthstone fans still might have needed some help. To remind everyone who he was, Kibler won the early ChallengeStone tournaments in May 2015 and November 2016. Kibler proved that he could excel in Hearthstone just as well as Magic.
He does it all!
He secured his position as a strong player but quickly transitioned into a life of casting and streaming. Brian has been behind the desk at BlizzCons and Championship tournaments, regularly working with Blizzard to promote the game. Kibler was also a founder of the Hearthstone podcast Omnistone with Firebat and Frodan, ushering in the early age of deep-dive content run by pros.
Alongside his beloved floofy warrior Shiro, Kibler has been an immensely vocal and visible character in the community. Praised for his level-headed and seasoned approach to game design philosophy, Kibler was a centering stone in the arena of Twitter opinions.
Some of his initial musings have already proven just how prescient he can be, as he vouched for the idea of a rotating Core set as early as 2015. This came to fruition years later in 2021 and is already proving to be one of the most critical elements of Hearthstone's future health.
Today Kibler is still one of the most popular Hearthstone streamers on Twitch and YouTube. His viewers have been tuning in for years to watch him test the boundaries of off-meta decks. Never satisfied with what's safe, expected, or assumed, Kibler won't simply slave away on Tier 0 strategies. A certain odd and scaly boy became so popular on Kibler's stream that the dino even earned himself a song!
The Shining Example
One of the best parts about Kibler was that you knew he would be there, just on the other side of the screen. It almost seemed like he was doing the work for you, especially as he began to add fitness streams into his weekly regimen, educating in a whole new way.
But dragons and dinosaurs and deadlifts aside, Kibler would go on to explore everything that laid before him. He gave attention to some of the classes like Paladin and Priest, innovating and doing the testing for those forlorn mains. Those that followed him from Magic or the WoW TCG or any of his numerous imprints trusted him. When in doubt, Kibler wouldn't let you down.
This list is to commemorate the most influential players in our scene-- Kibler earns his place in a unique way. Through a combination of upstanding image, creative vision and sheer skill, he brought people and their worlds together. He was the bridge between Hearthstone and Magic that needed to be built. His was a voice of reason amidst whirlwinds of confusion. He is someone that we as a community can be proud of to represent the heavily stigmatized realm of Games.
"I try to set a good example where I can in pretty much all aspects of the game, from attitude and sportsmanship to just trying to represent the game well in the public eye. People have terrible misconceptions about what competitive gaming is like, and I want to be a shining example of why they’re wrong."