Thijs, one of the best competitive players in Hearthstone’s history with over $500,000 in earnings, being the highest-earning Hearthstone player of all time. How he started, his path to glory, and how he balances being a successful content creator! All of this and more, in his Esports.gg Profile!

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. The first entry in our top 3 is Dutchman, Thijs “Thijs” Molendijk.

Top 8 Most Influential Players of All Time

Thijs Molendijk is with no doubt one of the best competitive players in Hearthstone’s history. You can’t mention Thijs without thinking of Hearthstone, nor the other way around. Thijs has been in the Tier 1 competitive scene since 2014. He has banked over $500.000, turning him into the highest-earning Hearthstone player of all time.

Not only has Thijs never missed a World Championship Qualifier in his career, but Thijs also thrives in content creation. How does he balance his inextinguishable tryhard passion with being a Hearthstone top streamer? Well, that is what we will unravel in this profile spotlight.

Thijs early beginnings and early success in Hearthstone

Thijs’ gaming story starts during his childhood, when like many of us. At first, Thijs Molendijk played casual games such as Mario Kart and FIFA as a hobby. In his teens, he started playing Command & Conquer: Red Alert, switching to League of Legends in 2012 until he met Hearthstone. In early 2014, a friend told Thijs about a great CCG that was in beta and then started playing Hearthstone. That was when a Hearthstone Legend was born.

First LAN Events

Thijs focused on the Hearthstone competitive circuit as soon as he started playing. During 2014, he owned the ZOTAC tournament circuit, winning 5 editions. On top of that, he got the record of winning 9 IHU King of the Hill events in a row. All this, during late-night hours and going to school immediately after.

Thijs at DreamHack Bucharest Hearthstone Tournament - by Dreamhack
Thijs at DreamHack Bucharest Hearthstone Tournament – by Dreamhack

This early success didn’t stop here, in the same year, Thijs won his first major title in DreamHack Masters Bucharest 2014, representing Meet Your Makers, a team mostly known for Counter-Strike and Dota.

Later in 2014, Thijs demonstrated that his first major title wasn’t just a lucky streak, and he got to DreamHack Winter finals. He lost the decisive match to Kolento in one of the most stacked events of the year. To take perspective, the Top 8 had world-class players such as Lifecoach, Firebat, StrifeCro, and Neirea.

Becoming a Pro

These great results were the turning point in Thijs gaming career. Then was when he realized that he could become a professional Hearthstone player. The increasing exposure and amazing results inspired him to also start a content creation career, streaming content on Twitch.

It wasn’t easy for Thijs to convince his parents about his career path. Despite the initial doubts on Thijs’ choice, his parents soon became a keystone for him, supporting and backing him up in pursuing his dream.

“My parents were first a little skeptical but I was a little scared myself too. I remember the first time I traveled to Sweden that I called my mother every evening if I was alright”

Thijs Molendijk in 2015 World Championship interview

Even though he put much effort into his professional gaming career, Thijs never left school. In 2016, while competing, he obtained his degree in Business Economics. It was only then that Thijs went full-time streaming.

Thijs dominating the Hearthstone scene

2015 was the year in which Thijs stepped up his game to prove he was there to win it all. He started playing for Nihilum alongside figures of the caliber of Adrian “Lifecoach” Koy, Dima “Rdu” Radu, and Jakub “Lothar” Szygulski. This incredible rooster would sign for Gamers2 in October 2015, later rebranded as G2 Esports (G2).

Thijs crowned himself as the 2015 HWC European Champion in October, but there was still a higher mountain to climb, the 2015 Hearthstone World Championship. Every Hearthstone fan should remember or revisit Thijs’ semifinals against Sebastian “Ostkaka” Engwall, it was competitive Hearthstone at its finest.

Ostkaka vs Thijs in the 2015 Hearthstone World Championship semifinals

After a legendary series, Ostkaka defeated Thijs 3-2, later becoming the 2015 World Champion. This defeat was not something easy to swallow, but Thijs still had the competitive flame burning inside

Thijs, now one of the most prominent figures of the card game of the moment, didn’t sleep on his achievements and kept on grinding tournaments and the Hearthstone ladder. 2016 saw him winning The Curse Trials tournament, the Esports Superstars event, and on top of that, the 2016 HCT Europe Spring Championship, becoming the back-to-back European champion.

The incredible results turned Thijs into a remarkable figure in the whole esports competitive community. Among many awards, Thijs won the 2015 and 2016 Hearthstone Player of the Year in the Gosugamers Awards, even beating Firebat the 2014 Hearthstone World Champion.

Due to his success and to a somewhat physical similarity, he was often compared or meme-confused with Kolento. This trend was a very common topic, and even though it should be hard for anyone to be trolled, Thijs, with his unique positive personality, dealt with it the fun way:

Thijs downfall & reinvention in the Hearthstone scene

His cumulative success in 2016 made Thijs again a World Championship contender. However, things didn’t go his way, and couldn’t repeat his past performance in the tournament. Thijs ended the World Championship outside the top 10 players.

Furthermore, during 2017, Thijs wasn’t able to demonstrate his usual dominance. Thijs wasn’t able to mount a single good tournament run along the year. Moreover, in the 2017 European Championship, the door to a new World Championship event, Thijs ended up outside the top 50. This was a huge setback but would only make Thijs come back stronger.

Thijs competitive career was in a turning point without any big results in 2017. With a promising career in content creation and a huge success on stream, many could have thought that Thijs could adjust his priorities. Well, that if you didn’t know Thijs and his never extinguishing competitive flame.

“If you want to be a professional player you will have to ask every day from yourself to improve and you need a good and strong motivation that keeps you going in the long run.”

Thijs Molendijk about his motivation drivers

2018 saw Thijs rising to the top once more. With the lack of big wins on his back and not being able to qualify to the World Championship once again, Thijs pulled up one of the most important wins in his professional path. In the China vs Europe Championship of 2018, Thijs defeated XiaoT in the finals, cashing over $200,000 in prize money. Thijs driving his brand new Aston Martin prize in front of the cheering crowd is in everyone’s memory this.

Thijs celebrating his Aston Martin Prize in the 2018 CN vs EU Championship

The GrandMaster era

After the shift in Hearthstone Esports competitive system, Thijs was awarded a spot in Grandmasters, Hearthstone’s prime competitive league. Once again, the chance of becoming the Hearthstone World Champion was at his reach.

Consistent with his competitive history, Thijs made it to the Worlds qualifying Playoffs every single year since 2019 in the Hearthstone Grandmasters system. Probably the most epic of them was the 2020 Season 2 Playoffs, where Thijs got to the finals playing from the hospital after a medical emergency.

Despite being in pain and not able to rework his lineup, Thijs competitive spirit carried him to the finals to face Jarla, who was on his peak historical performance. The match for the World Championship spot was memorable. Thijs started with a win on game 1, however, Jarla’s anti-meta line-up succeded, and once again, the crowd-favorite was left with no World Championship.

Thijs Retirement from Hearthstone?

In 2021, Thijs announced he was stepping down from the Grand Master competitive system. Why did this competitive beast decide to withdrew himself from Hearthstone’s Tier 1 competitive league? The answer is not a simple one to give since Thijs himself states that this is not the end of his career.

Will this be the end of my career? Definitely not as a person in Hearthstone. I love the game, the community, everything. I love competing as well in tournaments, invitations, etc. Just GM is not the place for me anymore & I will not try to requalify. I think it’s a combination of the direction GM as well as my personal struggles in it.

Thijs Molendijk about his retirement

This announcement hit hard in the Hearthstone community, who absolutely loves Thijs Molendijk, not only for his achievements but for his incredible positive personality. Fortunately for Hearthstone fans, Thijs’ content creation career is far away from ending at the moment this is being written.

Averaging over 5,000 viewers on Twitch and with more than 250,000 subs on Youtube, Thijs is not only one of the best Hearthstone competitive players of all time but also one of the most relevant content creators. His achievements, personality, and legacy will keep inspiring esports players beyond Hearthstone, and that is something that the whole community will always be thankful for.

“I’ve always said to myself, I will play Hearthstone until I don’t enjoy it anymore. Hopefully, that will never happen”.

Manuel

Manuel "Rane" Delgado

Writer of the Month: August | Twitter: @RaneTDF

Manuel “Rane” Delgado is an experienced Hearthstone caster, content creator, and tournament organizer from Argentina. He started his career on Esports casting his own tournaments, now he currently covers Hearthstone Grandmasters’ Americas region for LATAM, among other content creation. Besides esports, he works in a construction company, which made him kind of a "handyman" when fixing everyday house problems.