This week I had the opportunity to interview the HHE team as they move forward from Western Clash and look ahead to the second half of Phase 1 and the Mid Season Brawl. Here’s a little of what they learned along the way, enjoy!
Now that the Western Clash is in the rear view, what was the experience like as one who has been to a large LAN event before, or one experiencing it for the first time?
Khroen: It’s always extremely meaningful to be able to participate in a LAN event. They’re pretty rare nowadays and only the top teams from each region will be able to attend them so it makes it that much more impactful, being a strong enough team to qualify for them. It was a whole year from last Western Clash in Poland to this recent one where I wasn’t competing at a LAN tournament and I missed it immensely. Everything there is so memorable from being able to hang out with your team, to competing on stage and the crowd cheering you on - there’s no other feeling like that and while playing online is great, it really doesn’t match the LAN experience.
BBJ: It being my first time playing on stage I kind of expected to have lots of nerves and either hesitate more than normal or try to make bigger plays than I normally would, but once we were in the game there didn't really feel like there was a big difference from a normal game other than all of us having a lot more energy and being more focused.
For being an underdog and 4th seed, HHE performed admirably, challenging and taking games from what were considered the top teams. What were your mindsets going into the Clash?
Khroen: Making it to the clash in the first place was the goal for us and achieving that let us know that we were on the right path. Midseason and Blizzcon are the bigger tournaments and the bigger long term goals for us, so with that in mind we were looking to just come out of the Western Clash having learned something, and be a stronger team going into the second half of NA phase 1 because of it. LAN experience as well as experience internationally is also invaluable for a team like HeroesHearth because it was the first LAN event for two of our players. Getting everyone comfortable and prepared for the bigger ones is something that definitely benefited us, no matter the result.
Cauthon: To learn what we could from playing as many games against the top EU teams as possible, and focusing on building experience for those who hadn’t played international teams recently, or had been in a LAN tournament setting. Our mindset was towards improvement from the opportunity, rather than results, though it was a great confidence boost to see that the team’s style and unique hero choices had the potential to be effective against some of the strongest teams.
McIntyre: It’s very easy to improve when you are playing with the house chips. For us going into the event we had no expectations outside of learning and improving from other top teams. And also trying to have as much fun as possible as, in my opinion, having fun is one of the most important things to living this pro gamer lifestyle. The goal that we set out to achieve happened as we put it all out there and not only improved but showed to ourselves that we could be a top team.
What did you see from some of the top teams that made them successful, and that you as a team want to emulate?
Khroen: You can tell with some of the top teams that their experience as 5 constant top level contenders helps them dominate. Whether you look at Tempo Storm or Team Dignitas, those are both good examples of dominant teams in their region, all filled with players that practice hard, know how to play well as a team and individually, and have the experience to back it. I think we’re on track to start emulating all of these characteristics as time goes forward. We’ve shown immense improvement from even the start of the 2018 HGC until now, and it’s starting to show, we just have to keep at it.
Do you feel the event went smoothly? What did you really like/not like about the format of the tournament?
Ishb00: First LAN here so maybe my standards are low, but I found the whole thing to be a blast. Travel was a pain, sound issues to start the day were a pain, and being able to get knocked out day 1 was at the back of everyone’s minds, but the hype of playing a LAN helped a lot to overlook these. The format could certainly be improved to give teams more time to practice and have the stage, but at the end of the day, a super hype tournament came out of it so I’d say it was overall a success.
McIntyre: Overall the LAN was enjoyable and a great learning experience for our whole team. I think playing on stage with teammates is a great to build synergy outside of game which is something you don’t really get a chance to do otherwise. The admins were very helpful if we had technical issues or asked for help with something they were there. Also shoutout to Roman he’s the man. The only issue I have with short tournaments like this is the ability to learn from other teams come mostly from tournament games against them instead of scrims. As players we do tons of media/setup before the tournament and flying in so close to the event forced us to get little practice during the event outside of downtime between games or after being out of the tournament.
The percentage of total Heroes picked at the Western Clash was much smaller than many previous tournaments. Do you see the current meta as being “stale” or do you think this will be a trend moving forward?
Arthelon: Many of the new hero releases like Blaze/Maiev are very powerful. This along with only having 1 ban per team would be the cause of the stale meta, but the meta is already more diverse since the clash thanks to balance changes.
McIntyre: I think until something happens in game to keep us away from playing the more overtuned heroes there is no excuse not to keep locking them in. Sure trends and meta’s change in game but the strongest heroes in the game at the time will continue to be locked until more bans are introduced. It’s like in Trading Card Games (Hearthstone), if a deck becomes meta or dominant in a format people will play that deck as much as possible until the next deck to beat that certain one is created. This is the exact way MOBA drafting is treated. I don’t think it’s ever stale to win but it can be fun sometimes to flex more exciting picks like Kerrigan if I could ban out the counters to her kit.
What is one thing you would like to see from a design or balance perspective that you think would help increase the amount of Heroes that could be considered viable for pro play?
Arthelon: More bans in draft phase, and more aggressive balance changes for weaker heroes and not as much balancing around things like hero league or quick match would help certain heroes progress to the pro meta.
BBJ: I personally would like to see an increase in buffing weaker heroes whether that means a rework or just base stat increases for some of the less seen heroes. It currently feels like a cycle of trying to nerf the strongest heroes at a role so that they are in line with the average, but I think that if they try and bring some of the average or below average heroes up it will help increase diversity. I’d also like to see the healer nerfs revisited. I think it was necessary at the time and the easiest way was a flat nerf on all healers but now it feels like a lot of the Supports that only heal and don’t bring CC like Malfurion or Stukov do nothing but heal, and they don't even heal very well.
McIntyre: Powercreep is not only fun it’s exciting to give a weak hero a huge buff to their kit and see how people adapt to it. With the introduction of so many new mechanically complex heroes I think Blizzard needs to revisit old hero kits and give them all the flash and pizzazz that the new heroes are getting. Could you imagine if Raynor could hop into his Raiders and fly around like Tychus Odin? Or Rexxar could hop on top of Misha and slap people with his axe. Things like this would be extra spicy and fun for everyone.
Thanks to the team for the interview! Be sure to follow them here on HeroesHearth, as well as their Twitter and Twitch linked in their HH site bios!