Interview with HotS team before DreamHack Bucharest

Gamers2’s Heroes of the Storm players took some time off their busy schedule to answer some questions about the state of the game and the upcoming tournament, the PGL Spring Champions of the Storm.

As we mentioned before, Gamers2’s Heroes of the Storm team is currently bootcamping in Poznan with a view to preparing for the PGL Spring Champions of the Storm, which will take place from April 24th-26th at DreamHack Bucharest. Gamers2, Team Liquid, SK Gaming and fnatic will be testing their skills in what will be the game’s first major offline event, with €10,000 on the line.

Our players took some time off their busy schedule to answer some questions. Read on to find out more information about their background in e-sports and also what the team thinks about the current state of the game, their opponents in Bucharest and much more!

You used to be a Guild Master in one of the biggest Polish World of Warcraft guilds. What made you take this path and try your luck in a MOBA?

Jowe: I like the tactical aspect of MOBA Games. Before HotS, I played many other games, such as Warhammer 40,000 or card games like WoW TCG, competing in international tournaments like the World Cup or the Darkmoon Faires and spending a lot of time on deckbuilding. The experience from playing those games has helped me to think outside the box. As a former WoW Guild Master, I hope I can help to create a friendly and stable atmosphere on our team.

Coming from an LoL background, how is the transition to a new MOBA working out for you? What kind of differences would you point out between the two games?

leofromkorea: League of Legends was a turning point in my e-sports career. I met a lots of friends in this game and built my own team for the first time. Heroes of the Storm is definitely a different game, and I would not dare to compare it to LoL or DotA. Obviously, it is still a MOBA, so it has similar mechanics, but, on the other hand, there are totally different objectives, for which players have to gather quickly on the map and fight when needed. Heroes of the Storm is a very dynamic game in which farming creeps is not really a priority, like in LoL or DotA. It’s something more pleasant to watch for people who seek more action and battles.

Nicker: I was already done with LoL when I started to play Heroes of the Storm. I think it is necessary to mention that I stopped playing LoL because I could not achieve as much as I would have liked. I could not practice as much as it was necessary because the game was really frustrating for me. League of Legends is too slow and boring for me. In Heroes of the Storm, matches are much more dynamic. You need to fight from the very start of the match. I think that’s the main difference between the two games. HotS also relies much more on teamplay, which has its upsides and downsides, of course.

Szychu: I played a lot of different MOBAs earlier for a long time, and since they have a lot in common the transition was pretty easy for me. I have always been more of a team player than a solo player, and I have been in love with Blizzard’s Heroes and Lore for a long time, so I really liked the game from the start. It took me like two weeks to understand most of the mechanics/synergies in the game. At first, I was playing solo and trying to get Leo to play with me (he was a caster at that time) and he finally agreed after three or four weeks. We knew that Nicker was also playing HotS, so we started playing together. In December we tried to play as a five-man team with adrd and Xoltro and it took us like one week to play head-on with the top European teams (the scene was very small that time). The main difference between LoL and HotS is the fact that HotS is more team-oriented. For example, in LoL one player can snowball hard and help others to get a win. In HotS, team synergy and objective control are what matter most. HotS has also left the farm part out, which for most players was boring.

You were very successful in LoL, winning a number of tournaments and playing for several top teams. What made you jump into this new game?

leofromkorea: Yes, I competed in many tournaments and made top places quite often. Besides that, I got to attend several international LAN events. But after some time you start getting tired and you need something else to keep you motivated and focused. During my break from competitive LoL, I was also a caster for ESL Poland, but deep down I had this feeling that I did not want to attend offline events as a caster, but as a successful player. After getting my key for Alpha tests in HotS, I found this game really interesting, with a lot of potential.

Szychu: I stopped playing LoL after my last team with Leo disbanded, and I was not really playing competitively at the time. I didn’t like the latest changes to LoL and I had lost the passion for the game. At first, I tried to jump into Hearthstone and I had some success, but this game was based on RNG [a term used to refer to the phenomenon of randomness], which was making me furious. In November, I got a key for the HotS beta and decided to give it a shot. It was like love at first sight. I saw an opportunity for some success, so I started looking for players to team up with.

You came from a Starcrat II background straight into leading a MOBA team. Did your time in the RTS game help you get a better tactical perspective?

adrd: I feel like it helped me to make decisions faster and have better map awareness. We see a lot of ex-sc2 pros in the European scene, so experience from RTS games might be more useful here than it seems at first.

From a solo game to a team game. What made you decide to follow a new road?

adrd: It was not a completely new game, as I have been playing many different games in the past. I always choose games that I have fun playing, and Heroes of the Storm is one of them.

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The team is in good spirits ahead of DreamHack Bucharest

What do you think about the current state of the game and the community itself? What changes to the game would you implement?

leofromkorea: Blizzard is a company with a lot of experience and known for making balanced games. Obviously you cannot expect everything from a Beta version, but it’s still going in the right direction. The community is very mature, and we can meet players not only from other Blizzard games, like StarCraft II or Hearthstone, but also from LoL and DotA.

Nicker: I cannot really see the reason why HotS is still in a “closed beta” stage. I know that Blizzard wants to polish the game as much as possible and add a lot of content before an open beta, but HotS already offers a better experience that many other games that have been out there for years. I spend almost all my time playing with the team so I do not really have much to say about the community, but I think it is really nice, I have met a lot of kind people who I can call friends. I would love to see more heroes, but they are coming out on a regular basis, so I think that this is just a matter of time. What I would really like to have is a pause system in custom matches. We really need that for tournaments.

Jowe: I’m really happy about what we can see in the game right now, but I would really like if Blizzard could introduce something similar to Capture the Flag or King of the Hill.

adrdThe game seems to be right now in a very polished beta version. I really like the current balance because almost every hero can be good, and it’s getting better and better with every patch. The community is still pretty small and not much  interested in the e-sports scene, but it’s growing and I expect it to get a big boost when it reaches open beta. Even though Heroes of the Storm is supposed to be a team game, there should be a solo (maybe solo/duo) ladder, as it seems unfair that someone gets to a high rank quickly while playing with 3-5 people and you have to play alone.

Szychu: The game is still in Beta, so we shouldn’t expect too much from it. I think Blizzard is trying hard to make this game as good as possible, but they still have a lot to learn. One thing I would change is making some skills on smartcasts (like W-E-R with smartcasts and Q without it).

What do you think about the fact that HotS has a lot of tournaments and leagues going on when the game is still in beta?

Nicker: I knew Heroes of the Storm would be big. But I didn’t expect it to be this big so soon. We are playing in a lot of tournaments, almost every day we have an official match to play, and there are also days when we can choose which tournament we want to play.

leofromkorea: I really enjoy the fact that many companies are really interested in this game. If it stays like that, we will see just yet another great title to feature at the biggest e-sports LAN events.

Jowe: I hope that the actual interest in the game is not just a quick trend but something that will remain even after the official release of the game. The fact that we have so many tournaments taking place only show us how big and promising the competitive scene will be in the future.

adrd: I expected some tournaments since this is a Blizzard game, but I did not expect to be that many of them. Let’s hope that it is a good sign.

Szychu: Well that means this game has a lot of potential to be the biggest e-sport game. It is very enjoyable to watch HotS matches, it is not a boring game. I think HotS will overcome LoL in like 12/18 months.

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All players are using the latest gaming gear created by Ozone Gaming

You won the Heroes Champions League and finished second in the Major League. Did you expect this early success? What are the key elements behind these results?

Nicker: From the moment I started to play Heroes of the Storm, my aim has been to be the best. We are working hard to achieve our goals, and so far it is paying off. We need to keep going and keep it that way. Winning is the best feeling in the world!

leofromkorea: We are really happy and satisfied about how things are going so far, and I think nobody expected such great results and such a quick growth. The main reason for our great results is definitely the thousands of hours we have spent playing together. We have been playing together for almost eight hours a day since our team was created. At around four in the afternoon we start playing as many scrims as possible. I can admit that, in a way, we are really neglecting our personal life, but we are doing this because we love it and because we are good at it. We have a good captain leading us, making picks and bans and deciding the strategy for every single game. Our last player change was four months ago, when one of our players had to quit because of our studies, whereas every other team out there undergoes roster changes from time to time.

Jowe: From the very beginning, we have taken our training and have approached our tournaments very seriously. I’m really glad how far we went in those two tournaments and that hundreds of hours of training paid off.

adrd: We were expecting to be top3 in the Champions League, so winning the tournament was not that surprising, especially when other teams had had roster changes. Our team is one of the few that has not had major roster changes for a long time. That is definitely key to be successful.

Szychu: To be honest, we knew it was going to happen. We practice more and in a more efficient manner than other teams. We understand the game better, specially adrd, who creates most of our strategies. He is the key member of our team right now.

What is your opinion about the other top teams right now? Who are the strongest challengers at the moment?

Nicker: For such a young game we already have a pretty big competitive scene. There is a huge rivalry between the top teams, and we are playing against each other almost every day. Our strongest challengers right now are well-known teams like Team Liquid, SK Gaming and fnatic, as well as less popular teams like Na`Vi or ArthasStroiHram. There are plenty of strong teams that can beat anyone on a good day, so we always need to be at our best to win.

leofromkorea: Obviously there are many great teams at the forefront, but there has only been one for a long time that we are having a really tough time to beat, and that is Team Liquid. There are also many newly-created teams with a lot of potential, which they have to live up to.

Jowe: Even if HotS is still in a beta phase, there are some really strong teams in Europe that also happen to be excellent scrim partners for us. Right now, our focus is on the teams we will facing during the PGL Champions of the Storm, in Bucharest, Team Liquid, fnatic and SK Gaming.

adrd: The European scene is constantly changing, and anything can happen among the top teams in the region.

Szychu: Team Liquid have always been good and they are our biggest threat right now. SK Gaming are also pretty solid, along with Na`Vi, they just need a little bit more practice and discipline. Those three are the strongest at the moment.

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leofromkorea, a veteran in MOBA games

You recently qualified for DreamHack Bucharest. Are you excited to be finally able to attend an offline tournament? What are your expectations regarding this event?

Nicker: I am excited, for sure! It will be our first LAN tournament in Heroes of the Storm. Our expectations are always the same. We want to win and we certainly can do that.

leofromkorea: It is with great pleasure that I will once again attend a major event to fight for first place. We are doing a great job every day, practicing long hours, so I hope we can at least finish second. About the event itself, we have two players with no experience at all when it comes to offline events, but we still have great expectations thanks to the great support from our organisation.

Jowe: Indeed, I am very excited that we can attend a LAN event and give a good account of ourselves. It’s also the best opportunity there is to show everyone how great Heroes of the Storm is.

adrd: This will definitely be an important experience for us. We don’t have high expectations because we have not played any offline events together. Nevertheless, we will be aiming for first place there and it is definitely within our reach.

Szychu: This will be the first LAN event for two of our players, so it can go either way. We are confident going into the event, but anything can happen on LAN. It depends on which team has a good day and also other aspects of playing offline. Still, I think we will end up winning the tournament!

A new patch recently came out. Were you excited to explore the changes that it brought, or do you find this process frustrating because you had to change all the strategies that had been built?

Nicker: Patches are usually a nice thing. You got new heroes to try out and old heroes that are now different, and all this lead to new compositions. Without that, we would probably get bored pretty quickly, so it is really nice to explore something new. Heroes of the Storm is in the early developing stage so there are plenty of new features to try out after each patch.

adrd: General gameplay stays the same, so it is not that bad. Our picks are flexible enough so we are not afraid about balance changes, as we will be able to adapt to them very quickly. Heroes is still a new game, so strategies change all the time, even witout patches.

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