Our Hearthstone player Dima “Rdu” Radu is currently in Amsterdam, one of the two cities that will stage on Saturday the European Last Call Invitational (the other one being Kiev). The eight-highest ranked players in the continent will face each other in a single-elimination bracket for the final spot at the 2016 World Championship, which will be held at BlizzCon.
We caught up with Dima before the trip to the Netherlands and picked his brain on matters concerning the preparation for the tournament, the recent card changes, the future of the game and more.
How did you prepare for this tournament and what are your expectations heading into the event?
I played a lot of practice and ladder games, and spoke for a lot of hours with other great players who helped me to prepare my five-deck lineup. Even when I was doing something outside of Hearthstone, in the back of my head I was still constantly thinking about how I could improve my lineup, I even had some great ideas while in bed before falling asleep. I consider every big tournament a puzzle that can be solved. I want to win the Last Call, but all my opponents are great players, so it will be a very hard task, but my dream is to win BlizzCon and I cannot do that unless I qualify first. My practice/discussion partners were Thijs, StanCifka, Crane333, Impact, Noblord and Casie.
How did the nerfs affect your training for Last Call? Were you happy about the changes and the timing?
I love the fact that Blizzard finally decided to listen to players and show that they also care about competitive players and not only about casuals. One of the most fun part of playing Hearthstone is to build decks in a new meta game and come up with some exciting things that might catch your opponents off-guard. Right after the patch was announced, I started thinking about how I could construct the best deck lineup in the new meta game, and I think I found a lineup that has good chances of performing very well.
You are the player with the highest number of points in attendance. Do you think that makes you a favourite? Is that an extra source of pressure?
I am one of the players who play well under pressure (it was mostly seen when I was closing a lot of series out back when we won ATLC). The only ”advantage” that higher seeds have is that they face lower seeds. I will face ShtanUdachi in the first round, and he is one of the best players in Hearthstone right now, with insane ladder finishes and probably the highest number of games played (arena+constructed) in the world. I have a lot of respect for Shtan, and I predict that it is going to be a close series; I have prepared as well as I could for him and I am curious to see how well I predicted what he is going to bring.
Who do you think that will be your main threats to win the tournament, and why?
I think the hardest part will be the first round since I definitely do not want to go home that early. I do not mind facing a great player in the first round since I can get more motivated than I would if I had to face someone who is not that good. I will try to be as relaxed as possible, not let the pressure get to me, play the best Hearthstone I can and hopefully qualify for Blizzcon and join my teammate Thijs.
You are going to play in the Netherlands instead of Ukraine. Why is that?
Blizzard decided the locations for every player and they sent me to the Netherlands because Romanian citizens require a visa to enter Ukraine. It is going to be my first time in the Netherlands while not in a layover, I have been at Amsterdam’s airport countless times but I have never actually been in the city. I am also super excited to have Thijs at the venue supporting me, since I still remember the motivational speech he gave me before the Insomnia finals in December, which greatly helped me be more concentrated on winning the title.
You were really close to qualifying for BlizzCon in 2015, which had a different qualifying system. Which in your eyes was better, 2016, 2015. Or maybe even 2014?
In 2014, I could not play at all because Romania was not eligible. Last year, I came pretty close but, unlike my teammates, I stayed home. BlizzCon is the only event I have not attended yet, and I really want to break the “curse”.
What is your perception about the current state of Hearthstone? What changes would you like to see?
I think the game has got better after the nerfs, but I think it will all come down to how good the next expansion is. If it is a really good one, it can make the game great. On the other hand, if it is bad, then it will suck big time because I do not think Blizzard can afford to make mistakes anymore. I just hope the designers will make better decisions for the game in the future, since I absolutely love the game and sometimes it is sad to see so much potential wasted.