For Thijs “Thijs” Molendijk, winning has become a habit. Despite Hearthstone’s increasing competitiveness, which makes consistent results more and difficult to come by, the Dutchman remains ahead of the pack. After beginning the year with a victory in the Curse Trials, Thijs wrote another chapter in the history of the game last month as he won his second European Championship title, this way qualifying for the World Championship, at BlizzCon, for the second year in a row.
This week, Thijs will be competing in the fifth edition of the SeatStory Cup, a tournament hosted by TakeTV and sponsored by NEEDforSEAT®. And while the Dutchman has got used to playing on the big stages, he reckons that the pressure to perform always weighs on him – even if it mainly comes from within.
“As European champion, I feel quite some pressure when I participate in tournaments, but it is all about the way you handle it,” he said. “I also put a lot of pressure on myself, I am a competitive person and I go to tournaments to win. People have high expectations and for a good reason, but I know myself and I know how difficult it is to always perform. In the long run hard work will pay off, but that does not mean that I can win all tournaments.”
Even as one of Hearthstone’s most successful players, Thijs knows that keeping a winning streak is a huge challenge for everyone, but he rejects the notion that the game’s best and brightest need to become popular streamers to have a steady source of income and make up for a potential lack of tournament winnings.
“One can make a living by being a competitive player, but in the long run it is hard to stay consistent, and in Hearthstone you have to be patient to wait for the right moment ,” he explained. “It also has big upswings and downswings. In the end, if you are motivated to work every day to become better it will happen, but it might take some time. As a streamer, your focus should also be on creating content. Every day I stream I just enjoy what I am doing, without setting any goals for myself.”
Nowadays, it is not rare to see the Dutchman among the top streamers on Twitch across all games, and the reason for his massive viewership is twofold: his competitive achievements and the fact that his broadcasts are often educational.
“It all started with my performances,” he recalls. “After we won ATLC as a team, I became European champion and reached the semi-finals at BlizzCon. People knew who I was, and I gained a lot of respect. People also like my approach to the game as I always want to be ahead of my opponent and I never stop trying to improve. On my streams, I also interact a lot with my viewers and I try to answer all relevant questions, to help new players understand game concepts or even get into the competitive scene.”
A different type of tournament
As Thijs travels to Krefeld, he hopes to finally make his mark in a SeatStory Cup after failing to even break into the top 10 in the previous three tournaments he attended. But whether he wins big or crashes out early, one thing is certain: he is bound to have a great time.
“It is obvious that we all participate for the competition and we want to go as far as possible, but SeatStory is more than the competition,” he explained. “It has a friendly environment and everybody has a good time. As a player, tournaments and the pressure to perform can be stressful, so it is really nice to have a tournament that has many entertaining games and offers other possibilities to enjoy your time. This is a reason why SeatStory is one of the favourite tournaments for Hearthstone players.”
As top and casual players alike discuss Hearthstone’s next adventure, which will reportedly be revealed last week, we asked Thijs about the kind of cards he would like to see introduced in the game: “I would like to see more spells coming in the new set and more complicated cards that could turn things around. Nowadays, a lot of spells just go 1v1 against a minion for a similar mana cost, which makes spells weaker than they should be. By being reactive you want a little advantage over the pro active minions.”