TheChiv had the opportunity to sit down with our very own Chakki after his victory in the North American MLG/ManaGrind Open #13. They talked about Open Beta, card balance, and had some words on the subject of Meta. Read on for the full interview!
Name: Keaton Gill
Location: Indiana, USA
|Minion (16)||Ability (13)||Weapon (1)|
Today I have the distinct honor of not only interviewing the winner of the North American MLG/MG Open, but also the winner of the ManaGrind Presents: Friday Night Swiss. That’s an impressive feat.
Why thank you!
You’re also a member of the North American ManaGrind competitive team as well.
Yes, I am with LuigEzz, zRusheR, spOh, Realz, and Spajj.
Those are some serious players, but where do you see yourself going from here?
Where ever Hearthstone takes me. I want to play in more tournaments and hopefully the competitive scene will take off even more and there are more events and I’ll get a chance to play in them.
I’m pretty sure there will be a great amount of desire for them. Now let’s get into your gaming background. What other games have you played?
Most of my competitive background comes from the Pokémon trading card game. I was top eight in the world for like three years and top sixteen in a few other games. I also played some League of Legends.
Now you played the day before in our Friday Night Swiss. So what made you decide to play in this one?
I try to play in all the tournaments I can. I was a little tired today though, but I got through it because I got to win tournaments.
Moving on to your Deck. You played a Shaman today.
Yes and it’s the same Shaman I played the day before in the Swiss. I came up with it the other day and yeah it works.
That’s really interesting. Because of the new patch everyone is scrambling trying to find that new "IT" deck. So what made you go with Shaman?
Well with the patch they took out a lot of the aggressive decks. The change to Blood Imp was a really big nerf to Warlock aggro decks. So this has forced a lot of players to swing over to a control style, and Shamans have Hex so that helps defeat control decks. Though I do not think control will last long as the meta progresses.
With the new changes in Hearthstone a lot of pretty smart players have been pointing to a rise in Shaman play.
I definitely think that’s true. I think that the main thing that was keeping it from being good is the lack of healing. This made it the victim of all Mage decks and Ice Block destroys any Windfury synergy in Shaman decks. I’m actually confused why Shamans have no heals in this game.
Perhaps we shall see this change with the introduction of the adventuring system or pack expansions later on.
Healing Wave or riot, I say. Though I will say the nerf to Mages didn’t so much make Shamans stronger, but made them stronger in context to the Meta. This can change very easily though.
Now since you brought it up what do you think of these balance changes?
I think it’s interesting to note that everyone is overreacting to it. Like no one was playing Mage the day it got nerfed, and then they realized it wasn’t bad. So right before this patch I think Mage was still a top class. I don’t think the Pyroblast nerf dropped them all that much.
What amazes me is this patch has really gotten people playing undervalued classes.
Yeah now we have people playing these Hunter rush decks which are really annoying. I think it’s more effective then Murlocs considering the Blood Imp nerf.
Moving to the tournament. What was your favorite part?
Let's see, I had a really nice set in the semifinals. I basically decked out my opponent twice and in one of those matches my last card was Leeroy Jenkins so I played Windfury on him for the win while in fatigue.
Now let’s talk a little bit about your competition. Your first match you went head to head with ManaGrind's own spOh. He is a solid player all around.
Yeah, Sp0h and I have this thing where we end up fighting against each other in every tournament. LuigEzz and zRusheR also seem to have this issue as well. So I hope this doesn’t develop long term but in three different tournaments we faced off in the first round.
I have noticed this too. After him you had some good players then in round five you faced ckblue. He is a solid player.
He took game one against me, so I was nervous. But game two and three I managed to win. I think the reason for this is how I built my deck. He was running a standard Druid and when you run standard stuff it’s easy to play against. When you run a Windfury combo in a Shaman deck no one is prepared for it. SpOh was not a fan of it.
Now you almost had to face off against one of two different ManaGrind team members.
Yeah I heard it was coin toss for Realz. I think I could have beaten Realz, mostly because my deck counters standard decks very nicely.
Now the finals you versus Dills there was kind of an issue and I would like you to explain that and the resolution of it.
Ok, so round three we are both tied one game apiece and in the middle of a match he disconnected. Both of us were in a great situation to possibly win. That was a bit bad. So I ended up getting the win. After he came back and I got my third win I asked him if he would like to continue the series because of the disconnect. He declined.
There is a term for that kind of behavior. It’s called good sportsmanship. It is one of the primary goals of ManaGrind in general to promote good sportsmanship in our events and I’m glad to see our competitive teams are exemplifying this in their actions.
Who was the toughest opponent?
Probably Dills, I lost game one and he was playing Warlock and I was concerned about my sideboard. In game four, he sideboarded in giants which I was prepared for so it died pretty fast. If he stuck with his aggro Warlock I don’t know what would have happened.
There was a point in the finals where you had to take a gamble to clear his board. This was followed up by you missing lethal.
Wow Chiv, I feel so bad. That is one of the worst mistakes you can make in this game. It’s like a noob move and I did it. A lot of people are like, “Oh it didn’t matter”, but I’m really upset because it was textbook mess up.
Well when you’re at this level of play sometimes the simplest of things get overlooked and can screw you.
I don’t think I have ever missed lethal that badly before. I want to make it the only one, I don’t know shame.
Now was there any one your glad you didn’t have to face.
Not really the top bracket was loaded with really good players and they all kind of beat each other out so that was nice at least.
Yes the top bracket was a slugfest of great players. You are coming back correct.
Of course I am!
So you won. What went through your mind?
I was happy to have won back to back in the Swiss and the Open.
Now the MLG Open format is different from a lot of other tournaments out there as there is an unlimited sideboard. So let’s talk about your sideboard.
I sided in The Black Knight against a Druid. I sided in a Spellbreaker against a Warrior because he was playing Ysera and some other things so I figured having a sixth means to handle those things was good. I sided in a Wild Pyromancer against a Warlock. I also put in a second copy of Big Game Hunter because my opponent was playing giants.
In your deck which card was the MVP?
There is not much strategy in this guy, but Nat Pagle. The thing with him is you can’t get mad when he doesn’t fish, and always buff him up if you can. If you play him turn one or two he is insane. Most classes can’t deal with him right away. There are many games I have won because of Nat Pagle due to getting instant card advantage over my opponent. He is also infinitely better than Mana Tide Totem.
What are the three best neutral cards to you?
Nat Pagle is by far the best. Second is a tie between Tinkmaster Overspark and Leeroy Jenkins. Leeroy is the reason why control is not so dominant. You can burst so much damage because of him. Tinkmaster Overspark is really cheap and mostly is used like a silence, but it has a fifty percent chance to create a huge tempo swing.
How do you prepare for a tournament?
I played in both European and North American Swiss yesterday. So before the North American one I was thinking of playing a Rogue and I didn’t like it much. I had this Shaman deck and I asked my friends on Skype and they said Shaman. It just destroyed everything. It was really freaking good.
Now with open beta coming up what advice do you have for all these new players?
If you’re playing this game for fun that’s fine. This game is a lot of fun. If you want to be more competitive then you have to understand you’re not always going to win just because you’re a better player. One thing I do is I write down every card me and my opponent play so I don’t have to rely on memory which is wrong a lot. Other than that don’t just worry about what you’re playing but worry about what they are playing.
Let’s get into some of the recent changes to this game. We will start with the gold cap.
Gold cap doesn’t affect many people, on patch day I played like 45 matches and lost out on 50 gold. I think it sucks for people who play constructed all day. I don’t think it’s a huge change, I’m still not happy with it.
Next up is the new arena system.
They really nerfed it to people who are not good at arena. It was done to get people to spend more money. When you combine this with the gold cap it really starts to look like a deliberate plan to get people spending more money. Also the fact you can get three cards as a reward for twelve wins is kind of sad.
Now this week we saw a massive balance patch. Much of the meta has shifted because of it. So what are your thoughts on it?
The most recent one there was quite a bit. Everyone was happy with the Pyroblast nerf. My view as a competitive player I’m going to play whatever is good. If it becomes bad, oh well! Casual players however spend time building up that deck and then the core of the deck gets nerfed, it sucks. With Hunters they nerfed them then brought them back and now they have this charge to your face deck that is worse than Murlocs, I would like to see them tweak them somewhat. They need fewer beasts with one health. Starving Buzzard, Blizzard made a post recently before the patch where they claimed data pointed to it being a really good class. I and other players were like "HOW!!!” All the neutral beast cards suck and Hunters are balanced around beasts. They got some really nice cards, and it could be ok if beasts were better.
Hunters need Darkspear Hunter back.
If they had a Blood Imp for beasts, they would have a chance. It’s a good deck now, but not competitive. I think having some aggressive decks in the meta keeps other decks semi balanced. I think it’s a problem if there is only one viable way to play a class. I want to see more playability in Hunters.
Let’s talk about formats; you play in both our open and our Swiss. There are also the multiple class deck tournaments. Which do you prefer?
My favorite format is probably the one with no sideboarding what so ever. I do enjoy the multi deck format as well. For view based events that’s the way to go. I do feel Swiss is a good format.
Ok, before we wrap this up anything else you want to say.
I want to give a shout out to you TheChiv for running some Swiss tournaments. I want to shout out ManaGrind and all the guys in the North American competitive team. People can check out my stream, Twitch.tv/Chakki_Hs
Well, on behalf of myself, ManaGrind, and MLG congratulations on your stunning victories in both this tournament and the Friday Night Swiss.
Thank you and I hope to repeat it next week.