Thechiv interviews Munkbusiness of team Ragnarok who recently won the EU MLG/ManaGrind open. They get into the nitty gritty of Shaman play, as well as Munkbusiness' thoughts on how HearthStone could be improved by Blizzard, so don't miss it!
The PlayerName: Michael Munk Kruse
Location: Aarhus, Denmark
The InterviewEvery week, I get the chance to sit down and talk to the winners of the MLG/ManaGrind open tournament. Today, I get to interview Munkbuisness who won tournament number sixteen in the European region. First off, I would like to congratulate you on the victory.
Getting to know you a bit, what other games have you played in the past?
More than ten years of Yu-Gi-Oh!, but I play it very rarely now, since they took it a different direction than what I looking for. With computer games, I have played a lot of League of Legends and Warcraft 3, both great games. Hearthstone uses a lot of that Warcraft 3 nostalgia, which attracted me to the game in the first place. Otherwise, I'm just a standard Nintendo fan as well.
Do you have any other previous wins in other competitive games?
I got some few results from League of Legends, but mostly local tournaments nothing grand. I have multiple top place finishes in Yu-Gi-Oh!, but never first place. As for Hearthstone, I have competed in most of the MLG/ManaGrind opens, but since the game is young and I just recently got an actually good collection, I haven't had any luck until now.
What made you decide to get into the competitive scene and enter the MLG/ManaGrind Tournament?
I was competitive when I played Yu-Gi-Oh! and thus it came naturally to me to also enter tournaments in Hearthstone. A friend simply informed me of the free MLG/ManaGrind open tournament and then I started joining each week, whenever I had the time.
What was your favorite part about the tournament?
Winning...That being said, I entered the ManaGrind tournament last week and got absolutely destroyed 0-2 in the very first match versus Hunter. Coming into this one with the exact same deck I was really hoping not to face Hunter, because I have a terrible matchup against that class, and luckily I didn't. So, that was great.
Who was your toughest opponent?
I actually only lost one single game in the entire tournament, but that doesn't mean it was easy. There are two specific opponents that come to mind, though, first one being Ostkaka, who also played a Shaman, I had two absolutely insane games versus him, both ending with me living on the edge with 1 HP in both games and no cards in the deck for either of us in the last. I honestly do not think I have ever played a game exciting as those two, even though I made a few mistakes. The other opponent I remember is airbrushed, whom I played in the finals, he was playing a Warrior, and I had a pretty good hold on the control version, but after he absolutely annihilated me in game two with two Frothing Berserkers with the rush version, I was super scared. The finals definitely had me thinking the most between games out of all the matches I had. As a shameless plug I will mention that I recorded the entire tournament, so after editing it, it will be possible to watch at some point during the next week on my team's YouTube channel at youtube.com/teamragnarok.
Were there any competitors you were glad you did not go against?
Usually I do not want to be matched up against friends, but I was the only one that entered today. Otherwise, I actually don't know any special players, and I think most people I played against were playing just as well as any "pro" would have. I was more afraid of certain matchups really like Hunter and control Rogue. Hunter because he out speeds me and turns my field spam and Violet Teachers against myself with Unleash the Hounds, and Rogue simply because they have better field presence and board control than me.
Will you be joining future MLG/ManaGrind tournaments?
Yes for sure, whenever I have the time. I enjoy tournament play way more than the ladder.
What went through your mind when you won?
Mostly relief, I had such a great run throughout the entire tournament and it would have been such a waste to just loose in the end. Secondly happiness, it is really cool to win a tournament, especially since I wasn't expecting it at all, until three wins in, where the dream started appearing.
Now you played a Shaman today, why was that?
I try to play a lot of different decks, and before I had a lot of success with Druid, but I simply couldn't get any of my other decks to work as great as my Shaman deck. It was simply outperforming my other decks so much that I had no other choice. In general, I think it is the recent absence of Hunter decks on the ladder and the new way of using endgame burst to win that made the deck so strong. Shaman always had a problem with falling off after their incredibly strong mid game, most people however, decide to play Windfury & Leeroy Jenkins, which I tested, but with the Violet Teacher tech. I found Bloodlust to be more effective.
Now looking at your Shaman deck you played a typical control deck with a nice Bloodlust finisher. Do you think this is crucial to Shaman play styles?
I personally think that in the current meta Shaman need to have some kind of way to end the game, but I do not think it has to be Bloodlust. There are three distinct finishing combos for Shaman: the Leeroy Jenkins & Windfury combo, the Rockbiter Weapon & Al'Akir the Windlord combo, and Bloodlust. I found that more often than not I had a huge board of little useless creatures such as totems, Violet Apprentices and Spirit Wolf and I hated not being able to utilize these small dudes with Windfury, plus I was able to cut away the great, but terribly inconsistent Leeroy Jenkins.
Which archetype would have been the biggest threat to your main deck and why?
I talked about this earlier, but Shaman in general have problems with any kind of rush that can start on turn one, since most of Shamans cards have a three mana cost, it is often way to late too try and salvage the game from there and even the one mana removal backfires early since a Lightning Bolt often will block out your turn three and Rockbiter Weapon still will damage yourself. This is the reason many Shaman players decide to play two Argent Squires, but I think Argent Squire in general is terrible for Shaman in all other matchups so I went for a more risky approach, the same logic applies to Violet Teacher, she is very terrible against Hunters, but since I am already loosing against that matchup I might as well use her power.
What were some key choices in your sideboard this tournament?
In Yu-Gi-Oh! I found myself to be a great sideboarder, but I have a lot of problems with it in HS, so I often found myself only changing a few cards here and there. I don't remember anything from the first two games, but versus the Shaman players I threw in two Crazed Alchemists instead of a Sunfury Protector and a Harvest Golem, to be able to freely kill all the totems, they did alright, but nothing amazing. Against frost giants Mage I threw out a lot of AoE and traded it for Leeroy Jenkins, Lava Burst, and Windspeaker, whom definitely helped me burst the Mage down fast before the giants had a chance to come out, I might consider only one Windspeaker in the future. For the finals against Warrior I was very afraid of the rush Warrior, but I wasn't going to risk it all and just lose to the control deck, so I added in the strongest taunt minion of all time Sen'jin Shieldmasta in exchange for Violet Teacher and found room for two Acidic Swamp Ooze, but I was not going to do some insane prediction and remove Hex even though they were mostly useless against the aggressive version, but without them in the control matchup I would have no chance.
Every week I ask the winners of this tournament about the best neutral cards in this game. The fact is, most decks 33% or more of the construction is neutral cards. So what are your picks and why?
All of my neutral minions, except maybe Sunfury Protector, put in great work today. Azure Drake is super amazing being able to recycle itself, but one should not forget about the spell power; because of the low mana costs on the different Shaman spells it is often you can play them all out on the same turn, for instance, Lightning Bolt and Azure Drake on turn six to kill that 4 health minion just out of reach for the Fire Elemental, but the greatest power comes in combination with Lightning Storm, so brutal. I must, however give a great shutout to my gal Violet Teacher, ever since we challenged yourself two weeks ago to use Violet Teacher on our podcast HearthBreakers, we have fallen prey to her awesome power in Shaman, she was so strong that she often forced powerful removal spells on her and that was after summoning two dudes already, not a single time was she worse than a Chillwind Yeti, and multiple games were finished with Bloodlust on a Violet Apprentice.
To your success today, what do you think makes a great Hearthstone player?
To be quite honest, the game itself is quite simple looking at it from a card player’s perspective, so after grabbing the basics, what you have to do is be good at deck building and know the ins and outs of every deck, I would recommend every player that wants to be good to gather together with some friends to playtest and discuss the meta. If you want to be on top of the ladder you simply have to play in long sessions to be able get a feel of the current ladder meta and adapt your deck to it, but in tournament play get a group.
How do you prepare for tournaments?
Our team has a podcast and we also talk on Skype daily, so we are often filled in with whatever is hot and what is going on right now in the game. Besides that, we just play whenever we can get a feel of our decks against the current metagame.
Now looking at your deck, which cards would you say were most valuable to your victory?
I covered these earlier, Azure Drake and Violet Teacher did amazing work, but the honor for the most visible influence must go to Bloodlust. Although, I still might have won some of the games it won me without it.
Do you have advice for people who are just getting into the game and want to improve?
Build a good collection and learn about the basic card advantage, both of which can be done through the arena. Besides that watch games with commentary to get an idea of why certain plays are made, and play good decks. People often look down on net decking, but in order to be a good player must first learn how to play and pilot a good deck, and only after becoming a great player can he sit down and be a great deck builder.
Recently there has been a lot of negativity about the way Blizzard has been handling Hearthstone the past few months. Players have flocked to the forums and posted their discontent to the level that many of the threads were removed, locked, and several posters received a "forum vacation". What are your thoughts on this?
I must agree with the community on this one, the game is very popular and without a doubt cashing in a ton of money. The argument to defend the slow pace is often put on the small team, but I say Blizzard easily could put more people into it with that much money on the line. They have a great game with a big fan base; if nothing happens then they'll eventually lose this. In terms of balance I actually agree with almost everything done, the game as it is right now is very balanced between classes, but there are still some individual cards that very bad too loose against namely, Nat Pagle and Tinkmaster Overspark, and I would like to see something done with these cards and the amount of RNG in general.
What features would you like to see added to Hearthstone?
I hope the ladder, eventually will become relevant, by either introducing sidedecking options or some other format that isn't as “rock-paper-scissors”, as the current system. I never think this will happen. What I actually think could happen and hope will happen is for Blizzard to introduce some kind of tournament mode, allowing players to set the settings like time limit, as this is a much needed feature. Lastly, I would love for them to get rid of the terribly unfair disenchant feature that only offers one fourth of a card’s value. This takes away from people wanting to focus on a single deck, and forces them to collect for every deck, as they will otherwise loose way too much value. It is terrible how I have to be afraid of crafting a card because if I draw it later on well then it is only worth one fourth. I would much rather want to see some kind of trading system. In general, I just want the developers to fix the bugs, release the adventure modes and more content in general. The original card pool slowly is getting boring.
Wow, that was pretty amazing stuff! Is there anyone you want to shout out to in the Hearthstone community?
I would like to point people towards our weekly podcast, HearthBreakers, at youtube.com/teamragnarok. In it each week we discuss the meta, deck building, and challenge each other to think out of the box.
I have caught some of your work, it’s pretty good. Well, I think we can wrap this one up. On behalf of ManaGrind I congratulate you on a well-deserved victory and I hope to see you back here for a second interview in the near future.