Chasing the Storm - Part Five - A HotS Interview Series

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Having recently partnered with Mindfreak, the members of Australia’s leading Heroes of the Storm team are currently preparing for the HGC Mid-Season Brawl in Sweden.

Joining the Mindfreak family means more than just an opportunity to don our colours on stages both local and international. It involves a passionate community that follows along every step of the way, anxiously anticipating the euphoria of victory. 

Join us each week as we continue to chase our goals within the storm. 

Fresh off of a thrilling performance at the HGC Intercontinental Clash in Rio de Janeiro where the squad took down the likes of Crimson Gaming and Encore esports, we’re grateful to be joined by Ryoo in the midst of an incredibly busy period for the team.

First and foremost, just a few weeks removed from a winning effort at the Intercontinental Clash, how did you find the experience and was the level of competition in line with your expectations?

I struggled a little bit with the travel, falling sick both on the way there and upon returning. It was 25 hours of travel each way, I think the long travel times wore my body out.

Other than that though, everything was very smooth and everyone was super accommodating. I’m thankful that Mindfreak, Promo Arena, and Blizzard LATAM made it such an enjoyable experience. 

The level of competition was as expected, the LATAM teams had a different playstyle from us but we picked up on just that by practicing beforehand so that there weren’t any surprises.

We knew the Crimson series was going to be tough because they had practiced immensely, possibly even more than us. We had practiced against one another more than a hundred times throughout the course of the season, to a point where we know each other’s playstyles very well. That makes it very difficult to adapt.

We didn’t have the luxury of preparing new strategies due to the lack of alternate practice partners, so we went in with the mindset that on any given day, we can play predictable and standard and still pull out the win if we play at our level.

The match was more of a mental battle than a strategic one. I had flashbacks of losing in the finals last year when we were pushed to match point. There’s always a unique kind of pressure when you are picked as the favourites and are expected to win. Despite having been regarded as the best team for almost a year at this point, we hadn’t actually won a championship with this specific lineup but we’re happy to have now broken those shackles.

I’m so relieved that we were resilient enough to bounce back from a deficit and take the trophy in the end.

Given that it was in fact the first time travelling internationally as a roster, how are you looking to adjust considering that the next venture is already approaching?

We are well prepared for this trip too, everything is sorted out – accommodation, practice location, transport, food, filming equipment, etc. – we just rock up and play our game. Perks of having a hard working manager.

The trip to Sweden is going to be 25 hours each way too, so personally I want to be careful not to get sick again and try to overcome the jet lag a bit better. I think that everyone else is of the same mindset too as we have trouble sleeping for the first two nights in Brazil.

I’m also looking forward to making some video content and streaming whilst we are there. We can’t wait to explore the city when we’re not practicing.

Well speaking of practice, how has the team been preparing for the Mid-Season Brawl considering that all of the opposing rosters will offer fresh competition for you and the squad?

We jump straight into HGC ANZ Season 2 the very week that we return from Sweden, so we decided to take a 10-day break since this is probably the last chance that we’ll get until September.

We are currently scrimming some local teams as a bit of a warm-up before we travel. We usually look to other regions for new ideas and to gain a grasp of the meta but other regions haven’t had a competitive match in about a month or so, that has made things difficult.

We are going into Sweden with an open mindset. We are keen to absorb and learn from some of the best teams in the world and will try to adapt as fast as possible when we arrive there. We plan to scrim against some of the teams in Group B and against local HGC EU teams if possible.

What are your thoughts on the structure of the tournament? How well do you think that the team will adapt to competing once a day as opposed to the weekly nature of local competition?

The MSB group stage has a very rigorous schedule. There are so many matches that are going to be played everyday, so not only will we be competing in our own matches, but also trying to keep up with the rest of them in order to study the other teams.

As far as our group goes though, I’ve never seen a more insanely difficult group. There are three world champion teams (Ballistix – 2016 Blizzcon Champions, Fnatic – 2017 MSB Champions, Gen.G – 2017 Blizzcon Champions).

We are going to put more of an emphasis on certain matches to give us the best shot at making it out of groups. What’s most interesting about the structure though is that matches are a best of two, so taking just a single map off any team makes a huge difference.

Being somewhat of a veteran in the competitive gaming realm, having competing in both Starcraft 2 and League of Legends in the past, just how significant is that prior experience to you now? Do you notice that you’re a lot calmer in stressful situations for instance, or do you still get just as nervous before a big game?

I don’t think that anything can prepare you for everything.

You are always placed in different situations and the stakes are always different. There are factors both in and out of game that can affect your mentality. However, my previous experience has allowed me to develop strategies for the team and have a good work ethic.

I share my thoughts with the team often and I like to think that is one of the special ingredients I add to the team.

Team bonding and communication are very important aspects that are often overlooked throughout esports. Hiring a coach or a sports psychologist to aid us in the future is something that I think that the team could definitely pursue in the future.

Currently, who would you say is your favourite character to play both in and out of competition?

I enjoy playing Abathur as it’s very similar to playing an RTS like Starcraft. I move my screen across the map often and get to see the entire flow of the game.

In solo games though, I love playing Genji. Genji wins games. I like winning.

 

So to wrap things up, how do you spend your time outside of the esports world? What are some of your other passions?

I’m currently enrolled in a medicine program which I have been prolonging for a long time to compete.

I’d say I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie, I’d jump at any opportunity to ride fast cars, motorbikes, wakeboard, skydive, bungee jump, etc.

I also love to travel and take photos, but if I’m stuck at home and not practicing, I look after my two cats and enjoy story-rich RPG games.

The Mindfreak HotS roster has been hard at work in preparing for one of the biggest events of the year. Show your support by following along on Twitter and tuning into the battles from 09/06 onwards.   

-Brad Norton


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