Chasing the Storm - Part Two - A HotS Interview Series

Posted by Mindfreak Pro on

Having recently partnered with Mindfreak, the members of Australia’s leading Heroes of the Storm team are currently in the midst of competition in the Premier Division of the 2018 Global Championship. 

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. 

Without a single map loss to their name thus far in 2018, it’s only fitting to share the stories of those involved with one of Australia’s most powerful esports rosters. 

Join us each week as we continue to chase our goals within the storm. 
Today we’re grateful to be joined by Benjamin Vivante-Davies (Fat94), captain of our Heroes of the Storm (HotS) team which is currently focused on the upcoming Intercontinental Clash event taking place in Brazil throughout May. Having competed at the pinnacle of the Australian scene since its inception, there’s no better individual to talk us through the success of the most dominant roster than Benjamin.

Heroes of the Storm released in 2015 and your first big tournament win came at the start of 2016. Had you ever played any video games competitively before diving into this scene?

No, not at all actually. Everything back in the day was casual for me. There was a point in time where I was occasionally competing in GameBattles through the Call of Duty scene, but that was never a real focus, I didn’t put the effort in or take it all too seriously. Heroes of the Storm was the first game that I truly dedicated myself to.

Was there a MOBA that caught your attention prior to HotS or was this your first exposure to the genre?

Well I played League of Legends for a while but again, that was purely casual. I never really felt as though I was necessarily good at it. HotS was the first title where my mindset shifted from simply playing for fun, to being entirely focused on getting the win.

Speaking of success, was your first tournament win a real moment of clarity? Did you have any inclination that you would still be competing at the highest level over two years later?

Yeah, it was a pretty crazy moment. I was born and raised in Wagga Wagga, just a small town in New South Whales. The furthest I’d ever really travelled was into Sydney, so going from that to being flown out and competing in Korea on the back of a tournament win was kind of intense to say the least. Having never been overseas, nor even in a plane for that matter, it was staggering to make that jump but I was always confident in the potential of the scene.

In late 2016 the original Nomia roster formed. How did you find yourself in the role of team captain? Did it sort of just fall into the place or did the rest of the team vote on it?

I think I sort of just naturally became the captain over time because I was the in-game shot caller. There was no real process to it, so to speak. I’m just always the most vocal so it kind of made the most sense as we moved forward.

Well talking about the team and your performance thus far throughout 2018, what does it feel like to currently hold an undefeated record in the ANZ Premier Division? It’s a pretty staggering accomplishment.

I mean yeah, it definitely feels good of course, but in a sense, we all more or less expected it. It’s what we want to aim for in the region. We feel as though we’re at that point where we really shouldn’t be dropping any maps. There are definitely a few teams in the division with the potential to beat us of course, but if we’re playing at our best, we’re confident that we can always come out on top. It is definitely reassuring knowing that all of our practice is paying off.

Is there anything in particular that you attribute the consistency to?

Well simply put, I feel as though we practice the most of any team in the region and we definitely commit time to reviewing footage and developing strategies as well. I’m not saying that other teams don’t, more just that we know we’re always outworking the competition. I think most of the teams in the division are certainly trying to make the best of their position and put in the necessary work, we’re just all on the same page in our team. We have clear cut goals, we know exactly what we need to be doing in order to achieve them and we work hard for it.

So what goes into a typical day of training for you personally and for the team as a whole?

We try to scrim as often as possible but a large portion of our time is devoted to watching tape and studying the opposition. In Korea for instance, they actually have every player stream their own point of view from within a game. That’s hugely beneficial for us because we can watch that stream and assess the overall strategy of potential opposition going in, but also analyze individual players and focus on where they may be clicking and exactly what they’re trying to achieve in the moment. Obviously not everything from other region’s is relevant to the meta we find ourselves in and it is certainly a major time investment, but we do learn a lot from the process.

Despite all of the practice, you still find time to stream on a consistent basis and you’ve been doing so for years. Do you find that it’s your highest priority behind practicing and competing?

I try to stream as often as possible, it’s something I really enjoy but of course from time to time it can be extremely difficult trying to fit it in alongside our practice. I try to stream directly before our scheduled matches and some days we just take time for ourselves so I often use that to stream for like eight to ten hours or so.

Do you try to almost exclusively stream Heroes of the Storm or do you often shake things up and dive into other titles?

It depends on the day to be honest but in a sense, I feel as though if I’m playing another game, I’m kind of cheating on HotS. I always want to be practicing and getting better with each passing day. That being said though, with how long queue times can be, I do find myself playing other smaller games on the side to keep myself and the stream entertained. Sometimes you can encounter 15-minute search times when your skill rating is relatively high, so playing Hearthstone on the side for instance, is a good way to try and keep everyone engaged with the stream.

What has it been like transitioning over to Mindfreak? Was there any hesitation on your part or were you fully on board from the moment you heard of the potential opportunity?

Well we’ve barely been a part of the team for all too long and already the support we’ve received has been incredible. It’s just a lot of small things that the team has played a large role in helping with. Some of us have already met up with members of the staff who are all great to work with and we’ve even been taken to the Sydney Cricket Ground High Performance Centre for esports athletes. Honestly this whole process has entirely changed my outlook on esports organisations in Australia. Just the level of respect that we’re shown is special and it means a great deal to us.

Looking ahead to the Intercontinental Clash in May, what sort of unique preparation is the team executing on at the moment? Does the idea of travel phase you anymore, given that you’ve travelled internationally numerous times at this point?

Since travelling to Korea a few years ago, I’ve been to Sweden for Dreamhack, America for Blizzcon and just last year I travelled to Ukraine and Poland as well, all thanks to Heroes of the Storm. The opportunities I’ve had have been insane and the Intercontinental Clash is no different. We’re obviously always excited at the prospect of travelling overseas to compete. In regards to preparation, we know that we’ll be facing off in a best of seven against another Australian team at first, so we feel confident heading into that series. As for our second match up, we’re doing everything we can to ensure that our own skills are up to par and that we’re ready for anything.

In the meantime, our Heroes of the Storm roster is still looking to maintain their flawless record in the ANZ Premier Divison. You can catch them competing here and be sure to follow Benjamin  and the rest of the HotS roster as they prepare for the Intercontinental Clash beginning on May 12.

-Brad Norton.

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