HS: HelloLeeroy and Osha Renew with exceL
13th January 2017
2016 was an exciting year for all of us at exceL eSports, and we are looking forward to even more continued growth and success in the new year. As part of that, we’re absolutely delighted to announce that we’re retaining both our Hearthstone players, Nick ‘HelloLeeroy’ Waugh and Alex ‘Osha’ Polyviou, who have signed new contracts for 2017. They’re getting stuck into the season already, card-slinging this weekend with many other hopefuls at Meltdown London for the first of two Tavern Hero Qualifiers in January. We’ll be cheering them on fervently, as there’s a lot riding on these qualifiers - a win at a Tavern Hero tournament could lead to a dream trip to the Bahamas for the HTC Winter Championship!
Earlier this week, Kieran Smith (@SmithhWrites) caught up with both players to get their thoughts on all things Hearthstone:
Kieran: You have both been at exceL for just over a year now. How has it been?
HelloLeeroy: I've enjoyed feeling like part of a team. The guys are great, supportive and provide us with a bunch of cool gear – I even got a cheeky snapback recently! I’m looking forward to this year, where they are looking to support us to go to even more events!
Osha: Considering exceL is my first organisation, I was extremely excited for the opportunity to represent them in a game I was good at, to have the support from everyone and feel a sense of importance. Hopefully this year we can attend events in Europe and be successful together.
Kieran: Leeroy, you mention your snapbacks - I remember watching an ESL Premiership game where you switched between snapbacks each turn. How did that tournament go for you, overall?
Leeroy: I love the Prem. The problem is that while I do well in the group stage, where I get to mess around on stream and feel more relaxed, when I get to the actual live event I get a little bit phased out by it all. The same happened during an event at the Hippodrome in London, where I nailed it playing on my iPad in a room, but as soon as I got on stream I was taken down by Osha and then xl3en. I definitely enjoyed the experience as a whole, though I just wish I could represent myself a bit better when it comes to the live finals.
Kieran: Osha, Leeroy mentioned about losing to you at the Hippodrome event in London. Could you tell us about your event history in the last few months?
Osha: As you may know, I participated in the ESL UK Premiership in both the first and second seasons, and my performances in both seasons were atrocious. I finished last in the first season, and second from last in the second season. I'm determined for the third season to invest more time in my preparation, to analyse my opponent more in order to figure out a strong strategy to help me win and push me towards the offline finals.
Kieran: Why do you feel like you do worse online?
Osha: I've always seemed to do well in qualifiers, when I know I am not being watched and the pressure is off. I also tend to do very well in qualifiers or tournaments which are continuous, unlike the ESL Premiership which is just one series a week. I have a much stronger mindset if I have to perform continuously throughout one day. I think Leeroy has a great mind for strategy games, especially Hearthstone, and I think once he overcomes the offline pressure he will go on to be very successful in future events.
Kieran: You both mentioned the Hippodrome event. How was that for the both of you, and what was the experience like of playing in such a different environment?
Osha: The Hippodrome is an amazing casino which I’ve visited a few times, but after being invited to the event along with Leeroy I couldn't turn it down. It’s a different feeling playing at such a venue, and being rewarded for it as well. Hopefully, there will be more events like this in the future.
Leeroy: I enjoyed playing on my iPad in the backroom. When you got to the semi-finals, though, you were required to play on stream at a little table with the casters sat a few metres away from you. I went 2-0 up in the semi and lost 3-2, and in the third-place play-off I was 2-0 up but and lost 3-2.
Kieran: Moving onto more Hearthstone based stuff, last month the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion was released. As usual, the meta always shifts after an expansion, so how are you guys liking it?
Leeroy: Personally, I'm not the biggest fan. I know that there are lots of different decks running about, but they all have this theme of "run Patches or Kazakus or go away", which isn't great. I've tried messing around with typically 'old school' midrange/curvy decks such as Tempo Mage and C'thun Druid, but they just get crushed by (and because they don't run) Kazakus and Patches. I'm sure there is room for creativity, though, and I'm sure there is a druid list out there that nobody is playing yet. Right now, though, I would say that the meta is stifling creative deck building.
Osha: I'm really enjoying the meta, to be honest. I felt a sense of boredom during the previous expansion and got very demotivated, as only a certain number of decks were conquering the ranked system and tournaments. Now more decks are being created and there is a lot of room for deckbuilding as more cards get introduced. I'm looking forward to building and trying more decks as I like to have a few tech choices in my decks, so that opponents are confused as to what I'm playing.
Kieran: Since both of you have given completely different answers, I would like to ask this - what decks are you prioritising to become better at? Also, since some players go for pure power or what they are comfortable with, what do you guys like playing at the moment?
Osha: When I feel that I'm "comfortable" with a deck, I seem to play it best. That used to be C'thun Druid. I found it an amazing deck both defensively and offensively. I will be trying to make a variant of it now, using the new cards. Other than that, Paladin and Hunter seem to be the forgotten classes of the expansion, so I will be looking to create some decks to try out and confuse my opponent. There is some potential there, it just needs a solid strategy.
Leeroy: Rogue. I used to play it a lot, and even though it's good again I haven't really picked it up much. Also, it's a slightly different style to other decks, even if adding pirates makes it a little bit more of a "slam stuff on curve" type. Renolock too, something I haven't really played much before. Getting the finest of that deck down could prove useful in tournament strategies because you can tech it to do lots of different things. Personally, I look for variety because I'm aware that when I play against the absolute best players I am behind them mechanically, so in tournaments I need to gain the advantage elsewhere.
Kieran: Interesting! Personally, I’m liking Jade Druid, but I feel like there are some hidden archetypes left. What do you think might become insanely strong in the future?
Osha: I quite like Jade Druid, it feels a little like C'thun Druid did in the previous expansion. However, I think it’s a little slow for the meta at the moment, and doesn’t have many great area-of-effect spells. I think Paladin will be quite strong once someone finds a deck. I expect there to be more aggressive decks in the near future as well.
Leeroy: In the immediate future (before the next expansion), I think some sort of Malygos or Kun the Forgotten King Druid might pop up and mess people around for a week or two, before being hated away. Also, to go out on a limb, someone might absolutely tear a tournament with Hunter, just for it never to be seen again. In the long term, it obviously depends a lot on what cards get added, but after the new expansion, there could be some seriously good mid-range decks that pop up when Reno Jackson leaves and people stop playing Kazakus. Freeze Mage could make a bit of a comeback, if it can tech to beat aggro enough and survive the loss of Emperor T.
Kieran: It’s interesting that you both see mid-range/aggro as still being on top. To end things, is there anyone to whom you would like to give a shout out?
Osha: Shout out to exceL, Cooler Master and Leeroy!
Leeroy: Shout out to SirFunchalot, Ryukuma and DaquanWolf!