The 2016 GEICO One Nation of Gamers circuit came to a conclusion this past weekend as eight competitors battled it out in the finals at PAX West. The three day long tournament was eventually won by Luminosity Gaming's Fr0zen, who took some time to talk to us about his experience including his journey to this point, disconnect issues, and the current meta.
Hearthhead: So you were the fourth to qualify for the PAX Prime finals. It’s been about four months since that. How do you go about keeping yourself fresh for the competition? Because that’s a very long time between qualifying and actually competing.
Fr0zen: Most of the time I just grind ladder. For this tournament especially, I practiced with a lot of Asian players in the scene – Neobility, SilentStorm – who are also up there in [HCT] points. They kept me fresh for the meta, but this tournament was a little bit harder to prepare [for] because we get the new cards and we don’t actually know the power level of the cards and we actually don’t have time to prep [with them] as well.
So most of it was just guessing what people are going to bring. I didn’t think people were going to use the new cards because they also didn’t have time to prep it. So I just thought they were going to use the same strong decks in the meta from before.
Lately there’s been a lot of talk about a lot of the problems with how open HCT tournaments and the ladder work. How time-consuming they are, disorganized, etc. But many say the ONOG tournaments are some of the best experiences in comparison. What do you think of that?
Fr0zen: Yeah, I agree. I actually didn’t have much time to play in most of the ONOG this year because they were on Fridays and that was like my only day off. [As I was] grinding open tournaments every single week.
I actually didn’t think too much about making ONOG finals because my goal was making Last Call and [the] World Championships. But after good results from DreamHack Winter and stuff, they actually invited me to a feature which I was able to win.
What are your thoughts on their decision to go with a Best of 7 format instead of the standard Best of 5 which is what Blizzard pretty much always uses?
Fr0zen: I really like the Best of 7. It’s just another match that distinguishes between skill and also forces opponents to play another deck [which is] pretty huge because a lot of people might not have the range of decks that they’re comfortable with. Forcing them to play a weaker class might show more skill difference.
Along that notion, aside from Eversiction, you and Chakki were the only ones to bring Rogue and I think a lot of people, in general, don’t think Rogue is the strongest right now. Based on results it largely seems to depend on the matchup, though. Want to tell us why you brought it?
Fr0zen: Rogue was a comfort pick for me. I brought it to DreamHack Summer as well and it performed extraordinarily well – it went like 16-4 or something like that. And I was pretty good [at] maneuvering with Rogue situations like what resources to conserve. It’s not the easiest deck for most people to play because a lot of times you have to use your entire hand on specific situations and give up a card advantage to just go all in.
I think it’s one of the decks that skilled players with a lot of experience would be comfortable bringing. I also think it’s probably a top four class right now.
One of the things we were surprised by – we obviously play Hearthstone a lot – but Questing Adventurer kind of caught us off guard. Everyone brought that all of a sudden and we haven’t really seen it. Is that a recent development?
Fr0zen: Yeah, in the recent few months. It’s just another card that combos with Conceal. People didn’t pick up on it originally, the biggest change for it to be viable was Silence was nerfed so there’s no more ways [to] hard counter the card. So if the card blows up, you just win the game.
A lot of people started cutting Violet Teacher from Yogg Druid, they just cut the token part of it and put Malygos in. You were one of the few who kept the Teacher. What are your thoughts on the two different versions of that deck?
Fr0zen: The Gadgetzan Auctioneer version probably has a lower power ceiling than the Violet Teacher version. I think [the former] is probably more consistent, but I like the fact that the [token] version can just blow out the game. And it gives more decision-making in the early midgame which also influences how much skill the deck takes. You can combo Power of the Wild with a lot of the cards – even [with] Living Roots and taking value trades against some aggro decks is very important.
You played Dog this tournament and a match had to be remade due to a disconnect. How big of an impact did that have? Was it a huge turning point? Because it seemed to go badly for Dog afterward.
Fr0zen: I played him twice, both times ended in a 4-0. But the first time I disconnected I was actually very, very, very far ahead. It was an unlosable spot as Shaman almost. I was really annoyed because [in] that matchup if the Warrior draws well early game it just snowballs on the Shaman.
The first time I had board control [and] I had Life Tap [from Sir Finley Mrrgglton] – which is literally the best thing you want versus control decks – and Finley could have traded into the 2/1. What made people think that Dog was going to win that game is that he Brawled the next turn and his 2/1 Disciple of C'Thun lived, but the thing is, I would have made the trade with Finley into it so that he had no chance of making that Brawl work. And his hand was actually really clunky [in] the replay.
But the second time, I was in a very unfortunate spot. I would have actually given him the win if I didn’t top deck the Call of the Wild. I had a 25% chance of just winning the game because I could have made a trade and then there was a ping off the Huge Toad which would have had a huge impact. But the decision was made when I topdecked the Call of the Wild and determined that I still had a chance to win. And they didn’t want to make it unfair to dog if I did top deck the win.
Do you think it’s important that Blizzard comes up with some way for these matches to be remade in the state that they were in?
Fr0zen: Yeah, that would be really nice. But I don’t think it’s that easy for them to do unless it’s a huge, huge tournament like Blizzcon or something.
Also, there were some problems with one of the laptops lagging which also caused me to make a mistake later on in the series versus Chakki. Where I traded [ Blackwing Corruptor] when I was going to play Deathwing anyways.
I wasn’t going to do something that stupid, obviously.
Chakki and Fr0zen face off in the finals. The error occurs around 5:32:00.
Was this the first major tournament for Luminosity? What are your thoughts on the team as a whole?
Fr0zen: [Well we played in] the Americas Prelims I guess. Muzzy made it pretty far. Both me and Chakki fell out a little bit earlier.
I think we’re definitely one of the strongest teams. We haven’t played against any of the top European teams like Na’Vi [Ed. note: Na'Vi has since shut down its Hearthstone team] or G2 in a team format yet. Or [even] had that many encounters on the ladder because [of] different regions. But I would love to play them a lot more and actually see where we stand.
What was it like facing off against Chakki so soon and twice in the same tournament nonetheless?
Fr0zen: Before we went into the tournament we were kind of expecting – seeing how the groups turned out – I felt like...I prepped really hard to beat Dog’s lineup and it actually showed in the matches, but we were actually seeing a clear path where we could meet each other in the finals. And it was very likely because the skill differential between us and most of the field was really big besides Dog, but Dog did not bring the best decks.
Yeah, that was interesting. A lot of people said he brought bad, or at the very least strange decks. A lot of people say Reno Jackson isn’t the best right now.
Fr0zen: He was really banking on people bringing Warrior and him being able to sweep Warrior with his control lineup, like Control Warrior. Which is something I usually bring, I almost never play Dragon Warrior but for this tournament, I felt that Dog can easily target Warrior because he’s a really control heavy player.
What are your thoughts on Karazhan as a whole and how it affected competitive play?
Fr0zen: The big card that’s affected the meta is probably Arcane Giant. It’s really, really strong and if people can figure out how it’s viable in other decks, other classes, it can be an even larger impact on the meta.
The newer cards I actually have not tested. I [did with] Malchezaar's Imp because I figured it was going to be very strong against almost everything.
But the impact is always a lot bigger than most pro players expected because they always downplay a lot of the cards coming into the expansion. In the beginning, they overrated everything and it turned out to be bad like Troggzor the Earthinator.
But we’ll see what happens.
Congrats on winning again, it was a great tournament. Did you happen to catch the series between Dart and Dog with the C'Thun antics?
Fr0zen: Yeah, most of the top end players were able to spot that. We were pretty confident that Dog was able to spot it and were really happy that he was able to do it and people recognized the skill he had to make those plays.
I actually didn’t even see it at first, but he goes face and puts him to 12 and fatigue puts him to 11 so it just cuts off the Shield Slam. It’s really hard to see. A lot of people don’t remember the fatigue setting in at the end.
So what’s next for you?
Fr0zen: I’m already in the Last Call Tournament. I’m second seed I think? Versus Neobility first round. And that’s in a month. Between that I think there’s another major tournament [later this month] that is pretty huge.