Meet The Hearthstone Players Who Will Be Competing For The First Time In Las Vegas

by ecoutepasca

You don’t know their names yet, but they have proven themselves to be world class Hearthstone players. They are coming to Las Vegas without an established team, without a reputation, without expectations. They have won an open cup and Masters Tour will be their first experience in international esports.

Team NoProsHere has had the priviledge to interview thirteen of these freshmen.

Shaun “Kittii” Norem

Origin: Colorado Springs, US
Age: 31
Occupation: Software Engineer
Qualified with: Control Warrior

Q: When did you start playing Hearthstone? Did you play any other card games before? What is your relationship with the game? How complete is your card collection?

A: I started playing Hearthstone just before the Naxx expansion was released. I had a background in Magic: The Gathering already and wanted to try this new virtual (and potentially free to play) card game I had heard about. I played something around 500 games and then stopped because the game wasn’t interesting enough at the time and I was sick of losing to Leeroy Jenkins. To be fair, I still hold a grudge against Leeroy, but the game has gotten a lot better as a whole. My collection is fairly complete for the standard format, but I dust all but my favorite cards that rotate into wild. I’m still missing a handful of legendaries, but most of them aren’t very useful anyway.

What Hearthstone achievements are you most proud of?

A: Qualifying for Vegas is the biggest achievement. Other things like regularly beating pro players on ladder, getting 12 wins in arena, and making legend as a completely free to play player (at the time) are all neat, but they don’t quite compare to this.

Q: What is your objective in Las Vegas?

A: As much as I’d like to win it all, let’s be realistic – that probably won’t happen, I’m still going to do my best though! Other than that, I’m excited to meet some of my favorite personalities in the hearthstone scene. 🙂

Q: How do you prepare for this tournament? Who do you practice with?

A: My friends list before taking part in open cups consisted of a handful of people that don’t even play hearthstone. So for practice I bring my deck ideas to ladder and accept the losses that come with unfavorable match-ups (which are often handled with the other two deck variants). I also take part in other events when I’m able to. Unfortunately, with a full-time job and standard event hours falling within my work hours, I’m only able to take part on the weekends. 😦

Q: Are there any professional players that you look forward to meet or play against? Why?

A: I hear Jia is going to be there! She’s my favorite caster and a solid competitor. To any casters that see this, I like you too, she’s just my favorite. 😛 It looks like Dog will be there and as an extension I assume Hafu will make an appearance as well. Meeting the two of them would be pretty cool. (Also, Kittii vs. Dog, show match of the century, am I right?)

Q: Would you like to continue in the competitive scene beyond this event? What are your long term goals as a gamer?

A: Hearthstone is probably one of the few games with a competitive scene that I could see myself having a shot in since it’s less reaction-time based and more contemplative. I’m not often a very lucky person, so the RNG element can be a hindrance, but I will take any opportunity I can get to find myself in the competitive scene for sure! My long term goals as a gamer are.. to just keep doing what I’m doing. I love games. So much that I went through college specifically to develop them myself. (I don’t have much to show for that yet, but give it time.) If I can will myself to stream more regularly, or if I can do well at Vegas, then becoming a well-known personality wouldn’t be so bad either. 🙂

Greg “TopDeck” Staffopoulos

Origin: Gainesville, Florida, USA
Age: 22
Occupation: Graphic Designer
Qualified with: Myracle Rogue

Q: When did you start playing Hearthstone? Did you play any other card games before? What is your relationship with the game? How complete is your card collection?

A: I started playing around when Naxx came out. I had no other experience in card games of this type, but I had played poker and other more traditional ones, so I figured it could be a new game type to get good at. I started playing Magic after Hearthstone, funnily enough. Hearthstone is my favorite game, probably of all time, just based on hours put in and fun had with it. I even got my mom to start playing! As for cards, I have pretty much every meta classic card, and I craft as needed for changes. I have basically no Warrior cards, since I was a Freeze Mage player, and I’m spiteful.

What Hearthstone achievements are you most proud of?

A: Probably getting to go to Vegas, if I’m honest. Never been anywhere non-local, or this big. I’m very excited!

Q: What is your objective in Las Vegas?

A: I’ll be happy to make it in the money of any kind, but I’m playing to win. I’ve been practicing, reading stats, and testing so many decks. If you shoot high, it’s hard to fall short!

Q: How do you prepare for this tournament? Who do you practice with?

A: I watched a lot of tourney play, and delved way too deep into ladder for a month or two. For practice matches, my go-to players were Kirk “Derivus” VonHilsheimer and Tyler “Tendors” Kramer. Kirk is really experienced with the game and gave me a lot of tips and play advice during our Tespa season and in practice, and Tyler plays Warrior. And it helps to have Warrior practice.

Q: Are there any professional players that you look forward to meet or play against? Why?

A: Oh man, like all of Omnislash, since I watch their show all the time. Firebat mostly. For play against? Any of them, just for the experience of facing them in bracket. (I did beat Zalae on ladder once!)

Q: Would you like to continue in the competitive scene beyond this event? What are your long term goals as a gamer?

A: Oh, absolutely. I’d love to make a splash in Vegas and have a career go from there, this is what I want to do!

Benjamin “FlècheNoire” Gayraud

Origin: Toulouse, France
Age: 22
Occupation: Engineering student
Qualified with: Midrange Hunter

Q: When did you start playing Hearthstone? Did you play any other card games before? What is your relationship with the game? How complete is your card collection?

A: I started hearthstone 4 years ago! Magic when I was 7-8 years old.

What Hearthstone achievements are you most proud of?

A: 1st man qualified to Vegas!

Q: What is your objective in Las Vegas?

A: Top 32! I want to go to Seoul!

Q: How do you prepare for this tournament? Who do you practice with?

A: After finals exams I trained a lot of different matchups and different decks. I practice with my teammates (warma and Loogiiqq) and my practice group (pyramide) .

Q: Are there any professional players that you look forward to meet or play against? Why?

A: I like Feno’s stream, but I don’t care to play against professional players, I just want to play well and win games.

Q: Would you like to continue in the competitive scene beyond this event? What are your long term goals as a gamer?

A: Of course! Improve, improve improve and improve and If I’m good enough I will win tournaments.

Ted “NoGlocko” Hollingsworth

Origin: Virginia, USA
Age: 22
Occupation: Lifeguard
Qualified with: Bomb Warrior

Q: When did you start playing Hearthstone? Did you play any other card games before? What is your relationship with the game? How complete is your card collection?

A: I started playing Hearthstone in January of 2015. My friend wanted me to help him with the “Return of Mechazod” tavern brawl, and after he showed me the basics, I was hooked. I played a little bit of Yu-Gi-Oh and a fair amount of Pokemon TCG. I love Hearthstone, however before the latest expansion I was starting to get fatigued by the lack of new strategies. I try to keep all the relevant standard cards, but I don’t play wild so I generally dust those cards.

What Hearthstone achievements are you most proud of?

A: Aside from qualifying for masters in Vegas, I would say hitting legend for the first time using Bomb Hunter.

Q: What is your objective in Las Vegas?

A: To win Obviously 😉 Honestly though I’m just trying to have a good time and hopefully recoup some of the costs with my winnings.

Q: How do you prepare for this tournament? Who do you practice with?

A: It’s kinda hard to prep for this because I don’t really have any friends that still play. I’ve been watching Grandmasters and testing primary deck ideas on ladder.

Q: Are there any professional players that you look forward to meet or play against? Why?

A: I honestly have no idea what pros will be there, and I’ll probably keep it that way so I don’t worry about it.

Q: Would you like to continue in the competitive scene beyond this event? What are your long term goals as a gamer?

A: I don’t know about competitive, but I’ve been wanting to branch out into Twitch and YouTube for a while so I’m looking to start that up when I get a new place with better internet.

Romaric “AyRoK” Dubois

Origin: Lyon, France
Age: 18
Occupation: Accounting and management student
Qualified with: Cube Hunter

Q: When did you start playing Hearthstone? Did you play any other card games before? What is your relationship with the game? How complete is your card collection?

A: I started playing Hearthstone in 2016, and tournaments in 2017. I didn’t play other card games like Magic but I like board games and some IRL card games (poker). This game allowed me to meet new people and compete with them. Competition is my favorite part in any game. My card collection isn’t full but i have all essential cards (not golden) to create all competitives decks.

What Hearthstone achievements are you most proud of?

A: My qualification to this Master Tour Las Vegas. I didn’t make any DreamHacks or HCT tour stops so I don’t think anything will be at the same level.

Q: What is your objective in Las Vegas?

A: First step is to make Day 2 (do 4-3 day 1 but 5-2 for a hope to make top 8). After that everything is possible 😉 In my dreams I’m in the top 8 at the end of day 2, But there is a long way to complete this objective.

Q: How do you prepare for this tournament? Who do you practice with?

A: I practice with my teammates from Konix eSport and other French players who are qualified too to Las Vegas but not only. Help from each player helps me a lot. I play 8-12h/day in open cups, practices and 1/2h to watch some gameplay from other players.

Q: Are there any professional players that you look forward to meet or play against? Why?

A: The majority of Grandmasters players, in particular Europeans players like Bunnyhoppor, Viper, Hunterace or Fenomeno… To play against them first, cause it’s a real challenge to play in this kind of tournament with high level players. Interesting to gain experience. And then talk to them to learn and share a good moment 😊

Q: Would you like to continue in the competitive scene beyond this event? What are your long term goals as a gamer?

A: Yes I will definitely continue in the competitive scene, try to qualify to Masters Tour Seoul maybe with a top 32 in Vegas but when I go back in France I will try to win an event. My long term goal is quite a dream, to be a pro player but I’m 18 yo and this dream can begin now 😁 btw I will continue to play tournaments at semipro level in the same time I study.

Michael “Mick” Lessard

Origin: Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Québec, Canada
Age: 19
Occupation: Cook
Qualified with: Midrange Hunter

Q: When did you start playing Hearthstone? Did you play any other card games before? What is your relationship with the game? How complete is your card collection?

A: I started playing Hearthstone since the beta! I never played any other card games before, but when I started playing Hearthstone, I fell in love and I became an addict. One day, I wanted to start playing competitively so I improved every single day and now it’s 2019 and it’s gonna be my first year of Competitive Hearthstone and I’m ready to show the world who Mick is.

What Hearthstone achievements are you most proud of?

A: Definitely proud of qualifying for both Masters Tour Las Vegas and Masters Tour Seoul!

Q: What is your objective in Las Vegas?

A: My objective in Las Vegas is achieving 9 wins so I can go back home with 3K so I would be able to compete in Seoul as well, but like everyone I’m gonna try my best to win the Masters cause I’d love to become a professional one day and maybe become part of Grandmasters League.

Q: How do you prepare for this tournament? Who do you practice with?

A: I’m going on Discord with my practice group and we just test different archetypes and adapt our decklists to the current meta and try what we think is good! I’m practicing with a bunch of good players, but I can’t name them all cause we are 20 people, but here are some of the names : Aviously, Storm Fever, Cmac, Dono, Meati, TheLastChamp, Mattf, Tris, Saturos, Sigge, Lambyseries…

Q: Are there any professional players that you look forward to meet or play against? Why?

A: Not really, I’m just foward to make some friends and have a good time in Las Vegas!

Q: Would you like to continue in the competitive scene beyond this event? What are your long term goals as a gamer?

A: My long term goal as a gamer like I said would be to become a professional Hearthstone player and depending how I’m doing, might as well join Grandmasters League if I get invited one day!

Hector “Metalcat” Aguilar

Origin: Montevideo, Uruguay
Age: 37
Occupation: Inventory analyst
Qualified with: Odd Mage

Q: When did you start playing Hearthstone? Did you play any other card games before? What is your relationship with the game? How complete is your card collection?

A: Started playing TCG with Magic: the Gathering, in the invasion set (a long time ago) but as a hobby with friends then i quit because i cant keep updated with the game because it was a little expensive in for me in those years, then i found Hearthstone just before Naxxramas was released and since then i enjoy the game a lot. in terms of relationship with the game, I learn about the competitive scene 2 years ago and i like the idea of give it a try and then became more and more into know how to get better at the game playing every day. My card collection is almost complete from Un’Goro to Rise of Shadows… made a big mistake burning all the wild collection when Un’Goro comes out, since then i am trying to get all the old cards back.

What Hearthstone achievements are you most proud of?

A: As a competitive person i always want more, started with a Fireside, then a THQ then Las Vegas Qualifier, who knows whats next…

Q: What is your objective in Las Vegas?

A: Go as far as i can.

Q: How do you prepare for this tournament? Who do you practice with?

A: Was waiting for the buffs so i can try and learn new decks and evaluate how the meta evolves and think what to play. I practice in ladder and with friends to test matchups.

Q: Are there any professional players that you look forward to meet or play against? Why?

A: With anyone, playing against the best is always the best way to learn and improve your game. And i’m glad that i have got to that point.

Q: Would you like to continue in the competitive scene beyond this event? What are your long term goals as a gamer?

A: Yes, my goal this year is to attend the three masters tours. Vegas is checked, next stop Seoul! and who knows maybe GM one day XD but that will take a lot of work.

Marco “denker” Calderón

Origin: Santiago, Chile
Age: 20
Occupation: Sociology student
Qualified with: Odd Warrior

Q: When did you start playing Hearthstone? Did you play any other card games before? What is your relationship with the game? How complete is your card collection?

A: I started playing Hearthstone in 2015 thanks to some friends from school, I had never played a card game before. I currently like to compete in Hearthstone tournaments but my card collection is not very good.

What Hearthstone achievements are you most proud of?

A: I have played HCT Americas Summer Playoffs in 2017, have qualified Master Tour Las Vegas and having reached the number 1 of legend.

Q: What is your objective in Las Vegas?

A: Give a good level to reach the first places.

Q: How do you prepare for this tournament? Who do you practice with?

A: I prepare myself playing tournaments and practicing with Chilean players.

Q: Are there any professional players that you look forward to meet or play against? Why?

A: I don’t expect to meet someone special, I just hope I can give a good level when facing them.

Q: Would you like to continue in the competitive scene beyond this event? What are your long term goals as a gamer?

A: If I would like to continue competing because I like to do it, my expectations are to continue playing big tournaments to get experience.

Matt “Nerdstrom” Czap

Origin: New York, USA
Age: 36
Occupation: Animator, Illustrator, Comedian
Qualified with: Control Warrior

Q: When did you start playing Hearthstone? Did you play any other card games before? What is your relationship with the game? How complete is your card collection?

A: I started playing in December 2014 but never played any card games before. Whenever I pick up a new skill or hobby, I like to get really good at it. I think I have nearly the entire classic set, except for 2 or 3 legendaries. I have a good collection but I’m very stingy with my dust and gold.

What Hearthstone achievements are you most proud of?

A: Qualifying for Masters Tour Las Vegas is the highlight so far, but slowly improving year after year to get to that point feels like a big accomplishment.

Q: What is your objective in Las Vegas?

A: Have fun, play to the best of my ability. See if I’m good or if it’s all a fluke.

Q: How do you prepare for this tournament? Who do you practice with?

A: I’ve just been practicing on ladder and sometimes with myself. The buffs dropped and the meta is shifting slightly. Also watching and absorbing Grandmasters helps, trying to pick up on what makes them have an edge over everyone else.

Q: Are there any professional players that you look forward to meet or play against? Why?

A: I watch a lot of the pro tournaments, so seeing any of them in person will probably be cool.

Q: Would you like to continue in the competitive scene beyond this event? What are your long term goals as a gamer?

A: Maybe! I don’t consider myself a “GAMER” so I don’t really have goals in that sense. If I could have some kind of success and have it help my career in anyway, that’d be dope.

Avi “Aviously” Lessure

Origin: Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Age: 17
Occupation: Incoming college freshman
Qualified with: Myracle Rogue

Q: When did you start playing Hearthstone? Did you play any other card games before? What is your relationship with the game? How complete is your card collection?

A: I started playing Hearthstone in between Naxx release and GVG, I used to play a ton of Magic: The Gathering competitively.

What Hearthstone achievements are you most proud of?

A: I’m proud of Qualifying for Vegas and Seoul, and making Top 8 in the north region for Tespa the past 2 spring seasons.

Q: What is your objective in Las Vegas?

A: To win it all 🙂

Q: How do you prepare for this tournament? Who do you practice with?

A: I’m preparing in a discord server featuring star players Mick, LastChamp, CmaccompH, Saturos, Tris, StormFever and BillSnyder, just to name a few of the awesome players. We’ve been testing lineups every night and they’re just awesome people to hang out with.

Q: Are there any professional players that you look forward to meet or play against? Why?

A: I’m excited to meet all of my online friends in person, and Dog and Firebat are 2 players I love to watch that I’d love to meet in Vegas.

Q: Would you like to continue in the competitive scene beyond this event? What are your long term goals as a gamer?

A: I love hearthstone, and I’m definitely planning on continuing to play hearthstone in the future. I’d love to turn it into a job, whether it be in content creation/pro play or as a game designer, but I’m also planning on working.

Adam “CheeseHead” Nemeth

Origin: Budapest, Hungary
Age: 25
Occupation: Mathematician
Qualified with: Conjurer Mage

Q: When did you start playing Hearthstone? Did you play any other card games before? What is your relationship with the game? How complete is your card collection?

A: I started when League of Explorers came out, didn’t really play any card games before. Now I play Hearthstone a lot, trying to be better every day. I have all the important cards on EU, and I can play two classes on NA.

What Hearthstone achievements are you most proud of?

A: I won the regular season of our national league this year, finishing at 4th place after playoffs. But I was super happy, when I qualified for Vegas.

Q: What is your objective in Las Vegas?

A: Everyone wants to win the whole thing, right? I would be happy with a positive score, but I want to go as far as possible.

Q: How do you prepare for this tournament? Who do you practice with?

A: I’m checking stats a lot and trying to predict the meta. I have some friends who I can talk to about my ideas, and testing some matchups. I am playing mostly on ladder now, and testing different lineups in the Battleriff league and Seoul qualifiers.

Q: Are there any professional players that you look forward to meet or play against? Why?

A: Honestly, I’m looking forward to meeting the people who I am playing against every day on ladder.

Q: Would you like to continue in the competitive scene beyond this event? What are your long term goals as a gamer?

A: I would love to make a living out of this, so I will try my best this year and hope I can continue to attend these events.

Ayden “Blitz” Murray-Tuffin

Origin: WA, Australia
Age: 25
Occupation: Mail orders at a soap factory
Qualified with: Midrange Hunter

Q: When did you start playing Hearthstone? Did you play any other card games before? What is your relationship with the game? How complete is your card collection?

A: Started playing casually around the time Blackrock Mountain came out. Was the first ccg i played regularly. Got interested in the competitive side of it when i saw Navioot in a Blizzard tournament back in 2016 and that’s when I started playing a lot. Been playing a long time so I have a pretty full collection. If you do all your quests and brawls you can get a lot of cards!

What Hearthstone achievements are you most proud of?

A: Being Nominated for the 2018 Australian Hearthstone Global Games team and beating Ostkaka in a Vegas qualifier and making him unfriend me mid game 😀

Q: What is your objective in Las Vegas?

A: Have fun and hopefully win a few matches.

Q: How do you prepare for this tournament? Who do you practice with?

A: Mainly by looking at stats and following the results of other tournaments.

Q: Are there any professional players that you look forward to meet or play against? Why?

A: Looking forward to meeting some of the other Aussie players and everyone really.

Q: Would you like to continue in the competitive scene beyond this event? What are your long term goals as a gamer?

A: For sure, i love gaming and esports. Would love to make it a full time job, Competing, coaching or anything really.

Cara “CaraCute” Vergel De Dios

Origin: Manila, Philippines
Age: 32
Occupation: Quality Assurance Manager
Qualified with: Special Invite

Q: When did you start playing Hearthstone? Did you play any other card games before? What is your relationship with the game? How complete is your card collection?

A: I started October 2014 right around the Goblin Vs Gnomes expansion. I don’t have any other card games experience. My collection is large because I don’t disenchant Wild cards. My team always sponsor my pre-purchase. Aside from that I don’t buy much cards.

What Hearthstone achievements are you most proud of?

A: To be invited in the WSOE 2 and Las Vegas and Finishing Top 4 in the WESG APAC Finals.

Q: What is your objective in Las Vegas?

A: I want to reach at least Day 2. In case I didn’t, I want to play for a slot in the Masters Tour Seoul Qualifiers

Q: How do you prepare for this tournament? Who do you practice with?

A: I practice everyday after work. I practice with other fellow players in my country.

Q: Are there any professional players that you look forward to meet or play against? Why?

A: I’m a big fan of Mitsuhide. I haven’t met him personally so looking forward to meet him.

Q: Would you like to continue in the competitive scene beyond this event? What are your long term goals as a gamer?

A: Of course. Playing Hearthstone is a way for me to unwind after a long day at work. I want to be the best in my country and South East Asia.

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