Meet The New Grandmasters, Part One: AyRoK

by NPH Pasca

This series of interviews by Team NoProsHere vows to help fans discover the new Hearthstone Grandmasters promoted for the season of August 2020.

Romaric “AyRoK” Dubois is a 19 years old player from Lyon, France who earned his ticket to Europe Grandmasters by finishing second in Masters Tour Arlington. He will make his debut this coming weekend.


NPH: Congratulations on making it into the Grandmasters program! How does it feel?
AyRoK: It feels really good! That wasn’t easy to be here but damn what a cool thing! I wasn’t expected to qualify to Grandmasters and get there so early. So I’m just happy right now and really excited to play in the league.

NPH: When did you start playing Hearthstone? What games were you playing before? Where does your game name come from?
AyRoK: I started playing video games like a lot of young teenagers with game console (from Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft), and then mobile games with Supercell. Games like Clash of Clans or Clash Royal (where I started playing tournaments), and I finally discovered Hearthstone in 2016. It was unique and it mixed everything I liked. I watched a lot of streams, tournaments, and really liked the game. When I began Hearthstone tournaments, I wanted to change my game name (that was something like Dark numbers) to be more professional. AyRoK is a mix between different elements linked to me but it doesn’t mean anything. And it sounds good (I think)!

NPH: Were you competitive from the beginning? How hard did you grind the ladder? What are some amateur tournaments, circuits or teams you played in?
AyRoK: In 2017 I took part in my first offline event in France after trying some online qualifiers, and then in 2019 my first international tournament with Master’s Tour Las Vegas. I’m a young player without a lot of experience. Before Vegas, I participated in the Blizzard circuit only with Challenger Finals in 2018. I didn’t play a lot in ladder, I don’t like it so never tried to push a high rank at the end of the month. The new format for 2019 with qualifiers was the start of my involvement in the international scene with offline events.

NPH: A lot of people know you for your performance in Arlington, what are some other breakthrough events you performed well at? What is your favorite moment from the stream of a competitive event?
AyRoK: I got some good results in French tournaments, but compared to Arlington this is nothing. I’m very anxious when I play high stakes matches, it cost me some games in tournaments in the past (missing last matches for a good result) but with my good run in Arlington, it’s like breaking the curse, and gave me more confidence.
My favorite moment was the semi final against Felkeine at Arlington. I played a Box on 5 and the game was crazy, we just looked each other and laughed even if it was a high stakes match. And game 5 vs Totosh in quarter final was really close, going to fatigue after a long match…

NPH: How would you describe your style as a player? What are your favorite types of decks? What can viewers expect from you in Grandmasters?
AyRoK: I’m an aggro / midrange player, but when I’m going to participate in a tournament, I play tier 1 decks most of the time and try to be better than other players. But I have some practice partners who have crazy ideas maybe I will pick some of them to surprise other players.

NPH: What is your occupation outside of Hearthstone? Do you have projects that you put on hold to focus on your gaming career? How many hours per week do you play the game?
AyRoK: With GrandMasters I decided to take a break from my studies (in Economy) and try to do my best in the league. I’m 19 years old, I have time to try to live my dream and if it doesn’t work go back to studying. I don’t know how much time I play every day but to prepare GM, it’s like 12 to 15 hours a day, just sleep, eat and play. When I don’t have tournaments it’s more like 3 to 6 hours a day.

NPH: How do you prepare for the upcoming season? Who do you practice with?
AyRoK: Playing a lot to test a lot of decks first in ladder to learn the basics and after in custom games with practice partners to train some match ups, mulligans… I practice with other very good French players, like Warma, Totosh, Guntofire, Trec, Gaby59.
I don’t play with all of the French GM because we are going to play each other every week. It’s an issue if you train with the half of the field!

NPH: What is it like to play for Glory4Builds? What kind of support do they provide to you?
AyRoK: They’re doing everything they can to help me to focus on the game, my streams, and myself. There is a lot of staff in the team for every request I can have. With the virus I didn’t travel in offline events but even if it was online events they are very helpful in my daily work.

NPH: What is the competitive scene like in your region or country? Are there a lot of tournaments? Is the community very engaged?
AyRoK: The French scene is insane. I don’t know if any other country (except China maybe) have this kind of online and offline tournaments. There are a lot of organizers and a big WebTV with Solary who made a good work to unifying all French players and be an ambassador of competitive Hearthstone in our country.

NPH: On top of playing competitively, do you also create content? What kind? How much time do you spend on that?
AyRoK: I started Streaming on Twitch since last month (AyRoK_HS). I try to stream everyday but with Grandmasters it will be more like 3-4 streams per week I think. I need to find a balance between competition and streaming. But I love streaming and want to develop the channel (and I have some cool emotes). And like many other players I share all my news on Twitter like tournaments results, streams, decklists….

NPH: What advice would you give to players who are just starting to be competitive in Hearthstone?
AyRoK: You need to play a lot but with a healthy lifestyle (sleep well for example) to not be disturbed when you’re thinking about the game and be focussed. When I started competitions I watched a lot of streams, tournaments and tried to do same plays as top players. You will gain experience faster. Try to make your plays before and learn all of the thinking process. Last thing, you have a lot of tools to help you on the game like HSReplay, Yaytears, or some Twitter accounts like Pasca, Ahirun with a lot of decklists, stats…

NPH: Good luck with the season! Are you anxious ?
AyRoK: I’m excited but nervous at the same time. High stakes on the line, top players, an insane challenge for me as an outsider. I will do my best to keep my spot first and then maybe qualify for Worlds, the ultimate dream for me as a kid.

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