Equinox Interview Part I: Career Beginnings

Equinox Spirit Hood

Jon “Equinox” Peterson is a talented Heroes of the the Storm player who has played at the top of the scene for over a year. He’s well known for his incredible prowess on melee assassins such as Kerrigan and Illidan, and often assumes the role of shotcaller on his teams.

I recently sat down with Equinox to talk about his HotS career and some of the things he’s learned from progaming. Part I consists of his beginnings in gaming and the MOBA genre and how he ended up as a progamer.

Special note: Too often Equinox has been given a bad name in the Heroes community due to drama or circumstances out of his control. His outspoken criticism certainly doesn’t help his case. But to me, he has always been a kind and fair friend as well as hands down one of the best players in North America. I hope that, by sharing the story of his career, others can see what a fantastic player he truly is.

On Getting Into Gaming

How did you get into gaming? Can you share one of your earliest gaming experiences?

I got into gaming mostly from consoles (N64, PS1, PS2). One of my earliest gaming experiences that I really enjoyed was playing a game called vigilante, was just a really destructive game and I liked it. One of my memorable gaming experiences was playing God of War 1&2 on PS2.

What was the definitive point where you decided to start playing competitively? At what point did you think, “Hey, I could do this for a living”?

When Heroes of the Storm was announced at BlizzCon, me and my friend decided right then and there we would try to go pro in that game no matter what. He ended up pursuing other opportunities while I stayed in HotS and made a career out of it. I just set my goal and went for it.

On School and Career Decisions

Did you go to college at all before beginning your esports career? Did you have any particular career path you were debating about heading down?

I didn’t go to college at all, but I do have a career in mind after I get done with esports, that being working in computer engineering.

Many players constantly weigh in the dangers of going to school versus pursuing a career in professional gaming. You were probably faced with this decision at some point. Was that choice easy for you?

For me it was an easy choice. I have plenty of time to pursue a regular career so why not just go after my dreams first while I still have so much time to make them work.

So will you stay in esports indefinitely if you can? Or would you eventually move on and get a “real” job?

If I can find jobs inside the esports industry within management, coaching, or whatever it may be, I’d take that over pursuing a normal career if it still allowed me to live life comfortably.

On Previous League of Legends Experience

You used to play quite a bit of LoL, right? Why were you drawn to the MOBA genre over others?

My friend who got me into League was also the same person I went into Heroes with. I played it from the end of S3 through S4 (started right after S3 Worlds ended). I got to like gold something and wasn’t very good at the game but knew a lot of stuff from watching pro-play like good habits, good decision making, stuff like that.

Once I started playing League I got hooked pretty quickly on the genre. It feels really rewarding when you play well but also makes it really obvious where you need to improve, and I like games that have those aspects.

Which friend was this?

He’s a friend I met on WoW when I was heroic raiding in Cataclysm. His IGN is Zycosis, used to play with me a lot in the really early alpha days on Justus.

Did you ever consider playing Dota 2 much?

When alpha went down for a couple weeks I tried Dota 2. I…really don’t like that game. It feels so slow.

What are some of your favorite LoL champs and why?

Favorite League champs are Orianna, Zed, and Shyvana. Orianna because her ult is one of the most satisfying abilities to land—you just watch their team’s hp bar evaporate. Zed because he’s a super mobile assassin that looks really flashy, it just feels good playing him. Shyvana because I just like dragons and her skins look good (darkflame and super galaxy are my favorite).

Super Galaxy Shyvana

Super Galaxy Shyvana from League of Legends

Idk how people couldn’t like those. They’re so fun.

What are some of the biggest things that you learned from LoL that helped you in your pro career in HotS?

Trading objectives. A big thing in League is learning when you can trade objectives and get something of higher or equal value without contesting. Trading dragon for inner turret or inhibitor for baron are trades that you’ll sometimes see. You do this to avoid a fight you can’t win due to not having your power spikes yet or just because that’s your option based on the circumstances.

In HotS you trade bosses for keeps, forts for tributes/altars, kills for Immortal, stuff like that. It’s all about making sure you get SOMETHING out of it, otherwise you’re just playing a reactionary game that you never win.

On Heroes of the Storm Alpha/Beta

How early did you get into alpha?

Around March in 2014.

So that’s basically the very beginning (3/13 was when Technical Alpha began). What was the most broken strategy that you liked to play during alpha/beta?

The most broken strat in alpha early on was probably double Odin Bloodlust back when Abathur had ult on his clone. Another memorable one was Abathur/Azmodan—the splitpush that was so hard to beat.

Who was your favorite Hero in the early days? Still Kerrigan?

Tychus and Abathur were my favorite Heroes back in alpha. I didn’t start playing Kerrigan till around beta. I used to have well over 800 games on Abathur because of how much fun he used to be. I liked him the most when he was invincible while symbioting.

You’ve pretty much only played carries in your competitive career. Did you consider other roles like Tank or Support during alpha/beta? Did these roles really even exist?

I tried out playing tank for awhile and I liked it most while being a shotcaller because of being able to lead the fights, but I loved playing carries a lot more than I did playing tanks so I just moved into the melee role.

Many people don’t remember the alpha days (summer/fall 2014) or weren’t around. How would you describe those early times? Do you miss the game or community at that time?

The community was pretty close and tight knit, but it was harder to break into the competitive scene unless you impressed some of the players or just made your own team. The matchmaking was accurate, the only way teams could scrim was by queuing Quick Match into each other, and you had to have similar MMR so some teams just couldn’t scrim or had a hard time doing it (tournies were also ran this way).

Gameplay was a mess, all kinds of crazy splitpush and cheese strats were popular for a very long time. VP/Grav-O-Bomb, double Robo-Goblin backdoor, double Odin, was just a much crazier era in the game due to all of it being new and no one knowing how to play vs it.

On Blizzard’s Approach to the Game

Fast forward to the future, Blizzard has taken a very hands-on approach to Heroes in 2016 by constantly tweaking Heroes and making big changes. Contrasted with the fairly infrequent patches of 2014/2015, do you think this a better approach?

It’s a much better approach. I think the timing of their patches need to be communicated with their esports division a tiny bit more, but other than that the frequency is needed to keep the game healthy.

Would you say that Hero design (Auriel Gul’Dan, Medivh, Chromie, Tracer being the last five) is heading in the right direction? Or do you think the design team should use other ideas?

I actually liked the direction they were heading with Medivh, Tracer, Li-Ming, and Chromie. Heroes that can make plays by themselves (minus medivh) and are pretty game changing when played correctly. Gul’dan feels weird to me. They should have stuck with a DoT theme or a sustained damage theme but they kind of just did both, and it has no synergy together.

Going into Auriel, her kit is fun but requires good positioning aggressively and defensively. However, my favorite part about her is the talents she has. They work so well with her kit as the game goes on, and she just feels smooth to play.

I think they need to keep making playmaker Heroes though, more Li-Mings and Tracer are healthy for the game.

What do you think about Striker Li-Ming? Kappa
x-x I like that skin.

Striker Li-Ming

 

They made her abilities look really nice.

Okay, one more question. I’m sorry it’s only one question because there’s a million different things to say about it, but: How is the state of Hero League and matchmaking?

The matchmaking itself is fine, however the player base is not. People complain and complain that the matchmaker isn’t doing it’s job, but if people are around the same MMR and games are stomps, is that really the matchmakers fault? It’s more of a massive skill gap issue. You’ll notice it even in high MMR or even pro games, there’s a drop off in skill that people don’t take into account. The only fix I can see to this for now is just to be super strict with matchmaking—have only Grandmasters be able to queue into Grandmasters/Masters and go down the list like that.


EsportsJohn unabashedly loves the Resident Evil movies and Mila Jovavich. You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.

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