I recently tried to get in touch with Francis “aPm” Gilbert-Brodeur to get an interview before Denial eSports took to the big stage Burbank. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out. But, we’ve caught up to bring you some post-tournament chat.
aPm (formerly known as MATRE) is a talented Support player who has been skirting the edges of top competitive play in Heroes of the Storm for a while. He’s best known for his aggressive playstyle and reliability as a teammate, and has an excellent informative stream.
On Teams and Team History
Many people probably don’t recognize you from Goon Squad Inc, one of the dark horses from the HWC qualifiers last year. Can you tell me a little bit about that roster and your success on the team?
Goon Squad was my first team. I found Hosty and GOAT in HL, and they picked me up for their team. We really started from the bottom and grinded to be able to get top 8 in [the] NA Regional last year. Roster was me/Hosty/GOAT/Goku/BOSSFLOSS. Four of those players still play in high competitive, and I’m really happy to see everyone be at the top—especially Hosty and GOAT, who just performed really well at their first LAN event with Vox Nihili.
After that, Team Higher Consciousness/Team Name Change has obviously been where you’ve spent most of your time recently. Did you expect that team to make it as far as they have in the NA scene?
Thr first time we qualified for regionals with that team (DreamHack Austin), me and Prismaticism joined the team one day before the event. Me and prisma were playing with PPST before, and Srey decided to leave the team to play with Blaze the night before. I knew Justing and Buds [from] before and asked them if they had room for me and prisma since we had no team anymore. The day we qualified was really special for me because it was my first LAN, and we had no practice together, so there was no expectation. After that day, I realized that this team had a lot of potential, and I’m not surprised to see them getting better placement in the next LAN.
How did you end up playing with k1pro and KingCaffeine on Crescendo?
They offered me a tryout, and I made the team.
Oh. So you didn’t know them much beforehand? Or…do all top NA pros know each other?
I played with them a little bit in SEL and met them at Texas for the first time—it was a really good time to meet every player.
Obviously, you guys have some exceptional players and great synergy. Did the team expect to smash the first qualifier for Burbank so hard?
We did not do that great in the qualifier :P.
I mean, it’s the most stacked one, and you guys came out on top looking strong, so… :p. At the regional event, Denial ended up doing a lot worse than expected. I hope it’s not too soon, but I’m just curious what you think the issue was.
We obviously didn’t play at our top potential at Burbank. Murlocs was the better team and they played better than us. That was a good wakeup call for everyone and I cannot wait to play at PAX.
Would you say that the Murlocs were the most surprising team at the event?
I dont think so. Vox was, for me, the most impressive team by far, not because of their player quality but because it was the first LAN as a team, and they did pretty good. I respect every player on Murlocs.
People that just watch the game and [don’t] play with/against the player cannot see what they really give to a team. Just the fact that they have less attention doesn’t mean that they are weaker player.
You played a lot of Kharazim during the qualifier for Burbank. How would you gauge his overall power among supports right now? Are there any other supports you prefer?
Kharazim is really situational pick for Support. he can play really aggressive and help the front line because of is Q escape mechanic. He is stronger against poke comps and stronger on certain maps too. My favorite Support to play is Rehgar, but I just like to play the best Support possible in the best situation possible.
Gotcha. I’ve seen you play a bit of Brightwing on stream too. Were you practicing that now that she’s slowly creeping back into the meta or just having some fun?
I was probably practicing Emerald Wind since I feel like it’s good now, and it was never picked before, so I had low [amounts of] practice on it.
Have you had a chance to play Auriel yet? Do you think you’ll get to play her in competitive?
I played her, and she felt really strong in low tier games. I haven’t played her yet in scrim, but I feel like she is gonna be a situational pick because she doesn’t have Cleanse. I still think that she is gonna get picked a lot because [her] numbers/cooldowns are too good right now.
Double tank is back in vogue now (kind of). Do you think it’s easier to play with those sort of compositions as a Support player since everyone’s a little beefier?
Not really, it doesn’t affect Support play. You still need to be vocal and clutch on your big cooldown.
That makes sense. Has it been easy to adjust to the recent minion changes? Do you feel comfortable with drafts in the new metagame?
Ya, we adjusted to minion change really quick, but I don’t like the PvE aspect of the game, so I don’t like it. We had miss[ed?] certain draft at Burbank, and I feel that we understand more the draft now and we are gonna be more prepared for next LAN since we have HandleBars, who is gonna help us a lot with analyst stuff.
On Personal Life
Some professional gamers have continued to attend college while simultaneously competing (like MichaelUdall) and some have skipped college altogether to pursue their dreams. Which camp are you in?
I left university a couple month ago because I had a really good job opportunity. I’m almost done a Master’s in Management/Marketing and working for a Bank company [called] Desjardins. Its a lot of sacrifice to do esports and work, but I can do it without sacrificing my focus on the game. I wouldn’t let something affect my gameplay since I want to be the best myself and as a team.
Excellent. That’s a really hard line to balance. Lot of respect for that.
Ya, working 7h + scrimming 6h ;p.
Yeah nope LOL—but seriously, that’s impressive. You also stream occasionally when you’re not scrimming or competing. What do you enjoy most about streaming?
I just enjoy helping people that want to get better and come to my stream and ask me questions about gameplay. That’s really what I like the most, helping someone that can take criticism and wants to get better.
Anything else (general, playstyle, metagame, future plans, w/e) you want to add?
I’m sorry for our fans for our performance at Burbank. Everyone in the team is super motivated, and we will do everything we can to be the best at PAX….we will be the best at PAX.
Any particular shoutouts?
Shoutout to Denial eSports, who its really great to work with them and make sure everything is ok for us and help us to only focus on the game. Shoutout to my girlfriend Laurie who understands my sacrifice since I’m really busy lately :).