All the World’s a Game: An Interview with Nurok

Nurok playing Infinite Crisis

Photo Credit: ESL

Ever since my trip to IEM Katowice earlier this year, I’ve been a big fan of the former mYi team, tracking their progress and writing about their achievements. What has captivated me most has been their outstanding dedication to the game—an unwavering thirst to constantly improve. After my recent interview with Darkmok, I decided to get in touch with more of these Misfits, and Nurok seemed like the next best choice.

Nurok has been playing MOBAs at a high level for a long time. His vast Hero pool and seemingly effortless skill make him one of the best Heroes players in the European scene currently. On top of that, his carefree attitude makes him super easy to approach and talk to. If you’re ever at a LAN and see this guy, hit him up for a fun conversation!

On Experience in MOBAs

Let’s start with your background. A lot of people may not know your roots in the competitive scene, so could you just give a brief history of how you got into progaming?

I’ve always been a very competitive person, and I put most of my energy into gaming [ever] since I was a young child. Obviously things weren’t as serious as they are now, and I probably wasted a lot of chances on my early games like World of Warcraft or even League of Legends.

Anyways, my first real step into esports was when I joined n!faculty in 2013, a German organization, as a League player.

Aside from playing on the nerdiest LoL team ever, have you had any notable
achievements in other games?

I’ve never placed worse than Top 4 at an offline event, except for the Spring Championship in Korea (2016). But to be fair, most MOBA LANs were held by ESL, and those had only four participating teams, so I guess that doesn’t count haha. Apart from that, I was kinda successful in WoW (WotLK and early Cataclysm). I reached World #2 on one of the biggest Realmpools in Season 8 with RLD (Rogue/Warlock/Druid), just behind Reckful. In League, I wasted a lot of time. I also was mostly playing for German teams, which probably hurt my options quite a bit.

Pictures from Nurok's past as a progamer

[In WoW], we made top 5 in 3v3 bracket a few weeks into the season (was around ~2.9k MMR) and camped that spot until the end of that season because we didn’t feel like playing anymore (pictured above to the left). I left the team close to the season ending since I wanted to play, got [screwed] and didn’t manage to play up [to that level] again. On the other side, my two mates got their Gladiator titles (best 0.5%).

I was bored and didn’t want to camp. I wanted to play 3v3…was a mistake since I didn’t find proper teammates again. But [forget] that one Gladiator title, I got enough :).

The n!faculty lineup was pretty strong for a German team though, and we managed to win an EPS (Summer 2013) (pictured above to the right). Sadly, I got kinda burned out by LoL very fast and I never tried to reach the LCS sadly. I think I could have made it with the right contacts/mates. Eventually I stopped playing and switched over to Infinite Crisis. I won the Gamescom promotion tournament and the first season of it as well. We were pretty dominant in EU back then, I was playing for Team Dignitas [Team Liquid’s Cris was also part of this team]. Finally, with the end of Season 2, we swapped over to Heroes of the Storm.

You’ve played a bunch of different MOBAs (LoL, HoN, and Infinite Crisis) on a very high level now. What made you stick with Heroes? Do you think you’ll find another MOBA you enjoy more than Heroes?

I like the unique aspect of Heroes, which is its fast pace connected with a lot of brawls. The only thing I miss a bit is the famous 1v1 lane matchups (which are partly a thing in Heroes, but not as much as in other MOBAs).

What do you think of Battlerite? That seems to be the newest MOBA trend right now.

It’s pretty fun, and I will definitely play it from time to time in future. Pure skill-based games are my favourite.

How has your previous experience in other MOBAs translated into Heroes? Are there any other games or genres that you’ve pulled ideas from in order to succeed in Heroes?

Basically everything I’ve learnt in any game over the years can be applied to Heroes. Short version: Be smart, be fast, and be better than your opponents in those regards.

Are there any mechanics from other MOBAs that you miss or wish could be ported over to Heroes in some way?

There should be a stronger backdoor protection in the game, e.g. let the structures be nearly invincible before the minions clash [with] each other. Also missing the deny feature from Dota, but that probably doesn’t fit into Heroes. Lastly, they should remove some RNG factors from certain maps (e.g. Chest spawn from Blackheart’s/Immortal spawn points from Battlefield of Eternity).

On Playstyle and Practice

You’ve obviously always been a very flexible player. Have you felt that you had a lot of freedom in Heroes of the Storm compared to other games that have very meta top/mid/bot lane Heroes/Champs?

For sure, yes. In League, I played every role except Jungle competitively, mostly because I decided so for myself, but I got “forced” once. In Heroes, I can pretty much play anything—with Support being my worst role, most likely—on a very high level, and I love the freedom I have.

What’s the most difficult part about the Flex role, other than just having to learn lots of Heroes?

You need to have good mechanics and you also need to know how to use them. The shift between melee and ranged Heroes is not easy, because your positioning is different from role to role and Hero to Hero.

Nurok celebrates after a close victory at IEM Katowice

Photo Credit: ESL

You always need to know what to do with your given Hero if you want to be efficient, and that is the hardest part about it, since you have so many different Heroes you must be able to play.

Speaking of lots of Heroes, we’re reaching a point in the metagame where there are a lot of compositions out there and drafting is very complex. Do you feel comfortable in that type of environment or do you prefer environments where you can just perfect a small handful of Heroes?

The wider the Hero pool, the harder it gets, obviously. But as I already mentioned, I love the freedom and, if needed, I would even add Supports to my Hero pool. I see it as a challenge and I just want to win—as long as I don’t have to play Tassadar, it’s fine for me!

In my opinion, Tassadar is very boring to play. Your “playmaking” abilities are very limited, and I don’t like it. I feel like a useless shield bot when playing him.

How do you think the game will evolve as we add more and more Heroes? Do you think we’ll reach a point where we need to add another ban?

At some point there will be an additional ban slot, I am pretty sure about that. But not in the near future, in my opinion. I didn’t do the math, but as far as I know there should be 80+ Heroes for an additional slot. Otherwise, the options might become limited, e.g. people banning support Heroes and thus forcing an early pick.

What do you think about the map pool at the moment? Do we have too many maps? Are there any particularly bad maps?

With the addition of the two new StarCraft maps, there could be a discussion for lowering the pool for competitive play. But I think it’s important [that] not too many maps will be cut, otherwise we might have to play a single map twice in a Bo5 or Bo7 series, which is not that we want for this game, in my opinion. There could be a system similar to CS:GO. At the moment, we have one map ban only at the recent tournaments, but I think it could be improved.

For example, we could play a Bo5, and there are eleven maps in the pool. Each team gets to ban three maps, gets to pick two, and the last remaining map will be played as 5th if needed. Regarding your second question, I hate RNG-based maps, and Blackheart’s and Battlefield are the worst in that regard. I also hate Garden of Terror, but just because it’s Garden and I can’t see [anything] during nighttime.

“[Favorite map is] Definitely the ‘Haunted Mines’, though my team hates this map.” You made this bold statement in a Dignitas interview about a year ago. Do you still believe in the Mines?

I do and I’m looking forward to its comeback! I miss you my beloved map 😦

Gross. Moving on, tell me a little bit about the way you practice. Darkmok mentioned that he just likes to play—a lot. Do you just play constantly too? Or do you sit back and think about the game, analyze replays, etc. more?

It highly depends on my mood and my available free time I have for certain activities. Sometimes I just play constantly like Darkmok and try to get as many games in as possible. On the other side, I watch replays from scrims or tournaments, but not as much as Splendour, for example.

On Heroes Production and Misfits

Do you think the 2016 Heroes circuit was a success? If you could make any changes to it for next year, what would they be?

In terms of competitive fairness and tournament activity it was [a success], but the viewership is really lackluster, in my opinion. I hope Blizzard decides to go for another wave of advertisement/marketing for Heroes in 2017—the game is just a lot more polished now. If I were the Director of Esports for Blizzard, I would think about additional slots for the big regions (NA, EU, KR, CN) and, if that comes through, I’d also discuss a point-system for 2017, which is similar to the WCS Circuit from Starcraft 2. But let’s see what Blizzard’s plans are for the next year.

I agree with you totally. I know missing out on BlizzCon has hit you guys really hard, especially for how hard you worked all year. How supportive has your new organization Misfits been during this period?

Very supportive actually. The staff cheered us up a lot. Also, the Overwatch roster was watching our games and supporting us, but sadly, in the end, it wasn’t meant to be.

Nurok helping his team during draft at Gamescom

Photo Credit: ESL

Nevertheless, I am looking forward to the next year. If my wrist issues will be fixed permanently, I will be even stronger in 2017.

How have you been spending your time off the last week or so? Been visiting with friends and family? Relaxing?

I’m in full sloth-mode: watching movies, relaxing at home, and doing sports regularly—I am a very active sloth—belong to my daily life at the moment.

The Summer season was very one-sided in EU with mYi and Dignitas basically dominating every tournament, but the Fall season has been much rockier. Do you think that’s because the scene is stabilizing and finally settling down after the great Rosterpocalypse™ during the Spring season?

For sure, yes. For example, Fnatic worked very hard to claim that BlizzCon spot in the end. They played very well. Also, some other upcoming teams in the European scene like Mopsio’s team ExcelenteEleccion or The Jabronis looked pretty solid. They just have to get comfortable on stage and then they will do even better.

On the other side, I think it was also our fault that we dropped off a bit. We had a very awful tournament in Spain because we wanted to adjust our playstyle, but we didn’t have enough time to make [progress?]. At Gamescom, we played pretty well overall, but eventually we did very stupid mistakes and got punished for those.

As much as I would hate for the any sort of roster changes to occur, it’s statistically very, very unlikely for the (Misfits) team to stick together forever. Do you see any roster changes on the horizon or is the team still content with its members?

As long as all five of us are motivated and we have the same aims, we will be fine, I think. There are a couple of teams from other games which have been together for a very long time—like Virtus Pro [in] CS:GO—and I do not see a breakup in near future, unless some of them retires.

On Personal Life and The Future

What are some of your interests outside of gaming?

I like to chill and watch movies, do some sports, or have a nice night out with friends. To my own doom, I [dug] out my old Warhammer figures, so I might start collecting again. <.<

Do you see yourself continuing as a progamer for the next few years? Have you ever thought about a future outside of esports?

Yes and yes, but to be honest, I’m not a human being who would want to live with a normal day job. I love esports, I love visiting places around the world, and I love participating (as a player or whatever) at tournaments. So if I’d retire at some point, I would try hard to remain in the scene.

Nurok at Gamescom

Photo Credit: ESL

Do you have any shoutouts or words for your fans?

I would like to thank our organization Misfits and its sponsors for their support. It has been great so far, and I will be happy representing your brand in 2017! Also, I would like to do a shoutout to all our supporters throughout this year, we will try to do our best in the next year, keep cheering for us :).

Wrap-up

Fun time. What’s the worst Hero that Blizzard could introduce into Heroes of the Storm and why? (Literally any reason you’d like)

Any RNG-based Hero (e.g. Ogre Magi from Dota 2) is bad for the health of a game, seriously [screw] RNG.

If you’re stranded on a deserted island with no food and one BlizzHeroes character, who would you pick and why?

I’d pick Medivh as my mate, so he could place a portal and teleport us out!

Good answer. Final question: Alliance or Horde? Mystic or Valor?

Horde and Team Instinct 😉

You’re the worst.


EsportsJohn is on Team Valor, which, as everyone knows, is the superior team. Are you on Valor? You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.

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