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 :).


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.

Heroes on My Mind: An Interview with darkmok

DreamHack Summer clip of Darkmok

Photo Credit: DreamHack

This week has been full of ups and downs for darkmok and the crew on Misfits. They finished Gamescom with a second place prize, but unfortunately were not able to secure a spot to BlizzCon and the final Heroes of the Storm championship this year—a crushing defeat for any team. In the aftermath of the event, I got a chance to sit down and interview darkmok about how his past, how he ended up on Misfits, and where the team is headed in lieu of BlizzCon.

On Getting Into Heroes

Let’s jump right in. Can you tell me a little bit about how you ended up playing Heroes professionally? What drew you specifically to this game? How did you end up playing competitively?

Of course. So while still going to school, I was already playing a lot of computer games such as single player RPGs like Gothic 1-3, but also strategy games like Battle of Middle Earth 1-2 and Warcraft 3. I then discovered League of Legends around 2010, played it so much that I, at some point, wanted to give it my everything. And in 2013, I got very close to qualifying for the LCS with the team AVA Prime, but fell short, left my team due to internal issues with our manager and us five players. I still tried to get into the pro scene, but you know, it was really hard, because teams would pick more known players over me just because I was not that famous, so it’d be a risk for them.

Then, at the end of season 4 [and] the beginning of season 5 of league, my friend Blumbi introduced me to Heroes of the Storm.

He wanted me to play the game, because he knew I was gonna be good at it, so I played more and more with him. He’s also the reason I got into the scene so fast, because he was already known. He basically insisted that teams would have to play with him AND me. 😀

So you’ve actually been doing this progaming thing for a while. Do you think that your experience (mechanical, strategic, mindset, w/e) in LoL has prepared you for Heroes of the Storm?

Yes, for sure. I have played League for ~5 years, and of course there are differences between those games, but Heroes was not hard—I didn’t need to last hit, didn’t need to worry about what to buy. And I was an aggressive AD carry in League, playing a lot of Draven and Lucian, so I started of playing aggressive Heroes like the melee assassins and Valla.

I think I was always too reckless, so that’s maybe one of my weaknesses, but I think by now, I’ve improved a lot at that.

But you know, I did invest all my time and energy into LoL, but I never got anything out of it—apart from then succeeding in Heroes haha.

In Heroes, you’re well known for playing bruisers, particularly Thrall and Sonya. How did you end up in that role?

So in the first team I was in—it was with Blumbi, Devizz, Happythermia and RQSux/Cowtard—I was not supposed to be the melee bruiser/assassin since Devizz played a lot of Illidan, etc., but I think I was just better at it by default, so that’s why we swapped. And at some point, I picked up Thrall because Happy suggested it and kept playing the Hero, because I thought he was fun.

I think he’s super clunky for a melee Assassin, especially when you put him side by side with Illidan or Zeratul.

He was! His Windfury made you cancel like almost all of your autos, but I think I managed to not always [mess] up. And then he got buffed and now he feels smooth to play.

Darkmok at DreamHack Summer

Photo Credit: DreamHack

I’m a bit salty, because people called Lowell ‘Green Jesus’ even though I was the only one playing him for months.

That’s true. I know you were playing him long before he was “cool”.

And I was also better at playing him!! People always asked me for talent builds because they had no idea about Thrall.

On Practice

What does a typical practice regimen look like for you? What do you think is the most important thing to spend time practicing? Is it different for pro players versus aspiring players on ladder?

For me personally, it changes depending on if there’s a big tournament coming up or not. But usually, I play Hero League in the morning, then we would start scrimming other teams at like 12 or 13, play until 16, have a break, play again at 17-19, another break, and then finish the day with games with a third team from 20-22.

After that I often played more Hero League. That’s the schedule we had for most of our time this year in mYi/Misfits. Nurok and me probably played the most games since we always went for Hero League. Sometimes we would talk about strategies as well and watch replays, but that’s a lot less now.

I am kind of lazy when it comes down to analyzing my own replays and mistakes. But often I know what I did wrong, so I don’t really need to do that.

Mmm hmm, that’s what they all say.

Haha, I mean you’re right, I should probably look at it, but I sometimes just can’t be bothered with it and would prefer playing another Hero League game over it. But the rest of my team does that, especially HasuObs used to watch a lot of replays and see what went wrong—unfortunately, sometimes immediately after frustrating games, so not the way I wanted it to be. 😛

On Joining Misfits

For those that don’t know, the Misfits organization started as the sister team of League of Legends organization Renegades owned 100% by Chris Mykles (MonteCristo). After the main team was banned from LCS, the sister team broke off and formed its own organization under the moniker of Misfits.

How did you end up finding a new home there? What are some of the perks with being affiliated with a team that has rich roots in MOBAs?

So it was the team’s decision to not sign with mYinsanity again. I personally didn’t need to make a change, since I felt like mYi had done a great job, but at the same time going for something new should never be a bad thing, so we started looking for new sponsors. We did talk with Tempo Storm and Mousesports, but TS picked up the Tempest roster, and then Nurok got in contact with Ben Spoont, the owner of Misfits, who was looking to expand into other games like Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch. So we talked to him and the rest of the org and they were super nice and really—like really—wanted to sign us.

Misfits Heroes of the Storm team with their coach Jowe

Photo Credit: ESL

So that’s what we did, and it’s quite nice because they have a bigger reach than mYi and are growing really fast because they have upcoming teams like the freshly qualified LCS team and the Overwatch team that’s also doing fairly well…and us, of course haha.

With a lot of larger organizations pulling out of Heroes, it’s surprising to see an org like Misfits invest into the scene. Do you agree? Is this something noteworthy?

I mean, I don’t really get why all the organizations are pulling out. Because if you ask me, Heroes has a bigger shot at being a sustainable e-sport than League in the future. And that’s just because LoL has been around for over 6 years and people want changes, the game gets boring. It got boring for me, that’s why I stopped playing in the first place.

I do understand though that the game does not have a large audience, but for teams to pull out of the game, it is not helpful.

So you don’t think the novelty of Heroes will wear off after 3+ years or something like that?

I don’t know, and I don’t have time to think about that if I wanna be the best at what I’m doing. The players that already retired, because they got bored of the game or don’t think it’s worth trying anymore are a bit weak in my eyes. The game is still kind of new and, if Blizzard keeps supporting the game and sells it better, it will continue to run.

I think a big problem is just there are a lot of players who play casually and don’t really care about the pro scene.

Do you think there’s a way to incorporate them into the scene and somehow get them involved in some way?

First of all, Blizzard needed to implement a watch feature right away, and make it visible for everyone that starts the game like they recently started doing. They need to make announcements for tournaments more visible—they need to hype it up more.

On Gamescom

I’m sorry, but we’ve got to talk about Gamescom a little bit. You guys started the year as “underdogs” and become the team to beat. Now everyone expects you to make it to the finals every tournament. What’s it like having been on both ends of the spectrum?

Being the underdog is generally a little easier. You have much less weight on your shoulders because you are not expected to make a big run. You have not as much pressure, and for some, not having pressure is just better for performance. But it was kind of funny because we were still called underdogs when we were winning things, so Blumbi enjoyed that a lot I think.

But in the end, if you are a good team and have the will to win, it should not matter how people see you and how much pressure is on you.

Obviously the end results of the tournament were brutal for you guys, especially after playing so hard and so long that day. Can you walk me through some of your post-tournament thoughts?

Looking back at Gamescom and the games, and then seeing the result that we did not win the tournament feels so bad. I believe we were and currently still are the best European team. I’m not taking anything away from Dignitas and Fnatic, because both of them are super good and worthy opponents, but in my opinion, we lost to ourselves at the last tournament. I watched some of the games we lost and…oh my…did we [mess] up. It was harder to lose those games than to not lose them. Some of the losses are my fault I would say, because in that last game on Cursed Hollow against Fnatic, I called to go for core through mid. My team followed and the call was fine, up until the enemies recalled and I didn’t call my team back. Instead I think I encouraged them to go all in, which is—just looking at the game where not a single kill happened—such a sad ending.

We probably have the best Hero pool out of all the teams, so I think we would also do best against in the international competition—also because we already played the big teams twice in the last two globals.

Misfits advances to the finals

Misfits after their win against Fnatic in the semifinals

Of course you can say we had a long day with almost no breaks and [bad], cold food, but that’s not why we lost.

I mean look at what we did in game 5 against DIG. We decided to go for an all in comp with Butcher on BHB, the map where you can almost always win by just playing the map. And we willingly gave the enemy team Zagara even though we were first pick.

It’s sick that we go crazy in the qualifying game for BlizzCon…like throwing away all the hard work on an impulse.

On The Future

Now that the team isn’t headed for BlizzCon, do you have any off-season plans? Is it just like a short vacation for you guys, or are you using it to train even harder and get an edge going into next year?

We definitely needed to take a vacation after this last tournament. We didn’t have any big breaks this year in between the regionals and the globals, so yeah. Most of us are trying to avoid the game for a bit, so we can start off fresh.

e.g., I spent some time with my girlfriend and funnily enough also played Heroes with her instead of just unplugging from the PC haha—but the rest of my team is not playing at all, I believe.

Do you know if you’ll be participating in the big secret tournament at the end of the year that Blizzard hinted at? If you can’t tell me, just blink twice.

If that tournament turns out to be real and even half as big as they made it sound like, then yes, I believe we will definitely participate. We’re all very competitive players and we don’t want big breaks, we want to keep playing and be the very best!


I have a totally random question for you. I’m crazy about space right now. What do you think about astrophysics, astronomy, and the future of mankind among the stars?

I think that if I wasn’t playing the game so much and having my brain being focused so much on it, I would worry a lot more about the future of mankind on Earth.

Enigmatic, foreboding. I like it :p. Any last words or shoutouts?

Sorry for being a bit salty about the last tournament. I wish all the best to Fnatic and Dignitas, make Europe proud. And thanks to everyone for cheering for my team and being a fan, because for the first time, I feel like people really, really support me and my team!

EsportsJohn a wood tier scrub who can’t get out of D3. You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.

The Conquest of LatAm: Interview with Typhex


Typhex Headshot

Minor regions, in general, tend to get a reputation for being weak or uninteresting, especially when it’s in a language we don’t understand. We’re quick to write off the teams and players without giving them fair trial or recognizing the talent that’s there. In most cases, we don’t even look at them at all until we get to Globals and there are some guys we don’t recognize.

Part of my ongoing quest with these interviews is to bring the players, their motivation, and their talent to the forefront of the scene. Big Gods piqued my interest during the Spring Global Championship, and, as I’ve watched more and more of their games and interacted with the team on Twitter, I’ve grown more appreciative of their deep knowledge and unrivaled skill in the region.

That said, I was extraordinarily happy to sit down with Typhex for an hour via Twitter DM and talk about Big Gods and the Latin American region. Typhex and the core of the team have won every single championship in Latin America all the way back to BlizzCon 2015 qualifiers, unquestionably staking their ground as the best team in LatAm. Like me, Typhex also shares a passion for giving minor regions more exposure and improving the scene, a passion which he is very vocal about over social media.

On Big Gods

First of all, can you give me a brief introduction to Big Gods—who you are, how long you’ve been together, etc.?

I’m Typhex, Captain/shotcaller for Big Gods. My main role is Tank, but I also play as Melee/bruiser.

Most of the players in the team [have been] together for around 15 months, and we have been winning everything in LatAm since we got together.

Haha, you’ve been winning everything, hmm? Do you think you’re the best team because you have that history together or because you’re just the best individual players?

At first, for sure was because we were better individually because, when we got together—Me(Typhex), Vieira and Murizz—we got results instantly, but after a while we got a really good synergy, and now days, I feel like we are better [in] every sense of the game in our region, which isn’t enough sadly.

Who would you say is the playmaker on the team?

Well, that depends what playmaker means to you. The guy [that] initiates stuff? Or the one that does the most “Highlights”?

Yeah, the guy who gets the most “highlights” :p

It’s really hard to say one name like, since everyone does their part most of the time. Probably Muriz, he’s really good mechanically and has a good understanding of the game, and he also plays Greymane, Li-Ming.

Gotcha. How does the team do Hero picks? Do you have one guy who basically decides what to pick or is a group effort?

We try to do it together, but most of the time I’m the one deciding, and they try to give me tips just in case I miss something and they see it.

In general, Big Gods has a very aggressive playstyle. You guys run dive comps and double/triple tank compositions a lot. Is that a stylistic thing that comes from the players or do you think it’s just the best way to play the metagame at the moment?

Well that depends. If you saw us only in the DreamHack Summer [Championship], you’d surely think we are really crazy. I could say we are, for sure, aggressive, but [at] DHS, we kind of overdid it because we made a role swap before going there. Beto was playing in a another team as tank, and he just came in and we didn’t really have enough time to get the synergy going on for an event of that level. And since I’m the shotcaller and I’m used to playing as a Tank, I was always calling out people [out] of position, but sometimes it backfired because he wasn’t as fast and the team wasn’t following him as they used to do with me.

Typhex onstage

Photo Credit: DreamHack

And as a tank, I think you need to be making those decisions yourself. You can’t be getting calls for pick offs, since the delay [that] communication brings is just too much for HotS.

I watched a little bit of Copa America where you ran the triple tank with Tyrael/Sonya/E.T.C., I believe.

Oh, we just did it because it was the best comp we could’ve gotten that game, but I guess it does fit as aggressive :D.

On Latin America

Let’s talk about the region as a whole now. For those who aren’t very familiar with Latin America, what is the structure for qualifiers? It looks like you have a North Region, South Region, and Brazil qualifiers?

Well that is basically it. You have open qualifiers separated into three “sub regions”—North, South and Brazil—and only one team goes through the qualifiers from each region, and each season they bring one additional team from one of the regions: Spring was two South teams, Summer two North Teams, and now in Fall we got two Brazilian teams!

I hope that this format changes for next year, because it’s really killing the scene in Brazil and South America.

Why do you say that?

The prize pool is divided in 3 regions, and it is giving the “North” and “South” teams an easy time to qualify for the regional since they don’t have to face the Brazilian teams, who are better overall.

Ah I see. So out of curiosity, what other players or teams are good in LatAm besides the guys on Big Gods?

Infamous Gaming from the North Region is good, INTZ from Brazil and Kaos Latin Gamers. They are all close to the same level, but I feel like they need more experience/knowledge in the game to get close to us .

Kaos Latin Gamers [is] from South Region.

On Improving the Region

You’ve ranted on Twitter about how much you hate the LatAm servers. Do you think the region would be better in skill/experience if they played more often with NA players?

Surely it would help, both for competitive and ranked players, but since the server US10 (hosted in US East) got removed, we can’t really play in NA, since 180 ping.

Ah I see. Is there anything else that might help the region develop talent better?

Fixing the matchmaking, since most of the time it seems to not work properly, making two different games for players of the same rank, putting them in two unbalanced games.

End the qualifiers division [of] South, North, Brazil and make more tournaments.

What can Blizzard do to help promote or advertise the scene? How can the community help?

For the community, all I ask is to watch Tournaments and pro stream. There is a lot to learn in those and, by doing that, you are really helping the scene. [Also?], talk about it with their in-game friends.

Typhex Interview

Typhex is passionate about growing the LatAm region and drawing more exposure to the talent there. Photo Credit: DreamHack

Now from Blizzard…minor regions need the attention and advertisement that major regions get. I feel like a lot of people in South America don’t watch the tournaments because they don’t even know that its happening, like do posts from the minor regions in the HeroesEsports page, in, and in-game background just like they do for the major regions. It’s the basic stuff that sometimes is just forgotten.

Well said. I’m sure we could talk forever about game, the scene, Blizzard’s plans, etc., but I’m gonna wrap it up in the interest of time. Last question: Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any shoutouts for friends, players, or sponsors? 😀

So I guess that is it. Thanks for the intervew, Chris, means alot for me and our scene overall, and make sure to watch the latam regional at:

Dates are: September 3 and September 4

If any English-speaking casters want to cast the games for English-speaking viewers just DM me on Twitter and I can help with that, I guess. [Typhex and I are working together with community casters to make this a possibility; contact me if you’re interested!]

Finally, shoutouts to my teammates Murizz, Vieira, jschritte and betogg.
Thank you again Chris!

At the end of the interview, Typhex also informed me that the team is leaving the Big Gods organization this season. The future is uncertain for the team, but Typhex hinted that they may spend a season in NA next year if they make it to BlizzCon again.

“[A]s far as I can see, we would probably [be] getting into top 3 in NA [at] our current level,” he commented, clearly confident in the team’s abilities. He also believes the team has plenty of room to grow, adding that “…we would get a lot better with frequent scrims in NA.”

Keep an eye out for the Brazilian boys, and never underestimate the minor regions!


EsportsJohn is passionate about global esports becoming a reality, and you can be too. You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.

Man on a Mission: An Interview with Khaldor

Khaldor Behind the Scenes

Photo Credit: DreamHack

If you don’t know who Khaldor is, you probably haven’t been in esports very long. The man has a list of esports contributions a mile long ranging across an entire decade, from tournament admin to caster to streamer. He’s primarily known for his StarCraft II debut in the GSL, and now for his involvement in Heroes of the Storm, though he has casted several other games including Warcraft 3, FIFA, and Dota 2.

I was lucky enough to sit down and have a Skype chat with him about his career, his casting, and his current thoughts on Heroes of the Storm. Part 1 will cover some of his history in esports—it’s impossible to cover it all in one interview—and his motivation for doing the work that he does.

On Casting Career

Before you ever became a caster, you were managing a web site and a WC3 team (4k). When was the moment that you knew you wanted to become a caster? Or have you just pretty much always wanted to do it?

It was more of a coincidence to be honest ^^. Back in the days of WarCraft 3, we did only radio-broadcasts, and even those were very infrequent. Videostreams were more or less unheard of and only used at big offline events. With radio-broadcasts every 2-3 weeks, it was a pretty big deal when a weekly tournament could announce live coverage for one of their cups. I was involved as the webmaster of a WarCraft III website back then and also helped out as an admin during the cups. One day one of the casters got sick, but, as the broadcast was already announced and people were super excited for it, the organizers were looking for a replacement. I offered to do it if someone could help me with the technical side and we were able to fix it just in time for the tournament start. I didn’t even know if people could actually hear me or not when I started :D. Turned out they could and people seemed to enjoy the show quite a lot. From that point on, I broadcasted those tournaments regularly. I really enjoyed myself casting tournaments and, in the years to come, I sacrificed tons of weekends and time growing the esports scene in Europe and casting online and offline tournaments in my free time :).

Awesome. That’s such a cool story. I understand back then you casted in German. Later on you obviously transitioned into English casting. For someone like me who is not multilingual, that sounds insanely difficult to do. What do you think the most difficult part of that transition was?

The most difficult part is that, no matter how good you are at speaking a second language, you will always have a more limited vocabulary as [than?] a native english speaker. Especially when you are trying to make puns or just try to make the commentary a bit more colorful, that can be a problem. There’s a lot of situations where I want to joke about a situation in the game and I know the perfect anecdote or pun in German, but I’m unsure if it translates properly into English. So it can be a bit difficult for sure at times. It’s also a lot harder to commentate in English (especially when you do a solo stream) than to have a normal conversation with a friend. There’s so much stuff happening in a game that you have to be able to speak fast and be on point with what you say. I think it was more of a problem for me when I first made the switch, but now I’m very comfortable commentating in a second language, but it was definitely a challenge at the start.

One of the things I remember clearly from your GSL days were the over-the-shoulder videos you did of players so that viewers could see their hands and the way they moved their mouse. What was the inspiration behind this? Do you think this was a successful set of videos?

Haha yeah, those were quite a bit of fun ^^. There are some pretty funny pictures out there where I recorded a few of the videos and some of the Korean editors photoshopped me into a Lion King Meme :D. I think the series was super interesting for most people that are interested in StarCraft.

I really wanted to show people how fast players are when they are playing the game and especially the Korean players were super impressive. I had the idea during the Qualifiers for Code A because it’s such a great opportunity to record extra content. The players were extremely nice when asked about it and I remember that one of the first players that I recorded was SlayersBoxer, a living legend. I have to admit though that it hurt like crazy standing there for 30-40 minutes at times, holding that camera over their heads haha :D. Totally worth it though, I still go back and occasionally watch some of the videos with Losira or Flash.

Oh god, the Losira hands hahaha!

The King of APM 😉

During the first six months or so of Heroes, we didn’t really see you casting much at live events, just qualifiers and online events. Was this your own choice or were you just not given the opportunities at the time?

I casted actually quite a lot of offline events during that time, but most of them were not official Blizzard events. It was a bit of a rough time for sure, and not being part of the official circuit was definitely disappointing and at first very demotivating. But in the end I decided that all I could do was focus on my own work and keep doing what I do. I’m happy that it all worked out and that I’m now a part of every major event in Europe, and I’ll make sure to continue improving to keep it that way ; ).

Now that you’ve casted all three games—WC3, SC2, and Heroes—which game have you enjoyed casting the most?

I don’t really have a favorite. Every single one of these games is different, not only as a game but also in regards to its community. I have very good memories casting all three games and haven’t regretted the decision to become a full time caster as a result. There’s just epic moments that you will always remember and I have those with all of the games I casted.

Khaldor Casting

Photo Credit: ESL

I have to admit though that it’ll be a special day for me when Blizzard finally hears my prayers and announces WarCraft IV ;). That series is what started it all, so it’ll always have a special place in my heart!

Are there any other games you’ve thought about casting? Or are you just a Blizzard fanboy for life?

Oh, I casted quite a few other games actually. Mostly when commentating at the World Cyber Games. Two examples would be FIFA and Dota 2. But in the end, I’m a person that focuses on one main game, and I’ve always been a fan of Blizzard’s games.

I actually had no clue about that. The list of stuff you’ve done in esports grows longer….

Haha, you’d be surprised. I’m pretty sure you also didn’t know that back in WarCraft III, I was actually the Supervisor of one of the biggest WarCraft III leagues in Europe, the NGL ONE. And also heading “GameSports”, an Esports project where we were training new commentators. I always liked to be involved in the scene and try to grow Esports. It’s always been my passion and it’s how all of this started for me.

On Motivation and Determination

You’re well known for casting insane hours for qualifiers and such, sometimes almost 24 hours straight. What’s motivates you to do this sort of thing?

It’s fun :P. I enjoy casting and I also want to promote the scene, the teams and the players. I have no problem casting two tournaments back to back if I can achieve that, and I simply love casting the games that I care for. As a general rule, I will always try to cast as much as I can. I have no intentions of focusing only on offline events. I think that the online tournaments, especially the qualifiers, are incredibly important, and casting a lot helps me also to get to know the teams and their style. The amount of hours I’ve spent casting online tournaments is, in my opinion, one of the main reasons why I know so much about the players and even minor teams.

In Korea, for example, I’d cast European StarCraft tournaments simply because I enjoyed it and because I did not want to lose touch with the European scene while I was living in Korea. That meant casting from 1am to 7am in the morning. It was exhausting but it was also a lot of fun and very rewarding. I don’t think I’d ever give up the online casting part. I enjoy it way too much.

The community jokes a lot about your muscles, but I think physical fitness is actually a tell for industrious people. Would you say your approach to a physical routine reflects your approach to your work? Or are those just two completely separate parts of your life? :p

For me, sport is a way to balance out the time I spend at my computer. I’ve always been doing a lot of sports, ever since I was a child, and it has become a big part of my life. I spend nearly my entire day at my computer playing the game, watching scrims, talking to admins and players or casting tournaments. I need something that allows me a certain balance. For me, working out is relaxing because it’s an opportunity for me to simply shut out everything else, not think about the next tournament or broadcast, and simply focus on something completely different.

Casters often get a lot of dirt thrown at them. In the face of criticism, you often stand your ground when somebody says something stupid. How do you keep your inner compass from interfering with meaningful advice?

Haha, good question actually ;). I think it’s pretty much known that I am very outspoken and not necessarily the most politically correct person :P. I have strong opinions, and I think it’s one of my best qualities since it also motivates me to do a lot of the things I do. At the same time, I have to admit though that it’s also a weakness since I react to too many outside influences and sometimes go overboard. I believe that it got a lot better in the past year and that it’s easier for me now to ignore a lot of the trolls and unfounded criticism, but it has been a problem for sure.

Khaldor and Kaelaris

Photo Credit: DreamHack

At the same time, though, I think it’s important to stand your ground when faced with ignorance or stupidity. One of the problems in our society is that people are afraid to have opinions these days. Everybody wants to be politically correct and nobody wants to take a stand anymore. Finding a balance is difficult, but I feel it’s important as a “figure” within a community to also address problems that need to be fixed. It’s very easy to be the nice guy, but it won’t really help to improve things. It’s a really interesting dynamic and could probably fill an entire interview by itself :D. To come back to your original question though: a lot of advice that one receives on the Internet is well meant but oftentimes useless because people don’t know why someone is doing certain things. If someone has a point, though, I usually talk it through with friends that listen to my casting and ask them about their take on it and if it’s something that I should address or not. It’s very helpful to have friends inside and outside the Esports bubble that can give you their opinion on such things and offer maybe even a new perspective and therefore help you to improve.

Wrapping Up

In a 2011 interview, you said you would have to make a decision between esports or returning to a “normal” job after your time at GSL. Has esports been the right decision for you?

Yes, it was definitely the right choice. Moving back from Korea, I wanted to focus more on my own channels on YouTube and Twitch to make sure that I’m not completely dependent on a company like GomTV / ESL / Dreamhack in the long run. I’d still consider to work for one of the big Esports companies, but I’d always make sure that I can maintain my own channels. I’m quite happy with the way that things are going and didn’t regret going fulltime in Esports at all. It’s a lot of fun and a very exciting job. The pay might not be as good as with a normal job, but I would not want to miss it :). I plan on staying in Esports for as long as people still enjoy my commentary :).

EsportsJohn is obsessed with space and loved watching the NASA Spacewalk yesterday. You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.

Always on the Rise: aPm Interview

aPm onstage

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.

Denial watching replay

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.

On Playstyle

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 :).

EsportsJohn is like a wild west gunslinger…only much lamer because he uses words and interviews instead of guns. You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.

Equinox Interview Part III: Playstyle and Future Plans

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 III is all about his thoughts on the recent NA Regional in Burbank and the direction of the game as well as his future plans as a progamer.

On the NA Regional in Burbank

First of all, let’s talk about the NA Regional last weekend. Your former team Murloc Geniuses won their first tournament ever. How do you feel about that?

Overall happy for them. Nice to see people who have been working hard succeed. Doesn’t really affect me much that I left and they ended up winning, is what it is.

Mostly happy for Jun since it’s his first LAN and he had that level of success.

Yeah, a lot of people are really complimenting him for his outstanding play. After watching the tournament, do you think he’s one of the absolute best Supports in NA too?

I think he is. However, it mostly depends how consistent he ends up being in tourney play and how the rosters do after they settle down.

There were a lot of impressive showings overall by “lesser” teams at Burbank (Vox Nihili and Murloc Geniuses, in particular), but the “bigger” teams struggled. Why do you think that happened? Was there a weird shift in the metagame from qualifiers?

Naventic overall looked very strong up until they went against GFE, who beat them with Tracer. Honestly, if Naventic didn’t lose that series, they would have most likely won the entire tournament just because they wouldn’t have to deal with stuff they aren’t used to. I feel like GFE just tries to be different too hard instead of drafting what’s best and fits to their strengths the most. They have good players who can play standard, so I feel like if they just stick to what they’re good at and use the off-meta picks at the right time, then they’ll be a much better team.

What about Denial eSports? A team with k1pro, KingCaffeine, and Glaurung seems pretty intimidating on paper, but they had a lukewarm performance at best.

You saw in all three of their series that people did the same strat against them: ban/pick away three Heroes that people know Glaurung plays and just abuse that weak point. Also Prismat had a really weird performance—was really good or just really bad. Like, that Tomb game, he was just ripping silences on nothing before the fight even really started, so idk what’s up with that. They need to be comfortable on LAN and also expand their Hero pools because, just judging off draft, people figured them out pretty quickly.

I see. Do you think the overall quality of games in NA is better, worse, or the same as last season? How about last year’s?

Quality of games? Definitely worse. I think that has a lot to do with how new most of the rosters are, to be honest. You aren’t gonna have really good games when a majority of the rosters are brand new—a lot of bad decisions and throws were very common. That will get fixed with time though, as long as people stay together.

Compared to last year’s regional, I think the game is just on another level from that point. The teams were a lot closer than last year, and the top 3 teams don’t have a solidified spot like last year.

So Rosterpocalypse™ is for sure a bad thing.

I think it’s a good thing IF people stay together. The teams seem to have more potential with the new rosters but less immediate results. I think it’ll be a really bad thing if people continue to change rosters.

On Playstyle and the Metagame

For a long time, many argued that you had a “one-trick pony” style of play (AKA Kerrigan or bust :p). How would you describe your playstyle?

I just like playing aggressive Heroes. Tracer, Kerrigan, Sonya, Illidan, Thrall, any of the fight oriented tanks—stuff like that. However, I can also play passive Heroes well if we build our comp around stuff like split-pushing and poke because that’s how you shotcall those comps.


Art Credit: Blizzard

I wouldn’t want to say calculated aggression is what I do, just mostly whatever I think the right decision is in the current circumstances. Like, if I see a pick on Tracer, I’m gonna go for it even in the middle of 5 people cause I know I can pull it off.

Interesting. I know I tend to be a very safe player, so pairing me with hyper-aggressive players somehow tends to balance things out. What sort of players do you synergize best with?

Ranged who have good comms, know when to make plays, and are strong laners. A front line that’s vocal (tank + support) who know when to listen but also know what they’re doing on their own (AKA good game sense).

When a new Hero or map comes out, how do you approach learning it? Do you just play it a bunch or do you think carefully about it outside of the game?

Both. Whenever a new Hero comes out, even one that I won’t be playing, I spam it when I can. Auriel, for example, I’ve played a lot of her so I know how to play against her when the time comes. A lot of the game is about knowing how to play against certain Heroes and what those Heroes’ win conditions are. Maps are a bit tricky. You have to just play them a lot and think about it to become really good at those maps. What rotations work optimally, what Hero abuses the map mechanics the best, and what Heroes benefit from the landscape of the map.

The Scaling Changes were obviously the biggest change in the history of Heroes. Do you think they’ve impacted the game positively?

They did for sure. They lowered the gap between scaling of early and late game Heroes so you aren’t like forced between late game draft and early game draft. Every comp has their power spikes, but they can do fine in early game if played correctly, which was a huge problem before the scaling changes.

The recent minion changes are arguably the second most important change to the game. What do you think about those?

Good and bad. It punishes low map awareness and not clearing your lanes but also makes keeps that more valuable and push Heroes that [much] more valuable. I think it increases the diversity of the Heroes that are good in the current meta, so overall it’s a good change.

On Future Plans

Excellent. Moving on, let’s talk about your future plans. I know this is the most anticipated part of the interview for both myself and the community. You quit competitive Heroes (again) but…did you really? You’ve been dropping some hints lately that you want back in.

No I didn’t quit completely yet. I plan on competing at PAX and hopefully BlizzCon. We’ll see what happens after PAX though.

I’d like to continue competing because that’s the part of the game I really enjoy doing. I still hate Hero League though. However, I have an idea to make it more enjoyable for the time being.

Oh yeah, what idea is that?

Stream, play on smurfs more and do like X Hero to Grandmaster streams so I’m getting practice on Heroes I want and also having fun at the same time.

I see. So it sounds like you’ll be doing quite a bit of streaming. Have you thought about coaching or casting or anything like that?

I did coach for a little bit before the regionals that just passed. I thought about doing it and I’d still like to do it if I end up not playing again.

Are you planning on joining back up with the Murlocs or just looking for a team wherever?

Have a team in mind already. Not Murlocs though, don’t think they’ll be needing anyone for quite awhile.

Random question, but did you ever consider going into Overwatch at all during your “retirement”?

I did, but I’ve been out of FPS games for so long, it’d take quite awhile to get back into them.


What would you say is the most important factor to being a really good player?

Learning from your mistakes and being objective about your play. There’s always something you can learn from even if you win everything. Always strive to improve and never get complacent.

To some degree, that “hard work” is difficult to see in professional gaming. What are some of the ways you think we (as fans) can fix the stereotype that gamers are lazy and/or don’t work hard?

I mean, just the fans realizing what hard work in gaming actually is. It’s just an ignorance about what that term means. People who do actually work hard at being a pro gamer scrim/practice 10-12 [hours] or more a day.

Equinox Interview

Photo Credit: ESL

Also, putting in the extra time to study macro play and draft is something that shows someone really works hard.

What’s the best thing that fans can do to support a player or team they love?

Cheer for them regardless of results. Support through thick and thin is a massive motivation.

Any other shoutouts you’d like to make? Anything else you’d like to add?

Shoutouts, hmm. Guess I’ll start with people who have supported me through all the shit that’s gone on and the whole contract thing. Even 1-2 people supporting you does mean a lot. Personal shoutouts probably start with Cauthon/Fury as players—they both made me a better player over the time I had playing with them and definitely wouldn’t be the same without them. Coach wise, Vaalia was probably the biggest impact on me as a player. A different perspective on things made me improve a lot more, not just in personal play, but macro decisions and drafting as well.

Other thing I’d like to add is Blizzard please make a new Kerrigan skin. It’s been well over a year since Kerrigan’s last skin.

EsportsJohn is operation cwal. You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.

Equinox Interview Part II: Looking Back

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 II features Equinox looking back on his HotS career and the people he’s met along the way.

On Murloc Geniuses

MG was obviously the highlight of your career. The Murlocs were together longer than any other team without any huge roster changes (mYi may have overtaken that title as of now). Do you think that the synergy you guys built up was strong and healthy?

The synergy we built up was healthy. We all had a lot of trust in each other for the majority of the time we spent together, just kind of got shaky near the end of our time together. Around the December-January timeline, it wasn’t going over too well; scrims weren’t that productive, and people lost faith in a couple of players on the team. So the trust didn’t stay forever, but we kept it until after Heroes Rising, then the team ended up disbanding and Cauthon/Faye went to COG.

Zeveron? Or do we not speak of that?

Zeveron was a pretty interesting situation. We were doing well going into it initially, and after we lost to Tempo Storm in WCA semis, the trust that initially was had in us from the owner was thrown out the window. Got worse and worse as time went on. He’d constantly shit talk us to managers/coaches of other teams as well as tell us personally that he didn’t believe we were a good team.

Equinox Spirit Hood


We ended up going through a slump from the end of June all the way through July and decided as a team we didn’t want to be apart of the org anymore. Also because a Reddit thread of all the shady shit that the dude has done in the past popped up, which further cemented our decision. Not exactly the luckiest with orgs, so I lost a lot of faith in ones going into the future.

Some of the friendships you forged on MG were obviously tested during the team split at the very end. Did you ever reform those bonds?

I believe I’m still friends with everyone on the team—maybe not nearly as close but don’t think there’s any bad blood anywhere. As far as everyone else, idk if everyone’s still friends with each other.

The basic formula of MG drafts was: 1) get Fury a good tank, 2) grab some strong, well-rounded Heroes, and 3) put Equinox on a hyper carry. Do you think this formula was exploited by other teams? Did you ever discuss changing drafting strategies much?

That was our basic draft strat. A lot of our success actually came from some of the different things we tried—stuff like Vikings/Sylv split push, no tank Illidan and no tank Kerrigan w/ Vikings. A lot of crazy strats that we practiced and perfected but never ended up getting a chance to run due to Kerrigan being permabanned.

Murloc Geniuses Interviews

The Murlocs answer questions at the Americas Championship.

I think our biggest issue was just not being able to close out games vs the top 3 teams. We’d always get so close then throw once or twice and lose. Overall, our draft wasn’t exploited too much unless we just fucked it up ourselves.

Why do you think it was so difficult for MG to close out games against the top teams?

The biggest thing was just not realizing the gravity of late game. We’d always take a bad teamfight, get caught, or make a bad core decision. After making a lot of bad core decisions, I ended up just…not making them anymore after messing up so much.

MG was the king of stun train deletion comps. What’s the secret behind the perfect execution of these comps?

Playing together and building up that synergy in Hero League, scrims, and tourney games. Knowing who your tank/melee are most likely to go for and being able to follow that up. Also trusting your teammates. Something a lot of people don’t understand is you need to trust your teammates regardless of whether you think it’s the right or wrong thing to do, because if you aren’t on the same page, then it’s gonna fail anyway.

If you could go back and do anything different with MG, what would you do?

Watch a lot more replays. That’s something we never were strict about, and it messed with us so much. We watched replays at Vegas and improved so quickly in a short amount of time but never did it afterwards, so we didn’t improve as much as we should have.

On Teams After The Murlocs

After the breakup of MG, you were looking for a new team to play with. Did you ever plan on joining a big team like Tempo Storm or Cloud9? Or was the appeal of forming your own team more exciting?

After MG broke up, I thought about if that would be possible but figured it’d be easier finding a team/forming one more than joining an established/high placing team. Resurgence was one of the first teams I tried out for after leaving MG and it ended up being the team I stuck with because I liked the way their comms were and I didn’t have to shotcall on that team.

Did you consider a role switch during this time?

No, not during the Resurgence era. I did later on down the road though.

So Resurgence was your first attempt after MG, and it was…a pretty disastrous failure. I still maintain that the team was great, but the community pressure and the DDoS attacks were probably some of the worst experiences of your career. What lessons did you learn from that?

The DDoS thing was an easy lesson to learn from: get a VPN, have a backup plan ready if anything happens, and try not to make people hate you that much. Regarding the community things with our matches that made us look really bad, it was mostly just miscommunication between teams and admins that got blown up to a something big and annoying. Basically, the lesson learned is just let admins do their thing and play the game like you’re supposed to.

That must have been really devastating considering the way the community treated you and the rest of the team. How did you process and recover from that experience?

It sucked not being able to qualify but after a day or two, I didn’t really care—just worked on moving forward and prepping for the next round of qualifiers. The way the community treated us, I never really cared—never will, because at the end of the day, I’m gonna learn from my mistakes or whatever happens and do my own thing, so no reason to be bothered by what people say.

After Resurgence, you joined Astral Authority (formerly Gust or Bust/King of Blades Alpha). I remember you saying that the best part was that you finally got to do shotcalling again. What made you want to start shotcalling again?

I just enjoy having control of the game and a bigger control of the outcome of the game. On Resurgence, KilicK was our shotcaller, and I did enjoy having someone else shotcall at the time because they were really good at it, so I could just focus on playing. However, being the shotcaller also puts that pressure and responsibility on you that feels really rewarding and also very devastating, which is something I love about the role.

Astral Authority Draft

Equinox captains the draft from his phone.

You also have to be very objective and critical of yourself to become a really good shotcaller. Which also translates into you improving as a player. I was never a very good MOBA player, but I’m very self-critical as a person, so it doesn’t take long for me to figure out what I’m doing wrong and fix it.

That’s great! I have to admit that shotcalling is really hard in Heroes of the Storm, especially while playing carry Heroes. How do you make huge plays while still staying focused on what the team needs to do macro-wise?

Trial and error from scrims mostly, I try to do a lot of crazy things in scrims and end up dying/throwing, but it’s for the reason that, if I do those things, I’ll always know my limits when it’s in a serious game. So since I already know my limits on the Hero I’m playing, I can then focus on the macro decisions going into the game instead of worrying about how I’m going to play.

Were there any odd picks you held in reserve (like a secret Chromie strat or a deep, hidden love for Gazlowe) during your time on AA?

We practiced Chromie a couple times in scrims and had success with it. Also our Butcher pick we played against Tempo once was one of our most successful strats. Never got to pull them out though.

Haha, that was actually a complete troll question.

I love Chromie lol. Made us play her a few times cause she’s really fun to play.

What was the best part about playing with the guys on Astral Authority?

They’re all very genuine in their opinions and don’t hide their feelings about things. It allowed us to improve on things pretty quickly instead of wondering what the issue was. If you know everyone’s true feelings and outlooks on the game, then it’s not that hard to improve. They’re still the team I felt the most comfortable being on to this day—everyone from the players to our manager/coach, was just an enjoyable experience overall.

Why did you end up leaving Astral Authority? Was it just a difference of opinions?

Our scrims were pretty unproductive for awhile and, as a person who really hates losing, it was wearing me down over time. It didn’t feel like we were improving for a few weeks because it’d be like the same thing most nights. However, it was most likely just a slump after the event, something I’ve also been through with old MG. Just didn’t feel like it was the right decision to stay at the time.

You sounded like you were dead set on competing with the reformed Murloc Geniuses. Why did you retire at the last moment?

I really didn’t enjoy playing the game outside of competitive—still don’t unless I’m just in the mood. If I’m not enjoying what I’m doing and it gets to the point where it’s just a constant frustration, it’s not worth it to continue playing. So I retired. Don’t know how long I’ll stay retired from competitive but wouldn’t mind coming back eventually because I do really enjoy competitive. It’s just very unenjoyable outside of it.

The positive, optimistic side of Reddit disagrees with you :p.

About the game?

About the game being fun. Lots of posts about how people love playing this game over LoL or Dota because it’s stress free and super casual.

If you’re a casual player and you’re playing it casually, it’s a really fun game. However, if you’re really competitive or a pro player and you’re playing solo queue, it’s not that fun because the quality of practice is insanely low.

Career Summary and Fun Stuff

Looking back on your career so far, what was the best moment of all time? Best tournament?

I have two favorite moments. First one is qualifying for Vegas back in 2015 with MG. It was my first LAN and I also got to travel to one of the places I’ve always wanted to go within the US.

Murloc Geniuses in Vegas


My second favorite moment was getting top 4 at Summer Regionals 2 [in Burbank] with AA—finally was able to reach that goal which avoided me for the longest time. Was a great feeling, especially because we won off of a five man Leap and our crazy Greymane, Abathur, solo heal Tass comp.

Who is the most underrated player you’ve ever played with (or against)?

Probably Nightmare or Cauthon. Nightmare is someone we tried out on MG, and he’s a good player with a strong work ethic, but no one’s really given him a shot yet. Was easily one of our best tryouts. Cauthon is a player that doesn’t usually get a lot of praise or is underrated due to his age or whatever it may be, but he’s easily the most consistently high performing ranged player I’ve played with in HotS. He’ll always do his job and he has solid comms, which makes it easy to play with him right off the bat.

Are there any exceptional people you’ve met along the way that you want to give a shoutout to?

TalkingTrees. Never really had much experience with him until AA, so it was nice to see how good he was at playing carry Heroes like Li-Ming. Faye is still one of the best players to me, regardless of what people think of her Hero pool. She’s a very consistent player who also is able to make plays at the same time.

Zuna because he’s probably the most aggressive player in NA when it comes to shotcalls and just individual play. You can learn a lot from just watching him play. Last, but not least, Mcintyre is someone who I respect a lot. He has a very large Hero pool and a strong passion for the game which makes him one of the best players in NA. He’s someone I learned a lot about melees from watching him play, especially on Heroes I wasn’t very comfortable on.

Awesome. Well, I don’t want this to sound like a funeral for your career. There’s still a huge future ahead of you, so we’ll end things on a lighter note. What are some of your interests outside of gaming? Gardening? Wine tasting? :^)

Outside of gaming, probably traveling and anything to do with astronomy. That’s a big reason I got into gaming in the first place was to travel. I plan on making this my career as long as possible so I get to enjoy traveling and gaming.

I actually did not know that about you. We should talk about astronomy sometime, I’m crazy about stellar masses ^^. Next, an important question. Worst roommate: Chen, Murky, or Nazeebo?

Murky, can never understand what he’s saying and smells like fish.

Marry, boff, kill: Chromie, Li-Ming, Sonya?

What does boff mean rofl. And marry Chromie, kill Sonya, boff Li-Ming. Gotta marry the timelord, can do some crazy stuff with that…and Sonya might kill me if she’s any of the other two so rip.

In the final part of the Q&A with Equinox, we’ll be talking about his future goals and whether or not he plans on continuing in Heroes of the Storm as well as a brief breakdown of his playstyle and advice to new aspiring players. Stick around!

EsportsJohn is unbelievably excited that OGN is re-uploading classic Brood War VoDs to YouTube. You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.

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.