Cloud 9 Fan Interview: "When I left, I still thought that Vortex had a good chance of continuing on"
Heroes of the Storm may be a team game, but players like Fan "Fan" Yang prove it's still possible to shine individually as a player. When he isn't creating Heroes content on his YouTube Channel or streaming, Fan is living your normal post-grad, or at least as normal as it can get after leading the UC Berkely Golden Bears in their Heroes of the Dorm victory and winning $25,000 in Scholarship money. Now playing for Cloud 9, Fan still boasts the rank one spot on HotsLogs.
So it was only natural that I wanted to talk to him. For over 20 minutes, we talked about new heroes, his familys reaction to gaming, the disband of Cloud 9 Vortex, and surprisingly enough, why having fun is one of the most important things a pro player needs to do:
Fan, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. On behalf of all the readers and viewers of GosuGamers, we thank you for being here.
Fan: Yeah, not a problem. I mean, I’ve used GosuGamers in the past, so it’s a pretty awesome site.
Before we get started, I feel like we should get the most pressing stuff out of the way. There have been so many new heroes that have been released, even since we scheduled this interview. How will these new heroes fair in the competitive scene?
So, the new heroes that I know of are Rexxar, Artanis, and the Monk. I think Rexxar is going to be very strong when he comes out, because he has a summon as his trait—and almost every other summon already in the game is a heroic ability, at the moment. So, for his summon to be any good at all, it has to match the strength of every other summon in the game right now.
On top of that, he’s also a ranged warrior, which means that, one, he has a ranged auto-attack which is important, and, two, he is a warrior, which most likely means he’ll be pretty tanky. And in the current game, it’s very important for heroes to be tanky, because that means you don’t get blown up right away. Being ranged helps with that as well; you can be in safer positions.
I think Rexxar’s going to be very strong, because he’s ranged, he’s tanky, and he has a pet—all three of those things kind of imply his OP-ness.
And it seems like he’ll be a nightmare to lane against—trying to trade favorably with Misha is probably impossible.
Yeah, it’ll probably be pretty annoying [laughs].
So what do you think about Kharazim, the Monk?
As far as the Monk goes, things are a bit more hazy. I hear he’s a healer that can spec into other things, but most of the other healers in the game that can do other things aren’t actually very good at pure healing—for example, Tassadar or Tyrande. So that’s a little worrisome, because those characters can’t just solo heal. If [the Monk] can’t solo heal, I think he’ll be a little bit weaker than most people are thinking right now. However, I think Dustin Browder has said that the Monk can solo heal, so it’ll depend a lot on how good his healing is.
Yeah, his Divine Palm, the Heroic that’s kind of like Ancestral Healing, seems strong.
Fan: Yeah, from what I understand of his Heroic, it’s like, if you kill the character, they come back with a certain amount of life again, which is… interesting.
What about Artanis?
We haven’t seen any skill sets for him yet, but he’ll be strong anyway because, right now, the meta really favors warriors, and a lot of teams are just running dual warriors—some teams in Asia are running triple warriors, even—there’s just so much merit in being tanky right now, and having CC. So if Artanis is anything like that, I think he’ll be really good. I have a feeling he’s going to be tanky because he’s a warrior, and I kind of feel like he’s going to be doing a decent amount of damage as well, because he’s a zealot, so I’m definitely looking forward to that.
I think that the one thing that we’ve been told about him, that he’s going to do lots of damage. So, moving on, you’ve recently graduated from college, right?
That’s correct yeah.
So tell me a little bit about what it’s like going to college and also having this gaming spirit in you—this want to compete. Was it always something you wanted to do?
I’ve always had that competitive spirit, and it’s not just for gaming, but anything I’ve done in the past—whether it’s academics, or sports, or extracurricular or hobbies—I’ve been very competitive in anything that I do. And ever since middle school or high school, I’ve really liked gaming. I discovered StarCraft: Brood War back in the day, and I discovered that people could actually make money by playing in tournaments, and that’s kind of how it started.
It was near the end of college that I discovered Heroes of the Storm with a couple of friends, and we just played it for fun because it was a new Blizzard game. We found out that Heroes was a really fun game, and, after playing for a couple of weeks, we started hitting known players on the Quick Match system, and we were doing pretty well. It kind of just snowballed from there—we entered a tournament, and I just kept playing from there.
It’s funny that you mentioned that you started off with StarCraft, because it feels like so many people that come from all sorts of eSports, they always start with StarCraft. So how did your friends and family react to your ambitions?
My family didn’t particularly like it, because they wanted me to get a good job and stay there for as long as I could, and they didn’t realize that you can make a good amount of money by playing video games. Pretty much all of my friends think that it’s really cool, and they’re more supportive—they think it’s really cool to be able to play video games and make money off of it.
What about your Heroes of the Dorm Victory? That's a lot of tuition money.
I'm sure they were happy about it, but they didn't say they were proud or anything. They didn't show too much of anything else other than just being happy.
About your Heroes of the Dorm experience—you were basically the only player to really move forward and see success competitively, out of all of the players. Why do you think that is?
Well, in my team alone, two people who were playing had never even played Heroes of the Storm before the tournament, so they weren’t at the highest competitive level. There was another player, Sabhim, who is a professional StarCraft II player, so he’s pretty much tied to playing that professionally. The last player, Pandajigu, actually does play pretty competitively in Heroes of the Storm, but the competitive scene in Heroes is kind of hard to get into right now.
On that topic, you previously played for Vortex, the sister team to Cloud9 Maelstrom, and they disbanded, essentially, after you left. Do you think that that was sort of an inevitable thing—was the team just on its way out, or could they not find a proper replacement for your role on the team?
When I left, I still thought that Vortex had a good chance of continuing on, and being within the top 8 teams in North America. I guess the problem was that they could find players who could [fill my role] mechanically pretty well—for example, McIntyre, who is a very strong melee assassin player—I think the main problem that Vortex had was probably their strategy and teamwork. Bobby was a very loud and vocal person, and I think McIntyre is [the same way], and when you have two players like that with different ideas of what they want to do, it can lead to a discrepancy in their teamwork.
So what would you say are the core differences between, for example, a casual, five-man team that maybe plays every other weekend, and a Cloud9 Maelstrom? What are the core differences in how those function?
In terms of playing the game itself, I mean, generally, pro teams will go into every game with a draft planned out, and a game plan—so, we know which heroes we want to get, we know what we want those heroes to do, and we know which map we want to do it on—and if you’re kind of a casual, five-man stack, you don’t have a specific composition that you really want to get right. In terms of communication, pro teams usually have one or two players who call out what they want everyone to do, and everyone else just follows along, and everyone in the team is very familiar with everyone else, so you kind of know what your teammates are going to do at all times.
In a casual five-stack, you don’t necessarily have a “shot-caller,” so you have everyone individually doing what they think is best to win the game. You have to have one or two people directing the game, and everyone else following along.
Do you think that Cloud9 Maelstrom operates like most professional teams, or is there something different that sets you apart?
I think we do operate like most professional teams, we go into every game with a draft. The thing that separates us from most other teams at the moment is that every player on our team is very strong, mechanically, so we’re confident in our ability to outplay the other players, press our buttons at the right time, faster than they can, that kind of thing. I guess I would kind of compare that to StarCraft—if you have a player with 100 APM, and a player with 300 APM, it doesn't’t matter how good they are outside of that, the 300 player will always have an enormous advantage over the 100 player.
There has to be some sort of drawback to that. Do you guys sometimes find that each of you are so busy trying to outplay your opponent that you maybe tunnel in? All of you are such all-stars—so does that ever create tension in the middle of a match?
There are definitely times where people try to make plays, and because they’re trying to make plays, they’re not necessarily in position with the calls that are being made. So, if the call is to go bottom, and then someone sees a kill opportunity mid, and they go for that opportunity, then we have one person mid and four people bottom.
so we’re confident in our ability to outplay the other players, press our buttons at the right time, faster than they can
To our readers, you would be considered a success story. You’re about the same age and situation, but you’re the one who is doing this professionally—and winning. What advice would you give to the person who is browsing the site, watching the pro games, and wants to do this on his or her own? What type of advice would you have for someone who is wanting to be where you are now?
The first thing is, you have to actually enjoy playing whatever game it is—you have to make sure that you really enjoy and have fun playing Heroes of the Storm, even if you’re not professional, because you’re going to be playing the game in absolute time throughout your career. The second thing is to really have that competitive nature. Once I really knew that this was what I wanted to do, I tried to do everything I could to prove to the world that I could be on top. I climbed the ladder on HOTS Logs nonstop, I kept playing Hero League, I added every single pro player that I met online, and eventually, I made my way there. You just really have to enjoy the game, and keep that competitive aspect of yourself—if you ever meet a player who’s better than yourself, all you’re thinking is, “how can I learn from him, and how can I get better than he is?”
I’ve seen too many players get burnt out because it’s just not fun anymore. But, at the end of the day, we’re all gamers, we love the game, and we have to try to find a way to keep it fun. Are there any shout-outs or anything you want to say to the fans?
Fan: Shout-out to all of my sponsors and Cloud9, and also shout-out to all of the fans out there—I really appreciate everyone who Tweets at me, to cheer me on, or is in Twitch chat. That stuff seems kind of small, but pro players really do appreciate it. So thanks to everyone out there for watching!
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