Astral Authority prepares for BlizzCon
NOT your average team
Six miles from where the Heroes Global Championship winners will be decided sits eSports arena, A rising hub for all things eSports. Stepping inside, you’d think you just walked into one of Korea’s most spacious and luxurious PC Bang or internet gaming café. Nestled in the second-floor loft, I had a chance to sit down with Astral Authority’s newest team the Murloc Geniuses and get to know what makes them arguably the best North America has to offer.
Thanks for giving us some time Artemis. To start things off, how did all this come together?
I feel that when we first started, our initial idea of coming together was to have our core Murlocs together that we could get, so we initially got Equinox, and Cauthon and Fury, and then we tried to form a team around that because we were already really good friends and we’ve been really tight-knit even after the parting initially back in January.
We wanted to make a team where maybe it’s not the flashiest players in the North American region, but, we want players with different hero pools so they’re not overlapping. And Personality is literally key. If they don’t mesh with the right personalities, they’re just not going to work later down the road.
Does it feel like there’s one team captain?
No. Psalm and cattle do the majority of the drafting it feels like, but they’re all theory crafters. I can’t express it enough. They are brilliant minds. The ideas I see them spit out at each other, it never ceases to impress me.
It was surprising to see the name change, tell me about that?
I know! Everyone was! We needed the support. We were really picky about what we wanted. We didn’t just want to jump into the first deal ever or we weren’t going to get a cash-grab kinda org where, yeah, they gave us a large salary but if they took 10% of our tournament earnings when we didn’t need an organization to get there... eh, I don’t know about that. We were talking for weeks before we even signed anything. We were really patient about everything and we really made sure the contracts were to the best interest of the players.
Two got kicked from their teams because they were scape-goated, Jun’s never had a chance, cattle’s never been on a long-lasting team, Psalm’s been striving for success and people never gave him the ability to shine.
It’s like they're all getting their chance at the same time.
It’s so prideful to see them succeed finally because they all deserve it.
Psalm – Flex
Hey Psalm, thanks again for taking a break to talk with us. So first off, what would you say to all those aspiring flex players out there to bring their games to the next level?
The quickest way to learn is to learn from people above you. Watch a pro stream, watch the little things that they do, pay attention to what they specialize in, and what they prioritize.
How do you decide when to pick melee or when to pick a ranged hero?
I don’t think a composition should ever have more than three ranged heroes, including the support. You always need a tank or two, or a melee assassin. Having too much back-line makes you too vulnerable, doesn’t let you have a presence. I think you need one ranged assassin and however many bruisers as you like.
So let’s say you win HGC, Blizzard has you pick the next assassin, who do you pick?
That’s a tough one! I’d say it’s a tie between Maiev Shadowsong and Deathwing!
From other teams you’ve played with, what’s the magic, what’s the difference with your team now?
Two biggest things: One, overall team atmosphere and attitude. Everyone here works hard and no one here is toxic. Everyone here can take criticism and everyone here can give criticism in a constructive manner. Secondly, everyone here is flat-out good. I think the biggest thing to being good at Heroes is how smart you are about playing the game, and I think we have a very smart team.
Do you have a ritual for warming up?
I don’t eat any meals. I only eat granola bars and bananas. That’s my thing. It keeps me light. Other than that, drink a lot of Red Bull and take a lot of bathroom breaks [laughs]. Just gotta get it out!
How do your parents feel about you playing Heroes as a career
So growing up, my mom didn’t like my gaming much. Recently, when she’d seen a lot more of my success, getting to travel, hotels paid and what-not, she’s been willing to support me a lot more. She’s beginning to realize that this could really be my career, so she’s really supportive now.
So Jun, first off, what drove you into the support role?
On my first team, they wanted me to play support. I’m the kind of person that, when I start something, I want to finish it, so it just kept going like that.
Nice! That makes sense. There’s a lot of people that say support is a boring role. What do you think?
"I look at the tank as being a support too. Tank and support have the same role of keeping your team alive, where tank brings utility rather than heals."
It's ‘boring’ compared to other heroes that do their own thing, where a support you have to work with your team. If you’re good, especially if you have good team members it’s pretty fun and kind of amazing. Support allows your players to make the plays. People who know that are going to enjoy it.
I hear that. Well, what do you feel the support role needs to take Heroes to the next level?
Supports having more utility like Auriel’s 'Detainment Strike' and Malfurion’s 'Roots' and 'Innervate'. I look at the tank as being a support too. Tank and support have the same role of keeping your team alive, where tank brings utility rather than heals. Support having more utility would be interesting.
Definitely. Okay, so I’ll pose you the same question: What hero do you want to see in the game?
Oh man! Ah, I’d have to say Mephisto! I played Diablo II a lot when I was young. That was my game. Something like Zarya. Kind of an off-tank, maybe.
What do you feel is different between other teams and what you have now?
One of the biggest things I’d have to say is personalities. Where teams in the past, the team would have a lot of conflicts on their com games where they tilt each other. But on this team everyone’s focused on their mechanics to get better. They don’t tell each other to get better, so no one’s going past that boundary where blaming starts.
How did your parents feel about you playing competitively?
It’s very recent that they looked at me playing games positively. They want me to be successful in life as a doctor or lawyer, those kinds of statuses. I had a difficult time playing. Sometimes I had to play secretly at night. Then I met these people right here. We went to Burbank and my parents see me making money and doing this professionally, after that they started supporting me little by little.
So what drove you into the Ranged role?
In Summer 2014 I was playing on one of the earliest teams even though there wasn’t much to play for back then. I only played ranged because there was a person on our team who played assassin but no matter what hero he was on he would play it like a tank. So we were like 'You don’t get to play ranged anymore, just melee'. So I took over ranged basically for that reason, because it was the only way we could not feed horrifically. I don’t have any pre-ordained preference for ranged, it just sort of worked out that way.
So same question as the others. You just won HGC. Blizzard has you pick the next ranged hero, who do you pick?
Oh, if it’s a pure ranged hero then I have to go with the Dragoon Phoenix! They need a ranged carry StarCraft hero.
"There’s still that mentality of ,“We’re going to come together. Oh we didn’t beat the best team right off the bat with no practice? Okay my teammates suck, I need a new team” .That attitude is insane and it’s very prevalent in North America."
What do you feel is different with the team now?
I think the mentality about how we created our team is probably going to be what people will try to emulate in the future. At no point did our team have ‘buying power’ or 'star-power'. That’s a mistake that a lot of teams make where they throw money at whoever the big name players are and pay no attention to team synergy or team attitude toward improvement.
At no point did our team have ‘buying power’ or 'star-power'.
Probably the biggest thing overall is everyone here realizes they're not perfect and they have a lot to improve on. The reaction to losing is to talk about things better and not get upset instead of blaming, which, sad to say, is a lot of the mentality in North America. There's still that mentality of "We're going to come together, oh we didn't beat the best team right off the bat with no practice? Okay my team sucks. I need a new team". That attitude is insane and it's very prevalent in North America.
On a more serious side, how do your parents feel about your gaming career?
Ever since I started gaming competitively in early 2000’s, I’ve been on my own so they didn’t have much say. Recently they’ve been supporting me a lot. None of my family, other than my sister, cares about gaming very much, which is normal. My mom finally got a chance to see me play at PAX, and my sister got to see me at DreamHack Austin.
What brought you into the Tank/Bruiser role?
"There’s a bunch of situations where Psalm and I, he’ll be on a hero and both of us will turn and go in at the exact same time because we know that’s what the other person is gonna do."
I played everything in Quick Match, that was just my thing. As a drafter I want to know exactly what hero is good in what situations so I have 35 heroes at level 10. I wanted to grind every hero so I know their strengths and weaknesses, then it eventually got to the point where I can play whatever I wanted. I’m in this complete flex role, enjoying being able to solo-lane a lot and play whatever hero I’m feeling at the time. I don’t have to ask Jun, 'Hey, what do you think’s good here?'. Obviously his input is great, but I’ve played over 100 Brightwing games too so I have a good idea and understand her kit where I can be, “This is what she’s good at”.
So it almost sounds like there’s communication that doesn’t need to happen, because it’s already there.
Yeah. It’s so important. I feel the more heroes you’ve played at a high level, the better you know what your teammate is going to do. There’s a bunch of situations where Psalm and I, he’ll be on a hero and both of us will turn and go in at the exact same time because we know that’s what the other person is gonna do. We’ve both played those heroes extensively so it just takes away the need for random small stuff.
I was a big fan of compLexity back in the day, so what’s changed since then?
I can say for sure that compLexity was the funniest team, and the most fun team I’ll ever be on. It was just such a good time every day. Now it’s much more serious. I was basically best friends with everyone on compLexity and we hung out all the time. This team is a little different. You treat it more like it’s a job and treat every moment seriously. It’s all a lot more work and more rewarding.
What makes the big difference with this team?
I think individual skill is really important and it builds a baseline that you can work off of. The less mechanical mistakes you make the more your teammates can work on synergy. I do think that everyone on this team is at least top two North America in their role. We’re working completely on perfecting our team play which I think is the most important thing.
You guys win HGC and Blizzard lets you pick the next hero, who is it?
Malthael for sure. When they released Reaper of Souls, my friends and I played hardcore and thought whatever we’re gonna play to Act V. When we hit Malthael, it was the scariest moment ever.
How do your parents feel about you playing Heroes professionally?
Yeah my parents are very supportive for sure. At the start I was just doing Heroes on the side with school. At that time it wasn’t a problem either way. Once they realized how big of a deal eSports actually is they’re very on board and they support me a lot, it’s good.
So Fury, right now what would you like to see from the game moving forward.
More hero pool. I want more tanks that fit the E.T.C./Muradin style where they’re very tanky, they’re in the front all the time, they stun, they do CC, they bring a lot to the front-line like what a tank should be doing. Right now it feels like everyone’s contesting E.T.C/Muradin.
Especially right now in this meta, making a mistake can cost you the game from the first couple minutes.
What’s it like to be a tank? Do you feel like a tank or is that just something that you do?
I always played the front-line melee warriors. In WoW I used to play a fury warrior, that’s what where my tag comes from. I always liked being in the front than playing a ranged character so when I saw Heroes I looked at the roles than thought, “Maybe warriors would fit me best”.
The meta has been interesting lately. How much of the game is decided on mistakes, versus you deciding a preset strategy?
Definitely making a mistake in this game can really be punishing if the other team knows how to take advantage of whatever you made a mistake on.
So it sounds like it’s more painful to make a mistake than to go for a reward and fall short.
Yeah, definitely. Especially right now in this meta, making a mistake can cost you the game from the first couple minutes.
So let’s say I’m new to the tank role, what are the things I need to focus on? What’s my job on the battlefield?
You want to be in the front for your team taking all the damage, starting a fight for them. If they have a Nova or Zeratul that wants to get on your back-line, you want to make sure you’re there to peel for them. The tank can soak as much damage depending on how much healing he can get from their support, so it depends on how much resources you get for the warrior role.
Since me and cattle are both main warriors we both know what we want to look for and what we do so we don’t need to talk too much. For my damage and my support, I definitely need to communicate and tell them what I’m doing.
Say you guys win HGC and Blizzard lets you pick the next Hero. Who would it be?
Definitely Garrosh Hellscream, that’s all I’ve been wanting. I’m hoping that he’ll fit my role and not cattle or Psalm’s.
What would his trait be, Enrage maybe?
Yeah, maybe some sort of Enrage, and I think his kit would have Charge, Execute, Mortal Strike; any arms warrior stuff.
What about a battlefield idea, what do you want to see in the game next?
I think something around Arathi Basin from World of Warcraft could be pretty interesting. Where you capture different points and you gain overall score and whoever gets the higher score, something like that. We’re definitely missing a Warcraft map to be implemented into Heroes.
What about your friends and family, how do they feel about you playing Heroes competitively?
At first, my mom and sister were both against it, they didn’t really understand. They both lived, “Go to college, get a degree, get a normal job". At first, it was hard to show them, "Hey, this is an actual job and can make money from and make a living". It took them awhile to get it and there was some drama but overall I’m happy with where I’m at.
Is there a particular matchup you’re looking forward to during HGC?
Definitely want to play against Dignitas, Europe's top team. They’re a really good team but I think we have an edge over them. Definitely want to show the world North America over Europe.
After spending hours with Astral Authority, you can’t help but love their Murloc-like passion still prevalent. It shows in everything they do, from work to play. They seem like a happy family driven to win. There’s no doubt that Astral Authority will bring some upset to the world stage, coming from black-horse, to number one in North America. Regardless of what happens, the story will be one to hold on to.
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