Swindlemelonzz: Cheesing will be extremely popular at the GSL event
Thanks a lot. We expected to make the finals, but tdM was always the wildcard. I did (accurately) predict that regardless of victor, the series would end 2-0. I was fairly confident if we won the first game, they’d bring out the Balphagore in the second and we had a good plan prepared for that. Had they won the first, I think they would have played a more conservative late-game lineup, and if demoralized, we most likely wouldn’t have the fortitude to pull out a victory.
The win also marks your first Grand Final victory over your nemesis Trademark eSports, will this win put you over the hump against that team?
It definitely does. Our last win against tdM prior to the finals was before DHW2012, in the Winner Bracket Finals of the HonTour qualifying tournament (also 2-0). We had beaten them in a series the previous weekend as well, but since those series (and specifically tdM’s victory at Dreamhack) we were unable to ever close them out. The win was huge for us, and with luck we’ll be able to carry the momentum into the next couple cycles of HoN Tour.
You now have a booked trip to Thailand in order to compete against 31 other teams, mostly from the SEA market. What do you expect traveling there?
I expect to have a fantastic time :D. I went to DYA in Singapore in winter 2010, and that experience is really the main reason I’m still around today. I had always hoped to get another chance to return to Asia, so I personally am thrilled that I get to do it again, this time with a great team and of course my brother in tow!
Many of the GSL teams will be unknown for the wide audience and public in North America and Europe. How do you think you will prepare for those challenges?
I plan on looking at some replays of all the favorites on Garena before we leave, but mainly (since most of the tournament in bo1) I’ll just be focused on putting together set drafts that are as balanced as possible, because cheesing is going to be extremely popular at the event.
You mentioned the format already. Any fears of falling down very early against unknown teams and their tactics?
That’s without a doubt my biggest fear. I will try my best to prepare for every team we face, and with luck, the drafts I’ll have prepared will see us through any Dark Lady or other flavor of cheese we might encounter.
Another thing that comes into play is the LAN experience. The last time you competed in the LAN environment, you and your squad got eliminated in the Group Stage. Will that be on your mind at all or are you completely over it?
Everyone on the team has experienced failure on LAN, I mean we’ve all gone to at least two apiece and no one has ever won. I think the failure at last DreamHack will give those of us who were there for it (me Khezu and Zak) a lot more drive looking forwards at the future events. We’re all extremely hungry to win, and if anything our failures will make us better, not worse.
You have been pretty outspoken about the special LAN environment even in the past. You plan on doing some sort of "mental" training in your Miami team house to get into the proper mind set for such a challenging trip?
I don’t think we’ll go too crazy, but eating and sleeping properly is sometimes all that’s really necessary. I think it’s extremely important to have a positive environment in which to play in, and being well rested and fed are in my opinion, the most important things to do in order to provide that sort of atmosphere.
Ultimately, how do you think you will place at the GSL event? You expecting to win or what opponents are you afraid of/have respect for?
I’d be very surprised if we place off of the podium. I think our biggest competition will be the other NA/EU team that qualifies, but I don’t want to count out the SEA scene as a whole. While I don’t know of any specific team that looks extremely strong, a bo1 format really helps out the field since we won’t really have good practice against any of the strategies from the Asian teams. I’m very confident that we’ll do quite well, but that I’ll also remain extremely cautious and strive to refrain from underestimating anyone.
Leaving the GSL behind, looking at the bigger picture of your team and the recent history. All your players are now in the Miami appartment, after Chessie arrived. How will that affect your already splendid performances in recent history?
I can only see it helping us. Chessie’s great to have on the team both online and off, and it’s a lot nicer to have everyone here, rather than having him left out of anything the four of us did out of game. The roster changes and the move was not meant to propel us to the #1 spot immediately, but rather to ensure that we would be successful in the long-term. Everyone on the team is (obviously) extremely dedicated, and because of that we plan on being a force in the HoN scene for the unforeseeable future, not just the upcoming cycles.
What is the biggest benefit of the team house in your mind?
Having everyone on the same time zone is a pretty huge advantage. Previously our HonTour matches were at 4am/12pm/6pm, so to be able to put everyone on the same schedule is awesome. It’s also a lot easier to improve, since we can go over mistakes and replays all together. And of course, being in the same environment leads to much improved friendships and general synergy.
In the recent two cycles you went down into the Lower Bracket fairly early. Is that a cause for concern?
It demonstrates how bad we are when we aren’t focused, and it’s a problem we’re actively working to fix. I’m glad we are losing now versus at LANs, or in future online matches where the stakes are higher.
What is missing in your performance in HoN Tour to get over Trademark eSports and the other rivals and dominate that league?
Confidence and Communication
After weeks of struggling, compLexity Gaming is back in the mix and put up a fight against you in HoN Tour and the GSL Qualifier. What do you think of their new look? How big of an asterisk is there to the recent coL game against you?
I believe the previous four series between sG and coL resulted in 2-1 victories for sG. Obviously our teams are very competitive, but I wouldn’t say they played any better in the last series than any of the past ones, we just had to finish game three 4v5. We look to perform much better this weekend.
If you look at the scene right now in the current state. How many legitimate elite teams are there that have a real chance to win a Diamond Division in your mind?
Three – sG, tdM, and coL.
Switching gears a little bit to recent rumors and accusation. Fellow competitors and peers accuse your team of ghosting, while the community refers to your playstyle as "pubtraining". Does that faze you at all?
The easiest way to perceive a team’s morale and mindset is to watch how they act after a loss, not a win. Team stayGreen and I strive to be gracious in defeat, hopefully in the future other teams, especially those with sponsors, can follow that example. As for the pubtraining, we’ll see how the strategy works in Thailand.
Let's wrap it up with some quick questions, shall we? Las Vegas or Thailand - more excited?
Las Vegas or Thailand - more eager to win/more prestigious to win in your mind?
I’d have to say Thailand. Bangkok is far more exotic than Vegas, and the international aspect is also a pretty big deal. Winning Vegas means you were the best of the top four NA/EU teams, winning in Bangkok means you were not only good enough to win one of the qualifiers (a difficult task) but also the without a doubt #1 team in HoN, worldwide.
How does the SBHL tournament rank among those other two finals that are coming up?
The prize pool is really nice, especially for an online event, but the LANs definitely take precedence. We want to win as much as possible, but it’s hard to keep tournaments like that in perspective when you’re already visualizing playing on a stage half the world away. We’re going to take it very seriously and of course would very much love a victory.
You have any news on sponsorship, a possible website or anything for your loyal fans?
Sponsorship – We’re still actively seeking one, but we’ve yet to receive a single offer, let alone a good one
Website – Currently in development
And hopefully lots more team videos and guides to come!
Last but not least, any final shoutouts you want to get off your chest.
Big thanks to my family for being so incredibly supportive of me both inside and out of game, specifically all my brothers (Andrew, Brandon, Gavin), Mom, Dad, Christina, Josh, Tyler, and Grandma Karen. And of course a huge shout out to anyone reading this who considers themself a fan of mine.