Last week marked the second set of matches in the Archon Team League Championship, in which my team – Value Town – went up against the Forsen Boys. While most of the teams in the league are playing under the banner of established eSports organizations, like our opponents from last week, Cloud9, both Value Town and the Forsen Boys are rag-tag bands of players built around popular streamers – Trump and Forsen, respectively.
Some people have suggested that the ‘established’ teams have an advantage in the league because they have more experience working together, but I don’t really think that’s true. Sure, they may have spent more time practicing with one another, but ultimately the games are played individually. Hearthstone isn’t a team game like League of Legends or something similar where it’s important to develop synergy between players in order to be successful.
That said, it is important to have a team with personalities that mesh well. While in-game synergy isn’t part of Hearthstone, out of game cooperation certainly is. The nature of the team league is that often one player will struggle to find a win with a particular deck, and that can be discouraging. If that player’s teammates aren’t supportive, or even worse actively lay blame for losses, it can easily push the losing player toward tilting and hurt the team’s chances of success.
Thankfully, both Dog and Trump are great teammates, both in the sense that they’re strong players and they’re relaxed and supportive during the matches themselves. Even when we were struggling last week, there wasn’t any negativity in our team chat – just strategizing and words of encouragement.
Speaking of strategizing, we chose our lineup for last week based on the tendencies of the Forsen Boys. Both Chakki and Forsen tend to play a lot of aggressive decks, which is why we brought Priest and Ancient of War Druid rather than Mech Shaman and Freeze Mage, like we played the previous week. Trump felt like such an aggressive lineup would also be rough for either Handlock or Zoo, and decided he would rather play against it with Paladin instead. That meant not bringing a Warlock at all, which was certainly an unusual choice given the popularity of the class in tournaments – and, unfortunately, a choice that would come back to haunt us.
In the games themselves, Dog managed to pull out a victory with his Priest against Ostkaka’s Rogue to start things off, which was particularly nice since that’s a difficult matchup – one might say he was the under…dog. Trump lost the Paladin mirror match to Chakki, and then I then picked up back to back victories over Forsen’s Freeze Mage with Hunter and Druid. Dog won the Rogue mirror match next, leaving us in the strange position of having just one player left, because we were up four games to one with both Dog and I having gone 2-0.
Unfortunately, that’s where things started to fall apart. Our prediction that Forsen Boys would play primarily aggressive decks held true, but our plan to answer that with Paladin just did not work out. On top of that, Forsen switched from his previous Zoo list to Malygos combo Warlock, which is a much more difficult matchup for Paladin. While Trump did manage to pull out a win with his Patron Warrior deck, we fell in the final game as the Paladin couldn’t pick up a win in five attempts.
I had a lot of people ask me on my stream after the league matches if I was upset about the result, or mad at Trump, and various things like that. I’d obviously rather win than lose, but I’m certainly not mad at Trump due to the match. We all agreed to the lineup we brought as a team, so it’s just as much my responsibility as his that we ended up playing the Paladin deck in the first place. And I could just as easily be in his shoes if things didn’t break my way. While I’m certainly pleased to remain personally undefeated in games in the league, I understand that card games are a fickle mistress, and my fortunes could turn around any time. I did talk to Trump about some of his plays after the games, but in the interest of learning from one another, certainly not to try to pin fault on him.
It’s important to keep in mind that this was just the second week of a long league. We’ve got a whole lot more games to play, and we’re better off looking forward to those future matches rather than fixate on the past. I feel like we’ve learned from the results of the first couple weeks – both from our own matches and from those of other teams – and we’ll be stronger moving forward as a result.
We’re up against Team Celestial this week, which I’m excited about. While I don’t know much about FrozenIce, I have a lot of respect for both Tiddler and SilentStorm. Both of them have proven themselves in big open tournaments, with Tiddler winning the 128 player swiss format Dreamhack Summer tournament, while SilentStorm took down ESL Season One. SilentStorm actually beat me in the finals of one of the weekly qualifier events – as well as in ChallengeStone #2 – so I’m out for revenge. Here’s to hoping I have a chance to get it.