To kick off Inked Gaming and Team Rankstar's first month of partnership, Hearthstone team captain, Typical Tyrant, conducts an extensive interview with rising Hearthstone TRS player, JTizzle. Check them both out on Twitter:
Enjoy and let us know what other types of content you would like to see from us and Team Rankstar!
A Typical Interview with TypicalTyrant
I will be speaking with JT today, or JTizzle if you run into him in a game of Hearthstone. He is a member of Team Rankstar’s competitive Hearthstone team and will be representing Team Rankstar at the Challenger Finals!
So first why don't you tell us about yourself, who are you outside of Hearthstone?
My name is JT Nickel and I work full time as a janitor during the evenings and then I also work at my local comic shop. I also do some of the shipping and handling and shipping out just magic, Yugioh, and Pokémon orders. So that's what I do to make a living. As far as my hobbies and interests, obviously I'm very invested in hearthstone. A lot of people don't know that I'm also a professional yo-yoer, and that's another area that I've invested a lot of time into. But that's pretty much it. That's me, all of it.
How did your interest in card games start?
So, I was always just been a big fan of Pokémon, the franchise my entire life and I've played red, blue, yellow, all the way up to the most current games for the 3DS. And at some point, I also picked up the trading card game. You know, just picking up cards when I was younger here and there, it never really took it very seriously until probably like high school I want to say. And in high school I met some other people my age that were into playing the game competitively. So, I just kind of sort of got into the game because I had, I had met friends that were, that were in the game basically.
What made you choose as your primary focus considering your background with other card games?
Initially when I started off I played very competitively. The person that got me into Pokémon, his parents ran our local Pokémon league and when we were finished with our senior year of high school their family ended up moving to Arizona. So, with them leaving our Pokémon league kind of died. I couldn’t play my competitive outlet. There was nobody to play and I ended up stumbling back on Hearthstone because another one of my Pokémon friends a couple of years later that I was roommates with had been playing Hearthstone. This was probably right before Goblins Versus Gnomes and was the first time I'd been exposed to Hearthstone and yeah, I just loved it immediately. I love that I could play a card game at any time of the day. That was like the biggest appeal to me when I first saw it, I was like oh, there's always somebody online. Oh, this is the greatest thing ever. I can play all the time now.
You just mentioned I'm doing competitive yo-yoing, so why don't you tell us about that to you on that?
Yeah, yeah. So, the same person or people that I got into Pokémon were the people that got me into yo-yoing. My friend, his parents ran our Pokémon league and he was the biggest competitive player in our area and he also kind of casually yo-yoed with these long spinning a metal yo-yo. A lot of people don't see every day and it looks kind of foreign and almost like almost like a magic trick where you're “I'm not really sure what's going on. It's clearly impressive. I don't quite follow, but it's cool. It's really cool that you can do that.”
What are your competitive accomplishments and competitive goals?
So, in Hearthstone, my competitive accomplishments, I think the best thing I have to my name is winning a weekend challenge cup and that's nothing too monumental, but it's like the first step in possibly doing something a lot more. One of my goals I've had for a long time is to do more top 100 pushes. I run into the issue that my current employment is in the evenings and so I can never play the last hours of the day. I could never play the like 6:00 PM to midnight block on the last day of every month unless it falls on a weekend. So, it's kind of kind of a hindrance there. I'm kind of forced to go the Challenger Cup route instead to try and qualify for playoffs and bigger hearthstone tournaments, which is my current goal. I guess a competitively to try and get as good a ladder finishes as I can and qualify for playoffs.
You mentioned that not only being a game player, you also have a competitive national level. How do you balance all these aspects of your life along with work and everything else?
In order for me to dedicate time in order to be successful at any one of these things. I feel that at the given time that, that that's my interest. I need to be putting the majority of my time into this. So, for the past year and a half or couple of years, probably two years now, a Hearthstone has been where I devote 90 percent of my time and you know, the yo-yoing is kind of a something I'll do a just as I've casually, you know, like walking around the house or something or just waiting to kill time. It's in the background. Whereas before I got really into Hearthstone, yo-yoing was most of my big competitive focus and I would practice multiple hours a day. I would travel to as many conferences as I could throughout the year to compete. When my competitive focus shifts from one thing to another, I never entirely removed myself from the other one. I'm still involved in the yo-yoing community and I still go to one or two contests a year and I post on social media. I'm just not taking it as seriously from a competitive standpoint. I think it would be a little bit too much to try and do multiple things that are really, really high level. I think I burned myself out to be honest. I've chosen to make hearthstone the primary focus. I've been trying to pick up streaming recently and so that's been interesting. It’s a challenge to try and work around my work schedule for sure. Still getting the hang of it to be honest I've been consistent to my schedule so far for about a week and a half. I'm hoping it will only get easier from here.
What's your favorite style of play you prefer Combo grow mid-range or control?
Over time I've struggled a lot to perform with heavy control. I feel that’s because there's a lot of lines of play in certain match ups that are important to know or like quintessential of the match-up, things like faceless, seeing your opponents Carnivorous Cube that has had a Hadronox. Just all little the plays that where it's like obviously genius, it's not so obvious at first glance. I feel like that's an area where I've really improved in the past year. I like aggroing them down a lot of time in Hearthstone. I don't think I'm a dedicated aggro player either though. My favorite class was paladin for a long time however my favorite class in the game right now is Druid. I guess right now my favorite style of play is Combo/Control variants.
If you had to pick your favorite standard deck of all time what would it be?
Oh Gosh, uh oh, that's so hard, man. Dragon priest was so good during Blackrock. I think I've said for a long time that my favorite deck of all time was Freeze Mage with Forgotten Torch. But I got be honest, man. I think, Togwaggle Druid might be my favorite deck of all time. It’s so crazy how many different lines there are and how different they all end up at the different ways. The games are different when you take the difference.
There have been plenty of memorable moments in competitive. You have a favorite moment that you've ever seen or been involved in?
For the moment that I've been involved in the challenger cup that I won. I had to play against an odd hunter and it was open deck list, so I can see he's got Wolf Riders, Kill Commands, Arcane Shots. I mean this guy's trying to kill me dead and I have to beat him ASAP. I'm up a game and I have to beat him with Shudderwock. Electra has very recently come out. I haven't played Shudderwock very much at all at this point. I just thought Shudderwock was really good for my lineup. So, we went for it and I kept healing rain in my opening hand. I knew it was going to be very important this matchup because eventually he runs out of steam. I'll stabilize with like Mind Control Tech and stuff and it'll be great. I ended up going Electra, healing rain on turn six to heal for 24 against this face hunter. I've never, ever seen somebody just like shift their style place so much in a game. Like he was carefully thinking about, his lines to make sure he was going to shoot as much damage as possible. The first three or four or five turns, you know, sequencing correctly to play around what I have at that moment. He just started snapping off his place. Needless to say, I won probably two or three turns later because he ran out of cards and I killed them with like some Mind Control Techs and some 3/3s.
What drew you to streaming?
So, I feel like it was a multi part or what was the first part? Let's break it apart. How's that? Let's start with what? Drain of streaming? So, what drew me to streaming is that in order to play hearthstone at a high level, you need to practice a lot. Like if you practice a lot and you're really good, you're still going to make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. Even the best players in the world, make mistakes and tournaments all the time because it's so hard to play 100 percent, right? We're not computers, we're limited by our brains, so I have to play this game as much as I possibly can in my free time. I figured if I'm already going to be playing the game and you know, it's going to take away from my social life as well because I don't have as much time to hang out with people. At the very least I can always have this website where somebody, if they really wanted to ask me something or they were wondering where I was or how it was doing, you could always just come and check out what I'm up to. If I'm not at work, I'll probably be streaming. So, I thought it would be cool to have a way for people to still interact with me while I play this game a lot. As I first started doing it I found there was actually a lot of, other positives about streaming. You slow down a lot more because you have talk about your play. Because, me personally, I'm a very analytical streamer. I talk about the different lines of play that could take in would be right in each situation. I really liked the idea of helping educate people, but I found that I got a lot better at playing by slowing down and talking about my plays. Even just talking to yourself helps you really calm down and take each turn of the game step by step and make sure you don't screw anything up.
What do you think there are any differences in streaming styles for those that stream traditional titles to card games?
Oh yeah, this is a fantastic question. There's different styles of streamers and it's different to me like a card game stream, another sort of game. It's interesting because from the card game perspective, I think there's a few different branches. Just from there you could have the people like what I like. I enjoy analytical, dry streamers that talk just about the lines of play and why they're playing today. That might not be very appealing to somebody who doesn't play the game super competitively and they just like watching somebody screw around an arena or maybe just play on ladder and that totally has a place as well.
Opinions are all over the place right now regarding the current meta in Hearthstone. Some say that it is diverse, others say it’s stale and needs change. What is your current opinion of the state of competitive Hearthstone?
So, these nerfs will come out that are going into effect and a couple days. We’ll talk about the meta prior to these nerfs being announced, it was at a point where there was a couple of decks in the game that clearly have the best match-ups across the board. You need to be playing one of those decks. These decks also have a match ups that are, you know, upwards of 70 percent in your favor or 30 percent not in your favor. When played tight it probably even worse than that. It's probably going to be 80 or 20 or almost unwinnable. Then you have decks that auto win or lose against those decks, so you have a situation where there's a lot of different decks with a lot of different tech options depending on what they're trying to eat. At the end of the day, you need to make sure you're playing one of these decks that has a couple rising matchups to make sure you get those free wins. Unfortunately, when you're trying to play for a massive sample size, like if you're laddering and trying to figure out what the best thing to play is, it's really hard when some of the match ups are just automatic losses and you have to write them off as that. The Witchwood meta was extremely diverse maybe the best meta in quite a long time. There were maybe 15 viable decks, all for laddering. Every class was represented very well. Then going into the boom meta we didn't see a lot of changes from Witchwood, we just saw a couple of decks get powerful tools that push them to a level where they're kind of they're polarizing, they match ups are now not close enough for it to feel like their player has a chance to win and a given match up.
The tournament meta seems to be a little bit better. You have these various rock, paper, scissors match ups and you have to figure out a lineup that knows how to check everything along the way. Right? In that respect, there's a lot of play in various lineups and queue order and it makes a huge difference. I think tournament Hearthstone right now is at a great place.
Talking about the health of Hearthstone. If you could change one card, what would it be and why?
Gosh, if I could change any one card in the game, it's got to be Keleseth, right? It's either like Nourish or Keleseth. Keleseth is such a high roll that it's to the point where it's a little bit too game deciding. That way it’s a loss for tempo for what you're getting and it's not a reward for not playing two drops in your deck. If you're going to build a deck and it's somewhat aggressive and uses like mid rangy aggro minions, you're putting in Keleseth so I don't know what we have to do to fix. One of the nerfs I thought was cool, was making it a 1/1 so that there's a massive, a tempo loss for playing Keleseth. You take a massive temple loss to later see the payoff.
Where would people be able to find you in the content that you're putting out right now?
So, if you want to find me, I'm streaming on twitch.tv/JTizzleHS. If you want to follow me to look for my deck lists or my streaming schedule, if you want to figure out what times I'm going to be regularly streaming, I would recommend following my twitter @JTNickel. I'm also going to be posting more content in the near future to teamrankstar.com and I will be sharing any articles that I do write for them on my twitter. Twitter's probably the best place to find everything. Also check out teamrankstar.com, they’re badass!
Hope you enjoyed this personal look at one of Teamrankstar’s Hearthstone competitive players! Check out more content at teamrankstar.com. Use the code “TRS12” for 12% off your order at InkedGaming.com and support Team Rankstar!