Or you can do what Team Soupreme does, and start immediately taking everyone's lunch money.
The THL rooks have been a force this season, and now in the first round they take on the veteran heavy Team Rank 5. With multiple legendary players and some serious tournament experience in the mix, this promises to be a classic. The captains catch us up on how they got here, and why they're going farther than round one.
DeerJason: For other teams, the first season of the THL may just seem like any other season. For Team Soupreme, it's a completely new experience. Even though our team had a great year, it was an incredible tough ride along the way. Without any veterans in this league, the first couple weeks were a battle against this season's format. We barely won 3-2 for our early matches against Entropy and Archon Storm. For example, many of us brought freeze mage thinking we could win at least one game with it. However, because of the capability to counter it, if you lose the first game then you should expect Kezan Mystics in the future.
Even with this, we still won every single one of our early team matches. We were the only one to beat Archon Storm. This was largely due to the team effort we put in. Once we got used to the format, we completely dominated our opponents. This is due to our team significance. We lose as a team and we win as a team. For our weaker players, like Grim, I personally did a successful arena run together and worked on decklists to use. We use each of our varying strengths to help one another. As a captain, my experiences in barely missing Blizzcon in 2014 (Top 8 Americas) and 2015 (Final Round in Last Chance) have taught me the significance of adapting to my mistakes. My team doesn't rely on RNG, we rely on ourselves. This has helped me become a better captain that has experience in high-pressure situations.
THL: Who was your team's MVP this season?
DJ: Unlike other teams, my team doesn't have a clear MVP. We win as a team and lose as one. If your talking about win/loss ratio, me and MVParker are tied at 1 loss each. If your talking about the most improved award, that would have to go to Prometheus for coming back from his 2 losses in the beginning. If you had to go with the person that has the biggest potential, that would be Moo. However, if I had to choose an MVP other than myself, Grim would be it. Even though his skill level may be one of the lowest in the league, his determination is one of the highest. At the end of the day, determination equals success.
THL: One of the trademarks of Soupreme is some very interesting lineups, sometimes featuring all nine classes. How much of this is planned or is most of the team just very comfortable playing a variety of classes?
DJ: Team Soupreme is surrounded with variety. The players on my team have different tastes and excel in different areas. This results in a varied lineup that changes week to week. If we have a new decklist we like, we are not afraid to test it in a match. The impact this has on our opponents is tremendous. Our team is an unpredictable bunch of players. It is troubling for our opponent to practice playing against us. A helpful note to make is how Arena correlates with a varied skill set. The members on Team Soupreme constantly do Arenas as a way to develop a card collection while improving their overall skill levels. I've told all the members of the significance of this Arena game mode, and it has helped us a lot. Most of the other teams in the league mainly focus on Ranked instead of Arena, likely putting us on top in the variety aspect.
"The Gosu Casuals and Archon Storm are clearly the favorites. However, you shouldn't forget the new team on the block ... This may be a heavy statement, but I believe that we are the most likely team to win the playoffs."
THL: You've quietly put together a very dominant season, winning five straight with multiple sweeps. Where does your THL experience fit in among other competitive Hearthstone arenas?
DJ: The atmosphere of THL is completely different than standard tournaments. MVParker and I, especially, have participated in any online tournament we could get a hand on. However, this doesn't necessarily equate to success in THL. What's different with THL, other than the format, is the preparation. You know what lineup you're going to face, so you tech against it. My team does a lot of discussion on what decks counter an opponent's most likely pick. For the sixth week, having secured a playoff position, I allowed all my players to set up everything individually to test their ability to play without any outside help. As it turns out, our preparation is the key to our success.
THL: What's your prediction for your team's first run in the playoffs?
DJ: Being completely new, getting to the playoffs is an incredible feat for any team in their first season. This also leads to our team being relatively unknown in our capabilities. The Gosu Casuals and Archon Storm are clearly the favorites. However, you shouldn't forget the new team on the block. Team Soupreme could strike at any second. This may be a heavy statement, but I believe that we are the most likely team to win the playoffs.
Learning from our mistakes earlier this season, Team Soupreme has become one of the top teams in the league. Now that we are skilled in THL's season one format, we will likely become unstoppable. Compared to other teams, we spend more time for preparation and communication. The individual members of team Soupreme are likely worse off than other teams, but collectively, they grow at a ridiculous rate. I believe if we do win this season, THL's second season will be full of weekly team meetings and a collective atmosphere for every single team. Enjoy a bowl of soup from Team Soupreme, the most dynamic team in THL. (I think I just jinxed my team :D)
Team Rank 5
Mainge: I would describe our season Inception as somewhat disappointing. We felt like we were the favorites on our side of the league and while we had a nice season, it seemed like we were always a tiny step off from where we wanted to be each week. The beauty of the playoffs though is that you get to toss all of that out of the window and have a chance to make a deep run. The secret to our success is that we're very well prepared, very well practiced, and we have a bunch of damn good Hearthstone players on our squad (and also Bryan.)
THL: Who's your team MVP and why?
M: This one is tough, but at the end of the day, it has to go to JesusC. Bryan (Imbolc) had a very good season in his own right and exorcised some demons that had been plaguing him in Season Beta and Kappa, but JesusC was our rock all season long. Every big win the team had came on the back of a big win from JesusC. Beyond results, he is very much the life of our Skype calls. Cassity has already publicly stated that Jesus is his favorite teammate and I am positive that the rest us would agree. He is the backbone of our team and there is no Team Rank 5 without him.
"Beating the new guys, beating Archon Storm, it's all the same to us. We know we have our work cut out for us, but we'll be ready. But what I want to know is if I get his Blizzcon points after I beat Deerjason. Someone ask Ben Brode."
THL: There's an outside chance that a playoff run could include this season's third different No. 1 for TR5. Is this crazy Cerberus at the top of the lineup a strength or weakness for you guys?
M: Both, probably. We have lost every single matchup in the No. 1 spot, so it's hard to spin that fact into a positive. However, we have made up for that by being quite a deep team. It makes practices and scrims super interesting with the fact that anyone of us can beat the other and it's not at all a surprise. We've had some epic in-house tournaments (that have ended with some epic salt.) I think our team is unique in the way it's constructed. Being able to scrimmage so often against people close in skill level is really nice and has resulted in improvement from all of us across the board. A rising tide lifts all boats kind of deal.
THL: You're going up against the rookies, Soupreme. As a team with quite a few THL vets, what's it like facing a team without an extensive league track record?
M: Beating the new guys, beating Archon Storm, it's all the same to us. We know we have our work cut out for us, but we'll be ready. But what I want to know is if I get his Blizzcon points after I beat Deerjason. Someone ask Ben Brode.
THL: My favorite TR5 fact—you only had one sweep against you all year long. I don't want to call that player out, because it could be embarrassing for JesusC. Is this grinding, never-say-die attitude something TR5 takes pride in?
M: If anyone has had the absolute pleasure of being in a Skype call with JesusC, they know he is unabashed and shameless. I don't know that embarrassment is possible for him. We do take pride in how well prepared and practiced we are, which is probably the biggest contributing factor to that stat.
THL: Judging from the friends list, Team Rank 5 has been playing a lot of HotS lately. Have you noticed any difference in your team's play since entering the Storm? Who's the jerk who plays Nova all the time, there's got to be one, right?
M: If you go back to Season Beta when we first entered THL, the only game we really played was hearthstone. That just so happened to be our worst season in the THL by far. We all got really into HotS in between Beta and Kappa to the point where we were playing more HotS than Hearthstone by the time Kappa was rolling around and that was our best season by far. Coincidence? Doubtful.
In all honesty, HotS is a great way to mindlessly unwind from Hearthstone and also has been a great way to connect with other members of the THL. Entropy's Jaxox, Archon Storm's Hertzdonut and Viridae, The Dream Team's Warmonks, League Troll Brunson and the The Angry Chicken Fan Club's Supersam and Killajive regularly join us in the Nexus. JoshSampson and I played our match this season and then immediately jumped on to HotS afterward and discussed our match while destroying noobs. If you see one of us playing HotS, send us a message and get in there. The more the merrier.