For today’s interview, I have last season’s Legacy-winning captain and HearthCenter’s own Geranium Battle.
Diamond: What do you look for when constructing your rosters?
Geranium: I mostly look for players who will be happy at their team position for the entire season. Because I almost exclusively captain the PR series (Hero and Legacy), players will likely be locked into that position for the season. I look at everything I know about the player (THL performance, ladder performance, being talkative, self-confidence, preparation, really anything I can scrounge up) and then make a guesstimate on whether they will very likely have an even season or better.
If an entire team goes even on the season, they are usually winning enough weeks to be in playoff contention. If a player goes even, they usually feel okay enough to not be down on themselves and have their playoff performance suffer. They do have to be happy in that position, though. During my first seasons captaining Hero, DoctorBOMD was a player who only wanted to play in the 4 seed, despite already having a solid performance as a Legacy 1 seed under his belt. Clearly, he’s broken free from that mental block, seeing as he plays at the top of his rosters in every series. Still, even if a player could compete at the highest levels, they have to want to play there, or else you risk them throwing up their hands and saying, “See? There’s nothing I could do! I might as well not even practice!” Having happy players means you can work with them to try and set them up for success so much easier.
Diamond: How would you describe your captaining style?
Geranium: I would describe my captaining style as AlwaysJustinLite. My first time playing in THL was on Justin’s team, and I’ve been the captain of every team since. Justin’s captaining style is a lot of work. He’s the one that puts in the most effort on his teams; posting meta reports, reviewing teammates’ replays to extreme detail, keeping morale high, offering his free time to scrim so players get matchup experience, and trying to get discussion going by offering his advice on what opponents will bring and what seems powerful. I look at that and try to do watered-down versions of each item on the list. Part of that has been wrestling with my own impostor syndrome of thinking I’m only good enough to be a 3 seed. That caused me to avoid helping teammates above me. The other reason is that it is WAY too much work.
Back when I said I captained EVERY other team I’ve played on, I lied. The only other team on which I was a non-captaining player was Bonemasher’s APM team. I’ve been captaining for APM ever since. Justin is a good mentor for player preparation, and Bonemasher is a good mentor for organization and camaraderie. The APM server was my first mega-server, with nearly half of all active THL players in it at this point. Having Legacy players hanging out and talking with Wild players is a great time since we’re all just trying to enjoy a strategic card game.
Diamond: What was the factor that helped you win your recent string of titles?
Geranium: Luck. Getting through the main season is usually more of an expression of effort, where you only need to win the majority of weeks. Sometimes this isn’t the case, if the competition is abnormally fierce and there are few qualifying spots, and every week could matter. But generally, you can stumble one week and then rebound. In the playoffs, you cannot stumble. The level of competition is generally quite high in THL, so definitively saying your team will win is a tough prospect.
I consider myself lucky to be surrounded by players who are clutch in the right situations. Maybe another version of me would say that Cahnew is the x-factor since he seems to win his match in every finals and I can only win my match if my team goes on to lose.
But this version of me doesn’t believe in the superstitions. 5 seeds don’t win championships. Vibes don’t win championships. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that perseverance and luck win championships. My team will get unlucky, we’ll lose a match, but we’ll keep trying, even if that means turning that game 5 match 5 loss in finals into a championship the following season.
Diamond: How do you handle being a captain of two series?
Geranium: Honestly, pretty poorly. I usually jumble all my teams’ matches together and think of it as one body of work. If my Legacy team needs to win, I can’t really take the gas off in Hero very easily. It confuses the issue that Cahnew and I play in both series every season, because it becomes harder to separate. Maybe the reason why I personally do better in Hero is because I apply Hero practices to my Legacy lineups accidentally.
Diamond: Do you think your next championships will be in Legacy, Hero, or both?
Geranium: Well, being that I keep coming back to both season after season and putting forward teams that could win championships, it’s impossible to predict. Saying that I win Hero Season 27 is just as likely a prediction as saying that I will never win another THL series again. The most I can do is get my teams to the playoffs, and then it’s all about getting lucky breaks once I’m there.
Diamond: Which one of your logos has been your favourite so far?
Geranium: As a logo maker and a perfectionist, it’s hard to look past the flaws of logos I make. If I was a little better at Photoshop, if I actually owned Photoshop, everything could be so much better. My most well-received logo has been Pro APM’s “A Perfect Murloc”, but I think my favorite was my Season 18 Hero logo for “Awake Past Midnight”. I tried a lot of edits for the first time (like the shading around the eyes and the shadow around her edges) and they all worked well.
Diamond: Who are your biggest rivals in Legacy and Hero respectively?
Geranium: In Legacy, my biggest rivals have to be Defias. Our teams met in my first ever finals, and every time we meet it goes the full 5 matches. I’ve had the pleasure of teaming with Wild9 in the past, and the displeasure of playing against Nebcanuck many times. I know that both sides will always put in the prep work to make it a firework of a match (and as I write this my team is facing Defias; I hope we pull a win out of this one!)
In Hero, my rivalries changed with the eras. When I started, my vitriol got directed towards Donde’s team, as they usually played spoiler during the final weeks of the main season (and Donde once taunted that my team would only fall further and further behind his–we did).
Then, once I started to break through with APM, nineeyebrows and Cmac became the team to beat. They had always thrashed my team in the main season, and their win rate was unparalleled. Just like Defias, they were the spoilers to my first Hero finals. Ever since then, we’ve traded off heavy blows to each other, with my most recent Cmac+Nine meeting being a complete thrashing, where SLATT destroyed the future champions 20-3.
Now that Cmac and Nine sometimes split ways, and their motley crew has spread among 3-4 different teams, I once again return to Donde’s former team. That team has evolved and Donde has left and now that team is Department of League Adwinistration; the only team to beat mine last season. What would the chances be if, once again, my team was facing my greatest rivals RIGHT NOW?! Ah well, whichever result comes out, I’ll feel justified. Either my team wins and we get a little closer to playoffs, or my team loses and I get one more chapter in my rivalry.
Diamond: What would your advice for any rookie or newer captains in THL be?
Geranium: My biggest advice to any player in THL would be to take a moment and think about what you want from your time in the league.
If you want friends, this is a great avenue. You end up playing against a lot of people and teaming with a lot of people. As long as you treat others with respect and be yourself, you’ll come to find that a lot of other players will stay beside you.
If you want to earn respect or admiration, THL is not the best way to get it. The sample size for the number of matches and games played is way too small. Even if you have an undefeated season, that might just mean you effectively flipped heads 7 times in a row. I’d recommend that you avoid the stress and focus on making friends with your teammates, since they’ll respect you as long as you respect them.
If you want to win a season, buckle in. You’ll probably have to spend years chasing that goal, and there will be others pursuing the same exact thing.
And, lastly, if you just want an excuse to play Hearthstone, THL is THE best way I have found to get myself to continue the game. I hope to keep evolving the strategy of the game with you all!
I want to thank Geranium for his time and for answering my questions. Thank you for reading the interview series and please DM any feedback to me on Discord (diamond22_). Next week, I will be interviewing a recent hall of famer.
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