Hey THL! PumbaasBFF here kicking off a new blog I’ve thought about doing for awhile. Each week I’ll be looking for a player from one of the big matches for that week to ask some questions so we can all get to know them a little better and hear some of their thoughts about Hearthstone, THL, and the week that was. This week I had the pleasure of getting Mason Cary a.k.a Markshire from The Hairy generals to volunteer, hope you guys enjoy!
Me: Hey Markshire, just want to thank you for volunteering so quickly to participate, I know you’ve got a busy schedule. Let’s kick it off with a few ice breaker questions. Where are you from originally? Where do you wish you had grown up?
Markshire: I was born in Alexandria, Virginia, but moved to Atlanta, Georgia when I was 3 years old so I grew up in Atlanta. I would have liked to grow up around the DC area because that’s where most of my family lives, I don’t have any family that lives in Georgia, or even in the southeast U.S.
Me: You’ve got some THL family down there though! (http://www.teamhearthleague.com/player-map.html) What about your history with video games and card games? How old were you when you got started?
Me: Interesting, how about if you could be one of the top 100 best players of any video game, which would it be? Why?
Markshire: It would probably be Super Smash Bros. Melee. Smash is the only game besides Hearthstone where I have some understanding of the competitive scene. Unlike Hearthstone, it requires a lot of technical skill in addition to knowledge of strategy. I play Smash for fun but am very far away from knowing the advanced techniques to be a competitive player.
Me: You have gained 10 cool points in my book, Smash is awesome. But onto some Hearthstone. What was the very first legendary you ever opened?
Markshire: Captain Greenskin. Think I dusted it after a couple of days.
Me: Hah, okay well what if you could change Hearthstone any way you wanted to make it a better game, what would you do? (Removing Yogg-Saron doesn’t count)
Me: Yeah I think a lot of people would agree arena is something that needs tinkering. Switching gears over to THL now, so far this season we have seen Shaman, Warlock, and Warrior emerge as the big 3 classes brought by a majority of the league. I’ve heard many times that warrior has risen due to versatility, Shaman is up there due to just having such strong class cards, that even when targeted, can sometimes still find wins, but what are your personal thoughts on Warlock as a class? Is it in the same boat as Warrior where it is just so versatile, is it just hard to target like Shaman, or something else entirely?
Markshire: Good question. I don’t think Warlock has really lost its versatility – like before, Zoo and Renolock are still viable competitive decks, and they present two very different deck types which makes it difficult to prepare for. However, and I could be wrong about this, I don’t think that Renolock is being brought that often in THL. With the loss of Healbot and Molten Giant the deck has definitely gotten worse, whereas zoo, while changed, has a similar power level to pre-WOTOG. Zoo is just that good of a deck, maybe not as powerful as shaman, but still has great matchups against the meta. Even when it’s unfavored, zoo can still pull out wins if the opponent fails to draw its early game answers – the addition of Councilman makes this even more true than it was before.
In addition to being a strong deck, zoo is one of the few archetypes from pre-WOTOG that has stayed, which means people have a familiarity with it that you won’t get with new decks like Tempo Warrior or C’thun Druid. I think most people bring what they’re comfortable with, which helps explain the popularity of the Warlock class.
Me: Seems right to me, I’d add that with Ironbeak/BGH essentially gone now the deck also got stronger. For this week in particular, could you tell me a little bit about how you prepared for your match against Kuthroat? Did you prepare with your team or by yourself?
Markshire: The team is a great help every week when I prepare for my match. Erique (Necrohavoc) especially is great with providing intel about my opponent’s tendencies. Brad (ArcaneTHL) also helped a lot this week by practicing with me before my games Saturday. This week was tough because Kuthroat brought a fairly balanced lineup which made it difficult to find one deck to target. I spent some time in group chat bouncing ideas off people to figure out what to bring. We had very similar classes, both bringing Warrior, Warlock, and Hunter, the only difference being he brought Priest whereas I brought Shaman. I was pretty busy in the days leading up to Salty Saturday so I only finally decided what to bring about two hours before the match, but I had plenty of time to make sure my decks were finalized and tech’d correctly.
Me: That’s really cool to hear. Do you think you guys are at an advantage with the help of people not actually on the team? I know Team Rank 5 has a similar setup and maybe more I don’t know about, but most teams don’t. They do however have an SPL team; do you think it’s more beneficial to have one of those teams, or to have other people dedicated to helping you guys with your preparation for each week?
Markshire: I would definitely say that we have an advantage, although keep in mind that we have an SPL team as well that Erique and Richard (JediNinja) are on. More people to practice with and discuss strategy with is always a good thing, also with two members of our team in a 12 hour timezone difference it makes it more likely someone is on at the same time as you.
Me: Nice, for anyone reading who hasn’t already, you can watch Markshire’s match with Kuthroat on THL’s Youtube channel from Salty Saturday last weekend!
So something I’ve have a hard time with is, in a conquest format like THL, which class do I queue first once I know what’s banned. Without giving away your strategy, can you tell me what goes through your mind in the challenge screen at the beginning of your matches?
Markshire: Basically I just try to counter what I think my opponent is playing first. If I can’t make a good prediction, I just go with my strongest deck or the one that is the most favored against his lineup. With the way THL works, you get points even if you lose the overall match so it makes sense to get your wins in early.
Me: True, well we’re coming up on the halfway mark for the season now, a playoff picture is starting to form, but every division is still in a very tight race. Assuming you guys get into the playoffs, who do you think you will meet round one?
Markshire: If seeds hold, we could find ourselves playing Team Rank 5 round one. It'd be an interesting matchup for sure. I think that last season us and TR5 were seen as the two top teams of THL, at least in the regular season, but we both have had significant turnover from last season. They still have a great team, and of course in the playoffs any team is going to be good. Also, anything could happen from now until the playoffs, so we’ll see.
Me: Cool, okay well thanks again for taking time out of your schedule for this, do you have any final thoughts you’d like to get out there?
Markshire: I want to to thank the entire Hairy Generals squad, from both this season and the last, for their continuing support and for providing a great team environment to relax and joke around when we're not focusing on Hearthstone.
I also want to thank Steven Taft (Jaxox) for offering me a spot on his team when I first joined the league. I don’t know where I would be in the league without him.
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