Hey THL! PumbaasBFF back again with another interview I did with Tony Montana (TheEquAsian) this week, enjoy!
Me: What was life like for you growing up? Where are you from, what were some of your interests, what did you want to be when you grew up, etc…
Tony: I was an only child, a protypical latch-key kid, back when you could do that without having them taken from you as a parent. I was born in 1981 (in Augusta, GA) so I grew up with the NES and my dad was an electrical engineer and we had computers in the house from a very young age, so entertaining myself with video games was something I got into early on and never really looked back from. In middle school I discovered Magic: The Gathering and have played ever since with only a few hiatuses, occasionally also picking up other card games. I guess I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up, but I always enjoyed puzzles and problem solving (which is probably why I’ve gravitated toward gaming) and hope that my career moving forward allows me to do so.
Me: Wow, early 90’s was when MTG was pretty young, that’s really cool.
If you were a top 100 player in any video game which would it be?
Tony: I don’t play that many video games anymore. (all of that time is spent playing card games Magic (paper) or Magic Online and Hearthstone, if you consider those video games) Pragmatically if I could be top 100, it would be in the game that would reward me the most financially for doing so. Otherwise I would choose MTGO or HS as I enjoy those the most by far.
Me: If you aren't playing much other video games, do Hearthstone and MTG take up all your free time?
Tony: I am a big NBA fan so I watch a fair amount of that during the season, but otherwise yes those games are my primary hobbies and take up most of my "free time".
Me: Cool, at what point did you first get in to Hearthstone? What was your first impression of the game?
Tony: I started playing about a year ago. Ironically I had a beta key for quite some time and it just sat in my inbox. I did not have the desire to pick up another game at the time. Eventually with the proliferation of streaming I eventually saw Brian Kibler (whom I met and played while we both were going to school in Atlanta and had since been following his career in Magic) playing HS and decided to check it out. Between being very similar to Magic and nearly identical to the WoW:TCG that I also played, I was able to pick it up relatively quickly and easily.
Me: Nice, meeting Kibler is got to be cool, definitely one of my favorite streamers (when he’s not playing Priest). If you could do one thing to hearthstone to make it a better game what would it be?
Tony: Without question it would be some form of tournament(s) managed within the client. I believe this would aid in managing actual tournaments (specifically open) and thereby making them more enjoyable and easier to be taken seriously, while also giving an alternative competitive outlet to the ladder system. There are MANY others but you did say one…
Me: I actually heard this was something the development team was working on, I'm not sure if that was put on hold, but I agree that would be awesome. Why don't you give me another thing you'd do to make the game better, the floor's open here.
Tony: More swiss tournaments. I think the few that have been shown recently (DH:A for instance) exhibit they can be very well received. I don't think every single matched has to be streamed and NOT doing so allows for much bigger fields. That in turn allows something other than single/double elimination, etc...
Better qualification system for Blizzard's marquee tournaments. (i.e. 16 people for the premiere tourney, previous champ not invited... seems silly)
Multi-format tournaments would do better to show a player's range of skills. A better "limited" mode is probably necessary first.
Me: Cool, okay over to THL, N.W.A is one of the new (what I am calling) expansion teams this season. Could you tell me a little bit about what it’s been like to be on the team? Do you guys have practices every week, or a chat room to talk in?
Tony: I have known the captain for almost 20 years so that has helped being new to the league. We do a lot of discussing of strategies in a chatroom and have weekly Skype chat where we discuss what classes to bring and what decks we should bring within those classes once we know our opponent’s.
Me: Dang so you met Kibler, AND knew Arthur? Atlanta must be the place to be. How'd you and Arthur know each other?
Tony: Art and I met at our LGS when I was 14 or 15 and played several different games and traveled to lots of tournaments together. We became really good friends while we played the original Decipher Star Wars CCG.
Me: With the way the season was scheduled out, you guys won’t be playing any of the teams from the Blue or Orange divisions unless you make the finals, but if there was a bonus week where you could play against any one team from those divisions which would it be and why?
Tony: I must apologize, this question is by far the hardest since I really do not know a lot of the people in the league. My first reaction would be Soupreme since DeerJason is one of the more accomplished players in THL and he is currently their 3 seed so I would get to play him.
Me: That’s what I’m here for, to ask tough questions and still get answers.
So what was preparation for this week like for you? Could you walk me through the process?
In most weeks we’ve tried to pick classes that allow us to stay flexible. (We’ve actually collectively submitted warlock 25 times so far) The reason for this is two-fold: i) it gives us the wiggle room to target their strategy if their lineup allows and ii) it makes it a little tougher to pigeon-hole us into one.
Me: Seems like that strategy has been working for you thus far, If you guys were to place 1st in the division, what would you do with an off week during that first week of playoffs (assuming that’s how it will work)?
Tony: There is a chance that my wedding will fall on such a weekend so hopefully that!
Me: What?!? That's awesome man, July weddings are the best kind of weddings. How long have you guys been together?
Tony: We are actually getting married in August, I wasn't really sure when the playoffs would be, just kind of made a guess. We have been together for almost 6 years. We met at a beer festival, which we attend every year together. It is also where I proposed to her.
Me: Ah okay, well that’s really cool and congrats! Do you have any final thoughts before we conclude?
Tony: Shout out to all my teammates. (Art, Shawn, Miles, Jody) Really love playing with them. Hopefully we can improve each week as a team and take some momentum into the playoffs.
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