What will you remember from Season Inception?
Maybe there was an individual THL matchup that ended in a fatigue war that was, and will always be, your personal Greatest Game of Heathstone.
Maybe the encouragement of your teammates and the inspiration from the THL community pushed you to new heights on the ladder.
Maybe, just maybe, an introduction to one of these profiles moved you in ways that were entirely unforeseeable, provoked feelings inside yourself that you long thought Face Hunters eradicated, and nudged you to unlock the phone and call that estranged family member, who you will be breaking bread with for the first time in years, perhaps decades, this holiday season.
Maybe is a powerful idea. For the eight teams who find themselves in the postseason, that word—those two syllables with all the possibility in the world—will be followed by the phrase: become the first champion in TeamHearthLeague history.
Michael "Jingbudda" Johnson of The Gosu Causuals and Rich "JediNinja" Staub of The Hairy Generals breakdown their respective seasons that now find the two longtime captains squaring off in round one. Also, keep refreshing the blog maniacally over the next two weeks, we have three more matches to go!
The Gosu Causuals
THL: Describe Season Inception from The Gosu Casuals POV, what was the secret to your success?
Jingbudda: This season, The Gosu Casuals were placed into the Red Division with a bunch of really strong teams. Getting to face our rivals in week 1 was a great start to the season for us. We managed to win that match, and every one subsequent. Slimsch, Adam, Leumer, and I had played together before, but Mykel was new to our team. A lot of effort from all four of us went into scouting and drafting Mykel, and I think getting him on board really pushed us over the top this season.
THL: Who was your team MVP?
J: Slimsch was 100% our team's MVP, and for those of you who watched his match vs. YuruYuri, I think it is safe to say he's currently the league's MVP. His mentoring and, more specifically, all the time he put into coaching, planning, and practicing with the team really allowed us to bring our best each week. When you combine that with his undefeated regular season finish, Slimsch was the driving force that propelled this team to the top of our division.
I would also like to recognize the contribution of the other members of our team. Mykel and Leumer both went 3–1 this season, and Adam (who went 4–2) has been on a three-week win streak. I can say with confidence that The Gosu Casuals are a tough team to beat!
"The most important aspect of the players I recruit is not their card collection, or their ladder rank, but rather their willingness to communicate openly with the team. Every member brings something unique to the group that helps us all improve."
THL: This season, some people might have slept on Gosu. After all, you may have missed the playoffs last season, but you guys were Season Beta champs. Was there a sense entering Inception that you had something to prove?
J: Last season we missed the playoffs by six points, and our final match was against Noob Central, who beat us 5–0. That was a disappointing loss, but after making the finals in Season Alpha, winning it all in Season Beta, and coming as close as we did in Season Kappa, I was totally confident that we would have the talent to make the playoffs this season. The only time I felt we had something to prove was in our first match against "Those Filthy Casuals." We had a bet going that the losing team would have to drop the "Casuals" moniker from their name for next season, and none of us Gosu's were about to let that happen!
THL: Similar to a few playoff teams, you have a core that has been in place for multiple seasons, what advantage does this give Gosu?
J: I think knowing the guys on your team allows you to trust them, and trust is key when we are expected to bring our best week-in and week-out. The members of my team have proven that they plan ahead, do not forfeit games, and prepare for their opponents. When I've recruited players, my goal has always been to build a team that's interested in the strategy of tournament play, where every member brings their best each week. After that, the most important aspect of the players I recruit is not their card collection, or their ladder rank, but rather their willingness to communicate openly with the team. I firmly believe that every member brings something unique to the group that helps us all improve as we work together.
THL: Following his match-up with YuruYuri, Slimsch mentioned trying to punish players who may bring the same decks week in, week out. Is class versatility a strength of Gosu and something you guys work on?
J: This question is tough to answer without divulging too many of our strategic considerations. What I can say is that we all will bring the classes we think have the highest likelihood of winning each week—not necessarily the same classes over and over, or different classes every time. Now, I do absolutely believe that there is value in being unpredictable in Hearthstone—but that goes above and beyond class selection.
THL: What's it going to take for The Gosu Casuals to go far in the postseason?
J: The postseason is always tough. With the variability inherent to the game, it can be difficult to beat RNG, and have the better players and teams win out every time in a single elimination format. That said, we are going to bring our best, and we are planning to put up wins just as effectively as we did in the regular season. I believe that we have talent, drive, and experience which rivals that of any team in the league ... and ... we keep it casual. 8-)
The Hairy Generals
THL: Describe Season Inception from The Hairy General's POV, what was the secret to your success?
JediNinja: To be honest, this was a rough season for us. I take responsibility for that because I wasn't able to make the time to lead properly. I think every player on the team is disappointed with their their performance in at least part of the season. As for the secret to our success? Success will be beating the Gosu Casuals, so I'm keeping that secret under wraps.
THL: Who was your team MVP and why?
JN: Detrucci. Not only did he have the best win-rate on the team, but he was constantly nagging us to practice and prepare more. When this team needs a kick in the ass, he delivers. Runner-up honors to AndyRogers who did a fine job coaching our team.
THL: This is the first time in the playoffs for The Hairy Generals, are you guys changing up the approach at all for the big dance?
JN: Check your facts, son. [Disclaimer: No facts have been, nor ever will be, checked on these posts. —ed.] The Hairy Generals were the Season Alpha champions. In fact, we were so dominant that we were broken apart, Ma Bell style, into multiple teams. Our spawn, Archon Storm won Season Kappa and is cleaning up in Season 1. We're proud of our protege but the original Generals will return to dominance in time. We also made it to the playoffs in Season Beta.
THL: One of the cool subplots to this first round matchup is a rematch between Slimsch and AndyRogers, who met all the way back in the finals to Season Beta. Despite a sweep by Andy, Gosu topped Team Andy—is this week all about long-waited, exquisitely crafted revenge for The Hairy General's No. 1?
JN: There's no one in this league as confident as Andy. I know he has been disappointed with his results this season and is eager to show the league that he's still a top player. I'm certain that he's thrilled to have the chance to knock the Bearded Wonder off his undefeated pedestal.
"As for the secret to our success? Success will be beating The Gosu Casuals, so I'm keeping that secret under wraps."
THL: As the founder of THL, how do you feel about how Season Inception unfolded, and what do you hope to build on for Season Two?
JN: Our #1 goal in Season One was to have fewer disqualifications and we were very successful in that area. What I didn't expect was this explosion of content coming from our members. These profiles, Tavern Talk, and the What Would You Do? series blow me away with how great they are. When I watch these things and streams happening without my involvement, it makes me so proud.
In Season Two, we're going to continue to extend the League's presence into the larger Hearthstone community with events like out match against Viscious Syndicate and the Golder Wisp team (shout out to Alec!). We're going to continue to expand out streaming efforts and we're going to add more events for our community, especially our growing number of free agents. We'll continue to refine our process, both with the rule set and technology, and we'll have more memes than ever before (shout out to Viridae!).
THL: Making sure to avoid spoilers, which character from The Force Awakens do you feel best captures The Hairy Generals?
JN: Snoke. That's all I'll say about that.
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