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As the HCT World Championship draws near, Hearthstone’s top players are preparing to bring their best game and duke it out in Taipei City for a $1,000,000 prize pool. As part of our coverage, we have interviewed one of the top players, Kacper “A83650” Kwieciński, for his thoughts on the HCT World Championship, the current meta, and his Hearthstone esports journey.
Daily Esports: One of your first HCT tournaments was the Europe Winter Preliminary back in 2016. Since then, you’ve played in other HCT events and won first place in both seasons of the 2018 ESL Polish Championship. Now you’ll be playing for Team Genji at the World Championship this month. How would you describe your journey leading up to your competitive Hearthstone achievements?
Kacper “A83650” Kwieciński: After I did quite well in my first ever HCT tournament, Europe Winter Preliminary 2016, I dedicated myself more into Hearthstone because I saw that I can compete equally against players who are theoretically considered as better than me. Later that year, I finished top 16 in a very high-stacked LAN tournament, DreamHack Winter.
There was one moment in 2017 when I couldn’t get the results that I wanted, so I was thinking about quitting Hearthstone, but I decided to take a break from the game and come back in 2018. It was a great move because I had my breakout performance this year. It started off with qualifying for Summer Championship, then Worlds. Afterwards, I participated in EU versus CN in Shanghai, and I also won ESL Polish Championship twice in the meantime.
Now, I hope that 2019 will be even better than last year. Although it will be hard to do, I have the most important tournament of my career ahead of me – the World Championship.
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How did you first get into Hearthstone, and what made you want to play it competitively?
I saw an ad promoting Hearthstone and I decided to give it a try. I really like some traditional card games, so a computer card game seemed like something that I can like. After some time, I managed to qualify for the first ever HCT Preliminary and I did quite good there. So I decided to try playing this game more competitively than casually, and it was a great decision to make.
You’ve been placed in Group C, which consists of Hunterace, Ike, and JustSaiyan, for the World Championship. What are your thoughts on it?
I think it’s the hardest possible group for me. Hunterace and Justsaiyan are the best two players in the world right now, and I also really respect Ike. Of course, I’m considered as an unfavored going into this group, but this motivates me even more. I’m gonna try my best to surprise and advance to top eight.
As you are preparing for the World Championship, what is your practice schedule like?
Right now, I don’t really play that much because the game will change completely on April 9 when the expansion hits. I’m focusing more on theorycrafting and thinking what kind of decks can be the best in the new meta.
How would you compare your past and current practice schedule and deck selection process?
In the past, I didn’t really have many friends who I could ask for help when I practiced for a tournament. So I was usually going with what I personally thought was the best. Sometimes, I felt unprepared for an event because I did not discuss my thoughts with different players. Now the situation has changed — I have many friends who I can ask for help anytime, so I’m always more prepared for tournaments. Having a group of people to practice with is extremely important, because it’s almost impossible to do consistently well without talking to anybody.
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How do you decide which cards to either take away or add to tournament decks to give you an edge?
I’m usually trying to predict what the meta is gonna be in the tournament, and my goal is to either submit counter decks or some tech cards that should help me against the most popular decks in the field.
What is a memorable moment you’ve had leading up to becoming qualified for the upcoming World Championship?
HCT Summer Playoffs in May 2018 was my first tournament after I took a temporary break from Hearthstone. I was pretty nervous going into day one knowing how important it was for me to do well in this event. In the end, I managed to get top four, which qualified me for Championships, so I was over the moon.
What are some of your favorite cards in the current Standard meta? Why those cards?
I like some Rogue cards that are unfortunately rotating. For example, Vilespine Slayer or Fal’dorei Strider. I really like playing Rogue, but I think that it’s gonna be worse after the new expansion. Also, my favorite Death Knight is Shadowreaper Anduin, so right now, I’m just playing a lot of games with Priest to say farewell to him.
What are your thoughts on the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion and the cards that will be rotating out?
We will lose Death Knights, which is a huge change for the game. But I’m happy with that – Death Knights just dominated the 2018 meta, so I’m excited to play some non-DK decks. I will miss The Lich King – this card is pretty cool and I have some good memories with him. I think many players liked this card as well. I’m mostly curious about what happens with Druid, because both Spreading Plague and Ultimate Infestation are rotating out. We’ll probably see some new Druid archetype.
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With the card reveals for the upcoming Rise of Shadows expansion, what are some cards that you’re looking forward to playing?
I’m looking forwards to playing Murlocs again. Although Gentle Megasaur and Rockpool Hunter are rotating out, we’re gonna have some new and really powerful Murlocs. I think this archetype should be strong in the meta. I would also like to see some strong late-game cards like Kalecgos, Walking Fountain, or Catrina Muerte, but it will be hard to find an archetype for such cards, at least at the beginning.
What is something you would like to say to your fans who have always supported you?
I really appreciate all the support I’m getting from all around the world. Even simple messages like: “Good luck, I’m cheering for you,” are making me happy. I hope my results this year are gonna be satisfying – both for me and my fans.
We’d like to thank A83650 for taking the time to speak with us! The HCT World Championship is scheduled between April 24 and 27 and will begin broadcasting at 10 p.m. ET daily. Fans can catch the games on the official Hearthstone Twitch channel.
For more exciting Hearthstone coverage, Daily Esports has also interviewed other top competitors such as Tempo Storm’s Muzahidul “Muzzy” Islam and David “Justsaiyan” Shan, who were recently placed in Groups B and C respectively.
Amy Chen is an esports journalist and enthusiast who specializes in in-depth interviews and breaking news. A University of Toronto and Humber College graduate, she is passionate about building up the Canadian esports industry. Her current favorite games are Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm, and she has always had a soft spot for World of Warcraft!