Jun 19 2015 - 4:06 pm

PHONETAP: 'Right now, becoming world champion is my goal'

Before the ESL Legendary Series S2 Finals earlier this month, most fans had never heard of Christopher "PHONETAP" Huynh
Callum Leslie
Weekend Editor, Dot Esports.

Before the ESL Legendary Series S2 Finals earlier this month, most fans had never heard of Christopher "PHONETAP" Huynh. But after a gruelling two days of competition at the tournament, one of the biggest of the year so far, Huynh was sitting opposite one of the most recognizable faces in Hearthstone: Tempo Storm founder Andrey "Reynad" Yanyuk.

After overcoming a strong group and some of the top up-and-coming players in the game, Huynh has just one win a away from the championship.

Every other match that weekend had gone to a fifth game. Huynh's mech shaman deck is an aggressive deck that can be unstoppable if it hits curve well but it also proved unreliable, threatening to lose him several matches throughout the weekend. In this match however, the Shaman won the first game. Everything starts to go Huynh's way.

He wins.

In one weekend Huynh has gone from an underground player fighting for recognition to a potential world championship contender, winning one of the biggest tournaments in North America.

"There are some days it still hasn't sunk. It's a little unreal." Huynh said.

Hearthstone is still a young esport. That means that stories like Huynh's are still very common. Jon "Orange" Westberg was a complete unknown six months ago. Now he's one of just two players to win multiple Hearthstone majors and is signed to Jason "Amaz" Chan's Archon team. Magic: the Gathering player Stanislav Cifka secured victory at DreamHack Bucharest, transferring his experience in the classic card game to high level Hearthstone.

Just 19, Huynh is finishing his freshman year studying psychology at St John's College in his hometown: New York City. A longtime gamer, he also has a competitive background in traditional sports.

"I started playing tennis around 10 years old," he said. "I usually competed in statewide tournaments in New York City. I always tried hard to become the best player I could."

But Huynh ultimately got "burned out" from tennis. Not long after, he discovered Hearthstone, and soon quickly ascended to the legend ranks. His competitive nature kicked in as soon as he saw the legend ranking numbers, and he soon pushed himself to get to the top.

From learning about the 2014 Hearthstone World Championships, Huynh discovered a whole new world in the Hearthstone tournament scene that ignited his hunger for competition. Huynh says he has "always enjoyed putting myself into high pressure situations, I feel like it brings out the best in me."

Just before the ESL finals, Huynh took another step in competitive Hearthstone—he joined a team, Hearthlytics. The team prides itself on living up to its name: The organization takes a highly analytical approach to the game, and boasts a number of successful veterans like Justin "JAB" Black and Muzahidul "Muzzy" I.

"They offered me access to JAB and Muzzy," Huynh said. "They've been really useful. It gave me access to more players to practice with and talk strategy with, and to scout the other players and predict the tournament meta."

The team's analytical focus suits Huynh's personality, he said. He obsesses over losses and analyzes mistakes in great detail. His team also push him to succeed, with his teammates also pushing to qualify for the Hearthstone World Championships.

Thanks to his victory last weekend, Huynh already has 100 Hearthstone World Championship points under his belt, Huynh now stands a very good chance of making it to the qualification stage. He's sitting in fourth place in the North American region, and sees no need to beat around the bush—he has his sights firmly set on winning that title.

"I need to be more motivated to maintain my spot in the World Championship standings." Huynh says. "I need to improve as a player and get more results, but right now, becoming world champion is my goal.

"Right now I wouldn't consider myself a favorite, but I've got three months to train and improve. If the cards are aligned, maybe I can do it."

Image via ESLHearthstone/Twitter

Today - 5:37 pm

CompLexity and Luminosity win 11-game thrillers in Trinity Series debuts

The teams took each other to the limit on day two.
Callum Leslie
Weekend Editor, Dot Esports.
Photo via DreamHack

CompLexity Gaming and Luminosity Gaming came out on top during the second matchday of the ESL Trinity Series Hearthstone league—but both teams were taken to the limit.

Luminosity Gaming, with Keaton "Chakki" Gill and Frank "Fr0zen" Zhang playing from China, claimed a 6-5 win over Team Liquid.

After Liquid left the Shaman of Luminosity unbanned, the only team to do so in the four matches of week one, Luminosity fancied their chances. But that Shaman was ineffectual, knocked out by the Druid of Team Liquid as David "Dog" Caero and his teammates piloted the Druid to three straight game wins.

That left Liquid at 5-3 and match point, but Luminosity were able to win a crucial Druid mirror and go on their own streak to take the comeback win.

In the second match of the day the experienced Cloud9 lineup of James "Firebat" Kostesich, Cong "StrifeCro" Shu, and Andrew "TidesofTime" Biessener nearly pulled off a similar comeback.

Cloud9 and CompLexity Gaming traded games back and forth until CompLexity's Reno Mage, driven by Jan "SuperJJ" Janssen, took three straight wins to put them in the same position at 5-3. TidesofTime attempted to reverse the tide with Reno Warlock and fought back to 5-5, but Cloud9 were forced to use their combo pieces early and CompLexity won the match with a Reno Warlock of their own.

After beating Alliance 6-0 in the first match of the tournament, G2 Esports sit atop the table after the first week of games.

Week two will see Alliance take on CompLexity, Luminosity against Tempo Storm, G2 versus Virtus Pro, and Cloud9 will play Team Liquid.

Jan 19 2017 - 8:01 pm

G2 start Trinity Series with 6-0 Murloc sweep

It was a one-sided start to the hotly-anticipated league.
Callum Leslie
Weekend Editor, Dot Esports.
Photo via Blizzard Entertainment

G2 Esports got their ESL Trinity Series campaign off to a flying start yesterday, beating Alliance in assertive fashion.

Hearthstone's number one team dominated the Swedish Alliance lineup en route to a 6-0 sweep in the opening clash of the team league.

Adrian "Lifecoach" Koy and Dima "Rdu" Radu were able to simply sit back and make enthusiastic murloc noises, as two-time European champion Thijs Molendijk piloted his Anyfin Paladin deck to six straight game wins.

Alliance's all-Swedish lineup of 2015 world champion Sebastian "Ostkaka" Engwall, three-time major winner Jon "Orange" Westberg, and Harald "Powder" Gimre was expected to be a big player in this team league. But the initial loss will be a setback to their title aspirations.

As we know from experience, however, initial losses are no indicator of eventual success. The G2 trio, then known as Nihilum, finished fifth in the regular season of the Archon Team League Championships before going on to win the playoffs.

In the other game of the day, underdogs Tempo Storm emerged victorious against Virtus Pro 6-3. Three game wins with Rogue by David "JustSaiyan" Shan provided an insurmountable advantage for Tempo Storm.

Today's match day will see the other four teams make their debut, as Luminosity Gaming takes on Team Liquid and Cloud9 faces compLexity Gaming.