Each unique game attracts different kinds of people. Card games, for example, entice analytical minds that enjoy a challenge. A small percentage of those players are considered the best for playing at the top of the ladder and they’re recognized by the community as high-tier players. For Mage players in Hearthstone, there’s only one person to look to for advice and help: Jacob “Apxvoid” Coen.
The Canadian connoisseur began playing competitive Hearthstone in 2016 under the now-defunct team Hearthlytics, where his major achievement of the year was defeating Paulo “Loxodontes” Ramos in the Copa America Season Two Finals, winning $2,000 in the process. After the team ceased operations, Apxvoid was signed to Team Ultimate Gaming, although very little information exists about the team.
In 2017, he found a home in GosuCrew, where he participated in a few qualifiers that ultimately didn’t lead to any major achievements. But the most active the Canadian player had been was in January 2018 when he was signed to the Pittsburgh Knights. He participated in multiple HCT events, including season one and two, as well as the Tokyo Tour stop. Since January 2019, however, Apxvoid has been a free agent and recently qualified for HCT Masters Vegas, where fans hope to see his mage prowess once again.
Apxvoid talked with Dot Esports about the Specialist format, Grandmasters, and Cyclone Mage.
With Specialist being the competitive format for a while, how do you feel about it? Do you prefer the old Conquest format or is Specialist better?
Apxvoid: The switch from Conquest to best-of-three Specialist came with a lot of pros and cons. It’s pretty hard for me to say which one is better from a competitive standpoint, but currently, I would rather play in Specialist tournaments over Conquest. This is mostly because I really dislike Conquest and also because Specialist format is still pretty new so it’s refreshing. There are definitely a lot of issues with Specialist but I hope it can be improved upon as the year progresses.
Do you think the concept of Grandmasters is a good idea? If it could be improved, what ideas do you think could help make it better?
In theory, Grandmasters is a good idea for increasing competitive Hearthstone viewership, but there are some pretty big flaws in my opinion. I think more players should be relegated from each region per season. This really hurts any players aspiring to make it into GM since the less players leaving GM, the less players can make it in. It’s pretty discouraging for competitive players to try and qualify for GM because it pretty much feels like a lottery on whether or not I’ll high roll my way through a Masters Tour. Of course, you have to play very well and bring a good lineup but even then you can’t rely on winning a Masters Tour with so few chances in best-of-three Hearthstone.
The old HCT system gave players lots of chances to grind and play various tournaments to make it into the system. Without a grinder-friendly system like HCT, we wouldn’t have pretty much all of today’s top Hearthstone players.
My other issue with GM is that nobody knew anything about it in 2018 and how we would need to get top eight in HCT points to qualify for the league. The 2018’s Master system looked unappealing to me and many other players since the rewards for making 1/2/3 star master (in my opinion) were not worth the grind required. Instead of grinding for masters, I focused on streaming and non-Hearthstone related work instead while still maintaining the required amount of points to qualify for all of the HCT playoffs (this was the only way to make Worlds without going for last call). The group of GM players would probably have looked pretty different if people knew ahead of time about the league and that our HCT points meant way more then we had thought. It’s sad to see so many of the best performing players from 2016 and 2017 that didn’t make GM because of this.
What players do you think missed out from GM because they didn’t know it was coming? We’d imagine you’d be there?
I don’t want to speak for anyone else so I won’t say any names, but being a part of Grandmasters is pretty much the only way that you can realistically be a professional Hearthstone player going forward. I would imagine quite a lot of semi-pro and pro players would grind for GM knowing this.
It’s hard to say if I would be there if I knew about it since that would mean everyone else is going for it as well, making it a lot more competitive to get in. I would definitely give it a shot though.
It’s no secret that your Mage play is world class, with Firebat mentioning you as being the Mage player he wanted to test out Cyclone Mage against a variety of decks. How does it feel being the first person people go to for that kind of advice and knowledge, especially at the highest levels of competitive play?
I admire people like Firebat who go out of their way to thank their practice partners. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a deck that I made or helped make do well on the big stage.
I’ve been known for my mastery of Mage for a few years now, so I’m pretty used to practicing with Hearthstone’s top players. That being said, I definitely still enjoy helping out in any way that I can. When Mage is a strong deck in the meta, like it is now, I’m a lot busier helping players out with their lineups.
You recently came out with a fairly extensive and well-crafted guide on Cyclone Mage and many players found it incredibly helpful for improving their play. Do you plan on continuing to branch out beyond streaming in terms of content creation?
Yeah, I do plan on creating more content. I’ll probably make a more well-made and up-to-date Mage guide now that we’ve seen more balance changes (buffs and nerfs). I’m happy the Mage guide was helpful for some, and I still put a lot of effort in, but I do admit that it was a bit rushed since I valued getting it out as soon as I could.
In a deck like Cyclone Mage, what’s the most important aspect that most players miss out on?
In Cyclone Mage, It’s hard to pinpoint a single aspect, but I think the biggest and most punishing mistakes are when players fail to set up Giant or Cyclone combo turns. People usually make this mistake by not saving resources and just wasting them because they feel like they need to play when it’s better just to pass. Managing hand size is very important and kind of ties in with this as well. Always have a good idea of what your hand size is and what it will be next turn and the turn after. Keeping track of board space is also important for the Sea Giant.
Where can players find your guides or content?
Apxvoid will be participating in Hearthstone Masters Vegas, which takes place from June 14 to 17. Many Hearthstone fans will want to catch his matches and look for him to be a major contender to win the whole tournament.