The oldest team in Hearthstone eSports has added another player to its roster. IHEARTHU has snatched up Josh “Impact” Graham less than two weeks after he entered free agency.
A three-time NESL King of the Hill winner, Graham has seen reasonable success in online tournaments. In August, he defeated Magic: The Gathering hall-of-famer Brian Kibler to win the Sunshine Open, after which he qualified for the Hearthstone World Championship North America qualifiers.
Graham joins the organization during a period of growth. Started by “Poach” as an independent outfit as Team Don’t Kick My Robot, the team was bought out by community website IHEARTHU.com on Nov 1.
Since rebranding as IHEARTHU, the team has enjoyed renewed success. In November, Daniel “Dtwo” Ikuta advanced to quarterfinals of the World Championships. And last weekend, Jan “Faramir” Engelmann made it to the playoffs at DreamHack Winter, as well as the semi-finals of the recent Prismata Cup this past September. Harald “Powder” Gimre also finished second in the most recent Heroes of Cards tournament, defeating two of the best players in the sport, Radu “Rdu” Dima and Alexsandr “Kolento” Malsh, on the way.
The exodus of players from Team Coast came as something of a surprise to the Hearthstone scene. Just two weeks ago, journeyman Keaton “Chakki” Gill announced that he had left the organisation, and it was later confirmed that Graham and the rest of the team’s roster had also left. Sebastian “EggY” Swierad, a former Coast player himself, claimed that the departures were directly linked to the Team Coast’s decision to partner with streaming site Azubu.
The site, with its much smaller userbase than competitor Twitch, has long been a poor streaming option for Hearthstone players. Even top pro players attract a fraction of the viewers they could attract on Twitch. The Hearthstone division of Team Curse fell apart earlier this year for what many believe to be similar reasons.
“I am really looking forward to the opportunity presented to me by both Poach and Team IHearthU,” Graham told the Daily Dot.
“The members of this team are already exceptional players and I am looking forward to playing with them. The organization of the team and it’s real dedication towards being the best are two things I really admire. The team spirit is also a huge motivating factor for me and these are a group of guys I love working with. I feel like together we will be the best team in Hearthstone. I really feel at home here with Team IHearthu.”
Prior to competing in Hearthstone Graham had been a Yu-Gi-Oh pro. Poach, who’s also the team’s manager, said that they had been tracking Graham for a while. “Many of the decks seen in tournament play and on the ladder are variations of his decks” he said.
Poach added that IHEARTHU was looking at add one more player to its roster, bringing the total number of players under the banner to six.
Photo via Team IHEARTHU