Interview with Na'Vi Hoej
Frederik “Hoej” Nielsen is one of the coolest and most talented players in the Hearthstone scene. In this interview, he shares with us his vision of Hearthstone, as well as his future plans. Let's get to know him better.
— We had a small introduction about you, but could you tell us a bit more about yourself?
— Yea, I started playing Hearthstone professionally last year when I got my first breakthrough in Viagame #2 but I also played for some smaller teams. We actually have been working together before I joined Na`Vi, in a small team called Mythic with only Danish players, but yeah, the biggest breakthrough was when I won Viagame #2. When I won this event, I thought “If I can win this event, I can probably also win more events,” so I started trying harder and it worked out. I’m also a little known for having my little budgie Pidgey on my shoulder when I play online tournaments. She has Na`Vi colours, yellow-black, so she was meant for Na`Vi.
— Does your BattleTag have any special meaning or significance?
— My BattleTag is Hoej and it’s actually my middle name so it doesn’t really have any special meaning or significance but I didn’t expect I would ever go pro in Hearthstone. If I knew I would go pro, I would probably have a cooler BattleTag like Kappa123 or BabyRage or something funny that the chat would react to.
— You told us a bit how you got into competitive Hearthstone but how did you pick Hearthstone from start after all? What do you like most about it?
— I’ve always liked strategy games and card games, so when Hearthstone came out, I just fell in love with it. In the beginning, I only played arena and I played a lot of it; there were so many different combos and everything was new back then, so I liked to try everything, try making cool decks and I watched a lot of streams. I still find Hearthstone funny today, just in a different way because now it’s all about breaking the meta, do well on ladder and win tournaments, but back then, everything was new, so it was so funny because so many strategies were not figured out and so on.
— How do you approach each season, and what strategies do you use to climb your way to the top of the rankings?
— When I start a new season, I play online cups to grab HCT points, which you can use to qualify for prelims, and you can also use on Last Call, so instead of grinding the ladder, I play online cups early on. Then in the middle of the season, I start to grind the ladder to legend, mostly with fun decks, because the grind to legend takes a lot of time, so if you don’t have fun while climbing, it’s a long run and when I hit legend, I start playing more focused and start playing good decks to hit high legend.
— What style of decks do you prefer playing? Do you enjoy the current meta?
— I mostly play control decks; my signature deck is Renolock, but I also like all control decks, like Control Warrior, in general. But when I started playing Hearthstone professionally, I only played aggro decks, so I actually transitioned from being an aggro player to a more control player and the reason for that is that I believe control decks require more skill and aggro decks really rely on topdecks, so I prefer to play control decks. About the meta, I think it is okay right now. It has been worse; there are a lot of Dragon Warriors, Yogg Druids and Face Shamans on ladder but you can beat those decks with control. However, I think it is nice that we get a new expansion right now so we can see some different decks, but I think the meta is fine, even though I’d like some different decks.
— You are in charge of making some changes in Hearthstone. What would you change?
— Oh, that’s a really good question. I’d probably change a few cards like Tuskarr Totemic and Yogg-Saron because they are really RNG-heavy and it’s not healthy for competitive gaming. But if I worked for Blizzard, I would make those holographs, like in The International in DotA, with the heroes pick and rates, and at BlizzCon, the biggest Hearthstone tournament, when you play a card they could show some holographs and stuff. That would be really awesome to watch. I think i would spend a lot of money to make this work, for the big tournaments at least.
— So, tournament-wise, even though you are always one of the favourites to win a tour, most of the times luck is not on your side, and so we do not see you in as many finals as we would like to. Do you also feel that way?
— Well yeah, I wish I could get to more finals but Hearthstone is not like Poker in some way. Let’s say you got two Aces and one guy calls you with two Fives and on the river there will be a five, so you lose with the aces. Does that mean it was wrong to go all-in with the aces? No, it’s just unlucky, but if the guy that went all-in with the aces keeps making good plays, he would win way more, and the same goes for Hearthstone.
That’s why ladder is a really good way to show good Hearthstone players because you can play a million games on legend ladder to get your final win rate, while in tournaments, you don’t have the same amount of games; sometimes you only have one or two lives and if you roll low on Tuskarr Totemic, for example, or if the other guy gets a topdeck, he wins. It’s like you can play perfect Hearthstone and still lose, but if you play consistently well, you will win tournaments in the long run. So I’d rather focus on doing well and that’s the best thing I can do. Normally, I finish good on ladder and I get a lot of points, so I will hopefully win a tournament this year.
— What are your goals for Hearthstone this year?
— I had some goals when I went into 2016. The first goal was to go to all the prelims to get enough points for the Last Call tournament, which is the people who get the most points throughout the year on Europe and right now I’m in the third position to get to that spot. My second goal was to win a Major, and it’s still my goal, I was really close at DreamHack Summer in Sweden where I finished third/fourth place out of like 200, so I was really annoyed that I lost so close to a final but I can still win BlizzCon. I know it’s gonna be hard but I wish I can do that. And my third goal when I went into this year was to be on top-five on GosuGamers throughout the whole year, having a consistent win rate on tournaments and I have also done that, so I just need to win a Major and I’m happy for this year. I really hope it will be BlizzCon, back to back for Na`Vi it would be great.
— Do you have any advice or thoughts you’d like to share with your fans or other aspiring competitive players?
— It’s really difficult to get into the competitive scene in Hearthstone but the best way to do it is to play a lot of ladder and a lot of online cups, because the best way to get into the scene is to win one of the prelims, the Summer/Winter or the Spring prelim, so try to get all the points you can get. If you finish consistently high on ladder, some people will notice you at some point and be like “wow this guy gotta be good since he can finish high on ladder” and then pro players will add you, like asking for advice and so on, so yeah, try to do well and at some point you will get pro.
— Ok we can wrap it up. Any final shoutouts?
— Yeah, I wanna give a shoutout to Na`Vi, to my teammates Xixo, Ostkaka and Surrender, to my manager kimi and then to all the fans I have and to my family and so on. Also, can't forget Pidgey!