We sat down with Muzahidul “Muzzy” Islam, The Pinnacle 4 champion and one of North America’s most prominent Hearthstone players, who is currently playing for Luminosity Gaming. Find out more here:
So we had a small introduction, but could you tell me a bit more about yourself?
Muzzy: Well, I’m currently a full-time college student, Hearthstone is just a thing I do on the side. My day is really pretty busy; I get up in the morning, I go to class and then I usually stream Hearthstone, do homework and then a bunch of stuff and go back to sleep. So I don’t have a lot of free time in my schedule since I am trying to take up both this Hearthstone career and an education in college.
Does your BattleTag have any special meaning or significance? How did you come up with it?
Muzzy: My first name is Muzahidul, and it might be a bit difficult for some people to pronounce it, so in about like fifth grade, this one friend decided to call me Muzzy one day and then it just kinda stack. I’ve gone with it and I don’t mind it, it’s easy for people to say it as well.
You are now a part of Luminosity Gaming, one of the biggest organisations in the world. How did that opportunity arise and how did you join them?
Muzzy: The current manager of the Hearthstone division for Luminosity is TheChiv and a while ago I was approached by him while I started streaming and developed a follower base. I talked to him then and he wanted Luminosity to get more into the Hearthstone scene. I didn’t want to go into that because I was part of Hearthlytics at the time and had a lot of stuff to do. After Hearthlytics disbanded and a bunch of opportunities started arising for me, I contacted TheChiv again and he told me that they were looking to pick up more potential Hearthstone players. Fr0zen was one of them and he was actually the one that recommended me to TheChiv and the owner of Luminosity. Then we had a skype call to talk and see where I currently was standing, what I wanted to do with my Hearthstone career, what they wanted to do with their Hearthstone division and both of our goals coincided. We came to an agreement and they decided to pick me up.
How did you pick up Hearthstone? What do you like most about it?
Muzzy: I’ve been playing Hearthstone for as long as it’s been out. I got in towards the end of the beta, like three years ago. I didn’t play any competitive games before, no card games like MtG or other TCG at all. I was watching a big YouTuber that made a playthrough of a game that I played back then and he did a video on Hearthstone and it looked really fun to me. It was easy to get a hold of and looked really fun, so I decided to get my hands on a beta key, and I was fortunate to find one. Then I just started playing the game and haven’t put it down ever since then. I guess one of the reasons Hearthstone appeals to me is how easy it is to play. In the higher levels, there are a bunch more aspects going into each game, but you can just pick it up, start playing it and just win. I just want to keep winning and winning; that’s what I concentrate in over and over and it turns out I’m decent at it.
How do you approach each season, and what strategies do you use to climb your way to the top of the rankings, get legend, etc.?
Muzzy: Getting to legend doesn’t really matter as much as where you finish at the end of the season. I would get legend with any deck I have fun playing with, then try to climb to legend. It doesn’t matter if you get legend first, you want to stay at first. How I approached finishing at the top of the ranks was, I would get to legend at a high rank like top-three in the midway of the season and then since I want to finish at those ranks, there is no incentive for me to play at that time, until someone passes me. Then when that happens, I can come back, play again and climb up, and in that way, I constantly build MMR up so it’s harder for other people to come and pass me. That’s how I did most seasons where I finished top-10. I would play a lot before the last day, I would build MMR up and make it harder for people to pass me. Usually the decks I would play were the best decks at the time, Combo Druid, Shaman, variant decks like that. To finish high, you want to play the best deck that you can.
What style of decks do you prefer playing?
Muzzy: For me, it’s usually all the good decks. I don’t try to waste my time playing a bunch of decks that have lower than a 50 percent win-rate, because I don’t like losing. When I play a deck that keeps losing, that doesn’t feel good for me at all. So it doesn’t matter if it’s a Control deck, a Midrange deck, an Aggro deck or a Combo deck. I have played all four types of those decks and I have got to high legend with them. I like to play decks that win. I don’t mind what kind of archetype it is or what the playstyle of the deck is. If the deck is good, I will play it and I will try my best to win with it.
Do you agree with the current nerfs? What would you have done differently?
Muzzy: I think that Blizzard took a very good approach at the current cards they decided to change, like Tuskarr Totemic and Rockbitter. These were cards that made Shaman very prevalent in the current meta and Tuskarr Totemic was one of those cards that came down on turn three and it popped out a Totem Golem or a Mana Tide and the game could be over just then. I think they did a good job on choosing which cards to nerf and Execute as well, making it two mana. It was too strong at one mana. I agree on all the nerfs they did but something they could have done differently is with Tuskarr Totemic. It was a three/two that summoned some of those broken totems, but now it’s just a basic totem and it probably won’t see play in competitive decks anymore. So one thing they could have changed differently about it was make its stats a three mana or three/three and have the ability to survive more, so it might see more play than as a three/two and a basic totem.
You are in charge of making some changes in Hearthstone. What would you change?
Muzzy: One thing I really don’t like about Hearthstone in a certain class though, the Warrior class, is the ability to gain so much armor with Justicar Trueheart. Since they have a lot of early game removals, when they come to turn six, they are usually around 30 life, so they are able to put out Justicar Trueheart and then start tanking up from that point. The fact that they can go to life totals of 50-60, even in games not versus the mirror, is not fun to play at all for me. It’s so strong and so imbalanced in my opinion. In other classes it’s fine, like with Hunter you can deal three damage, and it makes sense to have the four gain armor, because damage is more valuable than life gain in Hearthstone. However, the fact that Warrior can get to insane life totals is just not fun for me. After getting Justicar down and they don’t get pressured, they can just hit tank up and win the game from that point on. That’s one thing I would change, I don’t know how I would approach it though. Maybe I would do an armor cap so that the max armor or the max life total they can go to is like 45. Maybe that could help it a bit, but I would have to think about it more.
So, your biggest achievement to date is winning The Pinnacle 4 back in 2015. You had some good results in various tournaments, but never actually won a title. What do you think has held you back?
Muzzy: I am not as big as some of the pros you see that get invited to all these tournaments. So I didn’t have that many opportunities available to me to take part at these titles like other pros. I did have smaller opportunities given to me and I haven’t been able to capsize them as much. In the tournaments I have been invited to, I have been preparing for them and then tried my best on them but it’s just not been my time. So in the Last Call tournament that is coming up in one or two weeks, where if I win that I will qualify for BlizzCon, that would be one of the biggest achievements so far for me. So hopefully I can be fortunate and take first on that.
Do you prefer this year’s BlizzCon format or last year’s one?
Muzzy: I know there has been a lot of discussion on the way formats were done for BlizzCon. Last year, they had like one final tournament where some people could qualify. This year, they did take a correct approach in organising their tournaments, but something, especially for NA and Europe, was the preliminary tournaments, where the people that grinded out first with points, like me and a bunch of other people, weren’t given any advantages. In the Asian region, there was also a recent drama between Frodan and Rdu. Whoever finished first in points got a direct invite to the top-eight tournament. Why is the APAC region format different from NA, EU and China? Why can’t all these formats be standardised and have the first point earners be invited? Blizzard hasn’t stated anything on why this is. It doesn’t make sense, so hopefully next year they take all this player feedback and change it to make it even better.
What are your goals for Hearthstone this year and maybe the first months of the upcoming year?
Muzzy: So the main goal on my sight right now is to get first place at that Last Call tournament so that I can qualify for BlizzCon. After that happens, then my sights will be on maybe a first place finish in BlizzCon, or maybe top-four if I’m a bit more humble as to say. So as a first point, I want to qualify for BlizzCon and then see where I can take my Hearthstone career.
Do you have any advice or thoughts you’d like to share with your fans or other aspiring competitive players?
Muzzy: Well the main thing is the amount of time you dedicate to the game, if you want to get into the scene. Before I got into the scene, before I won tournaments, before I became a part of Luminosity, people probably didn’t know who I was. To build a brand and for people to say your name, you have to dedicate a lot of time to the game and keep on going until you have those results; until you can grind those points so people can recognise you. That’s what I had to do. I spent countless hours building up the amount of points I earned this year for HCT, so that I am part of this Last Call and have the opportunity to be able to qualify for BlizzCon.
You are a castaway on a remote, isolated island. You have to choose one Hearthstone personality to help you survive. Who would it be?
Muzzy: I guess it would be Chakki. He’s one of my teammates and someone I would have a fun time with on a remote island. I don’t know how long we would survive, but if I was on a remote island, he would be someone I can get along with to hang out. Chakki is a good friend and we’ve talked a lot in the past, so being on an island with him would be a bit more fun than someone I don’t know and can’t relate to as much.
Ok, I think we can wrap it up. Any final shoutouts?
Muzzy: Thank you for having me and doing this interview. I am glad to come on and talk about how I feel, about Hearthstone and what my current position in Hearthstone is. Shoutout to Luminosity, my team, and yeah, thank you for having me again.
What do you think about what Muzzy had to say? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @GAMURScom.