Written by: Dave Throop
Only a short week ago Mihai Dragalin, also known as LanguageHacker, became the Hearthstone Pro Tour Fall Champion cementing himself as the current best player in the world. In wake of his recent victory we sat down for an exclusive chat with the current champ to get his feeling on his victory, and talk some Hearthstone.
WGN: Congratulations on the victory at the 2018 HCT Fall Championships! What does it feel like to be the current Global champion and person to beat on the tour?
LanguageHacker: Thanks! It feels incredible – it’s been a full week and I still find myself thinking “Did that actually happen? Am I dreaming?” I’m honored to be the Global Champion, and welcome the challenge of being the person to beat on the tour. I feel my play was a little rocky throughout the tournament and am hoping to have an even stronger showing in the upcoming events (especially at the World Championship).
WGN: Your only loss of the tournament came in your very first match against Bloodtrail. Was there anything you would have done differently in that series?
LanguageHacker: My match against Bloodtrail was definitely my poorest showing of the whole tournament. Despite being in high stakes tournaments before, the pressure got to me and I made an egregious amount of misplays. After this set, I had a few pep talks from friends and practice partners, and was able to come back strong the next few days, leading to my first place finish. If I could go back and do it again, I would play slower and not let my emotions dictate my decisions.
WGN: What is it like playing a tournament of that caliber with your back against the wall the entire time?
LanguageHacker: Despite my back being against the wall the remainder of the tournament, I didn’t falter after picking myself back up. Each and every opponent was more than worthy, and I definitely felt out of place at first, but all of us had fought hard to get to this stage and I pushed past my nervousness. After the first couple sets, I no longer saw myself as being cornered – I knew I had as good a shot as any of the other competitors and just focused on making the best plays I could.
WGN: After that initial match you only dropped 2 games on route to your victory, what allowed you to tear through such high level competition so effectively?
LanguageHacker: I feel my lineup was good against the field, and had a good shot at winning against any other lineup. I was able to queue into some favorable match-ups in several sets, and focused on riding that advantage to win those games. In unfavorable match-ups, I started taking risks after my first set – which I feel helped me win a number of sets because of those risks paying off.
A good example of this is my game 4 against Renmen in the top 8. I had an unfavorable match-up with my Shudderwock Shaman against his Malygos Togwaggle Druid and played my Shudderwock early, with only one Zola in the pool, to be able to put myself ahead on board and to be able to start chaining Shudderwocks for the following few turns. If my Shudderwock had not copied itself, I would have lost the game, but I was in a losing position regardless, and I felt that risk was my best chance at pushing myself forward and eking out a win. These are the reasons why I believe I was able to win every set after my first one.
WGN: You used iterations of both Hunter and Shaman incredibly effectively throughout the tournament, not dropping a single game with either class through the entire elimination stage of the event. Can you tell us what it is about these current decks that makes them so appealing to you and allows them to mesh so well with your play-style?
LanguageHacker: I tend to favor control-style decks, however control was being heavily targeted in recent events, so I knew bringing that kind of lineup would be a terrible idea. These decks lean towards the control archetype, which appealed to my preference, and also had relatively good match-ups against almost every deck in the field. There are some weaknesses against aggressive decks for the Hunter, which is why I added some extra tech cards to help in those match-ups. Shaman also has a glaring weakness of performing poorly against druid, so I included “Hemet, Jungle Hunter”, which I feel won me some games by giving me a chance in those unfavorable situations.
WGN: What are your general thoughts on the latest Boomsday expansion? Are there any cards/ strategies that you particularly enjoy using?
LanguageHacker: I think the Boomsday expansion has been a very successful one, as we’ve seen the meta shake up a few times since it’s released. Although during this time we’ve seen the resurgence of Quest Rogue, which I believe is an incredibly bad deck for the state of the game, we have had a very diverse meta and have gotten to see many different classes be powerful.
Right in line with my love of control, Odd warrior with “Dr. Boom, Mad Genius” piqued my interest for the majority of the first weeks of this expansion. As I’ve mentioned on the internet before, I do enjoy memes, but I also have a drive to be competitive and win games. I feel there are a lot of decks that are relatively viable but still can be considered memes. and am happy that I can pilot these when not preparing for tournaments or the monthly ladder grind.
WGN: What is next for you? Where can we see you compete next?
LanguageHacker: I plan on jump-starting my stream again, hoping to stream part time for the rest of this year, before taking a bigger focus on streaming/competing in January. I’m excited to pursue Hearthstone on a higher level, and hope the extra time I commit will help me succeed in the scene. I will be competing Dreamhack Atlanta, but don’t have many other events planned for the year. I’m looking forward to the next expansion and beginning my preparation for the HCT World Championship.
WGN: A couple of rapid fire questions to wind things down. Give us your favorite class, expansion and deck.
LanguageHacker: My favorite class is Mage, although it is not my most played class. This is mainly because my main character in World of Warcraft is a Mage, and has been for the past decade or so.