Written By: Steve Vegvari
With the WESG USA National Finals around the corner, players from all over the country are finalizing their preparations to take the stage in hopes of progressing to the World Finals in China come 2019.
For Hearthstone player, Astrogation, he is feeling fairly confident in the finals Ray “Astrogation” has participated in various Hearthstone tournaments in the past. After a brief hiatus, he is coming back to the scene. Before he took off for the finals, we had a chance to chat with Astrogation.
Steve: Tell us a little about yourself.
Astrogation: I’m 27. I had a pretty normal life. I went to college at USC. Played online poker semi-professionally when I was there. That became unavailable, at some point, the US government decided to crack down on online poker sites. I found myself working in the casino industry for a little bit.
Steve: What drew you to Hearthstone?
Astrogation: My friend has introduced me to Hearthstone. I went and pursued that. It went pretty well for me –– it could have gone better. I feel like I was on the unluckier side in terms of the RNG during important tournaments. So I rode that for a few years.
I retired from Hearthstone because I decided to focus my energy on trading stocks. I’ve been pretty selective about which Hearthstone tournaments I play in. I haven’t gone to any tour stops this year. I decided to play in the WESG because it was very convenient and I could play at home.
Steve: What has your experience been like competing in the WESG so far?
Astrogation: It reminds me of the qualifiers from the older days where you could play online and qualify for a live event. I actually miss those. Three or four year’s ago when I first started playing Hearthstone, they were quite common and they kind of fizzled out. WESG has been a convenient qualifier. I am very happy to have made it to the finals.
Steve: Is there anything you would have done differently in the qualifiers?
Astrogation: I picked a lineup based on how easy the deck can be played. I am still kind of rusty and was not comfortable playing some of the harder decks. However, I think my game fundamentals are still pretty good. I have been playing other card games too like Magic Arena and Artifact.
For a lot of the decks that are straightforward, I can figure out the optimal play in most situations, even in a tournament where I have not played in a while.
I don’t know if there is anything I would have done differently –– I could have practised more. It ended up working out, so can’t complain!
Steve: How have you been preparing for the finals? What does your routine look like?
Astrogation: I do a lot of research. I looked at some recent tournaments like HCT OC and looked at the common decks. There are some specific players I follow because I feel like they fit my playstyle, so I look at their decks. I look at the decks that have done well.
A lot of people use HS Replay to look at statistical simulations. I do a little bit of that. I also ask friends for help. Just to get their opinions and card choices. I used to put a lot of work into preparation, and I treated this as seriously. I made sure I have a lineup that I was happy with.
Steve: What is the best way someone can pick up Hearthstone and get involved with the community?
Astrogation: That’s a good question. These days it’s a little harder to say. When I first started, there were a lot fewer cards. When I started there was only one expansion.
Nowadays the scene is a lot more established. I think Blizzard is going to make some changes to the competitive structure next year. This year, they added more tour stops which meant players could travel more. Which meant if you wanted to grind points you had to travel to the events.
Next year, it should be more accessible for newer players. But if you are looking to get started you will have to spend some money to get some packs. Go to HS Replay, if you go there, you can see what the best decks are.
Steve: Where can people follow you online?
For more on the WESG USA National Finals, keep it locked to Inside WorldGaming Network.
Steve is based in Toronto, Ontario. His enthusiasm and adoration of the video game industry go back to the days of SNES. Find him on Twitter and join in on the escapades.