A dominating Leg One showing in the DGL Hearthstone Premier Division saw Energy eSports own Dale “Pand3m0nia” Pon secure a well-earned first place end to the Leg with only a single loss over the seven rounds.
Telkom Gaming caught up with the former DGC champion for his thoughts on his performance, changes to the DGL format, Year of the Mammoth and more.
Telkom Gaming (TG): First off, congratulations on your performance in leg one of the DGL. Only a single loss this leg (against Adam) puts you at the top of the log for leg 1. What are your thoughts on the competition this past leg?
Dale “Pand3m0nia” Pon: Thank you very much.
To be very frank, the fact the format is still Last Hero Standing and the meta is in the current state it is in means several of my wins were 3-0 with Aggro Shaman or Pirate Warrior, which is frustrating for me since I prefer control decks, but when those are among the strongest decks in the game right now there’s almost no reason to not play them. Also, it’s a bit unfortunate that there isn’t really any incentive or reward for placing well in Prem in any leg besides the fourth (where it qualifies one for DGC).
TG: Just last week the DGL announced their decision to change the format from Last Man Standing to Conquest. What are your thoughts on the change?
Pand3m0nia: There is always much debate and discussion around Conquest vs Last Hero Standing. I’ve had lengthy chats with several players about the pros and cons of both and there’s no consensus as to which is better or worse. I am personally a fan of Conquest, although the fact that picks are blind mean you could be unlucky and queue into a bad matchup.
In terms of preparation, it’s generally accepted that LHS requires preparation and care when selecting and planning one’s lineup, however when one or two decks dominate the meta (such as Aggro Shaman and Pirate Warrior), it makes for boring matchups and the chance to just get steamrolled 3-0 by these dominant decks. I believe the ability to successfully pilot several decks is an important skill to have in competitive Hearthstone, and Conquest is also the format Blizzard themselves use for many of their major events although Last Hero Standing is still acceptable for other events.
TG: What was your toughest match-up of Leg One and why?
Pand3m0nia: Toughest match was probably against Adam “sythe” Katz as several of the games were quite drawn out Reno-mirrors where the result came down to the wire.
TG: What of the meta, obviously you had some success with it this leg but what are your thoughts on how other players in the Premier Division adapted to it?
Pand3m0nia: I think the meta is a bit stale right now when Shaman is making up about 40 percent of the decks at higher Ranks, and when almost no one is playing Hunter or Paladin, you know that there is an issue. I think most of the players have gone with the natural response, play the best decks, which means a lot of the line ups are Reno Mage, Aggro/Mid Shaman, Pirate Warrior, and either Miracle Rogue or Reno Lock, or some combination thereof.
TG: And what of the meta that is set to be introduced with the upcoming Year of the Mammoth that will see Sylvanas and Ragnaros moved to the Hall of Fame? What effect will these changes have on your own decks and playstyle as well as preparation for upcoming matches?
Pand3m0nia: I am very excited for the Year of the Mammoth as it will bring about much-needed change. With regards to the cards being moved to the Hall of Fame I will honestly say that I’m not surprised with any of them:
Conceal: This card has been a major part of Miracle Rogue for a very long time, and the sight of Gadgetzan Auctioneer and this card, or more recently, Questing Adventurers and this card are almost soul destroying as their are very few ways to deal with the, before the Rogue either draws a tonne of cards with Auctioneer or bashes your face in with massive a Edwin van Cleef and Questing Adventurers. This card will be mean that Miracle Rogue might still be a thing, but with more interaction from the other side.
Ice Lance: This card has been a staple in Freeze Mage for as long as I can remember, for it’s ability to combo with Frostbolt for seven damage for three mana, and more recently with Emperor Thaurissan for some ridiculous OTKs (one turn kills). This move frees up design space and promotes other Mage variants going forward.
Power Overwhleming: This card has been powerful in both faster Warlock decks such as Zoo (allowing its smaller minions to get through bigger ones) as well as slower control versions (in Handlock and now Renolock where it combos with Leeroy Jenkins for massive burst, especially if combo’ed with Emperor Thaurissan and Faceless Manipulator).
Azure Drake: The quintessential five drop. In my opinion not exactly overpowered, but so strong at five mana that many other five drops weren’t seeing play because of this versatile card. Can be played in nearly any deck, hence why the move. It will once again free up design space and mean players will have to use other five drops.
Ragnaros the Firelord: One of the most iconic cards in the game, Rag has won and lost many a game due to his RNG effect. Since his effect happens the turn you play him he is the eight drop of choice in many control decks and is even better than many nine+ mana minions. This move will mean players will have to choose other big guys as finishers.
Sylvanas Windrunner: The definitive six drop, with a unique effect that isn’t always easy to play around. The move will mean some old personal favourites like The Black Knight and Cairne Bloodhoof might make a reappearance.
The changes will have massive changes as many of these cards were important parts of many of my decks. Only time will tell what the new set brings.
TG: What about Blizzard’s new card release cycle, with a total of 390 cards being released over the course of the next year over three expansions? Do you feel this is a good move in terms of encouraging players to be more adventurous with their decks?
Pand3m0nia: I think the release of more cards, combined with the introduction of Ranking floors (i.e. once you reach Rank fifteen, ten, or five you can’t drop below that) means we will hopefully see a more dynamic and diverse meta. Ultimately, though, no matter how many cards Blizzard releases only a small percentage will ever see competitive Constructed play as Blizzard have to constantly juggle Standard, Wild, and Arena.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Pand3m0nia: I just hope the community and DGL continue to grow, and it is really awesome to see that over 50 players signed up for the Sapphire Cup! Hopefully, we can continue this and build on it.
Did you know that you can play Hearthstone in the DGL just like Dale “Pand3m0nia” Pon?
The DGL is South Africa’s largest online gaming league and is open to everybody.
Join the DGL for free and you could win cash and prizes playing Hearthstone.