With the Sapphire Do-or-Die Proving Grounds about to wrap up and, with the Sapphire Showdown set to take place later this month, competitors will be looking to prepare themselves for their chance at a guaranteed place at the 2017 Digital Gaming Championships at the Community Shield DGC Qualifiers.
Before we head into the Showdown, however, Telkom Gaming had a chance to chat to Sapphire Genesis Proving Grounds champion and DGL ladder player Matthew “Simplez” Christie for his take on the cups, preparation for the Showdown and his thoughts on the Year of the Mammoth.
Telkom Gaming (TG): First off, congratulations on the achievement, the former DGC champions on your way through the competition. What was your toughest match-up of the cup and why?
Matthew “Simplez” Christie: I definitely didn’t have an easy road through the Sapphire cup but playing against some of the best players in South Africa is a real confidence booster and hopefully I can carry that momentum forward. There were three matches that stood out but the toughest one was against Vengeance [Liam Steenkamp] going 3-2 in the end. He definitely played well and capitalised on favourable matchups and it really felt that it could have gone either way.
TG: What are your thoughts on the current meta and how it plays into your own playstyle?
Christie: I do think that the meta has gone through a fairly stale period where you either bring your pirates or go home. I think the nerfs to Small Time Buccaneer and Spirit Claws could not have come any sooner and hopefully, people will feel a bit more free to experiment when they don’t have to worry about dying on turn five.
Personally, I prefer playing control decks as I feel that your personal skill gets a bit more of a chance to shine through over a pure aggro deck but with the addition of the Jade Mechanic it seems to get harder and harder to play that old school control warrior that I love.
TG: With Year of the Mammoth set to shake things up a bit, what are your thoughts on how it will affect your own decks and playstyle?
Christie: I can’t wait for things to be shaken up, anyone who plays Hearthstone a lot will tell you the most exciting time is right after an expansion release as everyone has their own ideas on what could be the next tier one decks. I think it’s too early to say how the decks will change as we have only seen a few cards but I think the quest card mechanic seems interesting, I just hope it doesn’t start pigeonholing certain classes into only playing a certain kind of deck so that they can finish their quest but we will see. I do think that people are underestimating the new adapt mechanic, though, in the hands of the right player choosing one effect over the other could be game winning and I’m sure there’s gonna be one or two cards with adapt that people will complain about :).
TG: I see you are currently fighting your way up the DGL ladder. What are your thoughts on the Sapphire and Emerald Cups leading ultimately to a chance at DGC qualification, coming from a player who is competing on the ladder and not in a division?
Christie: I gotta take my hat off to whoever decided to run these tournaments, I think for someone who doesn’t always have a lot of time for ladder grinding, to get a chance at the going to the DGC would be such an amazing opportunity and this seems the best way to get some wild cards into the DGC and maybe cause some upsets.
TG: The next hurdle you will face is the Sapphire Showdown. Based on the competition you have already seen, what are your thoughts on how you will prepare for these matches?
Christie: It’s quite a scary prospect knowing that a lot of the guys I played against in the top eight in the proving grounds are coming back again and there are a couple of players I would rather not have to face. The only thing I can do is keep practising and to try and find small advantages that can snowball a win, I’m definitely looking forward to it.
TG: What are your thoughts on the DGL’s change of format from Last Man Standing to Conquest (which will come into effect on Monday) and which format do you prefer and why?
Christie: I think, ultimately, it’s a change for the better; Conquest is more commonly played in the top levels of Hearthstone and it’s important to have our rules reflect that. It’s also better for spectators watching as people would much rather see a variety of decks being played than watching a 30-minute series where you get 3-0 by an aggro that draws perfectly. I think it also allows some targeting of certain classes to keep them from getting a win whereas, with Last Hero Standing, you ideally wanted decks that each have the potential to sweep the series.
TG: Anything further you would like to add?
Christie: Thanks again for the questions, I’m really excited for the potential for E-sports in Africa and you guys in the DGL are offering such amazing platforms for South African teams to be taken seriously.Thanks again and hopefully I’ll snatch that DGC spot.
Did you know that you can play Hearthstone in the DGL?
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 for playing Hearthstone.