With the HCT 2019 World Championship fast approaching, Hearthstone’s top 16 players are preparing to duke it out for the lion’s share out of $1,000,000. Earlier this month, we interviewed Muzahidul “Muzzy” Islam about the meta, his favorite cards, and his own journey into esports. Continuing with our exciting Hearthstone coverage, we’ve also just interviewed David “Justsaiyan” Shan from Tempo Storm for more insight on his journey as a competitive player and how past tournaments have shaped his play style today.
Daily Esports: How did you first get into Hearthstone, and what was it about the game that drew you in and made you continue playing it?
David “Justsaiyan” Shan: I first found Hearthstone in my junior year of college. The card game nostalgia drew me in at first, and having it so accessible kept me playing.
How would you describe your early days of Hearthstone? Is there a memory you could share with us?
Starting out, I mainly played Arena. After a few months, I decided to try my hand at constructed. I remember being one game away from hitting Legend rank as the season ended, and the final boss was actually Kolento. I was playing Druid and he was climbing ladder with Sunshine Hunter. Unfortunately, I don’t quite remember how that game ended. [laughs]
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One of your first major tournaments was an online one called The Deck Gauntlet, and from there, you’ve competed in several HCT tournaments across the world. In terms of nerves, play style, and improvements, how would you compare your past self with who you are now?
I definitely grew a lot as a competitor. I used to swear by certain archetypes and it definitely held me back as a player. Friends joked that I would always bring Miracle Rogue to a tournament. Over the years, I’ve grown accustomed to all that comes with playing on a big stage, and I’ve embraced a variety of play styles and archetypes.
How has your gameplay evolved since getting to know your fellow Tempo Storm players like Muzzy and Amnesiac better over the years?
We all support each other a lot on tournament days and preparation. There’s also a lot of expectations when you put a roster like that together, and I’m glad I’ve been able to rise to that occasion.
What is one of your fondest memories while playing Hearthstone for Tempo Storm?
So Dreamhacks visit Sweden twice a year — summer and winter. It’s a nice little tradition to road-trip from the airport together to Jonkoping. A nice three-hour countryside drive with Gaara at the helm before the big tournament. I’ve been able to share that tradition with Gaara and Reynad for years, and now with Muzzy as well.
With the HCT 2019 World Championship coming up next month, what does being able to play Hearthstone at such a high level mean to you?
It’s the final decider. Hunterace and I both had stellar years, and there’s often debate between who reigned supreme in 2018. I just snagged a top 4 finish at WESG World Finals, but I’m excited to go head to head with Hunterace and the rest of the competitors.
What are your thoughts on Muzzy, who will also be playing at the championship?
I’ve had an amazing year traveling the world and competing under the Tempo Storm banner with Muzzy. It’s amazing that we’re both able to head to worlds as well, as friends and competitors. He’s an absolute genius at the game as well. Hopefully, we don’t meet until the finals.
How are you preparing for the HCT 2019 World Championship?
WESG and Starladder have been great preparation — getting to play against top players and having a high-stakes environment really helps ease into the big stage later on this year.
Which Standard decks do you enjoy playing the most, and do they always match up with decks that are strong in the current meta?
After seeing Alex’s Elemental Shaman games at WESG, I’m excited to play a bit more of that deck myself. It’s certainly not the strongest deck, but it’s Shaman and that’s a class Hearthstone players probably haven’t seen in a while.
For the players and fans who have always supported you, what is something you would like to say to them?
Ahh, you’ve made a terrible mistake. But somehow, it’s finally paying off. I’m bringing the championship home this year.
The HCT 2019 World Championship is scheduled to take place between April 24 and 27. Players can watch the matches on the Hearthstone Twitch channel.