About a decade ago, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne was in the running for largest international esport in the world. China, Germany and South Korea were going through esports booms and Blizzard was the RTS leader in competitive PC gaming.
During that time, Manuel "Grubby" Schenkhuizen was busy winning six WC3 world championships and becoming the "King of Orcs" fans still call today. With 18 years of competitive gaming wisdom at his side, Grubby has become one of the most popular Heroes of the Storm and Warcraft 3 streamers on Twitch.
I asked Grubby about what makes someone good at Heroes of the Storm, whether or not the game is as "beginner friendly" as people think and what type of changes he would like to see in the game:
Your career in professional gaming has been a long one. Does your current work streaming top level Heroes of the Storm and Warcraft 3 satisfy your competitive passion?
Absolutely. It's always been most important for me to have fun and try to improve myself, even when I am playing vs AI. Eventually, AI gets figured out but playing multiplayer has infinite possibilities. It's all really interesting, whether my stage of performance is on the podium, in front of a live crowd, or at home on Twitch in front of a digital live crowd.
What is the biggest misconception players have about winning a Heroes of the Storm game?
That it is done by wanting to win. You have only so much control over the game. True nirvana is reached once you release the need to win, focus on having fun, remain patient, take the long view, and play with heroes you find fun and comfortable. You'll start winning once you allow things to happen as they are.
For example, Instead of thinking...
'Wow, Probius first pick really screwed us over, why'd you do that?'-
Try to spin it into a narrative for yourself.
'Of course we want to first pick Probius, it's so that they can't get it. It's the real new deal.'
You're much more likely to win with that attitude.
Do you think Heroes of the Storm is an easy game to learn? It has the reputation of being excessively simple compared to other MOBAs like League of Legends and Dota 2.
So, it's really easy to pick up, start playing, and having fun in. It's not easy to get really high rank in. It's probably mechanically easier (though I only have my Twitch chat's say so) than at least DotA 2 for sure, probably League as well, but because we have 12-15 maps instead of 1 map, it is definitely apparent that there is much that most people still don't know, when it comes to correct decision making.
Also, with 90 heroes on 15 different maps, there are billions of permutations possible in draft on both sides, and that means knowing to do the right thing is not always easy, especially in random storm league games.
You have commentated many high level professional matches of Heroes of the Storm. What is the determining factor, in your opinion, of a champion level Heroes of the Storm team?
Drafting is really key, and then teamwork. It takes quite a long time and a good fit of team mates to be on the same page for all the things that need to be coordinated for which there is simply no time to discuss it at length.
Fighting situations can rapidly change, so the call going into a fight can be very different from what the right thing to do is two seconds later. Fights can go on for quite a bit, with a lot of weaving in and weaving out because of strong healing capacities of HotS heroes. Good minimap awareness and mechanics are assumed IMO, but proper drafting and teamwork coordination are the determining factors.
High level Heroes of the Storm is an intense challenge of team work and quick decision making.
Yep, totally agree, Nick!
What do you currently think of the games balance and Blizzard's approach to new game content? You are quite the Hogger player.
It could definitely be better, certain heroes are a little overtuned numerically like Sonya and Tracer. Then there's the overloaded kits like "this hero can do everything" such as Stukov and Cassia. But I don't mind those as much as certain problematic characters like Medivh and The Lost Vikings who are just really hard to balance.
Overall though, it's definitely in a pretty good place. Design-wise, you're never gonna get all heroes on the same level for pro-play. How can a hero that has almost no special things in his kit like a Raynor, be as desirable as another comparable Hero that has an escape, an engage, a burst and a sustained damage mode like Cassia? The only way he could be, is if he does more damage than her. That would make him too OP at mid and lower levels and even at pro play, because it would take practically 10% of the effort of a good Cassia play.
Any advice for ladder climbers in Heroes of the Storm ranked play? How do you rise effectively?
Enjoy the process, you're going to be climbing and dropping and progress is very slow, so make sure you enjoy the games you play each time. You'll have a griefer here and a noob there, but you'll also have funny games, especially if you allow yourself to have fun.
If someone on my team first picks Nova and then the second guy goes Gazlowe, I just embrace the process and get Zagara or Azmodan and try to do fun stuff, too. The power of the meme comps cannot be denied, because no one understand what's going on but you're just doing what you're meant to do as that Hero, so you've at least got a good personal plan. Azmodan pushes -- so you will!
On a serious note, the key to climbing is improving all aspects of your own personal play. That's the only factor you can control.
What type of new heroes or additions do you think would be welcome to the game?
I'd love me some Naga Sea Witch (Lady Vashj)! Or a Tauren with Warstomp and Shockwave!
You stream Heroes of the Storm regularly, often with your wife as a high ranked team duo! Do you feel a strong sense of teamwork when you play with her?
Yeah, it's great playing games together at a good level with your wife! It feels really connected because we're doing the same thing we love. And after the stream I don't need to say, 'I had such a weird day at work... a person was complaining about me picking Mei's Icewall... and he went CONVECTION KAELTHAS' - because she'd already know! We both suffered through that!
How can Heroes of the Storm players get along better with their pub group teammates?
Don't take past games' salt into next games. If Muradin keeps solo laning and you think it's wrong, tell him once "stay with us". He then either listens or not.
Don't say "Muradin is throwing this game on purpose", always give people a chance first. If they respond badly, forget about it and do what you think is best for you to do now, to work with the team you got now."
Any last shout outs or comments!
Shoutout to everyone reading this, feel free to drop by my stream at twitch.tv/followgrubby and check out my YouTube channel with daily HOTS video uploaded here!