Radu “Rdu” Dima started playing Hearthstone when he was 16 and won his first major tournament — Dreamhack Viagame Hearthstone Championship — at 17. However, he was not able to participate in the first Hearthstone World Championship in 2014 because Romania was not registered as an eligible country by Blizzard.
Seven years later, Rdu is now a Hearthstone Grandmaster, a top-ranked Battlegrounds player, and a popular Twitch streamer for G2 Esports. This is where we sat down with the veteran to talk competitive Battlegrounds, balancing Hearthstone as a hobby, and what can BG learn from Teamfight Tactics.
How did you start playing Hearthstone?
I started playing Hearthstone when I was very young and the game had just been released. I managed to get my hands on the beta key, then I just grinded the game again and again because I just enjoyed it so much. In the beginning, I mostly played arena to get my collection. Then, I started playing Constructed.
Back in 2014, you were not able to participate in the first Hearthstone World Championship due to your residency. How did your motivation as a competitive player change when that happened?
I didn’t get to play, because back then, Blizzard didn’t allow many countries to participate in the World Championship. They only had major countries included. When that happened, I was upset. I was definitely motivated to do better next year. I don’t think I ever lost motivation due to those situations.
That sounds like a great mindset as a competitive player. Some people could feel frustrated and quit the game if given the situation.
Those people are thinking short-term. I was always thinking long-term. I was always looking at the big picture.
More than seven years have passed since your first major tournament win in 2014 and many of the old players have retired from competitive Hearthstone and Grandmasters. What makes you different from other players? Why do you keep playing Hearthstone competitively?
I think I can keep going because I treat it more like a hobby now. It may sound weird that I take Grandmasters as a hobby. I focus mostly on streaming Battlegrounds. That just keeps me motivated to try, when I am not streaming, to be the best at Constructed.
Obviously, I can’t be as good as if I were to play 12 hours of Constructed per day. But playing 12 hours of Constructed per day would not get me much money to live from and would make me feel burnt out of Constructed. I might even play worse given the situation.
A couple of years ago, it was very difficult to be both a high-level streamer and competitive player at the same time. But now the competitive players are getting burnt out, so you can do both streaming and competitive playing at the same time.
The way I have been doing it is more chill and now I can see more reward for that. Other players played 12 hours per day, got burnt out, and moved on from Hearthstone to other things in their life.
When you were a Hearthstone Grandmaster, you also participated in the recent Global Inn-vitational as a Battlegrounds representative for EU. Are you planning to play both Constructed and Battlegrounds competitively going forward?
Yes, I am planning to do both. For the Global Inn-vitational, the organizer chose the invites and the mode to play. If I had to play for my life, I would still play Constructed over Battlegrounds because I think I am better at Constructed than at Battlegrounds.
Battlegrounds is a more streamable game mode. It is way more fun to play and to watch than Constructed, but I am still better at playing Constructed.
Talking about competitive Battlegrounds, there has been a lot of conversations on Battlegrounds tournaments in the Hearthstone community. What do you think is the future of competitive Battlegrounds?
It is difficult to say, because this year could have been amazing for Battlegrounds tournaments. Battlegrounds was at its peak this year, for now at least. I think Battlegrounds has so much potential for both esports and the game mode itself.
The question is about how much Blizzard and third-party tournament organizers want to develop it. If Blizzard comes up with a Battlegrounds tournament structure next year, it could become a major esports, maybe even bigger than what competitive Constructed ever was.
If it stays the same and does not do anything, then it will be a nice cool mode to stream but nothing competitive. It depends on how Blizzard take action.
There have been several third-party Battleground tournaments and many different formats have been tested. What do you think is the best format for Battlegrounds tournaments?
I would like to see more solo tournaments. I think team tournaments are fun, but there are too many of those. I think solo tournaments would be the best with enough rounds to make sure the better player wins.
Battlegrounds could take inspiration from TFT. It is a very similar game. In TFT tournaments, players play for points, but they have to win the last round of lobbies to win the tournament. I think it’s pretty interesting and a great format.
TFT has been doing much better for tournaments than Battlegrounds. It would be boring to see a player play safe for points and finish 7th in the last lobby to win the tournament. It would be cool to see players keep gathering points and when they reach a specific number of points, they have to win the lobby to win the tournament.
You’ve been only playing Hearthstone for eight years. Most other Hearthstone streamers play other games on stream, too. Are you still planning to only play Hearthstone on stream?
I’ve been playing other games but nothing was as big as Hearthstone for me. No idea! For now, I am still planning to play Hearthstone because I enjoy playing Hearthstone and my viewers enjoy watching me play Hearthstone.
In the future, I am down to play other games. I don’t think I am going to play Hearthstone forever for the rest of my life. If my stream leads me to play another game as my main game, maybe I will be less inclined to play Hearthstone competitively. Who knows about the future?