From afar, being on the best team in North America at the time, Tempo Storm, seemed all peaches-and-cream. A third-place finish at the first Western Clash of the season and improving each week during the Heroes Global Championship (HGC) created a world where it was only a matter of time until North America would take home an international LAN event. At the Mid-Season Brawl event a few months later, things seemed...off for the pride of NA.
While a fourth-place finish is nothing to scoff at, too often were there moments of disconnect in-game and visible frustration between teammates on-stage. Something seemed out of place.
Unbeknownst to the public, that event would be the last time the roster would play together at the competitive level.
Harrison “psalm” Chang, who did a great deal of the drafting and in-game shotcalling for Tempo, was working on building a future for himself in a game outside of Heroes.
In a tweet seemingly out-of-the-blue, psalm announced he was leaving the scene to pursue a career in the industry-warping title, Fortnite. The announcement sent waves throughout the Heroes community. Players supported him, Reddit users questioned him and Tempo Storm lost a valuable piece to their puzzle of success.
With the Heroes scene in his past, psalm headed full-steam into Fortnite, quickly working to pick up the intricacies and mechanics that have created massive fortunes for those talented enough to call the title a full-time job and perform well in tournaments.
Psalm tasted his first bit of success at the Fortnite Summer Skirmish event at PAX West where he took home $5,000 for finishing 24th of out 100 of the best players in the world.
This past week psalm sat down to open up about his decision to leave the Heroes scene, how he broke the news to his teammates, if Blizzard could have done anything to prevent the move and more.
How do you think your first event went in terms of your personal performance?
I think for my very first event, especially only having gone full-time two months ago, I placed pretty decently. Even just making the cut to the final tournament was something that was really, really difficult and there are a lot of big pros that didn't even make that. Obviously, some days it's RNG and some days it's how people are feeling. Making the cut was pretty hard and making the top-25 is also pretty hard. If I play just a little bit better and if I secured just another kill point or made a slightly better rotation I probably could have placed in the top-15.
Do you think that your placing in the event might have validated your decision in a way for you?
Yeah, definitely. I didn't expect to play in a tournament of this size and place this well so early on. I was honestly expecting something more like, maybe after half-a-year, this may come.
"I always view public opinion for entertainment. It never really affects me. They don't really know anything, they are not informed about anything. They do not know my motives, they do not know how good I am, they do not know how the Fortnite scene might work, they do not know all of the conversations I've had with well-informed people and trusted friends."
You are no stranger to LAN events, so how did this one feel compared to the Heroes of the Storm scene as it is a very difficult demographic and vibe?
The biggest difference about this LAN compared to Heroes LANs is that there is no crowd. We're playing in a private room because I can imagine it's probably hard to set up 100 computers in an area where there is a crowd, especially at a Convention Center like Pax West. In that regard, it was definitely less pressuring but it did feel similar
For people who are not super familiar with the Fortnite scene, what is your next step or next event that you're trying to qualify for or attend?
So, the series of tournaments that Epic ran called “Summer Skirmish” was kind of the precursor or test run. What they are going to be doing for the Fall season is ramping up to the World Cup they announced back in May. I don't know any specific details but I know it is going to be really really big so I'm just waiting for that.
Unlike Heroes, where you grind the leaderboard, get noticed and you try and make it out to try out with a pro team, Fortnite is more like, “anyone can compete.” There is going to be plenty of opportunities for someone who is completely unknown to just go through open qualifiers and win it all. You don't have to be on a pro team or anything, so that's a big difference.
Is that kind of what appealed to you back-in-the-day? The “anyone can do it” mentality.
Yes and no. Yes, because, obviously, if I'm transitioning so late in the scene, it's easier for me to assimilate in open qualifiers such as PAX but, at the same time, once I do make it it's scary that someone could come in and take my spot or I am always on the edge with no real stability.
How difficult has learning Fortnite been for you at a high-level compared to other games that you have learned in the past such as Overwatch, DOTA, Heroes, etc?
I would say Fortnite is the most difficult player-versus-player game that exists right now. Just because all of the building. Aim is just as important in Fortnite as it is and the other shooters. When you are talking about building and having 180 turns, flicking everywhere, having a split-second opportunity to land one shot on someone and then flip back and flicking with your building it requires very, very precise mouse movements and creativity.
When did you first begin to feel that your heart was drifting away from Heroes and on to something else?
It was pretty much after they announced the $100 million esports league or whatever you want to call it. As soon as that dropped it was like, “Wow, that's pretty crazy.” I had already been playing Fortnite just for fun and I enjoyed the game a lot so when they announced that, that's when things started to change in my heart.
Is there anything that Blizzard or Heroes could have done to make this decision more difficult for you?
Honestly, I don't think so. I felt like moving to Fortnite was the best move for me setting up my future for the long-term just in terms of brand growth and, obviously, more money and a fresher game that's probably going to be around for a while. I obviously did not win a championship or anything but I competed at the highest level for a while so conquering something new in Fortnite was also appealing.
Going from being on one of the top teams in North America to an entirely new game, some people said this was a crazy move for you. How did you try and deal with the feedback or the flack that you received?
I always view public opinion for entertainment. It never really affects me. They don't really know anything, they are not informed about anything. They do not know my motives, they do not know how good I am, they do not know how the Fortnite scene might work, they do not know all of the conversations I've had with well-informed people and trusted friends. They do not know pretty much all the thought process and information behind it, so I don't really pay any attention to it. I read it for fun but the only thing that would really affect me would be the opinions and worries of my closest friends and trusted mentors.
How has your family and significant other taken to your transition? Were they concerned as you were starting from scratch again or are they very supportive throughout?
They were very supportive because I'm still kinda young as I'm only 23. In the Fortnite scene I'm a grandpa but in terms of my personal career, I want to set myself up for something for the future. I feel like the following of Fortnite would help me accomplish that. That is like my main reasoning. I want to set myself up for something bigger and more the future.
"Ideally, I wanted to leave when I would be able legally allowed to leave, so sometime after this season ended. Unfortunately, that was simply too late for me."
What was your teammate's reactions when you told them that you are looking to pursue a different opportunity?
Obviously, they were pretty disappointed. Not at me directly, but disappointed in losing a core member of the team. They were never upset with me and they handled it pretty well, better than I thought, actually. They were very supportive and, even now, they are still very supportive. I am still in their team chat where they talk about their games and scrims, so we are all still good.
Did any player, in particular, try hard to, not necessarily talk you out of it, but reconsider your decision?
Honestly, no. They were all pretty supportive of the move. They knew why I wanted it and they knew that I was really serious about it because I was willing to give up a top-spot with a good organization. They knew that I probably couldn't be wavered even if they tried.
How did you actually present it to them? Did you just walk in one day and say, “Hey guys check out this big fat $100 million scene, I'm out. It has been a great run?”
It was actually very gradual. The team kind of felt that I slowly did want to move to Fortnite. Ever since that announcement happened the team would joke about it. "Oh psalm is going to Fortnite blah, blah, blah," and we would just meme about it. One day after scrims I came to them and was like, "I'm actually serious about this," and that was kind of the final big talk.
Have you been following and watching the HGC at all and watching your former team play?
Yeah, I watch bits and pieces here and there. I keep looking at the standings and who they beat and who they lost to.
Does it hurt at all watching them struggle? I don't know if you watched Western Clash but they weren't the same without you.
Definitely. It kind of pains me because I know that they made some mistakes in how they approached setting up the team-dynamic after I left. Like, who was to take control over the team in terms of drafting or calling and just overall game-planning I feel like they could have done a couple things different and they would have been better off from the start. It is not like any of them suddenly got mechanically worse.
Did they come to you at all for advice once you left? Or did you start to distance yourself for a little bit and let them deal with things internally?
One guy in particular on the team, I don't want to reveal any names, reached out to me here and there about how I did things on the team. Like, how I did things on the team and how I manage certain things on the team and what not.
Do you have any regrets looking back on your decision and the timing of it?
Ideally, I wanted to leave when I would be able legally allowed to leave, so sometime after this season ended. Unfortunately, that was simply too late for me. If I really wanted to pursue this I needed to go at that moment, so that was something that sucked. I really do wish Epic made this announcement just a couple of weeks earlier because that was immediately after the roster swap and I could have swapped out legally. Tempo could have picked up someone they really wanted or what-not instead of having to go outside of HGC.
Have you officially ruled out ever returning to Heroes of the Storm?
I cannot say with 100% certainty, right? I don't know if Fortnite is going to suddenly crash and burn and there are going to be like two viewers on Twitch but, most likely, probably, not. I'm actually thinking of streaming Heroes maybe once-a-week, like on the weekends. Kind of like Grubby what does on the weekend with Warcraft 3, just for the old fans and connect with people again.
I was curious how much you actually played in Heroes the last few months.
I have not even logged into Heroes a single time but I want to check out Mephisto and reconnect with old fans.
Tim Rizzo is the editor and a reporter for Inven Global. He joined the company back in 2017.