Everything appeared to be business-as-usual for Tempo Storm’s Heroes of the Storm team going into the Mid-Season Brawl event in Sweden last month. The top team in North America was looking dominant as ever and was poised to threaten the likes of Europe and Korea on a global stage for the indefinite future. Once the games began, however, something appeared a bit...off. A strong fourth place finish at the event was overshadowed by inconsistent play on favorable maps and visible frustration was shown between teammates throughout the weekend.
Then, clarity was provided.
Soon after, Assassin player, Harrison “psalm” Chang released a statement declaring his retirement from the Heroes of the Storm scene to pursue a career in the global phenomenon, Fortnite, sending shockwaves across the Heroes Global Championship (HGC) circuit.
How would the best team in North America try to replace a player with as much impact and talent as psalm in such a short period of time while remaining competitive enough to qualify for the Western Clash event in August? Well, their initial plan was to recruit Seung Won “Swoy” Kim, a former Korean star from Ballistix and L5 to solidify their roster. After it was made public that his Visa wouldn’t get approved in time, they had to turn to Plan B or...Plan Vi.
With time ticking before their first HGC regular season match of Phase 2, Tempo began having tryouts with different potential replacements and used Vi “ViN”Nguyen as their roster sub.
While it’s nearly impossible to replace a player of psalm’s caliber in a very short period of time and develop team chemistry, ViN held his own and Tempo finished Phase 2’s first-half with a 6-1 record, qualifying for Western Clash.
A few weeks ago, Tempo Storm released a statement declaring ViN as psalm’s replacement for the foreseeable future so I decided to find out who ViN is, see if he’s up for the challenge of playing for a globally great team and find out how Fan “Fan” Yang took him under his wing.
To get a little background information from you, where are you from originally?
I’m actually from Southern California, born and raised.
How long have you been playing Heroes for as you’ve come up in the scene very quickly?
I’ve been playing since last year around this time. I’m pretty new to the scene and the competitive environment as I used to play just casually.
How do you go from picking up a game to about a year later being on one of the top teams in North America?
A lot of skills translate from other games. I used to be a League of Legends player and I was Challenger (top .02% player) in that game. I guess the biggest similarity is the mentality, the passion and not giving up.
What brought you from League to Heroes instead of putting all your eggs into that basket?
Ugh, I played League for so long. I think it was maybe five or six years and I was getting so burnt out. Heroes kind of brought that passion back. It was a new game that brought back a lot of memories for me, personally. The Blizzard heroes felt nostalgic to me, especially the Diablo ones and getting to play those casually with my friends, before I took it seriously, it was really stress-free.
Are there any key elements in either franchise that you wish were in one another?
The biggest thing I’ve enjoyed about Heroes was the pacing. It’s a lot faster in Heroes and you can squeeze games in a lot quicker too. It’s kind of insane how you’re level five just two minutes into a game.
"Obviously, every one of them expects a lot out of me because psalm really set the bar high for me and they’re all world-class players."
Before joining the Heroes Global Championship circuit you were grinding away in Open Division, what’s the biggest difference between the two leagues that you’ve noticed now that you’ve been here for a few weeks?
I would say getting punished on rotations. In HGC people would kind of foresee it and just punish you for just for stepping out of a line a little bit. Stuff like that I enjoy because it puts you in line and you learn that you can’t do that and get away with it.
Has the transition from the amateur to pro scene been difficult this far?
No, I would say that with the assistance of my teammates, adjusting hasn’t been a problem. It’s actually really been enjoyable as I love the challenge. Overall, it’s going well.
Has there been a particular player on the team that has helped you the most whether in-game or out of it?
Every one of them has been a lot of help. Glau used to be a ranged player so he gives me some feedback; Jun is the main Support for the team and in-game he’s peeling for me a lot and we play off each other well depending on the composition we’re playing, I would say overall the player who has helped me the most...it would have to be Fan.
I’m basically playing his old role and he kind of foresees what is going to happen and how it’s going to happen. He gives me the tips and tricks of the role.
What type of teacher is he? One who is very nice to you and moves at your speed or one who pushes and demands a lot of you?
Obviously, every one of them expects a lot out of me because psalm really set the bar high for me and they’re all world-class players. They want to succeed and they also want me to succeed but it’s just like, I have to fight for it because it doesn’t just come just like that. I don’t want to let them down.
"There’s a lot of rumors out there and people say, 'Oh yeah, he’s not going to be permanent.' It’s not something that bothers me as it’s my foot-in-the-door and I want to show people what I got."
Do you feel a lot of pressure to replace psalm since they did so well with him and it’s big shoes to fill?
I’m quite nervous sometimes going into series as I think, “Oh man, maybe I can’t play up to psalm’s expectations.” I think it was Week 2 that I saw what psalm did without anyone really needing to tell me. I could feel what he really brought. Watching them play at Mid-Season Brawl and seeing how well they did and the dynamic and synergy of the team it was great. I’m slowly finding my style and what really works for us and using that to reach our potential.
How did you get in touch with Tempo Storm or visa-versa as once psalm announced his retirement I know they tried practicing with a few people?
I guess it comes down to networking. What really helped me network was having two accounts in the top five and that really kicked things off. People were vouching for me, I hung out with pros eventually and through teamspeak I got to know people a lot more. One person would vouch for me, then two, three, four and five and I knew these guys already, we weren’t strangers, but they saw what I had to give and they just reached out.
How do you think you’re performed thus far on the HGC “stage”?
Umm, it’s kind of surprising considering I’m a rookie and people were saying after we had the reverse sweep, “Wow, how did they pull that off?” Some of my teammates were saying how they didn’t expect us to do this well and have this record with a new player. I’d say we’re doing well overall.
Is there a primary emphasis you have been working on lately when it comes to your practice time?
Currently, I’m trying to work on my hero pool. I do play a lot of heroes but there are a lot of little details that you have to refine and grind out that people can’t just teach you. So, I mainly work on my heroes and the mechanical details here and there.
Has the team made any long-term commitments to you in terms of your tenure with the team or are you still under the impression that you’re just a sub for now?
There’s a lot of rumors out there and people say, “Oh yeah, he’s not going to be permanent.” It’s not something that bothers me as it’s my foot-in-the-door and I want to show people what I got. Swoy is a good guy too and every single one of these guys are good but they want to win regardless of what happens. I won’t have bad blood towards them if they do choose Swoy in the long-run.
What are your expectations going to Western Clash as this is your first LAN event?
Obviously, top-three would be amazing but I’m still trying to work on myself day-by-day and try to succeed any way I can.
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