As HeroesHearth Esports, the number one seed from North America, approaches this year’s Heroes Global Championship (HGC) BlizzCon event, they feel as if they’re playing with house money.
They have to, as they perform best in a relaxed environment. Just having fun with the guys.
The group of underdogs rose up from the Open Division in 2017 and qualified for every international event in 2018. And, while their performance at such events leaves much to be desired, their growth is indisputable.
But, in order to be considered among the other top teams in the world, they will need to first fill out their roster.
After the second Western Clash event concluded in August, long-time player, Taylor “Arthelon” Eder announced he was stepping away from the Heroes of the Storm scene to pursue greener pastures.
With slim pickings available, HHE opted to select Cesar “Homicidal” Peterson, the Open Division veteran who had a bit of experiencing playing in the lower-level HGC scene to be their fifth for the rest of the year.
For Homi, who is attending his first professional LAN event, he is keeping the expectations of his performance realistic, as is the team.
“I think it's more of ‘we'll take what we can get’ because I think there are some situations where they do expect a lot out of me,” said Homi. “But, for the most part, it's ‘We'll take what we can get,’ which I'm honestly fine with because I don’t expect to go in and 1v5 anything. I will try to do my best to basically not be a burden and if I happen to do something sick then good on me.”
Team captain, Khalif “Khroen” Hashim, echoed those sentiments.
“We have a lot to offer him and he has something to offer us, so is a little bit of a balance I would say. I'm not expecting the world from Homi but he'll provide what he provides. It is kind of like, ‘If we don't do well, it's okay. It would be on all of us.’ There is no pressure on us in that regard. I don't think that he is feeling much pressure as we are not going to blame him if we do poorly and he knows that,” said Khroen.
Homi did acknowledge that even though the team is doing everything they can to relieve the pressure from his shoulders, he will be nervous regardless.
What may shake his boots the most is not just playing in front of a live crowd at the Anaheim Convention Center but who he may be playing against.
“A lot of it is 'Don’t over-respect people' because I know I sometimes do that,” said Homi. “Like if it's the first time I'm facing a player who I haven't played against before and are really, really good then I get a little nervous. It usually goes away after a little bit. They told me to not worry about the crowd and just imagine you’re sitting at home.”
Easier said than done. Especially considering during the Group Stage portion of the tournament he will be face-to-face with a player whom he has immense respect for, Team Dignitas’ Jonathan “Wubby” Gunnarsson.
Regardless, even if they do happen to fall short against Team Dignitas, one of the favorites to win the lion’s share of the $1 million prize pool for the event, HHE isn’t too concerned about not making it out of the Group Stage.
“I think we expect to be able to. I think that we know that we are stronger than Mindfreak and the Chinese team (TheOne) in our bracket. I believe that, at the very least, we will get out of groups,” said Khroen. “But even if we don't, then it's not going to be a huge deal to us. Again, we are just kind of here to take every series one series at a time and see how it goes from there.”
For Homi, this opportunity to not only win the event but showcase his talents to the world to hopefully allow himself to get permanently picked up by an HGC team in 2019 would be a dream come true.
“Naturally, I want to win but I think one of the biggest things about it for me is that this is like sort of my showcase. Obviously, in Open Division we didn't do that great so the public opinion of me isn't too high. I want to prove people wrong and do well,” said Homi.
As far as the rest of the HeroesHearth team, even if they do happen to fall short in BlizzCon, they’ll remember 2018 as a massive success.
“I think mostly I’ll remember just how far we have progressed and how far I have progressed as a player from the start of 2018 to the end of 2018, you know?” said Khroen. “Being kicked off of a previous team and coming back and fighting my way back to number one in North America, that's no small feet or small tasks. I am proud to be able to say that I did that and that we did that. We were able to qualify for every single international event too. The goal now is to do better internationally and the ultimate goal is to win an international. We hit some small steps along the way and are improving."
Tim Rizzo is the editor and a reporter for Inven Global. He joined the company back in 2017.