Earlier this August, Escape Gaming signed their first Hearthstone pro, French-Canadian player Julien "Cydonia" Perrault.
Cydonia made his grand debut on the competitive scene with his surprise victory at the HCT Americas Spring Championship. The Montreal-based player faced a hard slog to the top, taking narrow 4-3 victories against both Deerjason and Jason "Napoleon" Li before the final battle against Rosty "Rosty" Elkun.
We caught up with Cydonia to talk about HCT, his preparations for Dreamhack Montreal, and his thoughts on One Night in Karazhan's new cards.
How did you get into Hearthstone?
Just some friends of mine kept telling me, "Oh, there's this new game we're trying it's really good you're gonna like it," et cetera. And after a while I decided to try it, and then I was just doing the daily quests at first and then after awhile I got more cards and could do more with it. So I got hooked and stopped playing the other games and only playing Hearthstone from that point. And after a while I noticed all the competitive aspects of the game and started playing more competitively as well.
What's it like when you meet someone and Hearthstone comes up and it's like "Yeah, I'm one of the top players in the country?"
Mostly it comes up with my family, cause they were super into it and watched all of the games. I was kind of surprised how into it they got, considering they don't know how to play the game or anything. My mother watched, my father did, and my father told my aunts and my cousins and a bunch of other random people in the family and they all got super into it and they keep asking me, "Oh, when are you gonna be on TV again. We want to watch you, it's super awesome."
So I was kind of surprised they liked it so much and some of my real-life friends are super into it as well, so they will say, "Oh, he's really good at Hearthstone," or whatever, but most people, if they're not in the competitive scene they don't really care how good you are.
What are some of your general thoughts on the new Adventure?
I'm not sure what to think of it yet. There's some cards I'm interested in trying, like mostly the competitive cards are interesting to me like ... the one card I thought was interesting that might not be good competitively is Zoobot. I think it's kind of interesting to make a deck and try to make that card work, kind of a Zoodeck with all different card types. And otherwise I was interested in the Druid cards mostly, like the Beast Druid cards like Menagerie Warden and the raven.
We got to try the cards and there was a Hunter deck with a lot of secrets and Cloaked Huntress and it was a lot of fun to play and even the Cat Trick secret was pretty good cause when you play it for free it's a free 4/2 so that's nice. Otherwise, I don't know if the cards are going to be good or not, it's kind of difficult to say before trying them. A few of them are obviously good, like Barnes is obviously good and the 2/2 Druid Beast Card is obviously good, but a lot of them, like, they could be good but you don't really know.
What do you think of Curator?
Well, I think in a slow meta it's basically...like a 4/6 Taunt should cost five mana, okay. So, basically you pay two extra to draw potentially three cards and you kind of chose which of the three cards they could be and there's a lot of different ways you can build your deck to take advantage of that like, for example, a lot of people have been talking about some kind of Freeze Mage deck and get Alexstrasza as a Dragon that you can guarantee drawing. With Beast, you can get Stampeding Kodo or something like that and just make a really control deck or you can make a combo deck and draw Malygos and the Coldlight Oracle Murloc to draw more cards or just stuff like that. Obviously, the Dragon is the best card to draw when it's turn seven or past, but I think people will try to make it work, but if the meta is too fast it's going to be bad but if it's slow it's going to be good.
One card that seems to be universally hated online right now is the new Priest card Purify, is it as bad as it seems or could you see a strategy where it could be really useful?
Right now it's really bad for sure. Like, there's a few friendly minions you could potentially want to Silence, things like Eerie Statue or whatever, it's just it would need to be like a 10/10 or a 12/12 to be worth playing in this meta game, ‘cause you already have a four-mana 7/7 so why play one with a drawback in a class that is not aggressive? It's just not working, maybe they will release cards that will make it worth it in the future, but this is the kind of card that really doesn't appeal to me. I don't really like clunky combo cards, I don't really like Priest because you really need to combo your cards to do anything and I like more tempo-oriented decks so it's not really an interesting card at the moment.
What ultimately made you decide that Escape was the home for you?
I had a lot of good discussions with them and there's a lot of teams you don't really know how serious they are and Escape made it really clear that they were serious in signing me and having a contract and doing things in a professional way. So, that was really interesting and also they have a manager for Hearthstone and it was obvious that he knew who I was from watching the broadcast and he had a reason why he wanted me to represent their team ‘cause he felt like I would be a good fit and was not just interested in having me wear their T-shirt at Blizzcon, but actually thought that we could build something together. So, that's why I was way more interested in Escape than the other teams.
You had pretty tough competition [at HCT]. So with offline events, how important is the mental game?
I think it's really important. Of course, the mental game is always important even on ladder, but on ladder it's more endurance. Like, if you can really play during long periods without losing focus and I might not be the greatest at that ‘cause when I play ladder I'll always multitask a lot of different things and just start a game and if my opponent starts roping immediately, I'll answer emails and watch videos and do anything I possibly have to do and then five games later I know that I lost three games ‘cause I wasn't paying attention.
But during a tournament, well obviously that's never going to happen. There's really a short number of games and there's a lot of things to consider so you can really give a 100 percent to the game and I feel like that's part of the reason why I do better in tournaments ‘cause I manage to focus a lot. Of course, there's a little bit more stress and nervousness or whatever, the stakes are higher, but I feel like I handle that better than most other players. And, yeah, it allows me to focus more ‘cause there's really a limited number of games, like, the whole tournament was two days and I only played like 21 games and if you play ladder 21 games is like two hours.
Of course, if you tilt in a tournament then lose two games due to tilt, well you're out of the tournament so it's really important to take one game at a time, one turn at a time, and know all the match-ups and just really keep your head in the game.
How are you preparing for Dreamhack Montreal?
Well, for these types of tournaments, like first of all, I think the first wing of Karazhan that's getting released Thursday is gonna be available and the tournament is Saturday so that leaves only one or two days to practice. So I might try some new cards if any feel like they could be worth it. Otherwise, I just look at what the format is for the tournament. For instance, this format is extremely unusual for such a big tournament. It's best-of-three during the Swiss and best-of-five during the Top 16. And [with] the best-of-three tournament, I'll kind of want to start to anticipate, like, since there's so few decks you can really try to anticipate what most people are going to bring, since some decks are way stronger than others, and try to have a ban strategy that makes sense with that and try to target the decks you feel everyone will have, so, that's how I'm approaching it.
It's really important to know what the format of the tournament is before looking at decks, like people keep saying,"Oh, tournament decks are not like ladder decks," but yeah, the reason is because in a tournament you have a specific format and you need to make decks tailored to it. Like, if you take the decks like Xixo played in a Last Hero Standing, best-of-seven tournament and you just pick three of those decks for a Conquest BO3 tournament, well, it's not going to be tailored for it at all. So, you just have to think logically about the format and, yeah, bring the best decks, bring something you know how to play.
So, in terms of the meta game, how do you balance, when you're building your decks, with sticking with what works and with trying new things?
Well, I'm the kind of person — you probably know this from the decks I brought to HCT and prelims — that I don't innovate too much with my decks. I mostly stick with what works and decide my ban strategy and then I might tailor my decks to my strategy, but not really reinvent the whole thing like some other players did.
I feel like most of the time you're gonna shoot yourself in the foot when you try to make new decks that ... cause the thing is, like, if there's a good deck on ladder, well, it's gonna be proven it's good because thousands or even millions of players have played that deck for a month and have gotten good results with it, but if you make a deck for a tournament and you think, "Okay, in theory, I think this deck is gonna be good against that deck or that deck," but first of all, you might have not predicted correctly and you're not going to face that, or you might be just wrong and your deck that you theory-crafted is not even good. Maybe you've tested ten games against a player, won seven of them and think it's good, but that's a super-small sample compared to what millions of players have deducted, so I find it's super risky.
Of course, if it works, you're gonna look like a genius, but I feel most of the time it's just not gonna work. If I find a deck that is super good and I have confidence in it, I'm gonna play it, but otherwise I feel I'm gonna gravitate most of the time to decks I know how to play, and I've been really working on mastering as many decks as possible. So, pretty much, everytime I see a decklist I find interesting, I'll play some games with it. Like, sometimes five or ten games, or if I think the deck has potential, I'll play even more, sometimes tinker with it a bit, ask other players what they thought about it if they played it as well. And then when there's at tournament, I have ten decks to choose from that I really know how to play well and so I don't have to just make one from scratch for that tournament.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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