Off-Season Interview With Wubby
Mon 26th Nov 2018 - 9:00pm
Another HGC season has come to an end, and what a year it has been for Dignitas. Two victories in the two Western Clashes and two Grand Finals in the two Global Championships. 2018 has truly been a success story for the guys in black and yellow. We caught up with the team’s drafter and shotcaller, Jonathan "Wubby" Gunnarsson, to hear his thoughts on the 2018 HGC season.
Let’s start with BlizzCon. You bootcamped in Korea to prepare for the most prestigious tournament of the year. How was that experience for you?
Wubby: I have bootcamped in Seoul before, so it was not the first time in this area for me. I know the other guys have been used to Busan. Korea is just the dream country. I really love Korea, and bootcamping there is great, especially in Seoul. We always had people around us, ready to help if we had problems with the language barrier.
We landed at the airport and took a taxi to the hotel, the hotel was also where we had the bootcamp, in one of their conference rooms, which was really nice. We had restaurants and grocery stores in the area, so we survived. We did end up ordering a lot of our food because the delivery system is great in Korea. We also got help from the Gen.G players - we would scrim them for three hours, they would beat us badly, and then they ordered us food to make up for the beating.
After your bootcamp in Korea you traveled directly to California to play BlizzCon Group Stage. How did you like playing in the Blizzard Arena?
Wubby: I think it was my third time playing in the Blizzard Arena, it’s funny to have a crowd there. Normally I would just walk around and then go on stage to play a match, it used to feel like a workplace. It feels different in the Blizzard Arena, normally when there’s a crowd it’s at an event like DreamHack, IEM, or stuff like that, but here it’s a pure Heroes crowd which is cool because you don’t have the sounds from other stages and giveaway booths. In the Blizzard Arena, each team has their own practice rooms, compared to other events where all the teams are in the same room separated by thin screen walls.
Tell us about the amazing run you had at the Group Stage, going undefeated. Did you expect to be this dominant?
Wubby: I wouldn’t say it came as a surprise, we aimed for top two in the tournament. What happened, happened. I’m used to losing international group stages to Korean teams, but this time we managed to beat them. We were happy to get the #1 seed into the main tournament, that meant we wouldn’t face Gen.G before the Grand Final. I didn’t expect to go undefeated, so of course I’m happy with that.
So you made it to the main tournament at BlizzCon, how is your BlizzCon experience usually? Are you the type of player who walks around at the event to look at everything?
Wubby: This year, our practice area was on the opposite side of the convention center compared to the Heroes of the Storm stage. We had the option to walk through player-only areas to get back and forth, but we could also walk through the main event area to look at all the stuff. We usually preferred to walk through the event itself to look at the Heroes of the Storm area, and then we just had to calculate a bit of extra travel time, but that was fine. I don’t go around and try the new stuff, but I do look around, yes. It’s also cool to see the cosplayers who make an effort to show their love for the game, even though the characters are from all the Blizzard titles you can still see who belong to Heroes of the Storm. It’s a cool community.
Let’s talk about a specific game scenario that happened in the tournament. As it was predicted, you faced Gen.G in the Grand Final - Tell us about the final core call in the last game, what did you think? What was the communication like?
Wubby: We were dancing a lot around the enemy core, we felt like they didn’t have a lot of tools to kill us. Suddenly, someone shouted that the shield was down, and next time I looked the core was at 80%. I made the final call to commit, it was a very high-pressure situation - we could have done a million things different to make it work, and we didn’t even need to go for the core at that moment. I don’t regret making the call. If it was played a bit cleaner, we wouldn’t have died at 3%.
People seem to think that we thought the game was lost when we wiped on their core, but that isn’t true. As soon as it happened, we started to talk about what to do next. Someone asked in comms if they could core now, but we were like “Nah, what should we do next?” The game becomes very interesting when the core is at 3%, a lot of mind games can come into play. They ended up going for our core, and I even think we could have defended it if we played better.
This is the first time I have been nervous when playing on stage, normally I don’t shake or anything. In this game 3, I was shaking while playing, I missed a lot of Kerrigan combos. I really don’t know why, it never happens to me. Maybe it was because JayPL hit the first three hooks and we all got hyped up. I also started thinking about how this is potentially the last game for JayPL with the team. Those first few hooks into kills really got our emotions going.
You mentioned it yourself, this was most likely JayPL’s last game. How did the team say farewell to him after the tournament?
Wubby: Things just kind of happened, I’m not really big on goodbyes. We did have a goodbye in the hotel the next day before the shuttles came to pick us up. POILK, Zaelia and I had later shuttles than Jay, so we went down to say our goodbyes. It’s nice to see him still streaming Heroes of the Storm, it doesn’t feel like he’s gone yet, but I think it will come when we start scrimming again with the new roster and he’s not there.
If we look back at the year as a whole, how has 2018 been for you? Are you satisfied with the results?
Wubby: It’s been the perfect year for me, I have had the opportunity to spend most of my time playing with people I like. We have been nearly undefeated all year and had a literal undefeated Western Clash. The only thing we didn’t achieve was beating Gen.G, but being the team that can contest them, consistently meet them in Global Finals, win almost all our HGC matches, that’s something I’m really happy about. Talking about Gen.G, we only get around 10 games against them on stage every year, but we scrim them a lot when we are at the same location.
I think they are very talented individuals who form a very good team, so I’m never sad when we lose against them. We get our game wins every now and again, and it makes for spectacular series. This year’s Mid-Season Brawl Grand Final was probably the best series of competitive Heroes of the Storm ever. They deserve to win as things are right now. I’m very satisfied with the year we have had, very.
Looking to the future, next year, how do you see the potential for HGC? We have already heard some of the regular household names announce their retirements. Are you scared for the future of the game, or are you looking forward to seeing new talent enter the league?
Wubby: It’s definitely sad to see big names go after years, but I’m seeing more new people than ever trying to make their way into the scene. For the past two years, the top of competitive Heroes of the Storm has been very hard to get into. A lot of players have been recycled in different roles, so I won’t say the game is dying. I have followed other esports for years, and it’s perfectly normal to see star players retire. If you think back to League of Legends season 2-4, you would see a lot of big names retire pretty early. Heroes of the Storm has just been out for long enough by this time that we start to enter the circle of pro players coming up and going out.
I’m very excited to get some new blood into the HGC and follow their stories. As for ourselves in Dignitas, I’m also excited to play with whatever roster we come out with. Snitch and Jay have played together for three years, even Zaelia played with Jay for two years, even I played with Jay for two years combined over the times I have been here. I’m looking forward to seeing how things look when all the pieces have fallen into place.
At BlizzCon we also saw announcements of changes to the game that will probably make it into HGC at some point next year. What are your initial thoughts on the changes to structure experience, catapult changes, and so on?
Wubby: I haven’t thought about it or looked at the numbers too much, I have seen different responses, mostly negative. You won’t have as much of an XP lead anymore, which is very interesting. I look at how the meta will be with catapults spawning already after forts go down. How will heroes like Vikings and Zagara be? I think it will be a less fun meta, which is what I’m interested in. It’s hard to say what the meta will be, and I don’t like giving assumptions before I have tried it out. We have seen XP changes before, we used to joke about it, but it all worked out in the end. If it’s true that XP will be more even, then I think it will be more exciting.
One thing I’m concerned about is the identity of the solo lane. Winning the lane is going to be less impactful. Overall it looks like the game will be better, but at the expense of my solo lane experience. We’ll see, things can change, and I’m excited.
We also got a new hero - I won’t ask you a lot of specific things about Orphea as she is not a solo lane hero, but instead I would like to know your opinion on introducing heroes from the Nexus universe instead of other Blizzard games?
Wubby: For me, it doesn’t matter at all, it’s just a hero with different abilities in the game. It was almost the same with Probius, they made up a kit that he doesn’t really have to the same effect in his original game. I think it’s good in the way that the developers are free to make the hero exactly how they want it to be, they don’t have to carry over the identity from another game. I think it’s easier for them to make a more fun and balanced hero this way, I would like to see more heroes like this where they can express their talent, creativity, and love for the game. It also gives Heroes of the Storm more identity as well, someone that cosplays Orphea won’t be mistaken for playing another game.
We are in the off-season right now, you basically have a few months of vacation before you have to start scrimming again. What do you spend your time on these days?
Wubby: Right now, I’m playing a lot of Maplestory 2, it was supposed to be my chill side game. I’m pretty deep into it right now, I’m raiding with one of the best guilds five hours every night. It doesn’t really feel like vacation for me right now. We finally cleared all the content, but there more coming out soon. As soon as I came home from BlizzCon, I had to make up for the lost time in that game, but it’s definitely less stressful than scrimming all day. In this game, I don’t have to be the shotcaller and drafter. This year we don’t have Gold Club in Heroes, so it’s nice with a bit more free time. We don’t have much free time during the year, we scrim seven hours every day. Right now I’m just enjoying a bit of chill time.
Thank you for your time, do you have any shoutouts?
Wubby: Shoutout to Dignitas and our sponsors (HyperX, Mountain Dew, Raynor Gaming, Twitch, WD, Champion). Shoutout to my teammates for a perfect year, especially JayPL, I wish you all the best in the future and I know we’ll stay friends. I also want to give a shoutout to all the fans I met during BlizzCon, also the ones at the Blizzard Arena. It’s one thing meeting fans at the event, but it’s a special experience meeting them out on the street when we walk around in the area. I also want to give a shoutout to the people we have met at our meet and greet after the Grand Final, I got to talk to a lot of cool people. I also finally got to meet our CEO, Michael Prindiville, he was a really cool guy to meet.