Interview with The Gauntlet Winners – Accident Free Since

As Heroes Hype gears up for another thrilling tournament series, let’s take a moment to reflect on the winners from our previous 6 week tournament.

By winning Week 3 of The Gauntlet, Accident Free Since (formerly Gear Gaming) earned enough points to qualify for the Gauntlet Finals, where they went on to win the entire tournament. Following their recent success, I reached out to the team to learn a little more about them and their aspirations as an amateur Heroes of the Storm team.


First off, congratulations on your victory in The Gauntlet!


Percival: Thank you.

Mysticleez: Thank you.


I want to go a little bit back in time, how and why did you get into Heroes of the Storm?


Percival: I grew up playing games and I was always competitive. My first MOBA was HoN, Heroes of Newerth. That pretty much originated from DotA so it tried to really copy the heroes and all the items. It was the first game that I tried to take my level to competitiveness. Then it sprouted to League, and then to Heroes. Heroes grabbed me because I love the lore and the Blizzard universes. I was always a huge supporter of Blizzard and now that they were in the MOBA, it just felt right.

Mysticleez: I played a ton of sports in high school and then out of high school so i’ve always been a big competitor. Once I graduated, I didn’t look into playing in college at all. But I didn’t realize how important competition is for me. So I started playing League the summer of my senior year…and I really sucked. I wanted nothing to do with computer games and I felt really bad and my brother just urged me on. After a couple weeks of playing I started to get pretty good, and I had a lot of people that were telling me they thought I could be really good. So I took League serious for about a year. That would be late Season 3? I thought it was saturated and I knew that I wanted to play competitively, the same kind of game. I saw Heroes when it was Alpha so I decided when that came out I was going to switch from League over to that. I got involved with Heroes, played in some Amateur teams, I stumbled across Gale Force which I had my most competitive success, and now here I am with these wonderful, wonderful characters.

Needham: I basically used to compete in Call of Duty for a couple of years, and I went to LAN’s for that and enjoyed playing it competitively. I wanted to take that experience to this game, I got into the Alpha for it randomly. When I tried it out I definitely saw the potential the game had especially with the Blizzard universe and the fact that Blizzard generally knows how to back their game and advertise it so I figured it would do really well. So I got in the Alpha, started playing a lot of it, and back then…I became a Valla one-trick main, and I just enjoyed the game. Eventually, I got decent at it, met these guys and now we’re playing this game together.


How did this current roster form?


Mysticleez: So basically, Ham, Skull and Percy have played together on a team before for the past couple of months, on and off. Me and Ayy played together for almost a year and a half or two years, on and off. I really like these people outside of the game as well. When I find something I like I try to stick around with them and make it work. So, we’ve been trying for I’d say, the past six months some sort of formula or another. Skull has been out of the competitive HotS scene for a bit. So it was me, Ham, Percy and Ayy just trying to find the right formula. We finally just threw together a team and we asked Skull to just try it out. So basically it was just a joke, we said “For Science”. We literally played the tournament with just the one scrim block. We played the first Heroes Hype just for science, just for fun, you know? It just turned out to be pretty good synergy between us, everyone seemed like they were having a good time, that’s basically how this team was spawned. Even though a lot of us have egos, it seems to work because we kind of check each other as well. It’s a pretty good team dynamic, where everyone’s really competitive, but not to the point where we are toxic towards each other.  

Percival: I think that’s a good point that Mystic brought up. We have a lot of checks and balances on this team. Even though at some point we all think that we are right or we are wrong, the fact that we can step back and view the whole scenario of how we played is really strong. There are a lot of egos in competitiveness, especially in Heroes of the Storm. If you are able to take criticism, it can go a long way. I think we all collectively take criticism pretty well and that helps us grow.


What is your overall goal as this team?


skullkid: Professional players. Hopefully.

Mysticleez: I think we all want to be professional. I think that resonates with all of us, we’ve been around the scene for awhile. I’ve always felt like a high-level player I just never had the right opportunity. I finally feel like, with this roster we have a chance to show that each of us are talented, individual players. But then as a group together, we can be better than some of the HGC teams.

AyyLMAO: This first half of HGC we are mainly focusing on improving as 5 and building synergy. The goal is obviously to qualify for the HGC crucible, but we won’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen in this first round.

Percival: Yeah. A lot of our schedules were conflicting before. Mystic was focusing on Dorms, I went to Florida and Ayy had spring break. So there were just a lot of conflicting schedules. We all knew that we wanted to play with each other, and now finally, we get to move forward together and show what we can do.

Mysticleez: Now we have time to discuss strategies and watch VoDs together and do all the team activities. I’m looking forward to the next month and to see what kind of potential we have, if we can improve and become the team I think we can be.


My next question is, what does competing in Heroes Hype or other amateur tournaments, what does that mean to you as a team?


Needham: It helps us with progression. Right now we’re just a bunch of players that are decent at the game, but we don’t just want to be decent, we want to be the best.  We’re always trying to improve somewhere and these Heroes Hype tourneys definitely help us do that. Not to mention it helps with the tournament nerves, just working on that type of stuff as well, in a more pressured environment rather than just a scrim block where sometimes we may not necessarily care about the outcome.

Percival: I think it’s also good to show that we are up-and-coming, we want to show what we’re about. We all had success in one way or another. When people say amateur team, it doesn’t make sense to me. I think it’s more like semi-pro. Because Myst and skull and everyone here, even Ham and I when we were on RFS and Myst when he was on Gale Force and skull was on Wild Growth. I mean we were all high competitive players at one time in semi-pro. “Amateur” doesn’t seem like a proper name for it. So I think if we change the language of that a little bit to “Semi-pro”. There are other teams out there that have players that are really good, that have gone to LANs before and calling them “amateur” again doesn’t make sense to me. But competing spreads the name, spreads the org. It gets our name out there.


So you guys have already touched on this between Dorms and traveling – with your busy schedules and long hours of scrims, how do stay motivated? As a team as well as personally?


skullkid: I think it’s up to the individual. If you really want it or not, you’ll stay practiced or committed.

Needham: Yeah pretty much. We’re all just trying to get better at the game. And the person who doesn’t get better, it’ll show and they’ll drag the team down. Nobody wants to be the reason for that.

Percival: Exactly what Ham said. Good motivation is each and every one of these teammates. I don’t want to be the person that lets them down, so I will take or do whatever I can to make sure that when the time comes, I’m ready to roll with them. I want to go to war with these guys and I want them to have me as well. Your teammates are everything in this game, so if you have great teammates they push you and hopefully you push them. That’s what makes a great team.  


So I want to shift gears just a little bit to speak more about the amateur or semi-pro Heroes team in general. What tips do you have for forming an amateur Heroes team?


skullkid: Study. Study, study, study. And practice.

Needham: Watch all the streams.

skullkid: Copy the people that are better than you, figure out why they are doing it and become better at it. You beat them and then you can make your own decisions. High-tier Korean players is what we tend to study a lot. We try to get in their minds and figure out what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Try to translate that into our play and talent decisions.

Needham: I agree with that. But also at the same time, once you get to a certain point, I think you also have to be able to make decisions yourself, based off the knowledge that you’ve learned. Obviously there’s always a good cookie-cutter build for every hero. But a lot of talents are made for a reason, even if some of them seem garbage 99% of the time, there might be one situation where it’s really good. So once you gain the knowledge from playing a bunch and watching a lot of streams and kind of imitating your favorite pro player, eventually take that knowledge and put it somewhere. Because just cookie-cuttering doesn’t work all the time, and it might hold you back as a player.

Mysticleez: For up-and-coming people trying to get involved, try to stay with a committed team for awhile. It might not be the most fun losing a lot, but in my experience, moving from team to team, you don’t really grow as a player. If you can stay for 1 to 2 to 3 months, give it a shot, and pick something. Have one thing that you are trying to focus on each week: map awareness, shot-calling, things like that. Also, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I’m a really aggressive player, but I learn how and when I can be by messing up a lot.    

Percival: Yeah, I think they both nailed it. Consistency on the team and then also improving your own plays is crucial. Finding your own niche is really crucial too. Not everyone is going to be a Korean god, you know? Not everyone is going to run EU the way EU runs it. It’s their own style, so you have to find your own thing. But you should learn why they do things a certain way.

AyyLMAO: Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get instant results. Also, be able to take criticism. Team synergy is the biggest thing in this game. Drafting, mechanics, and shot calling can all be learned: What is really key though, at least in the amateur scene, is getting a core group of 5 who are putting the time in together and actively working to improve.


Okay great! I just have one more detailed question and it’s more of a fun one: what non-meta hero do you wish saw more competitive play?


Needham: I would tell you a lot of heroes. I think just about any hero is viable. I think Butcher is the least viable and I wish he would be changed into a solo-laner. Because first of all – his kit is outdated. It’s basically a worse Varian, and you know who is getting charged before it even happens. Even if it’s through the fog of war, so I think that’s really outdated. I’d also like to shoutout Probius, I think a lot of people are calling him a garbage character, but he has a lot of potential. With a few slight health buffs and baseline talents added to his kit, I think he’s a really strong character too.

skullkid: Zul’jin on every map and every situation. (Everyone laughs)

Percival: That’s it?

skullkid: That’s it. (laughs)

Percival. Umm, I mean there are a lot of heroes that are just…the problem with Blizzard right now is that they always seem to just buff or nerf the heroes that are in meta instead of just buffing the heroes that are non-meta. That’s why you always get the same heroes fluctuating in and out, because they buff one hero and then they need to nerf the same hero. It always seems like the same heroes are in the rotation. It seems like they are scared to have every hero competitive, and I don’t know why. They make heroes like Probius and Gazlowe that just probably would never have a competitive edge, as I see it right now. They need to do something. I think we would all love to see Butcher become competitive, at least our team as a collective.

Mysticleez: Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah….

(Everyone laughs)

Percival:I definitely want to see Butcher competitive.

Mysticleez: Let me state on the record. First of all, I wish they would remove Medivh from the game (everyone laughs). I think shielding heroes are really unhealthy. Personally, I really don’t like them in this game. As far as heroes that I wish I could play more: Kerrigan and Alarak. I really like Alarak’s kit and I really think that there is a ton of playmaking potential with it. But at the moment, I feel like there’s too much risk versus the reward you get with him. While he can do a bunch of damage, you are so combo-based that his talents are pretty one-dimensional too.

Percival: I think he plays really well in our whole team’s dynamic. We’re a really aggressive team, so we really like those really aggressive heroes. So, definitely Alarak.


I’ve seen that you have played him on Braxis Holdout, at least twice on Heroes Hype, so maybe branch out beyond that map?


Mysticleez: Yeah. He’s pretty decent on Battlefield too, but I’d like to see him on other 4-man rotational maps. Depending on how it goes, we’ll have to test it out more. I really just think he has a ton of potential. His kit is just, really good.

AyyLMAO: Chen has been one of my favorite heroes since I started playing, and I would love for him to see more action. I don’t think he’s necessarily in a terrible spot balance-wise, but with the strengths of the other warriors it’s hard to find a spot in a draft where he is the best choice.


That’s pretty much all of the questions I had, but to wrap-up: do you have any shoutouts or anyone you want to thank?


Percival: Shout out to Heroes Hype, my org, my teammates,  we all hate each other. (Everyone laughs)

Mysticleez: HyperX.

Percival: HyperX and Matcherino, yeah.

Needham: And all the fans.

Percival: All of this wouldn’t be possible without the fans.

Mysticleez: I’d like to shout out too to my school: Robert Morris University esports and being really open and available with me playing amateur as well. Allowing me to be on two teams at the same time, even though I had to split my focus on both of the teams. They were really nice about me and my schedule so I really appreciate that.


Thank you to all five members for taking the time to answer questions: Mysticleez, Percival, Needham, skullkid and AyyLMAO. Additionally, thank you to their manager Kam for arranging the time through various schedules.