Interview with Quonzar of Team Numerics

The intro weeks of HeroesHype Tempo Storm Series 3 have been exciting all-or-nothing brawls filled with both new teams and old. These teams are made of amateur players who put their heart and soul into the game to build a winning team. Each week is filled with scrim matches to practice and then watching replays to see where they can improve their play-style. As a viewer, all that is seen of that dedication comes down to matches that can last only fifteen minutes. We aim to change that with our series of interviews with various players from the Finals teams.

Today we have one of the members of the current first place team, Team Numerics. Quonzar usually plays Ranged Assassin, or when given the opportunity, plays as half of the fan favorite Cho’gall pick. Having placed in HGC Open, him and his team have quite a bit of experience in the competitive scene. Halorin talks to him about this experience and more:

Halorin: Hello everyone, my name is Halorin, and it is my pleasure to be joined by and sit down and have a few moments with Quonzar. The intellectual, the sophisticated gentlemen of Team Numerics (Q shakes his head). Oh yeah, oh yeah.

Quonzar: Absolutely not. Very flattering.

H: How are you doing?

Q: I’m doing alright, how about yourself?

H: I’m doing great man. I always enjoy any instance we get to sit down and chat.

Q: Likewise.

H: Thanks. For those that don’t know, you want to take a moment or two to just make an introduction of who you are, talk about Team Numerics, and give us a little insight and background to your team?

Q: So, I’m a player for Team Numerics. We’ve participated in all but one of the HeroesHypes. We had to cancel the last one because we had scrims, but we have been doing pretty well. We made Finals in the first four. We got top four in HGC Open. We lost to Donkeys 2-0 in the Losers’ Bracket Finals. What else did you ask us for, or just a background?

H: Yeah, just a little background on who you guys are.

Q: I got asked to join the team about a month and a half ago just kind of out of the blue. I didn’t really know any of the guys up until the point. Obviously I’d seen them a little bit on ladder, but I wasn’t super familiar with any of them, and I recently just found out why I got invited. Their fifth dropped for HGC Opens, and they were like “we need a fifth really badly.” Caeser was apparently the “talent scout” and he was just watching streams and he just saw a clip where I was Auriel and I dodged a ring of frost. But then I died immediately and I was horribly out of position beforehand, but he didn’t see that part. So he was just like “oh this guy must be alright.” Little did he know though, that I fed that whole game the whole time. But that one clip he did see, was a mediocre play, and he went “eh, good enough.” (H laughs) Ever since then, the rest is history, because I was the fifth person to join too. They were already sort of a group of players, and I just sort of walked into the team, but we got along immediately. It was pretty crazy. I didn’t know what to expect, but as soon as I sort of joined the team, there was sort of a chemistry. I mean, I think we all just really enjoy playing together, we enjoy spending time together, and I think that’s sort of why for such a short amount of time we were able to perform as well as we did. Obviously we were a little disappointed with how we did in HGC Open, but in HeroesHype we’ve been doing as good as we can hope. We dropped a couple Series that we would have liked to have won, but just going to happen some nights. But yeah, we just get along well and we enjoy spending time together. I think that’s a huge sort of component to our success so far.

H: I got to agree man. The whole secret about how you joined the team, the clip they saw (gestures OK), the secret’s safe with us Quonzar, don’t worry (both laugh). I feel Team Numerics is extremely lucky. I was actually thinking back in advance of our interview, after Heroes of the Dorm this year, I wrote a blog post about my personal thoughts on it. And you particularly were one of the stand-out players of the entire tournament. I was always impressed with how you conducted yourself in interviews and things like that, and I always knew you had potential for greatness. So when I found out that you were on Team Numerics, I was already because I was like “cool, I’m really glad to see this player’s evolution.” And I’m thinking, you haven’t disappointed at all. I was really happy to see you guys made top four. I think you guys really surprised people watching HGC Open. Particularly the Dragon Shire game, against HeroesHearth.

Q: Yeah.

H: I think that game showed you guys’ potential, because you guys run interesting compositions. You guys like to run a lot of Stitches, things like that. While there doesn’t always seem to be immediate chemistry between the composition, just how comfortable you guys are playing together accentuate and highlight all the strength of Heroes and turn it into a very unique synergy. Is that something you guys specifically shoot for?

Q: That’s actually funny you bring that up, because the Series against HeroesHearth where we lost 1-2, we were pretty happy to take a game, because we had dropped every single map before then. And then we beat Donkeys to place, so we finished off three in the final Cup. So we’re feeling good, but ever since then we’ve been sort of struggling a lot, and I think a lot of it comes down to our drafts. We do draft sort of these just almost seemingly random assortment of Heroes that we made work in the past really well, but we got a point where we were just facing people who sort of forced us to reconsider why we were doing that. A lot of the times we were drafting, we were putting heavy preference on Heroes where a lot of teams weren’t. And we were making it work because we had sort of played it enough that we understood how the composition worked, and we knew the strengths and weaknesses. We tried to play them as best as possible, but it came to a point where we were sort of doubting ourselves a little bit because you were not the only person to notice the sort of oddities of our drafts (H laughs). We were very aware of that at the time too, and a lot of it works for us. I think the Cho’gall ban against us in every single game we played (H laughs), in the HGC Open, it allowed us to sort of. Whenever we did get it, were able to run pretty successfully and we felt comfortable with it, but whenever it was taken away from us we could sort of use it as an advantage in draft to go “okay, if they are putting on the Cho’gall ban, then that means they aren’t banning some other high priority Heroes and we can kind of tailor some of our drafts and our draft preparations towards that.” But we almost had a sort of, I wouldn’t say identity crisis because that seems a little dramatic, but we sort of. The question that a lot of people when they watch our drafts: what kind of composition are they running? We started asking ourselves that too and it came down to a lot of reevaluation and I think we’re still kind of currently in the refiguring out. Obviously there are some picks that we do still like: Stitches, Cho’gall. There are some picks that still really work for us, but the meta shifted more and more, at least in the amateur scenes, towards just a high, high priority on double support. And that’s not to say that we don’t like, double support, but it doesn’t seem like we excel at it as much as other teams. So we’re kind of just still sifting through drafts, and figuring out what we like, what we don’t like, but we’re not committing ourselves to “well, the meta says you have to do this.” We’re still considering all our options regardless of it’s meta, if people think it’s good. I think we could care less, we couldn’t care less about what people think is meta. It’s just about what works for us. That’s the question we are really trying to answer currently.

H: I really like mindset a lot, “we don’t care about what other people think, we’re trying to find out what works for us particularly.” I think in a lot of ways that’s your biggest strength. I can see how it’s something of a double-edged sword. You guys are something I would consider to be innovators, going with compositions that like you said aren’t exactly norm, not exactly meta or what’s expected. That has a lot of strengths because you can take opponents off-guard or you can make non-meta Heroes like Cho’gall so much of a threat. It affords you stronger options that normally get banned out in the first rotation. That’s huge in drafts, but it can leave you in positions where you do have something of an identity crisis. It’s like “we play these non-standard things, we’re kind of out on an island, on a high-wire in a lot of ways.” If it succeeds, it feels great, but if you run into any struggles, what’s the second option? What’s the alternative? I think it’s been very interesting overall to see that development and growth for you guys, but with regards to the meta and the overall amateur scene like we said, you were part of a strong team in Heroes of the Dorm this year. I think there’s been a huge shift in overall competitive quality going from phase one of Open Division, HeroesHype Tempo Storm Series 2, into Open Division in this current run of HeroesHype Tempo Storm Series. How have you noticed and increased in overall competitive play, or have you?

Q: I think there’s definitely been an increase, but I think it’s been concentrated a lot at the top. I think that’s just a sort of symptom of quality of just all tiers of play. I think the North American, the Open and the amateur scene, there’s just five or six really strong teams. At any night, any of them can take a game off any others, and then it falls off a bit. So, I think the gap between the top HGC players and the amateur scene is just another steep divide. So, I think there’s just these rungs of sort of, not skilled, but competitiveness where if you’re below it, it’s hard to compete with the people above it, and it’s sometimes unclear to what separates the different rungs or what makes a team better than another because there’s just a lot to it. But I do notice there a lot more of those teams sort of present you know? Before in the first Series even half a year ago, it felt like it was just a mess top to bottom. All amateur scenes are going “I don’t know what I’m doing or what I’m supposed to be doing,” but now you have a lot more firm of a grasp because as more and more professional plays develop, more and more people are studying it. So you sort of have this open pool of knowledge that everyone can access and everyone is studying from, and that’s a great resource, but the problem is it takes a lot of effort and it takes a lot of work. It’s a bit grueling. If you ever watch a professional game not for fun, but for comprehension, it can take hour, hour and a half, just to get through a single game all the decisions thrown in. That’s sort of what teams are doing though. Teams are analyzing a play just to make sure they understand what’s happening, and I think as time goes on, the hope is more and more teams develop. I think Europe has an amazing amateur scene where the top teams are very easily HGC teams. Leftovers, this season, they’re looking fantastic. This interview is happening before the Crucible, but they’re looking poised to take it, whereas in the North American team, we’re still getting there. It’s a slow process. You have the Imported Supports, the Donkeys “R” Us, and obviously the HeroesHearth, I think is a bit of the exception because they are sort of an amalgam of all the ex-professional players. I think they’re the exception, but all the other teams are striving towards that point and are getting closer and closer. I would like to think that we are getting to the point where you can throw our names in. The 6Senses, the Animals, there are a lot of teams where they are sort of getting to that point, and I wouldn’t say the scene is there where we are all ready to compete with the best of the best, but you are seeing a lot more teams approaching that point. I think that’s really good sign for the scene and I think if it continues in this sort of direction, I think the only place it can go is up. I think a strong amateur scene is important for the health of all Heroes though, because you need those people nibbling at the heels of the pro’s to keep them honest (H laughs). If there’s no incentive or threat of you falling out of HGC, I think the bottom teams are less incentivized, but if you have these teams like HeroesHearth and Imported Support, two fantastic teams, who are capable of sort of dethroning them. If they falter too much or if they slack too much, then I think the whole scene grows as a result. I think we just have more teams than before who are sort of bridging that gap.

H: I would definitely have to agree. HGC Open is obviously important for the amateur scene. It’s the on-ramp for professional play, the Crucible, which is coming up this weekend. It’s going to be a spectacle for everyone from top to bottom, but I also think things like HeroesHype Tempo Storm Series are very important and integral to the development of an amateur team. People may not know that Imported Support, they have played their fair share of HeroesHype Tempo Storm Series. We’ve been lucky enough to have Team Numerics show up and prove their stuff so to speak. Would you agree that efforts like HeroesHype and the partnership with Tempo Storm has been helpful for the amateur scene to develop it’s level of play. To have that exhibition level of, you know, “we can scrim and try these different things out, but this is an actual competitive venue.” Has that helped you guys in particular grow?

Q: I don’t think it can be stated enough sort of how important tournaments like HeroesHype are for the scene because it’s a realistic, achievable goal that gives you more opportunity to play in a tournament setting. Scrims are fantastic, team-league, and whatever. All that is good and necessary, but until you feel the pressure of “if I lose this game I’m out of the tournament,” you just don’t know how you’re going to perform. Having the opportunity to play in more of those, it can’t be described how important that is. So, tournaments like HeroesHype are one of the driving forces if not the driving forces to why the amateur scene is getting better because it’s one thing to say, HGC is fantastic, but it’s really hard to say “here’s HGC, now qualify for it.” You need those sort of tournaments like HeroesHype to go “here’s a tournament where the stakes are still high enough where you’ll get good practice. You’ll get good teams who are giving you their all, but it’s not the sort of insurmountable, daunting task of play with professional gamers now.” You have the people who are all working towards that goal so you are in that sort of same pool, but you don’t have this sort of impossibility. I think the achievable-ness of  a goal directly correlates to how much you’re willing to work towards it. So if I tell you, “you have to beat Michael Phelps in a race, a swimming competition (H laughs).” I say if you win I’ll give you a thousand dollars, you won’t do it, you never will. If I say “you beat the best person in your city in a race of swimming,” you might do that. That’ll lead to you going “I’m actually getting pretty good at this, maybe I should proceed even more.” I think those stepping stones, those almost sort of checkpoints, are what make people drawn to the scene. They draw more and more competition and that’s just better for everyone. The more people you have competing, the more talent you have out there, only elevates everyone else. So, something like HeroesHype Tempo Storm Series, I don’t think it can be stated enough of how much we appreciate the tournament as competitors and how much we appreciate it as just people who enjoy the North American amateur scene. And who want to see it grow.

H: I really appreciate that man. I think that’s going to put a huge smile on the face of all the people who work behind the scenes at HeroesHype Tempo Storm Series because this is very much an effort and object of passion. I can only speak for myself, but I’m sure a lot of folks on the staff agree that we do love the North American scene. We do want to see it grow and if we can help a promising team or individual like yourself, a team like Team Numerics, sharpen their skills and prepare for that professional stage, that world level stage, I feel like we’ve done our jobs. I’m really glad you feel that way. Going into the Finals, the first two weeks of HeroesHype Tempo Storm Series 3 were very exciting for me, because the matchup between your team and the Animals was, in my opinion, some of the most intense amateur competitive action we’ve been able to have at HeroesHype Tempo Storm Series. Now I know that the Animals have had a couple of roster changes going into the Finals, but do you feel in particular that they are a team to watch out for going into the Finals, or are there other teams that you have also taken notice of?

Q: I mean, there’s definitely always sort of for us, we’re always aware of Animals because they’re a team who on their best night can take a game off of almost anyone in the amateur scene. The E-bros have amazing strategies. They’ve been doing this for maybe longer than I’ve been alive (H laughs). I might be older than you Toby, but still they’ve been doing it that long. I think you can stick the E-bros on any team and that’s a team you have to be aware of. We do feel that we have been able to get the better of them the last couple of times, but we know that can sort of shift in a moment, so if we’re playing them we’re taking it as seriously as possible. Playing any team at the Series we take as serious as possible, but them in particular we sort of have laser focus set for. 6Sense as well. They did well in the Copa America, the Latin-America HGC. They took the Series off of Red Cannons, right? Then Red Cannons was actually able to eke out the win when they came back up through the loser’s bracket, but a performance like that, you have to take note of that. They took the Series off us when they played us in the Finals, so they’re definitely a team we’re looking out for. I mean all the teams in the top eight. Once you get to be sort of; in the weekly tournaments you get one or two rounds that may or not be super competitive just based on seeding and who enters that night, but the later rounds are always good. This tournament is from the get-go. Every team we play we’re going to be sort of looking out for. We’re probably going to do just a bit of “okay, who are these guys, what do they like to do beforehands?” The usual suspects are there, and we know about them and we’re taking them seriously, but everyone is sort of on our radar in terms of where the top eight is going.

H: Cool man. Well, I definitely think you guys are going to do well. Consistency has definitely been a hallmark  of Team Numerics anytime we’ve gotten the chance to see you guys in action. You always play at a high level, so I’m really excited to see how you fare in the Finals. Any shoutouts or things you want to say to those who don’t necessarily have a team yet to root for. Is there anything you want to say to them like, “hey, my Quonzar load is on that map.”

Q: I don’t know how you don’t cheer for a team that’s picked Abathur-Cho’gall. How is that not just a fan favorite immediately? I will say that we’re just trying our best. We’re not a team that’s sort of; all of us are new to the competitive scene. We’re just trying to figure it out as we go along and we hope that we give entertaining games and that we hope that you enjoy watching us play as much as we enjoy playing it. At the end of the day we’re just five people who love Heroes of the Storm and who enjoy each other’s company. We’re having fun  regardless, but the more people who are enjoying it as well, the more the merrier. As far as shoutouts to individuals, I have to give a shoutout to obviously all of my teammates. Everyone at HeroesHype Tempo Storm, I think all of you are doing a far better job than I can even comprehend, and I know you all are doing things. I don’t even know what’s happening. I know you all are doing it well. Then just a shoutout to I guess Faatz, our coach, who’s been with us for a little over a month now. Basically almost as long as the team has been a thing, he’s been helping us out. He’s in scrims, he’s always there, he’s giving insight, and it seems a pretty thankless job just to be the person in game watching but never actually playing. I don’t know how he does it because I’d get the itch immediately to play, and watching that many games I’d be like “okay, put me in coach, I’m ready to go.” So thank you to him. Thank you to the casters and thank you to everyone. Thank you to the viewers as well because without people who are passionate about Heroes of the Storm, I don’t think any of this would matter. So just a shoutout to everyone. If I missed someone in particular, I’m sorry, I’m not particularly great at this (H laughs).

H: No man, you’ve done a great job. Thanks for taking time to give us some insight to yourself as well as a team. Like I said, good luck. I know you guys are going to show up and have a heck of  performance, so good luck man.

Q: Thank you.

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