The new ranked season has only been out for a few days now and already one member of the Australian and New Zealand Community has managed to shoot for the stars and make it to the rank of Grand Master 20. Howard “Nuyomi” Li was kind enough to answer a few questions about this spectacular achievement and what he thinks of the new season so far.
How many hours of playing since the new season launched did it take you to reach Grand Master?
Of actually playing the game, it took me 31 games which equates to about 10 hours of grinding. It took a lot longer though, because when I reached Diamond 1 queues were taking about 20 minutes each exceeding the original 10 minutes that’s to be expected in higher ranks.
Which heroes did you play while climbing the ladder?
I’ve always been a fan of aggressive heroes that can make plays, so Zeratul, Falstad and Li-Ming were the go to picks for me. If (on the off chance) I had to play a support or tank during the climb, I would go for high impact heroes such as ETC and Tyrande. Although at the end of the day I tried to pick Zeratul as much as I could due to the high impact of Void Prison and him being a mechanically fun/intense hero to play. Interesting to note was that no specialists were played during the climb.
Did you go in having a game plan to reach the Grand Master rank once the new season launched?
I actually really wanted to do all my hero league games with my best friend Vanilla as he is extremely mechanically capable and consistent, but ended up soloing most of my games. When the first day passed and I saw that only 3 people had reached Grand Master, only then was I really sparked and interested in becoming ANZ’s first. I didn’t really go in with a game plan, but I knew that as long as I consistently played well, I would climb.
How does it feel to be one of the first to reach Grand Master rank on the first season of the new HotS ranked system?
I’m actually really happy. It feels really good knowing that you’re not only one of the top rated players in ANZ, but the American region. All the effort I put in spamming Hero League and drinking energy drinks paid off and I made a lot of new friends while climbing.
How long have you been playing HotS for?
I started in October of 2015 from recommendation by PentaUnleash (now Penta) after deciding to step down from competitive League of Legends and I really enjoyed what HotS had to offer. I only played for about two months before quitting, but I came back around April 2016 to play for fun and have been playing constantly since.
Did you play any other MOBA’s previously?
I played League of Legends a lot and managed to reach Diamond 1 whilst playing under an organisation. We unfortunately did not make it too far, missing the high level of competitive play by one place. I was expecting to play the following season, but the changes that came with it steered me away from the game.
Do you also play Team League? If yes what’s your rank in that? If no, why not?
I don’t think Team League is that important or noteworthy in HotS at the current moment. I have played it, reaching Rank 8 in pre-season with about 20 games played, but at the time it wasn’t worth it. Gaining 20 points every game and losing about 200 made it extremely hard to climb. I am hoping however, with the new season that more people will play Team League and point gains are generally more balanced.
What was the highest rank you achieved pre-season in Hero League?
As soon as I hit level 30 (which was the minimum requirement for Hero League when I started) I went straight in to ranked and placed rank 14. I climbed up to rank 8 during the two months I played, and when I came back easily climbed to rank 1 in the first week of playing.
What are your thoughts on the new matchmaking changes?
I think Blizzard did a really good job at improving their previous matchmaking system. Most people can definitely see improvements. There are still a very large number of changes that need to be made in order for games to be fair. I’ve duo’d with high MMR (3.5k in the new season +/-) and we have sat in queue for 20 minutes, watching multiple diamond games pass by without us getting sorted into a match. Hoping to see this fixed in the next season! Overall though, they did an impressive job.
Do you like the new promotion/demotion system?
I really do like it. It reminds me of the League of Legends ranking system, but improved, where this time you know when you are about to demote. Although when I demoted from Diamond 2 to Diamond 3 and from Grand Master to Diamond 1, the scary red animation honestly gave me a little bit of anxiety. I think that needs to be a little more mellow.
Do you like the new tiered system of ranks?
It’s nothing impressive. It’s pretty much taken from League of Legends which is expected. It’s really hard to come up with a new tiered rank system that is unique and appealing. It’s definitely much better than the ranking system they previously had where how good you were was judged by your MMR on a website that wasn’t even accurate.
The highlight of the new ranking system is definitely the Grand Master pulsating animation I get that stands out in the ANZ chat!
What tips can you give to aspiring players looking to climb the Hero League ranks this season?
Take criticism. I’m not very good at taking criticism, and I’m sure a lot of people have argued with me in Hero League, but at the end of the day if multiple people tell you you’re wrong, you’re probably wrong. Take that information and learn from it, don’t be so locked on your own ideology.
Play to your strengths. Play what you’re comfortable at and not what your team tells you to play, this is extremely important if you want to climb Hero League. There are times when you need to pick something for your team to have an advantage in team composition, but in Hero League specifically, team composition means very little.
Where to from now?
My newly formed team will be competing in future ANZ tournaments in the hope of proving ourselves and growing as players. Although I want to keep my roster private, most people who know me will know that I will be teaming up with Vanilla.
Are you going to aim for the rank of Grand Master #1 on the leaderboards?
Honestly, it would be a dream to get Rank #1 of Grand Master, but I don’t think it’s possible. As harsh as it sounds, the higher I get the more harder games become. Since the region is so small, games aren’t very even. This causes games to be heavily skewed towards the enemy due to my inflated rank, and with that being said I am only aiming for a peak of top 5, and am hoping to maintain top 20.
Any final words?
I’d like to make a shout out to Pesky (kotorinet) and Lindsay for being beautiful human beings <3