The World Electronic Sports Games (WESG) in Hainan, China took place nearly a month ago. Much has been written about the Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive campaigns from South African teams, including pieces written by yours truly. Little, however, has been said about some of the other South African players that attended the event at the same time. I got in touch with Jacques “Selfmoord” Wentzel to get his thoughts on the tournament, where he ably represented South Africa in Hearthstone.
axtremes: Tell us a little about yourself
Selfmoord: I’ve been playing games since I was ten years old. I’ve always been very competitive. I like being the best. I’ve dabbled in almost every competitive game, including Counter-Strike, Dota 2 and Call of Duty. Now it’s Hearthstone. I have other hobbies like Poker and drinking. I like drinking (laughs).
axtremes: Did you expect to make it to China when you were playing in the Mettlestate SA WESG Qualifier stage?
Selfmoord: I felt like I had a fair chance. I consistently get top placings locally and I have been close to qualifying for WESG in the past. I had previously played against Pand3m0nia, who I beat in the finals, multiple times. We’re on equal ground in terms of number of wins we’ve taken off each other. While I haven’t been getting consistent practice, I have been watching tournaments. To me that’s sufficient practice in understanding the matchups and the current meta. The skill ceiling in Hearthstone isn’t as much as Dota and CS:GO, where you need to keep your aim and mechanical skill up at all times. If you’ve got the right mindset, you’ve got a good chance to win any tournament. The luck factor obviously plays a role.
axtremes: RNGesus smiling upon you?
Selfmoord: Exactly (laughs)!
axtremes: Going into WESG, how were you expecting to do in the competition?ould you ever like to go back to playing carry since that was your previous role or do you want to stay as an offlaner?
Selfmoord: There were so many great players at WESG. A number of them play Hearthstone full time, which perhaps gave them a slight edge. After discussing it with other players at the tournament, I felt like the lineup I brought was among the strongest in the competition. There might be slight deck building or matchup nuances that I might not know as well, but based on the decks I chose, I felt like I had a decent chance to at least place top eight.
axtremes: Talk us through your run at WESG. How did things go and who were you matched up against?
Selfmoord: The first guy I played up against had exactly the same strategy as me. His name was Mazen, from Palestine. Very nice guy. We both already knew that we were going for the same strategy. When it went 2 – 2, it was quite expected. All our games were close, but in the last game I couldn’t really follow through on my strategy based on my draws. I don’t think there was any way I could have won that matchup, based on the order of my draws at least.
Anthony04 from Ukraine and Tomas from Lithuania had more unusual and aggressive decks. Mazen and I had quite solid decks that can usually deal with aggression. So from that perspective everyone thought Mazen and I would make it out of the group stage based on pure percentages. It didn’t happen that way. We both lost to them. Anthony04’s aggression countered me. After I lost to Anthony04, I knew I was out with the way everyone else had performed and who had won the tiebreakers.
When I faced Tomas I obviously still wanted to win. He predicted the decks I was going for first, second and third quite well and queued up his favourite matchups. He came to me afterwards and said that he knew that was the only way he could win. Tomas is a very good player because he knew his win condition. He queued up his lineups perfectly to counter mine and played very well. Most players agree that the Swiss System is the best way to handle any card-based tournament. It was just very unforgiving in the way that it worked. A lot of good players fell out in the first round, including a number that were expected to do really well. But that’s the nature of the game.
axtremes: On the CS and Dota side, there was a lot of social media chatter from players about terrible conditions WESG in terms of accommodation. There were also complaints about the PCs being sub-par. What was your experience like on these fronts?
Selfmoord: We later switched hotels, but the first set of accommodation we had wasn’t that bad. My room was nice, but the water was a problem. The food at the hotel was terrible which was my main complaint. There also wasn’t much to do nearby. It was also quite far from the venue which was a problem. The due diligence wasn’t done at that hotel. At least WESG were quick to change it. The new hotels we got were within one to two kilometers of the venue. As far as the PCs went, we had pretty nice i7 gaming laptops. I know the DOTA and CS guys wanted 144Hz monitors and that was one of their big problems with the PCs.
axtremes: How high was the level of play in comparison to what you typically experience in SA?
Also, where would you place it in comparison to other top-level international events?
Selfmoord: I would say it was a top-tier event. WESG didn’t have all the big names we’ve come to know in Hearthstone except maybe for Dog, Fr0zen, MrLEGO, and Fujitora. There were a lot of top-tier players who got didn’t make it to China because of how tough their qualifiers were. The opponents at WESG were some of the best players I’ve ever faced. We have solid players in SA, but I would say there are only around four to eight local players who are on a similar level to the guys I faced at WESG.
axtremes: Are you guys practicing any specific heroes?
Selfmoord: We have been practicing some heroes specific to this meta recently for WESG. Hopefully, that pays off. Like with most tournaments, we try go in with a bigger arsenal of heroes and just try to adapt throughout the tournament where needed.
axtremes: Do you have any interesting stories or anecdotes you’d like to share from your time in China?
Selfmoord: (Laughs) The social experience was awesome! Playing Mafia with the Dutch, Egyptian and Romanian DOTA teams was insane. I went clubbing with all the Hearthstone people. Fr0zen paid for everything.
axtremes: That’s very cool.
Selfmoord: (Laughs) It was pretty crazy. All the places are called “Wow” or “Fun”. These one-word names. The best part was watching Fr0zen and Luffy who stayed out drinking until six in the morning and had to play a game at ten that same morning. It was really funny, but they still played really well. (Laughs). It was just great meeting, everyone. These are esports celebrities, you know? Seeing some of the best CS:GO players in the world live. A once in a lifetime experience. It’s not every day you see people like JW playing in front of you. Or seeing these Starcraft pros that you’ve been watching for ten years live. Getting to talk to them like normal human beings. Also, getting to talk nonsense and make jokes with them. (Laughs)
axtremes: That’s the important part!
axtremes: Do you have any final thoughts, shoutouts or people you’d like to acknowledge?
Selfmoord: I’d like to thank Dib for helping with my prep and Pand3m0nia as well for being a great sounding board. I also want to give a shoutout to Energy eSports for getting me gear and for supporting me. I want to give a shoutout to all the other Hearthstone, Dota 2, Starcraft and CS:GO players I met. International and South African. They were all super friendly and I made some good friends. I also want to say thanks for all the support from SA people. I got a lot of messages from people wishing me luck in China.
axtremes: Thanks so much for your time Jacques.
Selfmoord: Thanks a lot. I appreciate the effort!