Tips For Becoming A Hearthstone Pro With TSM's Cydonia

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Becoming an esports athlete isn’t easy, but getting your dream job rarely is. Traveling all around the world, having thousands of adoring fans and getting paid to play your favorite video game; what more could any gamer ask for? Putting hundreds of hours into League Of Legends or Overwatch alone isn’t enough to break through that professional barrier – you’ll need determination, a solid state of mind and endless luck.

Player.One spoke with Julien “Cydonia” Perrault, a Hearthstone pro, about breaking into the competitive scene and his tips for newcomers hoping to make a living playing Blizzard’s card game.  

Cydonia’s friends introduced him to Hearthstone in 2014, around the time the game left Beta. Coming from other card games like poker and Magic: The Gathering, Cydonia picked up the rules quickly. He played casually at first, spending most of his time earning gold with Daily Quests and playing in the Arena.

“As I started playing, I started to assemble more expensive decks like Control Warrior or Miracle Rogue,” Cydonia said. “Then I’d try and learn one deck until I could afford another.”

After a few years of playing, Cydonia had become a solid competitor. In 2016, Blizzard announced anyone who had earned enough points through tournaments and high Legend rankings in ranked play could qualify for the Hearthstone World Championship. Cydonia saw that as an opportunity to take his game to the next level, though he still wasn’t thinking of pro gaming as a career path. “I was never trying to go pro,” Cydonia said. “I knew you could make a living as a streamer, but I didn’t realize there were other opportunities.”

“If your game isn’t already up to par, you won’t stand a chance”

Cydonia knew this wasn’t going to be easy and began to take practice more seriously. “Instead of playing the game while watching movies or multitasking heavily, I started focusing on the game,” he said. “I didn’t really consciously try to get better at the game, but I enjoyed learning and improving, sometimes more than actually winning.”

Cydonia competed in Open Cup tournaments online and placed high on the Standard ranked ladder. He managed to earn enough points to compete at the Hearthstone Championship Tour Spring event, then took first place. Team SoloMid signed him shortly after that, and he’s been making a living off his passion ever since.

Becoming a pro Hearthstone player isn’t easy, but Cydonia is proof that it isn’t impossible. Here are a few pieces of advice he shared to those with dreams of hoisting that championship trophy over their heads:

  • Get Better At Hearthstone- Hearthstone is a game that’s constantly evolving, where anyone with enough time and talent can reach the top of pro play. According to Cydonia, you need to consistently “pay attention when you play, have a good attitude, question your own plays -- a lot -- and watch streams of better players and tournaments.”

  • Don’t Blame Randomness- Like in every card game, RNG, or luck, factors heavily in Hearthstone . Getting that perfect Evolve only to end up with a Doomsayer is a teeth-grinding nightmare. According to Cydonia, luck is just something a pro player needs to be aware of: “I know it’s possible for my opponent to get perfect draws and RNG, but I need to account for that. All I can do is take care of myself and keep my mind in the right place.”

  • Take Care Of Yourself- Staying healthy and keeping your body in order is important when trying to become a pro gamer. Eating right and keeping a normal sleep schedule is important, even when you’re just playing video games sitting on your butt. TSM’s League Of Legends team has a sports psychologist, nutritionist and trainer on staff to keep everyone on point. “If I haven’t slept well or eaten properly, I get more emotional and my play suffers,” Cydonia says.

  • Dealing With Tilt- Cydonia believes minimizing tilt is an underrated skill in Hearthstone. When he loses to someone he felt he outmatched, or an opponent who made a ton of misplays, it’s frustrating because he felt that he deserved the win. If the match-up wasn’t as favorable or he considers the player on equal footing, he won’t be as salty. Keeping yourself under control after a pretty miserable loss can be hard, but if you can learn from your mistakes instead of dwelling on them, you’ll grow into a better player.

  • Preparation- Before a big tournament, Cydonia tries to get as much practice with his decks as possible. He practices with other pros, between streaming on Twitch and maintaining a high rank on the Standard ladder. It isn’t easy, but staying at the top level of competitive play rarely is.

  • You Must Already Be Amazing - If you seriously want to become a Hearthstone pro, it won’t be easy. Pros with established fan bases already have years of practice and skill in the game and nudging them from their frozen thrones won’t be easy. “If your game isn’t already up to par, you won’t stand a chance,” Cydonia warns. “If you want to be a pro, grow a fanbase and compete at Hearthstone , your best bet is to compete in the Hearthstone Championship, winning prelims and going to Worlds.” Sound easy enough?

You can watch Cydonia on Twitch or follow him on Twitter.

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