Hearthstone Help: Six of the best streamers to learn from
Hello ‘stoners, as always this is your host Vincent Sarius with another installment of Hearthstone Help. This week I want to tackle a slightly different topic: improving your skills by watching high level players who stream their sessions. Seeing what decisions an expert make—how to mulligan your hand effectively, when to trade which minions—can rapidly improve your own performance, particularly as the best players will tend to run versions of the most effective and popular ladder decks.
So, in this article I’m going to list six of my favourite streamers, some of whom will no doubt be familiar, but hopefully a few will be new finds. I’ve primarily chosen based on these players’ ability to educate their viewers, rather than for pure entertainment value, and with a particular emphasis on high-level Ranked players. I've also opted to omit some of the more obvious choices (sorry, Trump) to bring attention to some less popular streamers. Here we go…
Real name: Ryan Masterson
Notable achievements: Multiple tournament wins and top four finishes dating back to ESGN Fight Night
Favourite class: Unknown
Recent deck list:Imgur album of Realz’s decks
Realz is a player I've mentioned before, notably in our article on Dreamhack Summer, where he finished in the top four having been knocked out by some ungodly lucky draws by Amaz. Realz hasn't been streaming for long, but he's a very knowledgeable player and tends to discuss his plays in great depth which I value in a streamer. Realz doesn't seem to stick to any one particular deck either, which adds plenty of variety to the stream—sometimes it can get monotonous watching the same game play out over and over. He also makes an effort to interact with the chat on his stream, although could probably do with turning the music down a notch.
Real name: Sebastian Fors
Notable achievements: Rank #1 on both EU and NA servers during the June Season, Numerous tournament appearances
Favourite class: Rogue
Recent deck list:Miracle Rogue with Sinister Strikes
On the other hand, sometimes it's nice to watch someone who is incredibly adept with one particular deck. Forsen plays Miracle Rogue—a lot—and may be able to lay claim to being the best player of this notorious deck. Recently he introduced Sinister Strike into his new build, which has only solidified its place at the top of the Ladder. While Forsen doesn't discuss his plays in too much depth, he does show off a lot of interesting tricks during the opening turns of his games, in particular how to determine your opponents deck based on how they mulligan and which card to keep yourself in response. If you want to learn how to make Miracles, Forsen is your guy. Warning: his musical taste is… Odd.
Otter is not exceptionally well known, but is another very solid player. In particular, a lot of the current Freeze Mage comeback in competitive play can be traced back to Otter’s Top 16 finish in April, utilizing the deck’s excellent match-up against Miracle Rogue to great success. A relatively small viewer base again leads to quite a bit of interaction with the chat. Otter also occasionally streams coaching sessions which are entertaining and interesting, and something I haven’t seen many other streamers do so far. No tournament appearances from this Ladder warrior yet, but I believe they are coming soon. Easily has the strongest beard/hair combo of anyone in the scene currently.
Tides is a phenomenal player, specialising in the control style. He’s an ex-Dota 2 pro with Team Liquid, currently a member of team TempoStorm, and also an avid deckbuilder. Aside from playing some unconventional versions of popular decks, Tides on a good day is a very informative player, talking viewers through his thought processes, future plays, and what he thinks his opponent is up to. On a bad day, the salt runs deep, and the stream becomes pretty damn entertaining. Tides has recently been laddering with a large amount of his revised Warrior deck, which uses Ysera, and is probably the person I would go to learn how to play control in greater depth.
StrifeCro is responsible for popularising more Druid decks than anyone else in Hearthstone. It's got to the point where 'StrifeCro Druid' can mean anything from an old control list, to a modern double Force of Nature-Savage Roar Midrange build. Aside from constantly innovating the way the class is played, he has streamed his adventures in Hearthstone on Azubu for the past couple of months, but has now seemingly switched back to Twitch. He’s just an all-around great player and theorycrafter—if you are down with the treants, you should certainly check him out.
Kolento is probably my highest rated player right now. He's been in the top 10 of I think almost every single Season thus far, while concurrently being involved in the competitive tournament scene and innovating numerous decks. The most popular Druid decks at the moment are based off a list that he fine tuned. Also, back in April his Midrange build of Hunter is the one that truly terrorized the Ladder (though the original Midrange Hunter was the brainchild of Lifecoach, an ex-poker pro and another brilliant player worth checking out). Kolento is also one of the best Miracle Rogue players in the world, having used the deck since back when it was considered somewhat of a gimmicky joke. Not extremely talkative on stream, but the atmosphere is pretty relaxed and during complicated turns he does mull over the possible plays quite a bit. Occasionally uses some obscure and odd decks like Miraclelock, which also adds to the fun.
So there we go. One of the best things about the growing Hearthstone community is how many brilliant players are out there for you to learn from. We’ve barely scratched the surface here. Priest fans should check out Amaz, Paladin players can look to Zilea, while those looking to improve their Arena skills should visit Kripp (although he’s currenty playing Grim Dawn). The beauty of watching streamers is that you can take a break from your own play but still keep on improving. Plus, when you’re raging at running into the 684th Zoo deck in a row, what better way to cheer yourself up than by watching someone else beating them? Or getting equally annoyed by losing to them…