Dan "Frodan" Chou is the voice of Hearthstone, with his easy charm and laconic wit heard casting back to back tournaments around the clock. He’s also the man with the unenviable job of keeping Reynad’s salt at optimal levels, as manager of team Tempo Storm. We asked him about the state of play in the Hearthstone scene.
What was the highpoint of 2014 for Hearthstone?
From the fan side, the biggest part of 2014 had to be the release of Hearthstone and the Naxxramas adventure. It was exciting to see how Blizzard would take their first step into expanding beyond the core set which is key to keeping the player base active. From the competitive side, the high point was the World Championship. It was the first time that I got to see a legitimate crowd of 2000 people showing up for the event, getting hyped, cheering for their favorite player, and going nuts.
How would you describe the health of the Hearthstone scene right now?
Hearthstone is in a great spot. It is baffling to think about what this game can do once it releases on mobile phones and gets consistent content out there. Dozens of other game developers and communities would kill to be in a similar position to where it is now relative to e-sports and Twitch.
If you could ask Blizzard to make one change to the game, what would it be?
Content! It's important to keep the game fresh. I also would like more social aspects of Hearthstone to develop. Clans, chat channels, tournaments, spectator mode. They all have one thing in common—interacting with other players!
In terms of Hearthstone, what do you think was the funniest thing that happened last year?
Funniest moment had to be sharing the couch with Ben Brode. His laugh is a real life version of Patch Adams.
What is the biggest challenge that the competitive Hearthstone scene faces in 2015?
The biggest challenge is spreading the wealth of fandom and storylines. We need more people with different kinds of backgrounds and personalities to cheer for. I believe there are a strong batch of Hearthstone players that are undiscovered, great at the game, and fun to follow.
Who are the players or teams you think will make the biggest impact this year?
If I may be biased for a second, I really do believe Tempo Storm will turn heads this year again. Last year, we hit a few rocky patches, but the team has really taken off as we are starting to turn out incredible high quality content on our website tempostorm.com for all skill levels (beginner to legend). Archon also has strong potential with Amaz at the helm and I wish them the best of luck.
What sort of deck are you using personally right now, and how is it performing?
My favorite deck to play right now is Fatigue Mage. I love the feeling of desperation when a player has literally run out of options and are completely hopeless. When they hover over their Hero Power and realize they will die faster than they can kill me, my heart skips a beat.
What do you think are the key components of a good Hearthstone stream?
A great Hearthstone stream involves a good mix of personality, information, and interaction. Some streamers have natural charisma. Some are good looking. Some have fun gimmicks like cosplay, showmatches against other streamers, etc. The whole point is that one isn't better than the other, but there are all kinds of streams to enjoy. I personally love watching Reynad for the laughs, Dog for the education, and Trump to calm me down for a nap.
What Twitch chat meme makes you secretly smile?
Too many, but my favorite involve all of the variations of Kripp's excuses. Too good. This guy's interview questions are CRAZY! He needed precisely those 13 questions to ask me. I answer the question perfectly.
Where do you expect the next big innovation in Hearthstone to come from?
It's hard to say. This is primarily what teams are for—to help refine and practice decks in secret. Hearthstone's primary innovations come from unknown players who inspire the well known innovators. Kolento and Firebat for example often have people behind the scenes helping them with their wacky decks. True innovators like StrifeCro and Reynad will definitely keep coming up with their own material.
What’s your opinion on BM’ing in pro matches? Do we need more?
I don't think we need more of it, but I think it's great to showboat a little. There's a difference, however, in trying to be mean-spirited versus having fun. I think its a fun element where it sets up natural storylines: see Savjz vs Realz in ESGN fight night!! :D
Do you think Goblins vs Gnomes has had the desired effect in terms of increasing deck diversity at tournaments?
Absolutely. Contrary to popular belief, Hearthstone has an incredible amount of diversity at the moment. There are so many ways to play classes that its hard to keep track of them. You have to be highly advanced in order to tell from one or two cards and even then, you can still make mistakes. People who moan about the unpredictability are often the people who care the most about winning and not having fun. They will have their time in the sun once the metagame is figured out.
Which card deserves to be nerfed most: Dr. Boom, Mech Warper, or Wisp?
I don't want them to nerf Wisp or my budget Dr. Boom will be useless on EU!