The battles have been fought and the dust has settled: Manny ‘dude7597’ Eckert will be joining NRG eSports’ professional Hearthstone team! There are few moments more significant to an aspiring pro than their first team invite, and nothing rivals the support and camaraderie that a dedicated organization and fellow gamers can provide. Gamer Sensei connected over the weekend with the Seattle-based gamer to hear his thoughts and hopes regarding this incredible event. Check the link here if you missed the announcement, and read on for our interview with the newest member of Team NRG!
What is your earliest competitive gaming memory?
Well, probably playing Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic: the Gathering in middle school. I would go to a local store, Card Exchange, and play with older gamers, high school and college kids and so on. They hosted tournaments every weekend and I got into competing in both games, the Yu-Gi-Oh! and Friday Night Magic events. I only won a few times at most (laughs) but the whole thing really turned me on to card games in general. Playing with a bunch of people of all ages who had a shared passion was an incredibly enjoyable experience!
How did you get started playing Hearthstone?
I stopped playing those other card games in high school due to the price of competing. In my senior year, a friend recommended I try Hearthstone – I still remember that moment in French class. I downloaded the game on my phone in March 2015, right after Blackrock Mountain came out. After a few months of casual mobile play, I installed it on my computer and got completely hooked from there! laughs
I hit Legend for the first time in… October 2015. I was super hyped, because I had been trying for a few months beforehand and wasn’t that successful. I was playing Hybrid Hunter, which had some Face Hunter elements and topped out at Savannah Highmane. In retrospect, I still think that deck was pretty good at the time! I remember it fell off really quickly when League of Explorers came out though.
What brought you onto Gamer Sensei?
My initial connection was through Astrogation, whom I had played against in an open tourney in December 2015. I think he had heard of me, or else he just didn’t delete me from his friend list for some reason; I dunno why. laughs
I booked him for a coaching session, so I actually started out as a student! We ended up becoming friends though and he would help me for free. Then around last March, he asked if I was interested in coaching for this website that he had joined – at first it was kinda hard getting started on Gamer Sensei, I think the site had just launched and I only found a few students in my first months. But after I started competing in the Hearthstone Championship Tour especially the lessons really started coming in. Last summer and fall I started getting a ton of clients through the platform!
What comes next?
Probably the most significant thing that I’ll be spending time on is streaming. I hadn’t been able to stream before because I had a really crappy Macbook, but my college’s Hearthstone team manager hooked me up with a nice new laptop. I got started a few months ago and I’m really looking forward to getting a Twitch Sub button through my partnership with NRG and will be streaming a lot.
[Editor’s note: you can find dude7597’s Twitch stream at this link!]
Anything to say about or to your new teammates?
I’m super pumped to be able to practice and theorycraft with Amnesiac. He has a strong argument for being the best Hearthstone player in North America and is certainly among the top five in the world right now. If I could pick just one player to be on a team with, it would be him.
What skills or specialties will you bring to Team NRG?
Hmm… That question is really hard to answer, because all top players are trying to compete at the highest level. I guess I could say I’m a hard worker and when I set my mind to something I know I’m gonna follow through and do as well as I can. The deck I know best is Freeze Mage, which has been really bad for a few months now… laughs Hopefully it comes back into the meta.
What decks are you playing right now? What do you like or dislike in the current metagame?
Aggro Shaman – just the best deck in the game right now. Bring it to tournaments. Play it on ladder. @nrgamnesiac gets credit for this exact list, although other iterations of Aggro Shaman can be strong as well.
Aggro Rogue – this list was created by Muzzy. It’s (probably?) not as strong as normal Rogue lists, but it does fare better against Shaman, which makes it a solid choice for ladder.
Freeze Mage – had to include a Freeze Mage list! This is what I’ve been playing on ladder. I climbed a surprising amount with it on stream the other day, though I don’t expect that win rate to last once I get into the Legend ranks. I cut Kobold because Druid + Reno Mage aren’t as common as Rogue, Shaman, and Warrior.
How are you planning to celebrate?
Probably take a night to myself, hang out with my friends, maybe eat some leftover cake out of the fridge. laughs
Any closing thoughts?
I’m just so excited and happy that all the hard work I’ve put into Hearthstone is finally paying off! And I’m really looking forward to working with Amnesiac, Amaz, Backspace, and the rest of the NRG family!
Thanks for joining us, Manny, and congratulations!
Thanks to Gamer Sensei for providing me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and to my friends and family for supporting and cheering me on!
So there you have it: check out dude7597’s Sensei profile to try a lesson with the newest member of Team NRG! And keep an eye out for more recruitment events hosted by Gamer Sensei – you could be next to come across an opportunity like this one!