Sensei Spotlight: Competitive Spirit with DeathstarV3

A competitive spirit breeds excellence, and today’s Sensei embodies this value to the max! It takes a rare combination of patience, skill, and winner’s drive to ascend the heights of the Hearthstone scene… But today’s subject of Sensei Spotlight doesn’t shy away from confrontation! Here’s a player who’s equally at home in a tournament match or a coaching session: let’s get to know DeathstarV3!


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Greetings Deathstar: welcome to Sensei Spotlight! Please introduce us to the person behind the name!

My real name is Stephen Stone and I’m 22. I live in Kansas City, Kansas and currently work in my family business. Competition really drives my passion for Hearthstone, just like every other game I’ve played. I was always a competitive spirit since high school. I played football, wrestled, and was even on the debate team! If I wasn’t doing schoolwork, I would basically occupy my time with any competitive activity I could find.


Was there a particular experience that prepared you for the competitive environment of Hearthstone?

I’ve played many different games in my life, but I think what really set me up for Hearthstone success was my 4 years of semi-competitive play in Magic: the Gathering. I won a lot of local tournaments and even placed top 24 in some of the StarCityGames Opens!


What are some of your proudest achievements in Hearthstone?

The list is getting long: I went to the Blizzcon Playoffs in 2014, won in the CN vs NA matchup in 2015, was in the 2016 Winter Playoffs, achieved Legend over 30 times, and I’ve helped shape the meta in multiple different seasons. Maybe most notably, I designed Deathlord Hunter and got Rank 1 Legend with it in 2015.


competitive tournament event


What motivated you to become a professional coach and start teaching with Gamer Sensei?

I started coaching because I feel I have a unique playstyle that can really help other players. I’ve always prided myself on my ability to discover creative solutions to complicated problems, and give myself an edge in any way possible. Because of this I felt I had a responsibility to teach others that there’s more than one “correct” way to play Hearthstone! I wanted to get that message out, whether through coaching or the many deck guides I posted to reddit. I love the way Gamer Sensei runs this platform! It’s simple and intuitive, and it made a lot of sense for me as a professional to come aboard.


Describe your coaching style for our readers!

I try to look for any inherent weaknesses that my student might have, whether that’s as complex as failing to plan around what the opponent is doing or as simple as ordering minions properly as they are played. Hearthstone is a game with tons of depth and intricacy, and helping players often comes down to showing them different ways of thinking about what’s going on.


What does a typical lesson of yours look like?

A typical first lesson starts with watching a few of the student’s games where I give zero help, so I can just observe how they play. I do this to see how they make decisions when I’m not around. This makes it easier to find their weaknesses and give specific advice that will help them address those in the long run.


The everchanging meta always brings new tech into the light, but sometimes good cards are neglected due to lack of consensus. What card you think deserves more attention?

For me, I would have to say Stitched Tracker. I think this card is not getting nearly enough love! It enables a whole new style of Hunter by giving the class a tool which it rarely has: consistency. One of my favorite ways to use it is in a Secret Hunter deck so you can almost always have a turn 3 or 4 Cloaked Huntress. The Tracker hasn’t gotten much time in the spotlight since Druid is a tough matchup, but with the Innervate nerfs in play I hope to show the community that this is a force to be reckoned with! I also like the Beast Hunter list here…


hunter hearthstone

Editor’s note: for Sensei Dethelor’s take on the recent Hearthstone nerfs, see his article here.


Players all over the world constantly strive for improvement. Any tips for them?

My advice is very simple: I recommend a time-tested and proven strategy that will help you improve at almost anything! That is: “record and watch yourself, no matter how cringey it may be!” Recording your games and watching the replays lets you spot mistakes you may not have recognized in the moment. Often I find my embarrassment over a serious misplay forces me to remember that mistake each time a similar opportunity comes up in the future!


As it’s present in every aspect of Hearthstone, RNG troubles millions of souls! What’s your advice on handling it?

Don’t let RNG be an excuse for making mistakes in the game. I’m guilty of this myself, and I know many of you are too. If you automatically blame RNG for losses, even if it was a contributing factor it means you dismiss the possibility that you had some part to play. No one – and I mean no one – plays each and every game perfectly. Try to set aside randomness: take a moment, look back after each game and ask yourself: “Could I have played that differently or done something better?” This helps prevent you from playing the game on autopilot, which is a common mistake!


Thank you for your time! Any final thoughts for our readers?

From the bottom of my heart, thanks for giving me the opportunity to share something personal about my journey. I hope you guys find this article helpful and inspiring!


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