With every new expansion, Hearthstone undergoes a rebirth… And we’re approaching another one of those incredible dates! You’ll have to master the basics if you want to climb ladder quickly and get Legend – and every game offers a unique set of choices to navigate. Today we’re talking with one of the most accomplished players on Gamer Sensei – here’s our interview with Cursed_HS!
Greetings, Sensei! It’s an honor to have you in the Spotlight! Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Thank you! I’m Athanasios Papadimitriou, known in the esports community as Cursed. I am 24 years old, come from Athens, and am currently living in Thessaloniki, Greece. At the moment I’m studying civil engineering, and chess has always been a passion of mine.
Possibly the oldest game around, chess is undoubtedly the foundation of modern esports! Describe your journey in that world.
I’ve been playing chess since I was 5 years old, and have won numerous trophies from national and international tournaments. For the last 7 years, I’ve also been an active chess coach for local schools and chess clubs. My best achievement was probably claiming first place at the Greek Student Nationals in 2013. I love solving puzzles and logical problems, or playing games that involve strategy and mathematical thinking!
From professional chess coach to professional Hearthstone player! How did that happen?
At a certain point, I felt that my understanding of Hearthstone had reached a high enough level to help other people improve. As an experienced and successful chess coach, I decided to try my luck. After searching, I settled on work with Gamer Sensei because I loved how user-friendly and easy to navigate the site is!
What would you consider your proudest moment as a coach?
In general, my proudest moments are when a student sends me a message saying how happy he was with our lesson or how he’s noticed himself playing much better and climbing ranks like never before. I remember one time in particular when a student was overjoyed after I helped him reach Legend for the first time. The next season, he unexpectedly sent me a screenshot of his rank – around top 50 Legend! That was very rewarding for me as a coach.
Let’s talk a bit more about coaching! First, what’s your achievement history in Hearthstone?
Inside Greece, I’ve been quite successful. My achievements include 1st place in the Pentakill House Cup in 2014, 3rd place in the Greek Nationals in 2017, and recently qualifying for King of Cards 2. Outside Greece, I have participated in many Dreamhack events and in two Insomnia Championships. In fact, I claimed 1st place in the Dreamhack Summer Open Cup and 2nd place in an Insomnia Open Championship. Aside from tournament placements, I created the very first Aggro Druid deck, running Fel Reavers. I’m also known for competing in the (unofficial…) ‘Rat Race’ – trying to be first to reach Legend after season resets. I successfully won the Rat Race on the European server in season 36!
How would you describe your coaching style?
My philosophy is to emphasize logical thinking and correct mechanical play. I try to help my students understand the importance of planning and thinking ahead. And by pinpointing the weaknesses of each student, we can work together to eliminate them. For example, a student might be a good player in general, but get triggered very easily by bad RNG or bad draws. In that case, we’ll work on managing those feelings in play. In a game with high variance like Hearthstone, there will be times when you get extremely unlucky… but there will also be times when you get lucky instead! All that matters is that you try to make the best plays in every situation. In the long run, the lucky and unlucky moments will even themselves out.
What about a typical lesson? What should a prospective student expect?
How a lesson goes really depends on the student and what he or she is looking for. There are students that ask for tournament preparation, in which case we discuss possible strategies and lineups. Then we’ll practice the decks we picked, either on ladder or in matches between us. Other students want to focus on climbing the ladder, so we examine the strongest decks that fit their preferences and try to master them. And other students need advice and guidance on how to use one specific deck, even if it’s not the best for climbing ladder at the moment – so we focus on that. It really depends on what the students asks for!
Knights of the Frozen Throne has been out for a couple of months and the meta is pretty stable now. What card you think is currently being neglected?
Happy Ghoul is a really cool card with huge potential. It was the first card I tested after the expansion and I was surprised by the size of the possible tempo swings. I was very glad to see some control Warlock decks use this card recently, and I’m working on my own lists that can use it to its full potential!
New players are flowing into Hearthstone, but many of them wonder how to improve their skills. What’s your advice?
In my opinion, the best way to improve is to play a lot of games and then analyze your replays, focusing mostly on your losses. That way you can see where the derailment of the game begins, think about what you should have done differently, and conclude how to avoid making the same mistakes again. Some games might be truly unwinnable due to a very bad matchup or bad RNG, but by watching replays you’ll discover more losses due to your own misplays than you probably suspect!
It’s easy to underestimate the complexity of Hearthstone, because some games – especially between equally-matched players – might be decided by RNG or draws. Book a lesson with me and I’ll help you master the depth of this beautiful game!