DreamHack Austin: Jeff “Appa” Clark Interview
Today we interviewed Appa to get to know him better and find out his viewpoints.
First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Jeff “Appa” Clark, I am a 22-year-old college student from the United States currently competing in Hearthstone at a high level.
How did you get into Hearthstone?
A little bit of background is required here I think to kind of explain how I got into the game. I picked up a card game called Magic: The Gathering in high school. When I started getting into the game, after at a competitive level, I was fortunate to be surrounded by some of the better players in the country (and arguably the world) who helped me become a pretty good player. After a couple years, I moved away from my hometown, which meant I also moved away from the place where I played Magic. I was looking for something to satisfy that urge to play cards that I still had and my friend introduced me to Hearthstone.
What is it about Hearthstone that you find so attractive?
The thing that I initially found most attractive about the game is the fact that I could log on and play whenever I wanted to. I didn’t have to set up a playtest session or go up to the local card shop like I did in magic. I think what keeps me coming back to the game now is that I strive to be the best I can possibly be and I still have a lot to work on, not to mention the fact that I want to prove to myself and others that I can be considered one of the best players in the world.
When did you make the decision to play Hearthstone competitively?
I made the decision to play hearthstone competitively when I found out about the open cups you can play in daily, so I figured I may as well play in them since I love competition and I was playing a ton anyways.
Why did you decide to move onto a pro level?
I don’t really consider myself a pro player just yet. I think a pro player is someone who supports him or herself off of the game, and I’m not quite to that level; I consider myself a competent competitive player and that’s about it really. I decided to move on to the next level because I was contacted by the manager of the guy I beat in round one of DreamHack last year and he got me in touch with Slak (Founder & COO of Cyclone), so I jumped on the opportunity and it’s been a great experience so far.
Coming off a 20th finish at DreamHack Austin last year, how prepared do you feel for this year?
Last year was simultaneously a confidence boost and a wake-up call. 20th at my first major is nothing to sneeze at, but I also should have made top 16 if I didn’t make a dumb error in the second to last round. Going into this tournament, I feel anxious (I usually do before any event), but I trust in my preparation.
What’s the one thing you’d like to improve on the most for this year’s tournament compared to last years?
Last year I didn’t understand the Hearthstone competitive formats as well as I do now. I brought decks that I thought were just good and didn’t have a pick/ban strategy and managed to just play really well against the best players in the world and end up in 20th. This year I have a lineup that is crafted with a very specific game plan in mind and I think all of my decks are well positioned. I’d like to end the tournament with a top 16 result and walk away feeling like I made no obvious play mistakes.
What preparations did you make for this upcoming tournament?
I did an unreasonable amount of preparation for this tournament. I spent the better part of this past month studying each deck, figuring out every potential card of every popular deck, figuring out a deck lineup and the matchups against every possible deck, learning my decks inside and out, and playtesting multiple hours a day. Twelve hour prep sessions were not uncommon on days when I was off from school.
What experience do you want to gain from this tournament?
I really want to walk away from the tournament in the top 16 and get a feature match on stream and prove to everyone that I am a good player. Right now I have a 72% win rate across two majors versus some of the best players in the world and I want to keep that streak going and prove to people that my results were not a flash in the pan.
Make sure to follow @CycloneGG on Twitter for updates on Appa’s run through DreamHack Austin.