Thijs flying high in Hearthstone

We catch up with the European Champion to talk about life amongst the Hearthstone elite.
Thijs wins the Blizzcon European Championship qualifier
Thijs wins Blizzcon Euro Championship qualifier © G2 ESPORTS
By Alex Dyet

Thijs Molendijk is a top tier competitive Hearthstone player from the Netherlands, currently on the roster of G2 Esports, and he’s one of the very best in the business.

His thrilling, five game semi-final defeat at the 2015 Hearthstone World Championships, to the tournament’s eventual winner Ostkaka, was quite possibly the most electrifying match you’ll ever witness – and one Thijs would have won had Ostkaka not drawn his Alexstrasza, against all the odds, when he was one turn from defeat in the final game.

Thijs is also a fantastic player to learn from, especially for other control players out there, since he streams regularly and has done some fantastic analysis videos for fans to enjoy. With multiple first-place and runner-up finishes across the premier Hearthstone tournaments last year, Thijs is poised to have a massive 2016 and we were lucky enough to catch up with him before the competitive season really kicks off.

Hi Thijs, how’s everything going?
Thijs: 
Hello, I'm doing good!

Last year was a fantastic one for you. Are you excited about 2016?
Yes, 2015 was an unbelievable year for me. My life has totally changed and I'm enjoying every moment. I'm more than excited about what 2016 has in store for us – hopefully I will have more amazing moments.

What are your thoughts on Hearthstone’s new seasonal championship format?
I really like the new system Blizzard has drawn up: more tournaments, more regional championships and more on the line. I think Hearthstone will get a huge boost at the competitive level and it will actually be more difficult to become a champion.

There seem to be a lot of new decks at the moment with the League of Explorers cards, have you been testing them all out? Any favourites?
Blizzard did an amazing job with LoE. The expansions were a bit weak after Naxxramas and didn't change all that much, but LoE has given us new strategies and made new styles of play viable. My favourite card is probably Reno Jackson. As a control player, there’s no better feeling than going back to full life when you’re up against an aggressive deck.

Thijs’s World Championship decklist
Thijs’s World Championship decklist © Blizzard

Some of the classes aren’t so popular in the professional tournaments but do you think we’ll see more Priest this year?
The reason why Priest is played way less in tournaments is because it has some really good and really bad matchups. For example, I was the only Priest player at the World Championship and I found it a really good call to bring an anti-aggro priest so it worked out. I have to admit that the entomb conclusion solves some of the issues with the bad matchups, but in tournaments players always look for the more consistent decks and Priest is still a very reactive class.

Do you enjoy travelling around to the various tournaments, is that one of the perks of your career for you?
I don't know how it will be in the future but at this moment I enjoy traveling if it's not too much in a short time. Different cultures, always meeting new people, and the atmospheres of big events are all amazing to experience.

© Banya Gaming

Could you tell us a bit about how you prepare for tournaments? Do you look at your opposition for instance?
It really depends on tournaments. Different formats, your opponents, and the meta all have a pretty big influence. People often think you can look at the ladder to find out what will be played in tournaments but this is not true. I also have a lot of different statistics that I use to make the best decisions on what I expect players will bring. I'm always looking for an edge before the tournament starts.

Do you enjoy playing in front of live crowds? Do you think you perform better under that kind of pressure?
At the start I found it difficult. It's different from playing at home because you feel more pressured. I just had to go through the experience and after some time I got used to it. Being nervous is totally fine, you just have to make sure it doesn’t change your thinking and the plays you make.

Do you feel like the game is pretty balanced right now or are there any changes you’d like to see? Some people are complaining about Secret Paladin…
I think Hearthstone is really balanced at the moment and I don’t think we’ve ever had a time where all the nine classes were viable at once. Secret Paladin might be a bit on the strong side and need a small nerf. But people love to complain and when secret Paladin gets nerfed Combo Druids, Dr. Booms or something else will be considered as unbalanced instead.

Would you welcome another expansion sometime over the next few months?
For me Blizzard can't give us enough expansions. I think it's healthy for Hearthstone if every 2-3 months something is changing, so you won't see the same decks over and over.

Thanks for your time Thijs, will you be doing some streaming this week?
In a normal week I'm streaming 5-6 days and I like it a lot. For sure I will be streaming this week. You can find me on www.twitter.com/G2Thijs and my stream on www.twitch.tv/ThijsHS.

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