The 2018-19 Hearthstone world champion has been crowned and with that, the Hearthstone Championship Tour has come to an end. That means it's time to move forward to the next major stage in Hearthstone esports: Hearthstone Masters and Grandmasters. The Grandmasters are the elite of the elite. They are 48 players across three regions, set to compete in an eight-week season for a chance to move on and take the next step towards becoming the next Hearthstone world champion.
Among the names featured in the Grandmasters field is a familiar one to those who have followed both competitive Hearthstone and Hearthstone on Twitch. Pathra Cadness has competed for several years, based in Paris, but representing her home country of New Zealand in the Asia-Pacific region. She was in Taipei to catch the HCT Worlds competition, as well as represent her Omnislash team on social media. During Sunday's Top 8, Pathra sat down with Shacknews to discuss Hearthstone, Rise of Shadows, her time with Omnislash, the growth of the female Hearthstone community, and what players can expect to see from her in Grandmasters.
Shacknews: How did you first get started playing Hearthstone competitively?
Pathra Cadness: Once I started playing Hearthstone on stream, with people just watching me, I set little goals all the time. My first goal was get Legend, my next goal was get Top 100, and once I got Top 100, I saw people were paying attention to me and I thought, "Hey, let's try a tournament, because I'm probably decent enough for that." Once I started playing in APAC qualifiers, I felt like the next goal was to win a tournament.
And that's where it started, just wanting to become better at the game and achieve goals here and there.
Shacknews: What are your impressions of the Rise of Shadows expansion so far?
Pathra: I definitely think this was a good wipe. I love that Genn and Baku were Hall of Famed. And now without Quests, without Spellstones, without Death Knights, without [Legendary] weapons, it's just like a fresh new start and it almost feels like what Hearthstone was like at the very beginning. It feels back to the basics and I love that about it.
Shacknews: Going into the final day of competition, are there any decks youo've seen that have impressed you or that you were surprised to see here?
Pathra: I can't really say I've watched too much, since I was busy doing too much stuff on the side. I was doing Meet A Pro and Play A Pro. I noticed that a lot of people brought the best deck, which is Rogue.
I was surprised with people bringing Shaman. I always thought Shaman was bad, but I understand the reasoning behind it. They want to counter the Rogue or counter the zoo. What really surprised me was the Token Druids, which ended up failing for some people.
Shacknews: You were named one of the first Hearthstone Grandmasters. What are your thoughts on Grandmasters as a replacement for HCT?
Pathra: I think it's exciting that Blizzard is focusing on growing personalities in their game. It helps viewers feel more attached to certain people that they've maybe already been following and give them new people they can get behind. It's exciting to try out the new system, the new format, but honestly, I'm fine with anything. I've just learned to adapt with anything that happens. But I think it's a great opportunity and I want to do the very best that I can with Grandmasters.
Shacknews: How did you first get started with Omnislash and how have they helped you become a better player?
Pathra: I asked them, "How did you find me?" And they said they watched my stream a couple of times, they liked what I was doing, they liked how I had a friendly community, they like the topics that I talk about throughout my stream. So they talked to me and wanted to pick me up. I guess they saw good content creation and thought, "Hey, we can this girl do some stuff on our YouTube."
I think they've definitely helped me grow my stream. I get sweet auto-hosts from [Brian] Kibler and Firebat [James Kostesich], which is crazy. Then I have the YouTube side, which is more exposure. A lot of people, from Kibler's community, Firebat's community, Zalae's [Paul Nemeth] community, and YouTube people, they all know about me now. I just feel like we're forming this solid group of great content creators that people love and I definitely think that Omnislash has become one of the best Hearthstone YouTube channels.
Shacknews: I want to go back about a month to WSOE 5. You did very well, ultimately falling short against Jia [Dee] in the finals. There's a chance you two might meet again in Grandmasters someday. How would you see a potential rematch playing out differently?
Pathra: I know Jia qualified for Vegas and she decided to pursue it. I would love to face Jia again. I think she's a strong player and hopefully, this time I take the win.
Shacknews: How do you feel the sense of comradery and competition has developed among the women of Hearthstone since WSOE 2 and 5?
Pathra: I think it's really good that we were growing. A lot of female players are growing in confidence. We're all trying different tournaments now, not just the female-only tournaments. But the female tournaments, we've greatly appreciated them.
Really, it's the boost of confidence. I've played some girls who were just beating themselves and I was just trying to help them understand things. I feel like a little bit of a mentor sometimes or a teacher to some new girl players. And I'm there to help anyone that asks.
Shacknews: Lastly, is there a Rise of Shadows deck that you feel is good, but isn't seeing much play on ladder?
Pathra: I think there's definitely something, but nobody has seen it yet. I'm not the biggest deck-builder. I'm definitely not the best. There are other pros that are so much better. For example, Dog [David Caero], he's always the one that finds the new weird thing. I think there's something out there, but we haven't seen it and the meta is always shifting.
Hearthstone Grandmasters is set to kick off later in May, with Pathra joining the APAC field. For more on the competitive side of Hearthstone, be sure to check out our full conversation with Blizzard's Sam Braithwaite. And for the casual side of Hearthstone, read up on our developer interview with Ben Thompson and Dean Ayala.