Hearthstone - Heroes of Warcraft news » Tales of the Talent: HCT Time with Raven
2017 was a mammoth year for Alexander “Raven” Baguley as he circled the globe with the Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT) alongside his commentating compatriots (in case you missed them, we spoke to Nathan “ThatsAdmirable” Zamora and Simon “Sottle” Welch earlier this month!). With the competitive year coming to a close and the HCT World Championship in Amsterdam around the corner, Raven leveled with us on what stood out this year, as well as who he’s rooting for to win the title of World Champion.
The memorable moments in 2017 were plentiful, but two specific circumstances stood apart for Raven: Being in the Bahamas, and the Summer Championship grand final. “The Winter Championship, just because of where it was,” Raven says, adding, “We saw some great players perform very well. It was crazy to go to the Bahamas—that was nuts, for me.”
On the subject of summer, Raven got to enjoy just being a part of the crowd. “I got to sit and watch as a spectator,” he says. “It was insane, and Surrender winning was amazing. The whole audience was going nuts every single turn. Being able to watch at the Blizzard Arena was kind of awesome.”
Akin to the other half of his dynamic duo, Sottle, Raven is elated to see the new HCT 2018 rules unveiled. “I’m really excited to see what happens with the development of the regions,” he explains. He thinks that the relative strength of the regions will shift going into 2018, and is not alone in his hopes that there will be some shakeups in the year to come.
There is still an entire HCT World Championship between us and the start of the 2018 campaign, however, and Raven lit up discussing it. “I just can’t wait to see who becomes the World Champion,” he says. “We have the most insane tournament line-up that we’ve seen in any tournament, never mind just HCT. The line-up we’ve got is mind-blowing.”
The field of players headed to Amsterdam is pretty much a who’s-who of the best Hearthstone players around right now, it’s true—but who does Raven think will set themselves apart? “I’ve got two favorites for this tournament,” he says, although he does add that it’s hard to choose from such a stacked selection of competitors. “I’ve enjoyed watching Neirea play, but I’m really looking forward to seeing Surrender play. He’s the most recent championship winner—but also, as a Korean player, with the Korean scene having gone very up and down, we haven’t seen consistent, high-level Korean performances. I’m expecting big things from him.”
If there’s a surprise dark horse for Raven, it’s Anthony “Ant” Trevino. “I think Ant might surprise people,” Raven says. “He’s a fantastic Hearthstone player, but his skill and performance can be overshadowed by his personality. I think that sometimes people forget that he’s really good at the game.”
When we get to discussing the actual venue for the HCT World Championship, Raven can't wait to welcome HCT 2017 to Europe. “I’ve been to Amsterdam before, for a holiday. I had a lot of fun there. The location is great—right in the city, tons of stuff to do. Having an event in a central location in Europe is great for so many European fans.”
In closing, Raven’s personal thoughts are a blend of humility and the same pure excitement he has radiated throughout the conversation. “I think, for me, the World Championship is such a big deal because I’m still relatively new to casting,” he says. “For Hearthstone to develop as much as it has in the past few years and build up to this event—having [the World Championship] at its own event, separate from BlizzCon, is amazing. I never thought I’d attend an event like this, much less cast it. It’s pretty much a dream come true.”
Another dream will no doubt come true for one of the 16 players spending their upcoming holidays furiously practicing for the HCT World Championship! Do you think Raven is right, and that it’s Korea’s time to shine? Or will one of his European compatriots close out the year on home turf? Let us know in the comments!