Tom “Rez” Wright came 3rd at the TBG Cup, our second Hearthstone event to use the Sideboard format, “Duel” . He walks us through his decklist and tells us why Priest is best class for Sideboarding.
Eliot Miller: Today, I’m speaking with Tom “Rez” Wright, 3rd place winner of the TBG Cup. How are you doing today Tom?
Tom “Rez” Wright: I’m doing really well thanks.
Eliot Miller: You won yourself a Hearthstone pillow and some Razer goodies, have you put them to good use so far?
Tom “Rez” Wright: Yeah, but my girlfriend’s got the pillow at the moment. She’s a big Hearthstone player, so it felt rude not to give it to her for a bit.
Eliot Miller: I like that we’ve surpassed the cliché of “Winning-your-girlfriend-a-teddy-bear-at-the-fair”, it’s now moved onto Hearthstone pillows at esports tournaments!
Eliot Miller: So have you been to any Hearthstone events before?
Tom “Rez” Wright: No actually, this was my first one. It was actually my first tournament at all, I haven’t even played a tournament online. So it was quite an experience!
Eliot Miller: So what drove you to attend the TBG Cup and actually take up competition?
Tom “Rez” Wright: I guess I was curious about it. I looked on the internet for any gatherings that were near me, and there was nothing about up my way (Tom is from county Durham). But it just so happened that the next day you were hosting this event and, I thought I’d just go for it.
Eliot Miller: We were using the Sideboard format, “Duel”, where you’ve got a 12 card sideboard that you can swap in and out of your main deck. What did you think of the format?
Tom “Rez” Wright: I thought it was really interesting. It was definitely different from the standard Conquest format. I really enjoyed the ability to tweak my deck. It was quite interesting, a lot of fun.
I think Priest is really strong in the sideboard format
Eliot Miller: Well I’ve got your decklist here in front of me. You were the only Priest in the entire tournament (in fact, the only Priest we have ever had at our events), so what made you choose this class?
Tom “Rez” Wright: I’m just really comfortable with the class. When I first played Hearthstone, it was the class that I beat all other clases with to unlock them.
When Amaz started streaming, I took a lot of inspiration from his builds. Now there’s Zetalot who’s getting rank 1 Legend in EU with Priest, and the decklist I was using at the tournament was based very closely on one of Zetalot’s builds.
Another thing I predicted was a lot of Face-Hunters and Zoolocks, so I teched my deck to beat that, so it’s got Deathlords and Prophet Velen for boosting your health in the late game.
I think Priest is really strong in the sideboard format. Overall it’s pretty weak, especially on ladder, unless you’re really good like Zetalot. But with a sideboard format I think it’s really really strong, because you can build it in a way that can beat almost any deck.
That’s what I went for, all the big tech changes in my sideboard, just so that I could beat any deck. It was kind of annoying though, because I built it to beat Face-Hunter and Zoo mainly, and they’re the ones that knocked me out!
Eliot Miller: I noticed you had the Prophet Velen + Mind Blast combo, to try and get that 20 damage out. How did that fare for you in the tournament?
Tom “Rez” Wright: I think I pulled it off a couple of times. I teched it out most of the time, when I was sideboarding, because I wanted to take the Mind Blasts out and put in Wild Pyromancer when I played against Hunter, and I wanted Thoughtsteals against Warriors. But it worked really well when I played against Handlock. That was quite a fun victory!
Eliot Miller: I do remember seeing you Thoughtsteal a Grommash Hellscream from Fire’s Warrior deck. I think that was the loudest scream of agony and hilarity at any point during the event.
Tom “Rez” Wright: That was such a good moment! I thoughtstole both of them (Grom & Death’s Bite) with one Thoughtsteal. At this point I knew it was time to push for damage.
I just started going face with my Big Game Hunter, no trading. Death’s Bite along with the BGH got him down to 10 HP, but he wasn’t predicting any burst from me. I remember I dropped Grommash, looked over to him, and he wasn’t looking at the game, he was talking to the guy next to him, and then when he looked back his face just went red. I couldn’t help but laugh!
Best-of-three didn’t feel like enough time to get into the mind of your opponent
Eliot Miller: If you were to come to another TBG event, using the sideboard format “Duel”, would you play Priest again? Would you make any changes to your deck or sideboard?
Tom “Rez” Wright: I’m not too sure. I really like the idea of using Warlock, because I think with 12 card sideboard, there’s a way you can change it from a Zoo-like deck to a Handlocky demon deck. But I didn’t have enough time to play around with that idea (before I had to submit my decklist for the event).
I’d probably try and work out some sort of Warlock, were you start out as some kind of Zoo, and then you switch out 12 cards and build some kind of Demony Handlock, and then wreck them because they’ve teched against your Zoo. I think I’d try that….or just bring Priest again.
Eliot Miller: That sounds good! That’s the kind of meta I want to see developing out of the sideboard format. The idea that you could have a soft-Handlock Demon deck, that could then be changed into a soft-Zoo Demon deck. That you have these kinds of hybrid decks you can switch between with your sideboard, and change the pace at which your deck plays.
Eliot Miller: Are there are any changes though you’d want to see to this sideboard format, “Duel”?
Tom “Rez” Wright: Best-of-three didn’t feel like enough time to get into the mind of your opponent. Predicting the sort of tech changes they were going to make. But you can’t really run best-of-fives in group stages, can you?
Eliot Miller: No, we were slightly limited for time. I think we finished on the dot when we had to get out.
Tom “Rez” Wright: Maybe add a time limit the sideboarding too, because I know I took a long time. It was 10 minutes on one match.
I remember against Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones, I made changes to my deck, and then he took an extra 5 minutes, so I ended making more changes because he was giving me the time to. His taking ages, influenced my changes as well.
I wouldn’t have it too short though, I think you need a good 5 minutes to make changes.
Turns our Randalthor7 took time to let people think he was sideboarding, in an attempt to mind-game his opponent! Check out what he has to say about it in his interview.
Eliot Miller: Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me today Tom.
Tom “Rez” Wright: Thanks for hosting the tournament, it was great! I’ll definitely come back next time.
So there you have it, Priest could well be the strongest class in a Sideboard tournament, if it can get past Zoolock and Face-Hunter! We really appreciate Rez’s feedback that we should impose time-limits on sideboarding, and if we have the time, conisder running group stages or a Best-of-five games.