The Sapphire Showdown has officially drawn to a close, with the top four players progressing through to the Community Shield DGC Qualifier, where they will face-off against the top four players from the Emerald Showdown and their chance at a guaranteed place at the 2017 Digital Gaming Championships!
Having played his way through the Emerald Series, being knocked out in the first round of the Emerald Showdown, James “Epsilon” Stewart has secured his place at the upcoming Community Shield with quite the dominant performance in the Sapphire Showdown final, having secured a tight 3-0 win in the final to join the ranks of the Emerald and Sapphire contenders.
Telkom Gaming caught up with the recently promoted DGL First Division player for his thoughts on the cup, his competition moving forward as well as some insight into playing in the First Division:
Telkom Gaming (TG): First off, congratulations on a convincing 3-0 Showdown final win!
Thank you! It has been a challenging series and I got really lucky in the final against Méno “BLouSKaaP” De Villiers with Devolve really winning me a couple of the games.
TG: Your first two matches of the Showdown appear to have been quite the challenge, with 3-2 scorelines for both. Which match was the most challenging for you and why?
The first two games were quite intense, and definitely the closest of my games in the Showdown. I’d probably say the match against Jan “Greatone” Blomerus was the closest, we both played well and I feel I just drew a little bit better than him and that was the difference.
The game with John “Chemistry” Honiball was a bit unpleasant with BM; which I recognise is part of the game, just not something I’ve seen a lot of with a community as small as ours. The entire field was pretty stacked though so I really am quite proud to have come out on top with a lot of the players in the field being people I respect.
TG: Having qualified through the Sapphire Showdown, losing out in the final match to Dale “Pand3mOnia” Pon, what was your most challenging match-up in that cup?
The final against Dale was a bit unfortunate in that the whole thing lasted about 10 mins, one of the things I don’t really like about the Last Hero Standing format, I don’t think it was tough since I basically just watched Pirate Warrior hit me in the face for three games haha. I really enjoy playing against Dale though, he is a fierce competitor and one of the top players in the country so always a great challenge; we’ve also got a bit of a rivalry going at the moment which always keeps you on your toes!
The game against Callum “JimmyTheHand” Cameron-Smith was definitely the hardest of that round, it was the first time I had played against him and he was technically very strong, I was lucky to draw well when it mattered which got me the win.
TG: Moving forward you will compete against the top four Emerald and Sapphire players for a chance at a DGC spot. How will you prepare for these matches and do you feel the change of format will work in your favour in these upcoming matches?
Well I am still looking for a serious practice partner so if anyone is reading this and interested please drop me a line! I watch a lot of streams so always do my best to keep abreast of what is happening in the meta and what is performing well; which is why i switched up my line-up quite a lot throughout the two cups. I think as long as I keep current and keep tinkering with decks and techs I am hoping I will continue to perform well.
The change of format from Last Hero to Conquest will be very welcome. It means you can build your line-ups to target very specific decks and there is a lot more strategy involved and the ability to build a good deck and ultimately include meaningful tech cards is much more relevant when compared to Last Hero where the majority of people just play the Top four meta decks and play on auto-pilot.
I am expecting a few people to struggle with the transition since you can’t just be good at piloting one Tier 1 deck and expect to win. I expect people like Dylan “D1b” Brown, Dale “Pand3mOnia” Pon and Gadi “Zaymok” Friedman to perform really well since they spend so much time playing with their line-ups and refining their lists and they really are very strong strategists. That being said I think it would be foolish to underestimate anyone, especially with people like Francois “Fafa” Mouton and Ashraf “Apex” Peck in the line-up as well – both very strong technical players who always perform well. I am hoping that some of our local streamers might get involved and potentially cast some of these games as it would be an excellent opportunity to showcase some of the best local players.
TG: You’re currently fighting your way through the HS First Division, with the ultimate goal of reaching Premier Division I would imagine. What are your thoughts on the other players in the league, having played against a range of different skill levels on your way to the showdown and through the second division last leg?
First Division is rough, there is no doubt about it, even some of the Premier guys have admitted that First division is a lot “tougher” than the Premier division. With four demotions and every single person capable of winning it’s very scary. I have been fortunate to start off really well, sitting at 3 – 0 so far has me feeling a little more relaxed. Then I remember I still have games against Gadi “Zaymok” Friedman and Dylan “D1b” Brown and Rudi “Azura” Doubell in my division (three players who have qualified for the Showdown) and it gets a bit more stressful. With four people dropping and only two people being promoted it’s going to be tough to get one of those two spots.
Did you know that you can play Hearthstone in the DGL?
The DGL is South Africa’s largest online gaming league and is open to everybody.
Join the DGL for free and you could win cash and prizes for playing Hearthstone.