Hearthstone’s balance woes continue to take their toll on the competitive scene, as popular pro player and streamer Adrian “Lifecoach” Koy announced his retirement yesterday.
A former professional poker player, Koy is well-known for his analytical approach, often counting the numbers and possibilities for as long as the game clock will let him each turn. According to Red Bull’s count, Koy has won $134,030.19 in Hearthstone tournament winnings over his career, making him the ninth highest-earning competitor in the game so far.
In a video blog, Koy expanded on some of the reasons he’s choosing to step away from Hearthstone:
Koy draws many comparisons to Gwent, the upcoming Witcher card game that he has been playing in beta for a while in lieu of Hearthstone. He sees a dichotomy between the two games: Gwent is adapting and listening to the competitive scene, while Hearthstone isn’t.
What am I even saying? What I’m saying is this lock and this lock that is my latest run but at the same time it will also directly be my last run. You will never see me talking about Hearthstone ever again, from this day on, because I’m just fed up. I thought about it, and I just realized - hey, since three years they are doing nothing for the competitive scene, rather the opposite, they are always going in the wrong direction, and at this point I really have to assume that they are either not capable of changing that or that they are not willing to do that.
Blizzard has made attempts to address the current metagame, which revolves around cards like Patches the Pirate and Small-Time Buccaneer, but these have been received as band-aids more than real fixes. Koy’s problems center around the gradual removal of combos from the game.
Strategies like Grim Patron decks, which use the Patron’s unique replicating ability to fill the board with minions and push for the win, have been gradually phased out through standard rotation. Molten Giant, a standard for Warlock decks and staple for one of the earliest deck archetypes in Hearthstone, was nerfed until that playstyle was no longer viable. As Koy puts it, whenever a cool effect changes the game in a way that isn’t just raw numbers, it tends to get removed by the balance team.
Posts have still been popping up lamenting the current state of the game, and Koy’s video is already been heralded as the first pebble of a landslide of players announcing a break from Hearthstone in its current state.
While Koy’s words may seem dramatic, there’s little doubt that the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion did harm Hearthstone’s metagame. The current metagame only allows a small number of decks to thrive, so unless you’re running an aggressive Warrior/Shaman or a Reno deck, it is hard to be competitive. Though Blizzard’s coming “Year of the Mammoth” promises to address some of these issues and evolve the game towards a healthier state, Koy isn’t holding his breath:
You won’t see me on the ladder, unless the game is prolonged longer than 5 minutes or 7 minutes on average, I don’t have time for that, yeah? I want to have a challenge, mental challenge. I want to improve myself, in whatever stuff, but if I am passionate about it or I like it, then I would like to improve. And if some area doesn’t give me a challenge, I’m actually really sad.