Tales of the Talent: Sottle’s HCT Takes
It’s been a non-stop year for Simon “Sottle” Welch as an esports commentator—but three Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT) seasonal championships and a defeated Dothraki haircut later, he’s still excited for what lies ahead. Here are Sottle’s highlights from 2017 and predictions for the upcoming HCT World Championship.
The year in review for Sottle starts with the note that Nathan “ThatsAdmirable” Zamora ended on—not to sleep on ShtanUdachi. “ShtanUdachi is a player that I’ve been an enormous fan of for a very long time,” Sottle explains. “Seeing him play lightning fast and destroy everyone was really awesome. I genuinely think he’s like, top five in the world. He was criminally underexposed before that.”
He also appreciated his time at the Blizzard Arena Los Angeles—less because of the historic significance of the venue, and more for the extraordinarily engaged audience. “Having a crowd turn out and be into the plays—cheering for tech-y Pyromancer clears. They were an in-the-know Hearthstone audience,” Sottle says, adding, “The standard of play overall at [the HCT Summer Championship] was the highest we’ve seen.”
In light of the recent announcement of the HCT 2018 ruleset, Sottle also offers his reaction to some of the changes. “Achieving [Hearthstone Masters] status will afford people who have proven themselves to be the most hard-working opportunities to get rewarded. We’ll see more of RDU, who had heartbreaking moments over and over. That’s not really going to happen under the new system. Players will be rewarded for doing well consistently.”
When we turned our eyes to the World Championship next month, Sottle leapt at the opportunity to advocate for ShtanUdachi again. “He’s gone quiet since the Winter Championship,” Sottle says—but quickly adds, “He just sits at home and wins games of Hearthstone. He’s number one, for me.” Outside of this rad bromance, Sottle thinks Europe as a whole is the region to beat, but for one challenger: “The one man who might stop Europe taking it is Muzzy. He proved it with his point standings, and I think he will do a lot of damage if he brings a strong [deck list] lineup.”
Sottle’s advice to Hearthstone esports fans is to watch the Last Call finishers closely. “They may not be players you’re familiar with,” he says, noting their exceptional skill and consistent play. He also seems hopeful that China will shine, saying, “There’s only so many times [the Chinese qualified players] can’t back those results up. They’re clearly the best China has to offer. I’m hoping that China puts up a much better showing than they have recently.”
Planning for Amsterdam, Sottle is personally excited to check off a bucket list item. “I’m excited about it,” he says, with just a hint more mirth than a Sottle fan might expect. “The Netherlands is a country I have never been to, which is kind of rare in Europe in particular. I’ve traveled basically throughout my entire career, and I’ve been to a vast majority of the mainland European Countries—but the Netherlands is not one of them! From what I’ve been told, it’s a beautiful place to visit.”
As with ThatsAdmirable, Sottle will also be bringing his wife for this auspicious occasion. “She started coming along to yo-yo contests back in the day, originally very begrudgingly as the bored girlfriend,” Sottle explains. “Now, she’s involved in the international governing body.” Sounds like Sottle isn't the only one who yo-yo'd a little!
Most adorable of all, Sottle sends a special thanks to his co-caster, Alex “Raven” Baguley. “We kinda came into this whole adventure together. We both came through So You Think You Can Cast at the same time. It means a ton to us that so many people enjoy what we do. I couldn’t have asked to do it with a better partner than Raven—he’s a good friend, and a great casting partner.”
That’s it from Sottle! We’ll be back next week to close out the year with none other than the other half of Sottle’s dynamic duo: Raven.Do you agree with the strong support for ShtanUdachi? Is Sottle counting out the American talent headed to Amsterdam? Let us know what you think in the comments.