"I am extremely confident that India will win the gold medal for Hearthstone in the 2022 Asian Games": Tirth Mehta

Tirth Mehta is the Hearthstone hero that Indian gamers need to get inspired from (Image via Sportskeeda)
Tirth Mehta is the Hearthstone hero that Indian gamers need to get inspired from (Image via Sportskeeda)
Debolina Banerjee

Mind over matter is a success mantra that plays an intrinsic role in video games like Hearthstone. Tirth Mehta’s immense triumph in the Digital Collectible Card gaming world was hinted at a young age when he was pouring over books and immersing himself in mathematical puzzles.

Video games like Hearthstone and Legends of Runeterra are yet to find a stronghold in the Indian gaming scene. However, Tirth Mehta is optimistic to see the scene change in the future.

Now that Esports is considered one of the main events for the 2022 Asian Games, gamers are working tooth and nail to find their spot in the list of winners. In conversation with Sportskeeda Esports’ Debolina Banerjee, Tirth looks back at his historic win in the 2018 Asian Games and dreams of India bringing back a gold medal in Hearthstone at the 2022 Asian Games.

Q. From the 2018 Asian Games to the Hearthstone Championship Tour, you have taken part in your fair share of intense Hearthstone competitions. Tell us about your journey in the Esports world and what has changed in the last four years since you won bronze (Hearthstone) in 2018 Asian Games.

Who remembers this blast from the past? 😌👌

Tirth: My journey in the Esports world has been exciting, to say the least. I have been constantly looking to improve myself, and that has been the best part of the whole journey.

Many things have changed since I last won the Bronze medal in the 2018 Asian Games. The main difference is the support I have received from various athletes aspiring to become the best. Sadly, the same support has not been reflected towards the Indian Hearthstone scene, as we are still left abandoned by the Esports organizations in India. I am optimistic that this will change.

Q. Talk us through your childhood. What video games were your favourite? What were you pursuing before you entered the world of gaming?

Tirth: In my childhood, I was a proud bookworm. I enjoyed participating in any kind of competition that tested my brainpower. I was introduced to video games by my cousin when we played games like Tetris, Mario, Contra, etc. The competitive spirit started from these games as well, like trying to compete for the highest score in Tetris, looking forward to completing the most levels in Mario, working towards becoming the last one surviving in Contra, etc.

Aside from gaming, my time was mostly spent solving puzzles. Mathematical puzzles, logical puzzles, or quizzes were some of my favorite things to spend time on. I also enjoyed playing chess and cricket.

Q. What inspired you to dive into Hearthstone? Did World of Warcraft play a role in your decision-making by any chance?

Tirth: A CCG/TCG (Collectible Card Game/Trading Card Game) called Urban-Rivals played a huge role in my drive to try out Hearthstone. I was looking for a single-player, turn-based strategy game with a solid Esports potential, and Hearthstone filled that slot perfectly. It was also in beta during that time, which meant that the playing field was almost the same for everyone.

I never played World of Warcraft before jumping into Hearthstone. I did play some Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne, which made me recognize some of the cards I saw in the first Hearthstone competition I watched during Blizzcon 2014.

Q. DCCGs are mainly inspired from anime and Duel Masters is one of the biggest examples. Were you into anime before you started playing Hearthstone? If yes, what are your favorite anime series?


Tirth: Not really, I watched some Digimon and Pokemon, but aside from that, I didn't really watch much TV in general. I have watched some anime since then, though, and Haikyu!! is my favorite so far.

Q. What are your go-to decks in Hearthstone? Do you find some popular decks to be overrated?

Tirth: I change my go-to decks based on the meta. Usually, I love playing combo-control decks. I try to play the decks that are good in the meta as that is a necessity when competing.

I do find many popular decks to be overrated quite often. Then again, that is dependent on the meta, which changes very frequently.

Q. Control Warrior vs Freeze Mage and Handlock vs Priest are two of the most popular hard counters in Hearthstone. If you have to choose between the two, which one would you prefer? What are some of the hard counters that you are fond of?

Playing 3 decks that I have been enjoying + the last 5 minutes change of Rush Warrior instead of Quest Hunter. Let's see how the MT goes! Good luck to all the participants <3

Tirth: As a Priest-main, I will always take Handlock vs Priest. I don't usually dislike cards in Hearthstone, but Ice Block present in Freeze Mage is a card that I hate.

I am fine with one-sided matchups as long as there is interaction happening on the board. With perfection and proper card alignment, it can ensure victory for the player even if he is in a disadvantageous position.

Q. Hearthstone has many expansions to choose from. Which ones do you swear by?

Tirth: I absolutely love Journey to Un'goro. Even though the expansions had a lot of broken cards on release, the meta still holds a place in my heart. I also enjoyed Curse of Naxxramas.

Q. Legends of Runterra is one of the biggest competitors of Hearthstone. What sets the two games apart? Is there any aspect of LoR that you like better than Hearthstone?

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Tirth: I have tried Legends of Runeterra extensively, and honestly, as a game, it is fine. The one thing Hearthstone does better is be more viewer-friendly. Legends of Runeterra is tough to understand for non-players, but it does have many amazing features that Hearthstone still lacks.

Legends of Runeterra has a streamlined in-game tournament mode, which carries out qualifiers and tournaments from the in-game client itself. This is something that has been requested over and over by the Hearthstone community but sadly has been discarded for other features by the development team.

Q. Digital Collectible Card Games (DCCG) like Hearthstone and Legends of Runterra are not as popular as the Battle Royale titles in India. Why do you think that is the case? How can the scenario be changed?

Tirth Mehta in the 2018 Asian Games (Image via ESFI)
Tirth Mehta in the 2018 Asian Games (Image via ESFI)

Tirth: It is just about how viewer-friendly the games are. When a player moves the camera to kill another player, any type of audience would understand what has happened. On the other hand, when a player drags some objects to a different place, it is impossible for the general audience to understand the brilliance behind it. Shooter games are also a lot more action-packed, providing entertainment to the audience.

However, I don't think that this is the major reason as games like chess still attract a lot of Indian people. Sadly, I am still looking for some good reasons behind this question as well. Hopefully, once we find it and solve it, the CCG genre will start booming in India.

Q. Mobile gaming in India is growing by leaps and bounds. What do you think of the country’s future when it comes to the world of video and mobile gaming? How has it grown in the last five years?

𝗕𝗼𝘂𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗯𝗮𝘁𝘁𝗹𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝘄𝗮𝗶𝘁! The new game mode Mercenaries will allow you to collect iconic heroes, assemble teams and take down Bounties!Prepare for Mercenaries—Coming October 12!

Tirth: Competition in any game has gone through the roof in any Esports title in India. Even relatively niche games like Hearthstone and Rocket League have seen more competition within the scene. Sadly, from what I know, the mobile games scene is dominated by shooter games like Call of Duty: Mobile or Battlegrounds Mobile India or Free Fire. The mobile MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) scene was in a very healthy position before the bans were imposed on games like Marvel Super War, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, and Arena of Valor. Aside from these, the only other mobile games that I have seen that remain popular are Supercell titles and World Cricket Championship.

I am optimistic about the future. I am not a fan of the main events having a direct seed entry for Indian teams, but having a seed reserved for India for a regional qualifier is a welcome addition. I hope the Indian teams will perform well in the international scene, but it is difficult to know where India stands without international events. The growth is certainly there, though, and it continues to scale.

Q. More and more players are taking a keen interest in esports. Do you think India is a good market for esports? Why is that so?

Tirth: I think it is mostly because of the sheer number of players present in India. The competitive mindset present in them is also a factor. Games that make good use of this with social features are bound to perform well in the market. I still wouldn't say that India is a good market for strategy games because the viewership struggles to sustain the tournaments. But yes, if the game is suited for the audience with a strong financial support, there is a huge chance that the Esports scene will be booming in India.

Q. You are the only Indian to have won a medal in the esports section in the 2018 Asian Games. Aside from winning, what is the fondest memory you would look back on? Do you think your win had an impact on the Digital Collectible Card Gaming community in India?

Tirth Mehta with his Bronze Medal for Hearthstone in the 2018 Asian Games (Image via ESFI)
Tirth Mehta with his Bronze Medal for Hearthstone in the 2018 Asian Games (Image via ESFI)

Tirth: From the 2018 Asian Games, my fondest memory would be meeting a player who praised my performance from online tournaments. Knowing that someone remembers me for my performance and took the initiative to let me know, that made me feel really happy.

It is tough to say how significantly my performance has impacted the community, but I can see many more starting to compete in tournaments now.

Q. Esports is 2018 Asian Games was just a demonstration event. Now that it is finally considered a medal event in the 2022 Asian Games, what do you think about its inclusion in an athletic event like the Asian Games?

Tirth: I think it is mutually beneficial for both traditional athletic events and Esports. I consider the Asian Games to be a platform that tests the skills of an athlete, be it physical or mental. When I talked with other athletes in the Asian Games 2018 Athletes Village, they shared the same perspective as well. The competition is about identifying the skills, hard work, and dedication required in both traditional and Esports events.

Q. Once again, Hearthstone is one of the games included in the Esports section of the 2022 Asian Games. How are you preparing for the competition? Which fellow competitors are you watching out for?

LETS GO!!! @PlayHearthstone in Asian Games 2022! The competition this time is going to be insanely tough for national qualis, but I'm confident that whoever represents India will bring the medal home. Excited!…

Tirth: The competition is tough this time. I am working a full-time job as a game developer, which leaves me with less time than I had last time when I was competing in Hearthstone full-time. Other players have finally started competing now too, to get a medal. The community had many skilled players, but they didn't have a major reason to compete before this.

There are many players that I am sure will perform well in the upcoming qualifiers. Players such as Mighty, feNix14, GoofyRonak have already done well to qualify for the Hearthstone Masters tour. Mighty has also put India on the board for qualifying for the Hearthstone Grandmasters, which is the highest level of competition present in Hearthstone! Many other players such as raptorHS, Tyrantgod, Hellraiser, Clickbait, etc. have competed in tournaments. There are also many players that are good but often lack time to compete properly. Again, these names are just from our small community. I am sure there are many other players outside our community who are aiming for a medal in the 2022 Asian Games.

Regardless, I am extremely confident that this time - India will have the gold medal for Hearthstone.

Q. Lastly, what are the key aspects that professional gamers should look out for while playing Hearthstone in tournaments?

Tirth: The two main things that I believe more players should do to become a professional player for Hearthstone are - analyzing games after each series, and being mentally mature.

I have seen many players blame the loss on the randomness present in the game, only to find that they have made some mistakes in their gameplay. Analyzing games helps in identifying the mistakes and making sure that it doesn't happen again in the future. Hence, it is a core part of improving the gameplay.

Being mentally mature is also another thing that is extremely difficult in Hearthstone. Many players get tilted or angry about the game, which impacts their performance in the upcoming games of the series. Being mentally calm and present is important, although easier said than done. To improve my mental maturity, I play to improve and not play to win. Analyzing games also helps in future situations as one is reminded that randomness is a part of the game and that there is always room for improvement.

Tournaments also last for a long time and are mentally exhausting. So keeping the mental fortitude up is also another important aspect required from a competitor.

Edited by Yasho Amonkar
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