Dan “Killinallday” Acosta is the youngest competitor in this year’s HCT (Hearthstone Championship Tour) Summer Championship. However, don’t mistake that for lack of experience. Acosta has been a part of competitive Hearthstone for quite awhile now but has yet to break through the qualifying rounds. That changed this year as he is one of four competitors representing the Americas in the tournament. Some believe that this is the year for Killinallday — or as fans have dubbed #YOKAD to show their support — going into this year’s Summer Championship.
Before the tournament began DualShockers, as well as a few other journalists (marked below as “round table”), asked questions regarding Acosta’s strategy, preparation, the hashtag, and more.
Round Table: I just have to ask right off the bat, is this the year of Killinallday?
David Acosta: Yeah, it’s the Year of Killinallday. Yes. This is my first year competing where I’m not going to school, I’m playing full time and feel a lot more prepared for tournaments.
Round Table: Why is it this year?
DA: It’s this year because this is my first year competing where I’m not going to school, I’m playing full time and feel a lot more prepared for tournaments. I’m just a lot better than I used to be.
Round Table: Speaking of prepping, what does your prep for this tournament look like?
DA: I found some good players that I play with that weren’t in the tournament like Muzzy, SwaggyG, DrJikininki and Korextron; just players that I respect their opinions and their play. We basically had a group chat and everyone was telling me what they liked. Obviously, I talked to my teammates too, Tarei and Leadpaint, and they gave their input on what they wanted me to play. I ended up going with what I was comfortable with but at the same time what I thought was going to be good.
Round Table: You’re one of only two people who brought an aggressive line-up. I think Turna was the other. What made you decide to go that route?
DA: I was expecting a lot of Miracle Rogues and Shudderwock Shamans, and the Aggro decks in those match-ups. Especially since I got to see who’s playing in my group before I submitted the decks, I had a pretty good idea of what they were going to play. It kind of went in my favor because all three of them have Shudderwock Shaman and two of them have Miracle Rogue so I’m in a good position in this group.
Michael: How are you feeling going into the tournament?
DA: I’m feeling pretty confident because I have more time to practice and prepare. I just feel like I’m playing better than I used to and that’s what makes me more confident than I used to be.
Round Table: Pertaining to your Odd Paladin, what made you choose Boisterous Bard? It seems like an interesting choice.
DA: It’s really effective. When you’re playing versus a Druid or Warlock, you can play it on turn three or four to play around swipe. It pretty much nullifies their removal so you can pull off a level-up turn. The same against Warlock, so they can’t defile. It’s also pretty good in the mirror too. The Odd Paladin mirror, you can just trade all your 1/1’s across if you play Boisterous Bard. I think it was just a good tech slot instead of playing Stormwind Champion.
Round Table: What has your experience been like sharing time with the developers and other pro gamers a few days prior to the HCT Summer Championships?
DA: It’s been a lot of fun hanging around with other players and talk with them about the game because they think so similarly to me. I’ve known them for a while and getting to meet some of them that I haven’t met before is fun. Meeting the developers too, they’re all really nice and have good focus for the game. They’re taking it into a very good direction, so I’m very happy to hear that.
Round Table: The “year of Killinallday” is intriguing to me. I love the meme, I love how it’s getting around. How did it catch on and where did it start?
DA: So it started back at not the beginning of this year’s HCT season but the one before that. Basically, a year and a half ago now, a little over that. I stopped playing Hearthstone for a month and it was the first time I stopped playing ever. Everyone was like, “No, you can’t come back after that, your career is over,” even though I was irrelevant and I didn’t really have a career anyway. I ‘m like, “No, it’s going to be my year, I’m gonna win some tournaments.”
Then, to follow that up, the first month of the HCT season, I finished Rank 1 Legend on the ladder, so I had the most points in NA and there was a spotlight on my name. That’s where it initially caught on. Then it died back down for that year because I didn’t really win any tournaments — I got 9th place a couple of times and it was thrown around. Then this year when I qualified for the championships, it resurfaced and everyone was cheering for me again.
Round Table: What does it mean to you to see this support?
DA: It’s so awesome to see people cheer for me and root for me. Especially saying great things like “Year of Killinallday”. The support is really awesome. There’s just so many people, so many fans I didn’t know supported me. I can see all their tweets if they hashtag “#YOKAD,” it’s real easy for me to filter through them and see all of them. It’s awesome, all the support. I really appreciate it.
Round Table: Are we going to see some #YOKAD-swag?
DA: We might see some #YOKAD-swag. Maybe. Maybe…
Round Table: How did you get on Endemic?
DA: I just met with the organization at an event last year. They seemed like really good people with a really good vision. It’s going really well. They brought me on; I was one of their first players. We built the Hearthstone roster and now we have a Heroes of the Storm team. It’s really awesome being with an organization that cares about their players and has a good vision. I’m really thankful for all the support from Endemic.
Round Table: Can you share any memorable anecdotes playing eSports?
DA: I guess the most memorable would be at the Summer Playoffs last year where I finished 9th. I just remember being so defeated and so sad because if I would have made the top 8 it would’ve been pretty big for my career — I had a very good chance to make top 4 if I made top 8 just because of the matchup I would have been playing. I just remember it being really sad. It really made me want to strive to work harder this year and take off a semester off school and really focus on the game and see where it can take me. It worked out, I guess, because I made the Championships. Now, I just need to make it to the World Championships.
Round Table: We know you as a heartfelt player and you’ve gained popularity because of it but we know little of David Acosta. Who is David and what does he enjoy aside from Hearthstone? Like, what’s you’re favorite movie or ice cream flavor?
DA: I’ve recently taken on the role as Killinallday more than David so it’s hard to associate with David at this point, honestly [laughs]. I mean, favorite movie? It’s so hard to choose but Good Will Hunting is something that comes to mind. I like to play games. I play so many games. I don’t really like school like most people, I guess. I’m just an L.A. county citizen. I live in California by the beach in a nice neighborhood.
Round Table: Do you surf?
DA: I don’t surf, no. I don’t actually leave my house that much. I play a lot of Hearthstone.
Round Table: I was under the impression that everybody who lives by the beach would?
DA: [laughs] You would think so, right? But not me. Everyone but me I’m pretty sure. Like, everyone but me.
M: You had mentioned before that you liked where the developers were taking the game. Expanding a bit on that, what are your thoughts on The Witchwood and the current meta?
DA: I think it’s pretty good right now. I like the current meta a lot, especially since Blizzard came in, they realized that some cards were too powerful and after The Witchwood they nerfed those really quickly. They’re really keeping on top with the balance of the game. I’m happy with where the game’s at right now with the balance patches they’re making, the adjustments, and even the interactions with different cards are being adjusted. You can tell that they really care about the direction of the game.
Round Table: What are your favorite Witchwood cards?
DA: This shouldn’t be as tough as it is [laughs]. Probably the Genn Greymane and Baku the Mooneater just because they allow for some really interesting strategies with Even and Odd decks. Right now they’re balanced and I just hope they don’t get out of control soon because I don’t want them to get nerfed. I really like the way the decks play and feel.
Round Table: What are some of the mechanics you would like to see added to the game?
DA: Hearthstone has a lot of cool features going for it. I think they have most of the stuff I like in games. Maybe a graveyard feature would be interesting. I know they have stuff that brings back dead cards but if you have a pool of graveyard cards and stuff like that might be a cool addition. Other than that, I like how the game feels and how it plays.
M: What do you do to wind down from all the practicing?
DA: To wind down, I play other games for fun and go out with my family or friends. Basically, just step away from Hearthstone for a bit and do other stuff.
Round Table: Are there any decks that didn’t make the cut?
DA: Oh yeah. I was really close to bringing Egg Hunter. This isn’t a deck that’s really popular but with one day left before decks were due, I was confident that I was going to play this Egg Hunter deck. It runs like the Recruit Hunter decks with the Charging Devilsaurs but instead of the early game package of Prince Keleseth and minions it runs Devilsaur Egg and then you can Play Dead the Devilsaur Egg. There’s the 3 Mana 3/3 –that I don’t know its name — that procs the Egg’s Deathrattle. So you can go Egg on turn 2 with coin, then play the 3/3 that makes a 3/3 and a 5/5. It’s really powerful but it didn’t fit the line-up that I wanted to play so I didn’t end up bringing it but it was really close to being brought.
Round Table: I assume you have seen the decks other players are going to use in the tournament. Have you checked them out and are there any that you see as a threat?
DA: Yeah, I saw the decks. In my group, I have pretty good match-ups. I’m not really scared of anyone in my group; I have pretty good odds. Once I get out of my group and I have to play my one top 8 match to make it to the World Championships, there is actually not a lot of good match-ups for me. So that’s going to be the real tough match and I’m gonna have to practice a lot more to make sure I can have the best odds that I can with my decks.
Round Table: Other than yourself, who is the player you’re rooting for in this tournament?
DA: Definitely Dog or Nalguidan. Dog is just someone I got to know more recently. American player, a really good guy. Nalguidan is a practice partner I’ve had for years now; a South American player that doesn’t get enough recognition. He’s really, really good. I hope he does well.
M: Branching off of that, other than yourself, who do you think has the best chances of taking the Summer Championships title?
DA: I know XiaoT’s decks are really good in his group, so probably him. He has very good decks for his group, so he’s likely to make it out and once he makes it out he only needs to win one more match, so it’s looking good for him. Maybe Nalguidan just because of the strength of his play. I think he’s one of the best players in this tournament. Hopefully, that will get him there.
Round Table: In what ways have you learned from your mistakes and how have you improved your game because of them?
DA: In the Playoffs to qualify for this event, I switched my decks on the last day before the submissions were due and I brought decks that I was really uncomfortable with. They were really strong decks, so that made up for it. I played pretty bad with them. So, to practice for this tournament I figured out what I wanted to play pretty early on and did my best to practice it a lot. So, I’m not going to make any mistakes like I did with Spiteful Druid at Playoffs.
Round Table: Of the decks you’ve brought, which one do you feel most confident in playing and which one do you hope your opponents will ban most?
DA: The one I’m most confident with is probably Token Druid just because it’s such a powerful deck; it’s really hard to target and it can win almost any match-ups. Even in its unfavorable match-ups, it’s so powerful, it can win a lot. The deck I hope that gets banned most is probably my Even Warlock. That deck has potential to get swept and it’s very scary deck to play with against some of the line-ups I’m looking at for my top 8 match. So, that’s the deck I’m least confident with.
Round Table: If you win the tournament or reach the top four, what are your plans?
DA: If I make it to the World Championships, I’ll be so excited. I’m going to make sure I use this as a way to promote my stream and my brand, so I can have more success throughout the year leading up to the World Championships. Hopefully, I’ll be able to just play Hearthstone full time for even longer.
Round Table: Do you think you’ll take a break from competing and focus more on streaming or will we still see you play in other tournaments?
DA: No, that’s definitely not going to be me because a lot of the fun I have with Hearthstone is from competing. I love competing much more than I enjoy streaming or playing the game at home on Ranked. Tournaments are what I love and I’ll make sure to keep playing them all year around, no matter what.
M: What makes the tournament play more appealing than playing outside of that?
DA: To me, it’s just that there’s more on the line. The games matter more and there’s a big reward if you end up doing well. It makes me want to compete at the top level and makes me want to play better. Also, you’re playing against a lot of better players in tournaments and it’s actually fun playing against better players because you can always learn from it. It’s fun to see how they think and what they do. That’s why I like the competition.
Round Table: What do you like most about The Witchwood?
DA: What I like most about The Witchwood are the Even and Odd decks. It was a big flavor for the expansion; it was their main theme. I think they are really fun to play and they have a really big impact on the meta. So, I like the Even and Odd decks a lot.
Round Table: What did it feel like to qualify for the tournament?
DA: It was so crazy. Qualifying for this tournament is something I’ve been trying to do for so long, I just couldn’t actually believe it when I finally did it. I was so happy, so pumped. Just so excited.
Round Table: Do you want to say anything to the people at home supporting you?
DA: I appreciate the support so much. Thank you, everyone, who voted for me. It means so much seeing you vote for me and trust me with your packs — I’ll get you guys a lot of packs. Thanks to everyone who is using #YOKAD. It means a lot.
The HCT Summer Championships have concluded and, unfortunately, Killinallday did not win the title. However, he did make it to the top 4 garnering himself a spot at the HCT World Championships alongside Viper, A83650, and the new HCT Summer Champion, BunnyHoppor. Those who did not make it through this time around will get another chance during the Fall playoffs later this year.