As one of the more interesting teams of the late stages of HoN Tour Season 2, willowkeeper managed to make a run in the Playoffs, bringing the team’s name to public light. Since then, the squad dominated the Carnage Amateur Division before being promoted to the Pro Division just four weeks ago. With their unusual tactics and hero choices, they have quickly become a fan favourite on Honcast and are now doing very well among the other Pro teams, but we don't really know that much about them. So lets take a look at the team that seemingly came from nowhere with an interview about their past, present, and future, courtesy of willowkeeper Captain, [tree]Fusen.

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Blaze: For those who still don't know you and your team, please introduce yourself.

Fusen: My ingame name is Fusen and I am the captain of team willowkeeper, where I currently play hard support. I am from poorland Hungary, even though everyone thinks I am from Sweden. Let me introduce my team too so they can get 20 seconds of fame! Our suicide player is the one and only, catlover Boxi, he is the star player of the team according to many players. I have known him since he was 14 and he has not became more mature at all. Our mid player is Kracke, mostly known by his Flux (which is not even his best hero in my opinion). He originally was the carry, then suicide player for us, so huge shoutout to Kracke being able to switch roles without whining too much (it is impressive for Kracke). Our 2nd support is Rootof_z who made himself a name by his Riftwalker plays, #AllHailRootof_z. Finally our carry is baltazar` who has been my teammate before in zhiT and I am happy to have him again! He is probably the only guy in the team who does not like whining/raging/blaming - such nice guy. We are 3 Swedes, 1 Dane (Rootof_z), and I am from Hungary, as I said above.

Blaze: Tell us a bit about the ancient history of your team, before the HoN Tour Season 2 Playoffs

Uhh... I started playing HoN around beta with real life friends casually and after they quit I wanted to get a team, because playing alone was not fun. I met Boxi and Rootof_z in HT Season 1 - Winter 2021 - while I was ringing for their team. After they disbanded we decided to team up and started playing since then (team nX). It was mid-season so after climbing up to Gold Division we only had 2 cycles left, I think. We beat Imbaboy/Z4ne's team in our first Gold cycle ever, but then lost to a much weaker team next round. Our second cycle was more successful as we made to Diamond, however it was the last cycle of Season 1 so we could not play there.

Season 2 we did go through a lot of roster changes which made it hard for us to compete with the best, but we were a low Diamond team anyways. This is when most of us lost motivation and quit HoN (Rootof_z, for example) so we teamed up with RFaM who also lost players and we became [zhiT] Shit Happens. Then, before Dreamhack, which we wanted to qualify for, we disbanded and the team attended Dreamhack with 2-3 ringers. After that, Rootof_z came back, and with few extra players zhiT split up into ICE and tree, my team. Since then we have had 3-4 carry players but it seems like that this roster is gonna be our final one - hopefully. (Not like we kicked any players, they quit HoN or Zloka left to army).

Blaze: From the playoffs onward, you experienced quite the climb, from Amateurs to the Pro Division now. What was the hardest part in that and why did you succeed where others did not?

Do not want to sound cocky but I considered my team way better than the Amateur teams even before CiC Cycle 1; unfortunately we could not focus fully on the game due to having bad PC/exams/holidays, etc, and we had to face last of US in a best-of-one, and we're famous of playing terrible on US servers (and yes it sounds hilarious but thats the truth). Luckily I could prove myself and did not fail to qualify this time, because that would have been awkward after saying these words about my team. Why did we succeed? Most players say it is my drafting or our amazingly skilled players, but it is honestly because we have played together - at least me, Boxi, and Root - for such a long time, and I know exactly what we're good at and bad at.

Blaze: Carnage in Caldavar Cycle 2 is coming to an end soon. How was it for you and your team in the Pro Division and how well do you hope/expect to do in the Pro Playoffs?

Our goal was to get 3rd place if possibly, but 4th for sure. We accomplished that so I can safely say that I am satisfied with our performance. We did have games we should have won but we also had upsets, so in general we're at about where I expected to be. Our goals for Playoffs are the same, 3rd place (obviously 4th is secured). Would not mind getting higher though obviously.

Blaze: Season 3 of HoN Tour has been announced. Your opinion on the new Divisions, the eSports Plinko system, and the community support?

I do not know every detail about the new season, but overall it looks nice, and I think S2 did what they could do, I did not expect the season be better, so props to them. Glad to see community funding finally in HoN Tour and I also like that Diamond Division is smaller.

Blaze: Are there any other of the newer teams you think will have a major impact on the scene in the future? And who will win the Amateur Invitational this weekend?

I think the 3 teams with most potential in Amateur Division would be Aellgi's team (whatever stupid name they have at the moment [Black Code Order]), MOE, and iRex once they get a stable roster and start actually playing. As this invitational goes... I guess Dawn are the favourite just by looking at the standings but I think MOE is way stronger and I [expect MOE to win that match].. We will see, but my bet would be MOE.

Blaze: What do you think a team needs to be successful in HoN?

Keep playing, no drama, friendship.

Blaze: Any thoughts on the new patch yet?

I have not read everything so far, but overall it is a great patch. Changes are always great to shake up the metagame (not like I draft around the metagame, but most teams do). I think Chronos got hit too hard, but could be wrong about that, but the nerf on Sir Benzington was definitely not needed. I like the Andro buff even though the hero will not ever (or should not) become a top tier pick due to his range, so it will remain as a strong situational pick. I like the new item, it is early to tell how strong it will be. Blacksmith staff seems fun and I also heard it is strong - need to wait and see. I do not think we needed a buff on Chipper at all. Glad to see Elephant getting nerfed, but it will need more. Drunken Master changes are spot on (could be wrong though, it is hard to say without playing). Ellonia change is like WTF - I do not play the hero, but baltazar` will ask me even more to pick it. Glacius buff is probably too strong but I like it because it is one of my favourite supports anyway. Glad to see Grinex buffed again. I dont know why S2 is buffing Klanx as they have not even seen it (still a new hero), it is already pretty OK; will see how he does in the future! Puppet did not get nerfed too hard but I do not think the hero needed a big nerf anyways. Solstice had to get nerfed due to his famous cancer powers in TMM, so I approve. Tremble rework... I can not say I like it and I seriously hope it will be disabled in competitive mode. About item changes, I like all of them but can not say the game will be more balanced. Nullstone and Thunderclaw will become incredibly strong in my opinion. The [Bound] Eye changes were needed. Glad to see Iron Shield finally getting nerfed, and I like the Nomes changes (especially Root I guess since he likes the item). Overall there are buffs which are way too strong, but as I said shaking up the meta is not a bad thing, worst case S2 will release a new balance patch nerfing the same heroes. I would say Elephant needs more nerf and I also miss a Puzzlebox nerf.

Blaze: Any final thoughts/words/shoutouts?

Thank you for having me. Shoutout to LEEEEEROOY replacing Kracke (yes, this is a joke). And let me answer a "bonus question" because people keep asking us about the pulling jungle thingy:
I think the "Pulling Jungle" strategy can be very effective if done properly but you need to know its limits. I saw a lot of people trying it but most of them failed because of lack of experience. I do not think the strategy is overpowered but it gives you the advantage in drafting stage as you can still lane those heroes if you want to, but you can also jungle with them. We have around 20 heroes which we can (or want to) jungle with so the options are unlimited. Fun fact: when I came up with the idea my team at first it looked like I was the one who would play it but in the end we decided to give the role to Root, as I am the only one in the team who can play hard support and he is also better with farm. So, even though I was better at it at first Root took the role and with hard work and tons of practice he became a beast at it! Thank you Root for carrying us :)

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Big thanks to dear Fusen. He and his merry band of Nords can be seen on Honcast again this weekend, where they will play in the Pro Playoffs to determine their spots in the new HoN Tour Season 3 and who takes home the lion’s share share of the $8000 prize pool. And a final shoutout to Rootof_z for his awesome play with the coolest hero of Newerth, Riftwalker!

About the author: Blaze