By Fantasy

The King is back. For the first time in a year Kyle ‘Swindlemelonzz’ Freedman returns to the game, he left as a champion. Since then a lot happened and there is plenty to catch up on. Discussion points like his comeback, the casting gig, Sync eSports, the Southeast Asian community and his motivational skills made for an interesting talk.

Leon casino,

Fantasy: Hey, Swindle, thanks a lot for taking the time out of your compLexity schedule to really present yourself to the HoN fans once more. You have been gone for an entire season, what makes you return now?

swindlemelonzz: Hey, Sören. Truthfully the main thing that interested me was going back to Thailand. Even though I’ve attended more than 15 LANs at this point, its still one of my favorite things to do. I’ll never tire of them. I love the culture of the World Finals event, and I’ve definitely had a few of my best days (and nights) over there. So why not go back!

Despite your retirement from the game, did you still follow the scene and HoN Tour?

Not extensively. I know who wins every cycle, and tune in enough to know the current meta and facepalm as to why no one but Sync seems to understand how to win games of HoN.

When you were asked, was it an easy decision to return to your old game to cast or did you struggle with the decision?

Truthfully I struggled more than I anticipated. I had to cut the trip very short in order to attend (I’ll only be in Thailand for three days) so that it didn’t interfere with my DotA career. I would have much preferred to spend a good week at least but it just wasn’t realistic with the current schedule. There’s a match I need to play about 4 hours after I land back at home, so I’m a bit pressed for time. But I’ve always loved HoN, and I’d always wanted to cast a major event - how could I say no?

A lot has changed in the game, are you still up-to-date or will you have to play some catch-up leading up to the World Finals?

I’m relatively up to date. I plan on having a couple conversations with Aydin and Sync to polish my present knowledge but I think my predictive powers will still be functioning ever after such a long hiatus.

The thing you brought to any cast is always the ability to know what the players think and feel in certain situations. What would do you see as your biggest asset as part of a casting team?

I believe that when I was in form I understood the competitive aspect of this game better than anyone else did, ever. I’ve been gone for quite a while now but I played over 15,000 games of HoN; there are some things you just don’t forget.

For me as an interviewer you also offer a special view on things. While others can only speculate and see from the spectator side how teams react, you still know a team like Sync eSports from your competition days. What is the biggest strength of their team?

Honestly, their past losses to so many superior teams. I believe I lost my first six LAN events in HoN, then won my last five. What players who haven’t won an event might not realize is that when you achieve final victory, it’s not joy that greets you but relief. It’s not what you feel, but what you don’t. That painful, gnawing sensation in your stomach that kills you, makes you pace the room and punch walls because losing just f****** sucks so much.

So yeah, Sync knows that feeling well. I can’t imagine they’ll allow it to descend upon them again after an event of this magnitude.

When sG left the scene, did you anticipate Sync eSports to take over your spot or did you have any other team or player in mind as your rightful heir?

I figured BMG would dominate, but when they left I didn’t see any real competition for Sync during the regular season. LAN and international play might change that, but I knew that they would be top dogs.

Looking outside of the NA/EU scope, you have been rather critical of foreign teams and the hype created around them when going into events like the HoN Tour Finals or DreamHack. What is the biggest blunder you always detect from those squads?

Properly growing a lead. HoN is all about getting ahead, and staying ahead. Turning a little advantage into a big one. I’ve never seen a Thai team win a game “properly” it’s often just teamfights until eventually one team wins. That’s not how you do it!

We always hear the argument of the Asian teams being "mechanically skilled", how much of a factor is that actually?

I’ve seen players lauded as incredibly mechanically skilled make grievous errors that cost their team many an important match. I don’t think talent is that important at all. Team strategy and execution will always be the real path to victory, not being a master of the hatchet throw.

You are one of the most legendary tacticians and drafter HoN has ever seen. Do you think if you spent a couple weeks as a coach for a Thai team at bootcamp, could you turn them into World Champions?

I mean, I got Sync past TMSR in an afternoon, you give me two weeks and I could make the top three all Thai teams.

Neolution eSports.MRR was been the revelation of the last HoN World Finals, especially in the match against your team. What is your take on them?

Solid team without enough leadership in game. It’s very obvious they don’t have a unified decision making process, and often end up on separate pages in game. As a wise man once said, it is better to have one poor plan than two great plans.

Looking at the history of teams you faced from SEA, Thailand and CIS. Who are the best that come to your mind?

I think the best were MRR from the HTS2 World Finals and Orange eSports from the GSL 2021. I mean, this was a long long while ago but Duskbin was in my opinion, the best team to ever come from the Asian region. They were incredibly talented players, unfortunately the scene just wasn’t what it is today back then!

From memory lane we come to the current teams, a lot of new names like Hybrid Gaming and Acer.Dogg are going to challenge the established squads. How difficult was it for you to play against unknown teams? Is there anything special in that?

Not really. sG had a very polished strategy that even the top teams struggled to outdo. Unknown teams would often try to throw us a curveball, but the beauty of our drafts was that we never really came out behind regardless of what the enemy threw at us. And often, my players were much better than the opposition :). Now, will the unknown factor surprise at this LAN? I think so. But I’m not so certain Sync will be caught off guard, but I do expect NA/EU Team #2 to lose at least two games to the Thai/SEA region.

Now in the booth, do you think you will have to research these teams more intensive than as a captain?

Definitely. In the past I just had to know enough to beat them, now I need to learn more about how they tick and what drives their strategy. What win conditions they pursue, how they approach the game, so I can appear intelligent and informed when casting! I plan on watching a ton of replays on the plane over (26 hours hooray) in addition to speaking with some pros both in the upcoming days before the event, and at the LAN itself.

Before I let you go, I've been asking all four casters the same thing. Who do you see winning the World Finals?

I REALLY want to say a team that’s not Sync, but I see Sync’s win chance at about ~%70. Maybe they’ll get cocky and throw, but I think they’re more than aware of those chances and plan on trying super-duper hard to win this LAN.

As a side-question - will you try to present the sword to the winner, as a symbolic passing of the torch?

Haha I didn’t even think about that! If they asked me to, I can’t imagine ever refusing - I love being on stage!

Thanks a lot, man. Any final shoutouts?

Shoutout to the HoN Team for allowing me this opportunity, specifically Sam for tolerating my flip flopping, all the fans that still care about me (you’re really the ones who gave me another chance to attend a big HoN lan) my dad, mom, stepmom, brothers, friends, and you, the loyal reader. Beef as well, you’re the man.


About The Author: Fantasy
Fantasy is a journalist with four years of experience working in various eSports. He is currently the HoN Tour correspondent for the CIS and SEA regions, as well as an editor for both ESL Gaming and compLexity Gaming. In addition to his online endeavors, he studies Publicity and Communication, plays American football, and loves movies.