Before going pro in Hearthstone, Tyler “Tyler” Hoang Nguyen was a well-known fashion blogger and photographer. With over one million (!) followers on his companies Instagram, he was invited to cover New York Fashion Week in 2014 as an influencer.
“I was getting connections with other Instagram bloggers and fashion bloggers and I was doing photography for them and I was making a very decent amount of money,” said Tyler. “But I didn't feel happy because in the meanwhile I was very good at Hearthstone and I was seeing all these people have success with Hearthstone and I realized that was what I wanted. I ended up selling my company.”
Tyler made the local newspaper in 2014 for his efforts in the fashion world.
By 2017, he was in the newspaper again—for competing in Hearthstone.
Tyler’s parents were refugees. With some money his grandfather tucked away from fighting in the war, they fled from Vietnam to Indonesia, where Tyler was born. When he was about three months old his family moved again, this time to the Netherlands, where Tyler would spend much of his life before migrating to Vietnam at the end of last year.
The recent move to Vietnam made sense for several reasons. “My grandma passed away and she left behind this property, so the plan was for my dad to come to Vietnam to get all the paperwork done and build a house here for my parents’ retirement,” Tyler said. “Since my dad was going anyways, it seemed like a cool opportunity for me to get a change of pace and live somewhere else.”
Tyler also saw a line of play in moving to Asia—to take advantage of what he describes as an easier competitive playing field. “It’s not a secret,” Tyler said. “I saw it as an opportunity to win Last Call. Against Europe, I would have had to face the likes of Feno, Hunterace, etc.”
The move has been fruitful. Tyler enters his first HCT World Championship now as the No. 1 point-earner from Asia. “Being able to say that you’re number one, for me, that means a lot,” Tyler said. “Obviously, qualifying for Worlds, that's huge.”
For Worlds, Tyler considers himself fortunate to have dodged Group C (aka the “Group of Death"), with both Casper "Hunterace" Notto and David "Justsaiyan" Shan representing the regional point-leaders from Europe and the Americas, respectively.
Making it this far is no easy feat and represents the culmination of years of hard work for Tyler, who recently found some serious validation for his efforts by qualifying for and playing at back-to-back seasonal championships.
“It took me awhile; my first relevant win was last year. Before that, I would get far in tournaments, but I would never get the important win,” Tyler said. “I've been trying so hard for two years. In 2017 I tried and failed, and it was very stressful. Not having success for a very long time, that was hard to deal with. For me, it was being called the grinder guy who just won ladder and couldn't do well in tournaments. Then, not being able to prove those people wrong and having mediocre results for a long time… you try not to show it, but it does get to you.”
While Tyler now has some accolades under his belt, the HCT 2019 World Championship will be an exceptionally interesting tournament. The best names in Hearthstone have just a single week to adapt to the new meta introduced by Rise of Shadows and the rotation of the cards that defined the period of time in which they found success. “The timeframe is very short,” Tyler said. “My main practice partners are Feno and Casie, those are usually the guys that I ask for help. I'll be focused on playing a ton of Hearthstone and asking people for their opinions.”
The pressure is on, and while Tyler is his own biggest critic, he knows there are fans out there who want those Choose Your Champion packs. “I know that I disappointed a lot of fans last time and only got them one pack,” Tyler said. “I'm confident that I'll be able to bring a very good lineup and play at my best at Worlds, so vote for me again! That's what the top level of Hearthstone takes. If you want to beat the best, you really must play perfect, and that is what I’m planning to do this Worlds.”
Tyler streams regularly on Twitch. You can catch him and the rest of the competitiors at the HCT 2019 World Championship when the broadcast goes live at 7:00 p.m. PT on April 24 at Twitch.tv/PlayHearthstone!