Back in june 2018, Neil Mosunic, aka Neilyo, kindly accepted an interview with Silent Shadows. What a way to start our Rogue Legends series!
His name rings a bell for every TBC enthusiast because this legendary player has made his mark in the game forever. Praised as the most skilled and entertaining rogue player to watch back in TBC times, Neilyo remains one of the most advanced TBC rogue playstyle designers.
Part of Nerd Stomper, then SK Gaming, Neilyo was a multi r1 gladiator who also participated in several tournaments and won a few podiums.

Hey Neil, thanks for accepting my invitation. This interview is very special because I want to offer my community a surprise along with my farewell movie. Even though you have quit long ago, you still have a lot of fans, especially in the TBC community, and I know they will be delighted to hear you talking about your TBC Rogue experience…

How did you start playing rogue?

When I first started playing WoW, I asked my friend who I started playing with, which class he thought I should play. He told me he thought I’d like rogue or maybe some other class (i don’t remember which one it was) and I asked him about the differences between the two classes he recommended., When he told me about the playstyle and how rogues did a lot of combo moves, I thought that it sounded really cool and fun, so that’s how I chose to play the rogue class, and when I started playing it, I knew that it was the right choice.

How did you figure that rogue was your perfect class ?

I first discovered how strong the rogue class could be when I was leveling and would world-PvP every chance I got. I saw that if I executed my combos perfectly, even if I was low health, I could still win many times. I even loved world-PvP so much that I usually levelled with a PvP build in case I ran into any people. This was before arena came out…

What makes you feel the rogue class was magic?

Rogue is such a unique class, because their toolkit allows for and promotes a lot of finesse. This is why I think rogue PvP videos are often some of the most popular PvP videos again and again.
Rogues are very much duelists and combo heavy. There are so many different combos and variations of the same combo, and interesting mechanical exploits, which gives each rogue player a lot of freedom to choose what sequence to use at any given time.
Because of this, playing rogue feels really rewarding when you execute an intricate combo smoothly and, a lot of times, this ends up making you reach a flow state and that’s such a wonderful feeling. Also if a high rated arena match comes down to 1v1, you better hope that your one person alive is a rogue that knows how to duel.

Would you share memories of TBC with us?

I have a lot of fun memories of TBC times:
Everyone was so excited when server transfers were opened up and most of the serious PvP’ers transferred to BG9 and Tichondrius. Seeing so many gladiators outside in Durotar was just awesome and it became a proving ground for new transfers.
The game was still novel for most people at this time. The initial excitement around arenas was still very strong.
I remember coming to Tichondrius. I think we got rank 1 on the server I came from but it was small and easy. When we started playing arenas on BG9, we found that our team composition wasn’t good enough; we had to run one of the best team compositions for a rogue to compete and this was when the real competition started. It was great.

What was your favorite tricky rogue move?

My favourite tricky rogue move was probably vanishing a blind or anything that had no travel time. Because this was the hardest to do since blind or other abilities with no travel time were instant. You didn’t have time to react, you had to do everything based on intuition, anticipation, and predicting the enemy, getting in their head.

I also loved blinding rogues out of vanish, because people always thought they just got unlucky with the timing. They’d think like “If I vanished a little bit sooner I’d have vanished their blind”.
But then when you did it to them again and again, they would realize that you got in their head.
I remember seeing vanishing blind happen accidentally and thought to myself maybe it can be done intentionally.
I usually knew when the enemy rogue wanted to blind, I could also stunlock them and intentionally give them a small little window to blind in between the stunlock to make it even more predictable: that’s when I started testing it out.

What about RNG?

Haha, I remember the most frustrating thing in TBC was rng of course, particularly mace stun because warriors were so common.
I remember losing some high rated matches because my druid got mace stunned two times in a row. –laughs.

What would you answer to people saying that you were too much of a defensive player?

I never liked to label my playstyle because I never tried to play a particular style, really. I just tried to figure out what was the best style for the current situation. The best style could change at any time when the situation changes. So it’s best to be flexible and ready to change your style at any moment. But oftentimes, properly playing defensively could give you control over the flow of the match until you can get everything lined up with your teammates for a perfect swap.
A lot of the times the most skilled plays were also defensive ones because when you are aggressive, you usually just use all of your abilities on the one person you’re attacking, but when you’re playing defensive, you may need to cc two or even three enemies at the same time.

Do you rewatch your videos sometimes? What’s your favorite movie of you?

My favorite one of my own TBC videos to watch were the dueling ones. Rogue versus Rogue was just so pure. It was what pushed rogue to the limit for me and helped me discover every deep mechanic the class had.

Interview - Audio version

Rewatch Neilyo 14.5

Have you ever tried to play on a private server? if yes, can you give details ? Any thoughts about Private Servers?

I never played on private servers because I wanted to be prepared for the big tournaments which were on current or recent patches.
Private servers are nice to have for people who want to play on an older patch and be part of a typically much smaller community (more tight-knit)

How did you react to Blizzard’s announcement about the development of a Classic server? Is it a way to get Neilyo back in the game ?

I was tired of WoW continually letting the competitive side of the game down with bad balancing and low commitment to helping it flourish as an eSport. So when I quit, I didn’t care about it any longer. For people who want to play classic, this news is cool, but for me it doesn’t matter anymore.

Hearing you say this feels like there’s nothing else than the competition (eSport element) in your entire wow career;you never got fun in this game ? Like doing random stuff ingame with friends just for laughs ? I understand that you were seeing this game as a way to make money (competition etc) but it sounds a bit sad to play a game not for the game itself.

The most fun part of gaming for me is honing my skill and competing. I had fun messing around with friends but had most fun PvPing with friends on a high level.

Is there anything you “regret” about your wow career / partners / WoW in general?

Although I had a lot of fun playing WoW and competing, my wish was that I could turn pro-gaming into a career. I regret that the game didn’t become a big eSport and wish I had quit sooner while I still had the time to try to go pro at a game that presented more of a promise of becoming a big eSport. I also regret not streaming sooner, because that could have become a career option even if I quit WoW and transitioned to another game.

Was being described as ‘arguably the best rogue in the world’ adding pressure on your shoulders during your golden era?

Yes, but once you get in the zone while playing, everything just flows.

Are there any famous players/moviemakers that you truly respected and enjoyed to watch back then? Like Hydra or Unmercey or Switfy, or many others from the private server community?

There were plenty of respectable moviemakers but I didn’t watch much because I was usually playing instead. Whenever I would watch, I’d just want to stop and play.

Any nicknames in mind?

I remember watching Corrupt before I made any videos, a Chinese rogue I think. I heard about the video since it was getting popular. That might have been the first time I saw the not-breaking-Sap tactic and I thought it was cool. I remember thinking he was good at the time but I felt like I could do everything he did already, so that’s when I thought: maybe I should make videos too. I hadn’t watched any videos of people intentionally vanishing Death Coil/Blind or blinding a rogue out of vanish before I learned those techniques on my own.

Most rogues’ PvP foundation is Neilyo’s legacy, but is there a WoW Legacy in your life? I mean, did WoW bring you something still of benefit to you today?

All of the practice analyzing and theorycrafting strategies has helped a lot. It comes much more easily now. There’s a fundamental mindset that goes along with being strategic, regardless of what it is that you are strategizing about (WoW, interviews, prioritization etc.)

Do you feel any nostalgia about the old days in WoW or have you definitely drawn a line for this part of your life?

I definitely feel nostalgic from time to time. I debated quitting for a long time before I finally did, so when I did quit it it was pretty easy to move on.

Well, thanks Neil for being so considerate and thoughtful, one last question to end this interview
Finally, what advice would you give to your younger self wishing to become excellent as a rogue?

The advice has nothing to do with WoW. It’s just the same advice you give to anyone wanting to get good at anything.

Be disciplined and rigorous with studying and practicing. Study the known strategies but know they may not be the best or only way. Be open-minded, keep a beginner’s mind, be a free-thinker and never stop trying to learn. Constantly analyze and learn from your own and others’ performance and failures. Always be thinking of different ways of doing things; experiment and test ideas, question everything, draw your own conclusions and conceptualize. Develop first principles of thinking.