Interview

Skill beats Luck Ep. 5 – About the Hispanic Community with Team Nova’s Content Manager Miketocome

Introduction

So far we’ve already talked with Pro Players from Team Bandit Gang, a tournament champion from Team Phoenix and in the last episode the casting and streaming expert TheOneChristo.  

But how does it look behind the scenes of a Gwent Team? What does it take to manage a bunch of people and trying to achieve a common goal? For this purpose I talked to Miketocome, the Content Manager and one of the founders of Team Nova. Now we are also heading deep into the Hispanic community, after we had the chance to learn more about the CIS community with Arch1.

So let’s take a look on his experiences as a manager and the growth of the Hispanic community in general!
Also for our Hispanic readers, check out the Additional Information to find the interview in spanish!  

Meet the Player

Name: Miquel Esteban Cortés

Age: 28

Hobbies: Basketball, Music (Guitar), series and gaming

Section: Management (Team Nova)

Favorite Faction: Nilfgaard

Favorite Card: Ciri Nova

Team Nova and Liga Foltest

Most of us are aware of the bigger community events, which are cast by different streamers and in which many people participate. Such as the TLG Invitational for example, about which we talked about in episode one and three a bit. 

On the other side, we have a lot more diversity in the tournament scene than you might think. The Liga Foltest, one of the oldest Hispanic leagues and events in Gwent is already taking place in its 7th edition this year. With a crowdfounded pricepool of 800 euros it is certainly something to keep an eye on, but only if you have roots in the Hispanic community. This is one of the criteria to be able to participate. 
The league is organised by Hispanic teams like Viper, Sensual, Manticora and of course Team Nova. They created a huge and continually evolving community, of which you might know the recent Open No.3 finalist Poisound (GranMazorca2021) from Columbia, for example. 
(For more information about the team or Liga Foltest, check out their homepage)

In the following interview we want to talk with Team Novas Content Manager Miketocome about what it takes to manage a team, how he sees the development of the Hispanic community and much more.

Additional Information - Información Adicional

For our readers from the Hispanic  community, we also prepared the interview in spanish, which you can find here in an GoogleDocument
También hemos preparado la entrevista en español para nuestros lectores hispanos. Puede encontrarlo aquí en un GoogleDocument!

The Interview

Sawyer: Before we start with the specific questions, you may want to introduce yourself. 
What drew you to the Gwent Community and what do you like about the game? 

Miketocome: Hi everyone, I’m Mike and I’m in charge of managing everything behind Team Nova. I started playing Gwent in The Witcher 3 and then I made the jump to the standalone version at the beginning of the closed beta. After a few months of playing, I found the Gwent Esp community that had just been created and joined to share my passion for Gwent with more people.

What I like most about the game is the freedom it gives you to manage your resources, from the moment you create a deck to the moment you start playing. In that sense it reminds me a lot of chess. In addition, the RNG is much more controlled than in other card games and that allows you to depend more on your skill than on luck to win.

S: True, the reference towards chess was made before. 

There are many different Gwent teams on the circuit, Team Nova being one of them. Created by your teammate Jamedi in 2018, it became the largest team in the Hispanic community. 
Tell us about your journey in the team and how it has evolved over the last years. 

M: Well, the truth is that it’s been an exciting journey. When Jamedi told me about the idea of making a team at the end of 2017 I didn’t think twice and volunteered to help as one of the founders. After all, we were a group of friends who enjoyed playing Gwent and wanted to take it to the next level. I started as a competitive player, but for work reasons I’ve ended up being in charge of running the organization so that everything runs smoothly.

We started with a clear objective: to put the Hispanic community on the map and make the competitive scene aware of the talent we have in Spain and LATAM, since we were the only active project in our community. Throughout these years we have been growing little by little and consolidating ourselves on an international level, opening the doors to players from all over the world, but without forgetting where we come from.

S: Sounds like you had a clear path in your mind already. 
As a content manager, you are not only responsible for your own content, but also for the whole team. 
What is it like to be a manager? What is necessary, in your opinion, to be a good team leader besides having time for your personal stuff?

M: Being a manager requires empathy towards the people you oversee, because in the end, we are all people with busy lives and Gwent unites us as a hobby, not as a job.
Therefore, you can’t pretend to demand anything beyond their will. But you can get personally involved with each content creator and get to know them better to discover their potential and help them focus on the content that can work best for them.

S: Team Nova is known for some of its best players, such as Poisound. You have also recently joined forces with another Hispanic Gwent team, Manticora. 
How would you describe the Hispanic community in general, perhaps in comparison to the Russian or Polish community? 

M: The Hispanic community is one of the oldest and most active on the international scene. It is true that the language barrier hasn’t perhaps made us generate much impact in the English-speaking world, but there is a lot of life.
Also the four Hispanic teams (Manticora, Sensual and Viper) maintain a good relationship and motivate each other, working together to continue growing.

S: Some may not know it, but there is a big Hispanic league, now in its 7th edition: “La Liga Foltest”. This time, together with other teams like Sensual and Viper, you have raised more than 800 euros in the prize pool.

Can you tell us more about the evolution of the league and maybe the motivation behind it?

M: Well, yes, the Foltest League is one of the oldest tournaments that exist in Gwent. We held the first edition in 2017 and since then more than 500 players have played it and we have been improving the competition in all possible areas.

Our motivation has always been to offer a space for Hispanic players to compete against each other and develop themselves. We have been working to offer an experience that not only motivates the hardcore players, but is also enjoyable for anyone who wants to get started in the competitive world.

S: You often hear about the players in the leagues, the tournaments, and the events, but not from the people in charge.
How would you describe your behind-the-scenes experience in organizing a league?

M: It’s normal, although, as time goes by, people begin to recognize the work behind the competitions they enjoy. In the end, organizing any kind of event is an energy-draining experience.
Coordinating groups of people is exhausting and even if you try to make it easy for the participants, there are always doubts and unforeseen events, so you must learn to be patient.

S: Based on my own experience I can tell how exhausting organising an event can be, so I can relate to that. 

Besides the Qualifiers, Opens and Masters, there are not many official events in Gwent.
What would you also ask for in the future, and how important would you say these community events are for the player base?

M: In my opinion, community events have been what has kept the game active for several years. We are fortunate to have a community full of very committed people and organizations, who have carried out impressive projects in a totally altruistic way and without resources.

I would like to see a little more support from CDPR and thus have real support for this kind of projects that goes beyond a publication on social networks or in-game rewards. I firmly believe that Gwent still has potential to grow thanks to its community, but an effort from the publisher is needed.

S: Definitley. The community has been amazing but a little bit more support wouldn’t hurt for sure. 

And about you, what are your goals for the future in Gwent alongside with Team Nova?

M: It has been two very good years for the team. We continue to be the Hispanic reference within Gwent, and we have managed to grow and have representation in two Gwent Opens (with Poisound). In addition, several of our players have been close, but they continue to fight in the Qualifiers.
So in the future we will work hard to continue developing Hispanic talent to be represented in the Gwent World Masters.

Regarding content, we are working on several interesting proposals to raise awareness of Hispanic content within the international community. Our goals are set on remaining at the forefront, leading the way forward.

S: And I am looking forward to see what you can achieve!
Also, as always, we ask for some advice.
Can you give some insights for people who are thinking about setting up an Esports team? What to look out for and what to expect?

M: Thinking about getting into this world? Tip #1: Don’t do it!
Now seriously, any personal project requires a lot of work and sacrifice to get ahead and although many of us see video games as a hobby, the world of Esports is a very competitive environment.

As a piece of advice, it is vital to have clear objectives for a team and be realistic when it comes to growth. Rushing is not good, and you should always learn to walk before you run. And above all else, it is essential to surround oneself with a group of competent and passionate people. Because you can’t shoulder everything yourself in the long term and colleagues always help to keep things moving forward in difficult times.

S: Having goals and a plan surely helps to achieve things in the long run!

Thank your for participating, I am excited to see the growth of the Hispanic community. Also good luck and I wish you good fortune in the wars to come! 

M: Thank YOU for giving me this opportunity to be here and for your work. It is a pleasure to collaborate with Team Bandit Gang and make the community known in this space.
From Nova we extend our hand to you for any matter in the future!

Bandit of the Month (August) | Exclusive Interview with Decode789

It’s our pleasure to award Decode789 with the BOTM this time! Thank you for all the hard work you put in our content! You are an absolute beast for helping out the team in every capacity! From streaming to article writing to video editing to making graphics! You can do it all! Congratulations!

Babyjosus: Sup Decode! What does it mean to you to receive your first BOTM?

Decode789: Getting my first BOTM is really encouraging me to do more for the team and the community! It means a lot! Thank you!

BJ: You are now officially one of the cool kids. How has it been so far on the team for you?

D: It has been wonderful journey so far! I am grateful to be in BG again, because it gives me the freedom to put my ideas/thoughts into reality. Truly grateful <3

BJ: You also helped out a ton when it came to the game spotlights, how do you look back on that?

D: When I was approached for game spotlights, I was very happy to try out new game ideas/designs and let others know about my experience. When I look back at that, I think that I’d like to do more game spotlights in the future as I always like to do creative stuff like, non-stop 😀

BJ: I am happy to hear that. What can people expect from you next month?

D: As of now my plan would be to create the best content that I can, either in the form of articles, banners, video edits, and anything else I’m needed for. I say as of now because, I might even surprise myself with a new idea in the future so stay tuned 😀

BJ: I like the commitment. And what message would you give to the supporters of BG?

D: I thank each and everyone of YOU! Without your support, I would not find the drive to do more <3

You can find out more about Decode789 here.

AndreNL’s First Interview | Welcome To Bandit Gang | Exclusive

Babyjosus: What does it mean to you now you are officially part of BG?

AndreNL: It means that now I’m part of an awesome group of people and, at the same time, I now have more opportunities to help the team and, consequently, the entire community.

BJ: What made you join BG?

A: I love Gwent, so I was always looking for a way to be part of and help the community and I think that joining a team is one of the best ways to do that. I also I think that BG is the most interesting team right now, because it has a perfect balance of the seriousness of a Pro team and a casual/fun mentality, embracing not only the people who want to get better in the game, but also the casual players who just want to have fun.

BJ: What can people expect from you now you are on BG?

A: Commitment. I’ll help the team and the community with whatever is within my reach.

BJ: How well suited do you think you are to the life of a data expert for BG?

A: I have been working with data for over ten years directly or indirectly. I’m also a computer scientist and software engineer, and have a Master’s degree in Computational Intelligence, so data analysis is also part of my academic background.

BJ: What message would you give to the supporters of BG?

A: That the team just got much better. I’m joking :). Thanks very much, your support is what makes all the work worthwhile.

You can find out more about AndreNL here.

AcidBunny’s First Interview | Welcome To Bandit Gang | Exclusive

Babyjosus: What does it mean to you now you are officially part of BG?

AcidBunny: Very happy to be a part of a team like Bandit Gang. This team has not only shown me that it can be a team with a competitive atmosphere for people to improve in, but also a place where you can have fun with everyone and more or less be like a family just hanging around.

BJ: What made you join team BG?

AB: Denpai’s shirtless stream. But on a serious note, it was because the community in and around Bandit Gang was just too wholesome for me to not join and be a part of.

BJ:  What can people expect from you now you are on BG?

AB: As of right now I am still a beginner as an article writer but I have been doing my best to live up to the standards of the article writers of this team and hopefully one day I can be as good as them.

BJ: How well suited do you think you are to the life of an article writer for BG?

AB: Honestly, at first I was reluctant to apply as an article writer because I have never done this sort of thing before and anxiety as well as doubt was holding me back from doing all that. Babyjosus and Bigdaddy taught me a lot of stuff about article writing and ever since I have written a few guides and have been really enjoying them, in particular the feedback I have received from the people who read them.

BJ: What message would you give to the supporters of BG?

AB: First of all, I would like to thank each and every supporter of Bandit Gang for showing us love and support. Every member of the team appreciates it. Keep supporting us all so we can give our best for you all. <3

You can find out more about AcidBunny here.

Zoz97’s First Interview | Welcome To Bandit Gang | Exclusive

Babyjosus: What does it mean to you now you are officially part of BG?

Zoz97: I am happy to join Bandit Gang and to be surrounded by members of the community that are friendly and supportive.

BJ: What made you join team BG?

Z: I knew some of the members who were on the team before I joined, so when I was offered the opportunity to join I was excited about it! And of course, playing any game while in a team improves your performance in events and increases you overall experience, so those two factors played a big role in my decision.

BJ: What can people expect from you now you are on BG?

Z: Hopefully as a pro member of the team, people should expect to see my name often in the top players on the leaderboard as I will work to always improve and adapt as the game changes and evolves. And who knows? Maybe I’ll make it to an official event someday!

BJ: How well suited do you think you are to the life of a pro player for BG?

Z: For me I think the most important thing is to enjoy the game as this is a must if someone is willing to commit so much time and effort for it.

BJ: What message would you give to the supporters of BG?

Z: I would say that this team is growing and has a lot of amazing people in it, from players to content creators, so expect to hear more about us in the future!

You can find out more about zoz97 here.

Skill beats Luck Ep. 4 – A different perspective with TheOneChristo

Introduction

Recently we had the chance to talk to some Pro Players from Bandit Gang. In the last episode, Arch1 from Team Phoenix was our guest…so I thought “why not spice things up a bit?” Let’s try to look at Gwent from a different perspective. 

To do so, I talked to (TheOne) Christo this time. He is not only an experienced Gwent and card game player himself, but also an official Gwent caster. So let me introduce you to our guest first, before we talk a bit about casting, streaming, and his experiences with card games in general. 

Meet the Caster

Name: Christopher

Age: Boomer

Hobbies: Streaming

Section: Content Team

Favourite Faction: Skellige

Favourite Card: Whoreson Junior 

Between Casting and Playing the Game

Playing a game, in this case Gwent, always comes with certain goals. Taking part in community events, reaching a certain position on ladder, or just trying to be creative. But when these events that people qualified for are happening, who are the people guiding us through the tournament? What does it take to be a caster and entertain hundreds or maybe even thousands of viewers? 

Christo worked his way from streaming Gwent to being involved in different games as well, like Mythgard and Kards. While Mythgard is a fantasy cyberpunk oriented card game  with a unique lane and mana system, Kards is a card game based on WWII, using concepts of strategy games as well. You can find more information about Mythgard here and Kards here.

So if you ever get tired of Gwent, make sure to check these out!

Now, let’s see what Christo had to say about being a player, caster, and streamer and where his journey started! 

The Interview

Sawyer: Most of our readers might just know you as a caster, but you also love to play card games.
Can you maybe tell us about your journey into card games in general, and a bit about yourself?

Christo: I have been playing card games, I want to say my whole life. Some of my earliest memories are getting together with my family for Christmas or Thanksgiving and having my grandfather teach me a card game that we’d play and probably wager nickels and dimes on.

Fast forward a few years, (Watch)Flake and another buddy of mine started playing Young Jedi TCG and they introduced me to that. We quickly skipped to the much more complex Star Wars CCG. I spent most of my days during High School at the local card shop playing whatever games were going around. We jumped into Lord of the Rings TCG and a very little bit of Magic (because even 20 years ago it was expensive to get into). I even started playing Raw Deal competitively (based on WWE wrestling) for a bit and ended up being one of the top ranked players in the country.

Then digital CCGs showed up and we all started playing Hearthstone. I continued to dip my toes into new games that came my way like Mythgard, Kards and eventually Gwent.

S: Seems like you’ve been involved in card games almost your entire life. 
When you started streaming, what was your motivation and what were your expectations? Did you always want to cast games? 

C: I started streaming when the pandemic hit because I essentially had extra time. I had the webcam and mic because I was working from home and doing a bunch of video calls. Also my girlfriend was working weird hours, so she was often gone in the evenings. If I was going to sit at home and play games alone, I might as well do it on Twitch and have a bit of social interaction along with it and see where it leads. I don’t even think I expected it to become more than just a hobby, but I was having fun and that’s all that mattered at the time.

I can’t say that I necessarily thought about casting immediately. I’ve always been very competitive at everything I’ve done, whether that be card games, or school or sports growing up. So I thought more about the competitive side of things in Gwent and finished top 500 a few times. I just didn’t feel like I had the time to really improve and compete at the highest level, so I thought about how else I could be involved in the competitive scene.

Initially, before casting, I got involved with 983 Media. There I started to admin tournaments and got a bit of a feel for how things run on the back end. Then I got an opportunity in front of the camera and had a blast. It reminded me of watching sports and hearing the added flavor that amazing commentators can add to a game.

S: So after streaming for a while, what was your first casting experience? How did it go from there to where you are now? 

C: Is it bad that I can’t remember my first casting experience? I would say that it was one of the first Battle of the Bandits events about a year ago.

I think for me and my path to casting, joining Team Bandit Gang was really important. It gave me the opportunity to cast in events like the Battle of the Bandits, Duel of Dogs, BG vs Kreve Meme Tournament, the recent charity series and more. Secondly, being a part of 983 Media was great, because I had worked with them as a tourney admin. And when they saw me cast some Gwent events and the opportunity came up to cast Mythgard, I was an easy choice.

S: That makes sense. As you already mentioned, apart from Gwent you are also involved in Mythgard and Kards. 
How would you describe the differences in casting and maybe the community around it? 

C: I think every game and their community are all unique. Mythgard had been around for a few years, but they weren’t necessarily seeing as much success as they’d like, so they launched their eSports scene this year to try and attract more attention, putting up a $20k prize pool. They had a small competitive scene but some of the players were such big names because they had been dominating the top of the ladder for years.


Mythgard is also a bit more complex to cast because there are so many different things going on. The battlefield feels a bit bigger than Gwent so you constantly have to observe every little action a player takes and how that impacts the game in 3-5, even 10 turns.

Kards was the opposite of Mythgard, they came out of Beta in 2020 and jumped right into eSports. A big part of that was bringing on 983 and using them to help grow the tournament scene. There are events going on every month for a cash prize, as well as monthly qualifiers (similar to the Gwent Qualifiers/Opens) where players can qualify for the World Championships.


This has been a lot of fun since the community is really starting to gravitate towards these events. There’s been more and more of a demand for tournaments at all levels and it’s interesting watching the eSports scene of Kards take shape over the last year and a half. I don’t actually cast Kards, I host a “pre game” show, where I get to interview players or dissect decks with a panel of experts. It’s a lot of fun and a nice change from casting.

S: With the opportunity to cast Open Qualifiers in Gwent, you made a big step forward. What do you like about casting Gwent and the game in general?

C: I am always impressed by how good the top competitive players are. It’s the same in every game I’ve been a part of, but especially when you watch events like the World Championships and you put the players into these high stakes tournament situations. It is absolutely wild, with open decklists, bans, pre-determined coins etc, seeing how well they see the game and know all the lines. 

That’s the excitement that I really enjoy and love being a part of. 

S: The game but also the community is shifting very often.
Do you have to prepare before a cast? What makes a good caster in your opinion?

C: You always have to prepare for a cast! All the best casters do and in part it involves being familiar with the meta, the matchups, what key cards do, certain combos that may exist etc.

The other thing I think is very important, is understanding the community and the story behind the games. Anybody can do “play by play” when it comes to a card game. Player 1 plays this it has this effect, player 2 plays this, it counters that effect and all that. However, that doesn’t add much to the game. The best casters tell a story and it can last the whole event, it can even carry on from one event to the next. 

What is this player’s history? What events have they been a part of in the past? Have they played this opponent before? What was the result? Then when you get into the game, the same thing. What’s this matchup like? How can they win this matchup? What are the key sequences to look out for? 

If you can incorporate that into your casting and really tell a story you can absolutely captivate an audience. 

S: That’s an interesting thought. Compared to other games, though, Gwent is not small but also not the biggest game. 

What would you say it takes to “improve” or evolve the competitive scene in terms of audience or event character?

C: I am a sucker for good production value. It’s obviously more challenging with Covid and everything done remotely. Seeing some of the older Gwent tournaments that were done in Poland, dressed up with different looks, I find that to be the most interesting to watch. The challenge with doing things remotely is that there is more of a chance of problems and when you do have problems, there are no distractions, so the casters are forced to kill time and it can make the event feel long and sometimes boring.

Having more going on obviously makes this easier. I remember a scene where Flake was killing some time by trying to interview an Owl, so when you’re in person, it’s easier to keep people engaged.

S: You have also been a part of Bandit Gang a long time. Other casters, like Mcbeard, never joined a team. 

What influenced your decision to join the Bandits and how did it shape you?

C: When I joined Bandit Gang, I was still newish to streaming and playing Gwent. It was a huge opportunity for me to learn from more seasoned veterans, whether that was about how to best create content, or to improve my skills at the game. I mentioned earlier the opportunity that it gave me to cast some of the Bandit Gang events. Obviously if you’re a part of a team, you are a higher priority to cast their events and that is what gets your name out there.

It worked out so nicely for me because when BG approached me, I had already become very friendly with members such as BabyJosus and Mercernn. They were two of the first Gwent streamers I watched, based on their time slot and my work schedule. 

I think that it’s really been great being around a group of like-minded individuals and it makes things easier.

S: That’s really nice to hear! 

Normally we always ask about some advice for our players. 

But what advice would you give to people who maybe also want to be a caster?

C: I would give you three simple tips:

Practice. A lot. Great casters make things seem easy and you might think to yourself, just give me a mic and I’ll be fine, but it’s not the case. Start by practice casting over events you’re watching, then look for every opportunity to get reps in during events.

Don’t be afraid to ask for opportunities. To play off the end of the previous point, don’t be afraid to ask for opportunities to cast. There are all kinds of community events out there, both big and small, and you will never get an opportunity if you don’t ask for it. People have asked me how I got to cast the Qualifiers…I just asked? Don’t get me wrong, I had experience and had documented previous casting to show my work, so it wasn’t just blindly asking. That said, I never would have gotten the opportunity if I didn’t approach CDPR about it.

Ask for feedback. You are not perfect, nobody is. If you can think you’re going to get better simply by practice and not asking others for feedback, it’s not going to happen. I know a lot of casters preach watching back their casts and taking notes, which I think is great, however some events can go on for 4-6 hours and there is no chance I will rewatch the whole thing, so I’ll pick a choose a few games to watch that I’ve made a mental note about and will critique myself, but the best you can ask for is outside help.

S: Interesting, that’s some good advice for sure! 

Last but not least, there are rumors that you accepted the challenge from one of BGs most feared members, Sawyer1888. 

Are you afraid? How do you handle the pressure and will you prepare?

C: I would never have dreamed of declining this challenge from the great Sawyer.
For anybody who has seen my stream, they know that I am cool as a cucumber and that I will not stress or crack under the pressure. When the time comes for the battle, I will be ready. 

S: Tough words…but in the end the cards will decide. 

Thank you for taking part in the interview and I wish you good fortune in the wars to come! 

C: My pleasure, looking forward to see you on the battlefield!

Bandit of the Month (July) | Exclusive Interview with Superspock9000

It’s our pleasure to award SuperSpock9000 with the BOTM this time! As a veteran of the team by now, he recently qualified for a Top64 spot,  finished Top12 in the TLG Invitational and inspires us with his constant dedication and ability to help his teammates! Congratulations!

Babyjosus: Hey Spock. What does it mean to you to receive your first BOTM?

Superspock9000: Hi BJ! It feels pretty good. After seeing a handful of my peers getting BOTM, I always thought it would be cool to get it myself.

BJ: You are now officially one of the cool kids. How was your experience to qualify and play in the Top16 in The Invitational 2?

SS: It was quite the journey all in all. I started in the community qualifier going 5-2 over the course of 2 days and seven rounds of swiss. For the first weekend of the main event I went 6-1 with a final series that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. 2 Ties, 1 PC crash and then finally 3 games after that to decide a winner. It was easily one of the longest days of Gwent I’ve ever had. Unfortunately, weekend 2 didn’t go as well as I had wished. I lost my first series in the winners bracket and only made it into the 3rd round of losers before getting knocked out. However, I had some really cool matches against some very good opponents and the event showed how much room I have left to improve.

BJ: You also made an appearance on the Zwei Null Podcast, what was that like?

SS: It was actually an awesome experience to be on the TLG podcast. It was a bit surreal to be talking with people like Jaggerous, Spyro, and Ryan all of whom I’ve known as large parts of the Gwent community for quite some time now.

BJ: I am happy to hear that. What can people expect from you next month?

SS: Well next month is the beginning of the Gwent competitive off-season so grinding ladder won’t be a priority for me like it was in previous seasons. However, I’ll keep an eye out for any community tournaments/leagues that come up in the following months.

BJ: I like the commitment. And what message would you give to the supporters of BG?

SS: Thanks for supporting BG! It’s awesome to have an audience of people who encourage us in our competitive and content endeavors!

You can find out more about Superspock9000 here.

Skill beats Luck Ep. 3 – Special Guest: Arch1 of Team Phoenix

Introduction

While in our recent episodes we talked with some of BG’s Pro Team Players, this time we took the opportunity to invite a special guest: Arch1 of Team Phoenix, who just won the TLG Invitational II tournament in an impressive flawless run. Unbeaten in the swiss phase (7:0) a few weeks ago, he also won every series in the playoffs, defeating Poisound of Team Nova in the final. You can check out the whole battle here on the TLG YouTube Channel! With this victory, he secured himself a decent paycheck of $600 in addition to honor and glory.  

So let’s have a look at the Team Phoenix player himself, likely to be a strong participant in the upcoming charity tournament!
(Special thanks at this point to Gnomberserk for helping out with the translation!)

Meet the Player: Arch1

Name: Artyom

Age: 18

Hobbies: Table Tennis & Basketball

Section: Pro Team (Phoenix)

Favorite Faction: Skellige

Favorite Card: Boris

A special guest and a newly crowned champion

As we already talked about the event in episode 1, let’s keep it simple. The TLG Invitational II is the biggest community tournament in Gwent, where over a 100 players from all Teams participated. (For more information, check out episode 1 or the TLG Homepage).
To win such an event unbeaten in each stage is a tremendous achievement. Arch1 of the rather new Team Phoenix managed to do so and made room to talk with me about his experience, his thoughts on Gwent in general, and his role in Team Phoenix. 

But on top of this, he will also represent his Team in the upcoming charity event, organized by Bandit Gang and ShupeTV on day 2, Sunday the 8th of August. You can find more information about the event here

The Interview

Sawyer1888: First of all, congratulations on your recent triumph! But before we talk about the tournament, many of our readers might not know you.

Do you want to introduce yourself a bit, telling us how you ended up playing Gwent and being part of Team Phoenix?

Arch1: Thank you very much! I started playing Gwent a bit during closed beta thanks to my friend, butthen, who showed it to me. I came back for about 2 months before Homecoming and started playing constantly. But at that time, I didn’t know anything about Esports, so I was playing just for fun. 

In spring 2020, I was invited to GwentDetta Junior and was promoted to the main team (GwentDetta) very fast. I was there for about a year, then moved to Team Phoenix where I currently am.

S: An interesting journey which seemed to pay off so far!

You made it look very easy, going undefeated through the swiss-phase and not losing a single series either in the play-offs. How does it feel to win in such style?

A: It’s nothing special. However, I didn’t expect it from myself, but it turned out quite nice. I just caught convenient opponents with convenient lineups. And after my victory many people congratulated me, even those from whom I did not expect it. 

This was very pleasant for me and I want to thank everyone for the congratulations.

S: Very convenient indeed, I would say. 

When it comes to joining an event like the Invitational, what motivated you in the first place and how did you continue “pushing yourself” through the tournament, to maintain your focus?

A: Initially, I came to the event with the belief that I’d have a 0-2 record and drop out of the tournament. But it turned out, that I guessed the meta with my lineup perfectly which helped me get to the playoffs. I especially remember the games with Gravesh, whom I respect very much. It was nice to beat him.

Also, it was cool to play against Superspock, even if the game was not particularly decisive since we both qualified already. Even so, this game turned out to be very exciting, with two draws, and then to top it all off my computer decided to shut down unexpectedly. 🙁 

Thanks to Spock for allowing me to replay this matchup, which thankfully I managed to win. In the top 16 among my four opponents, there were three former teammates, and I wanted to show them my skills 🙂

The most difficult opponent for me was Poisound. In the final, I was very nervous so I made a lot of mistakes, but eventually I won. And as a final point, for the whole tournament I played with music in the background, mostly rock. It helped me to concentrate.

S: Yeah I remember the games with Spock and also with Poisound. Both intense series. 

Did you prepare for the Invitational? What would you say was the key part for your success in the swiss-phase but also in the playoffs?

A: I was preparing for the swiss stage for a few days with one of my Gwent friends, Sartndf. We came up with our own line-up and played quite a lot of matches. It helped us both to succeed in swiss. 

Before top 16 I played less and analyzed my opponents’ decks instead. A week before the tournament, I already realized what kind of line-up I wanted to take and started testing it with my teammates. For that I thank Yurochichek, who helped me preparing for the playoffs.

It’s hard to say what exactly helped me to get through my opponents so confidently, but most likely it was luck and good preparation for the tournament.

S: I am sure that preparation and luck are important things for Gwent in general.

When you think about the meta right now, what would you wish to change in the upcoming patch this week?

A: Now it’s not the best meta I’ve played in, but not the worst either. It’s bad that there are a lot of brainless decks and even Syndicate, which used to be very difficult to play, has now become quite easy to use. I would like CDPR to pay more attention to Scoia’tael in the next patch, because recently they have not added any new strong cards that could compete with those that other factions have now, so the ST boost is what I would like to see the most. 

(Note from the Author: This interview took part before the new Patch went live…Arch1 added later that ST seems at least more playable than last season, but still needs some love!)

S: The first “test” for the new changes will be the charity event organized by Team Bandit Gang in collaboration with ShupeTV. You will represent your team in there, which we really appreciate!

What do you think of such community events in general?

A: Community events are very important for the entire Gwent audience. Many people have a chance to show their more competitive side, because it is not always possible to stay at the top of the ladder to play in qualifiers.

There are no such problems with community events. You can show your skills outside the ladder. Donating to charity is very important too. It’s very cool when playing the game that you can also benefit an important cause.

S: That’s true, it allows more people to perform on a bigger stage.

One specific question many asked themselves before might be about the CIS community. Recently we interviewed different players, including your teammate Ch.ase.
Can you think of any reasons why Gwent is so popular in your community and why you are so successful, especially in Season 3 so far?

A: It seems to me that the main reason for the success of Gwent in our region is its really huge fanbase. I think that the Witcher’s fan base in the CIS is as big as in Poland. So many Witcher players later moved to Gwent and slowly, our community has grown to such a scale.

And the second reason is that in open beta and early Homecoming the CIS region had only one strong team, GwentDetta. Now new CIS teams with strong players have begun to appear, so everyone can choose a team in which they can improve and develop as players. 

Most likely this is the reason for such a success of the CIS in the 3rd season of the Gwent Masters.

S: Interesting, I never thought about this that way before. 

So Team Phoenix is rather new to the scene, while consisting of many known players. What are your goals for the future together with your team and for yourself?

A: Phoenix is indeed a new team, however four of our players have already qualified for Gwent Open tournaments. Our team goals are to be a small but friendly circle of people who achieve results not by grinding, but by pursuing quality through long-term growth.  

We put particular emphasis on the social component of our team, regularly arranging debates, watching movies, participating in quizzes, and so on. The main goal of the team is obviously to prepare its players for the Open and Masters. My goals as a player are always to strive for this, as well as to help teammates and to maintain the morale in the team.

The main strength of Phoenix is unity. We always support each other, we spend a lot of time together, and if someone needs help, for example, in preparing for a tournament or qualifying, there will always be players who will volunteer.

The secret of such good internal workings is that we take into account the mistakes of GloriousGaming, Gwendetta, and other teams – we don’t take anyone just because they showed some good results on ladder. It is also important to us how we interact with a player, whether we will be able to improve their game with the help of the team, and how s/he can help the Team.

S: Wow, you guys sound like a united family. A really good approach to build up a team! 

Last question, do you have any advice for new players trying to get better?

A: Try to play for fun and don’t pay attention to the results. And if you play really well, the results will come by themselves and at some point you will realize that right now you’ve become a top player. 

A team also helps a lot. I have developed much thanks to the people from GwentDetta and Phoenix, who taught me a lot. So when you consistently start getting into the top ranks, it is better to join a team so that your development does not stop, but only accelerates.

And perhaps it is you, the one who is reading this article, who will soon become the new Gwent Star.

S: That’s good advice and also a nice message for our readers. Thanks a lot for taking part in the interview and I wish you good fortune in the wars to come! 

A: Thank you, I will try my best! 

Jhugs’s Last Interview | Goodbye From Bandit Gang | Exclusive

Babyjosus: Last year you became a father and had less time to be active for Bandit Gang. What’s it like to be a father?

Jhugs: Being a father is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but also the most rewarding. I wouldn’t change any second of it.

BJ: I would like to become a father myself someday. But back to what we are here for. You are leaving Bandit Gang. How did you enjoy your stay in the team?

J: I loved my time with BG. Everyone was respectful, friendly, and always willing to help each other in any way. When the world was amidst a pandemic, BG and Gwent were there to help keep me sane.

BJ: So what was your most memorable moment in BG?

J: My most memorable moment with BG is when I competed in the Duel of Dogs tourney and was able to hang with some of the big names in Gwent. I was really proud of myself and my teammates that day.

BJ: Are there any future plans?

As of now, I’m not sure what the future holds. If I ever get more free time I may return to content creation in some form whether it be YouTube, Twitch, or something else. We’ll just have to wait and see.

BJ: What do you want to say to the fans of BG that have supported you throughout your time here?

J: Keep supporting BG any way you can because these guys are the real deal!

BJ: Thank you for everything and we will miss you!

J: I will miss you guys too…

You can read more about Jhugs on the Honorable Mentions page here.

Skill beats Luck Ep. 2 – The current Kreve League Champion JSN991

Introduction

After our talk with SuperSpock9000 in episode one, which you can find here, this time we want to have a chat with Bandit Gang’s Pro Player JSN991. Making it regularly into the top 64 on ladder, he also managed to be crowned Champion of Kreve by winning Kreve League Season 2 in a final vs. Santtu2x last June.
We want to get a deeper insight into what it takes to play a league format compared to a single tournament. We will also talk about his preparation and his overall thoughts on the competitive scene in Gwent. But first, some details about the player and also the event in general.

Meet the Player

Name: Jason

Age: 17

Hobbies: Gaming, Basketball, Football

Section: Pro Team

Favorite Faction:  Scoiat’ael*

Favorite Card: Olaf

About the Event - Kreve League

The Kreve League is a tournament organised by Team Kreve. Based on a league format, everyone is able to participate. For a duration of 6-7 weeks, depending on how many players participate, you play a single best-of-three series every week. This means the standard one-day swiss phase is stretched into a weekly format. 

After that, the top 16 will compete, again on a weekly basis, in the playoffs for the title Champion of Kreve, in addition to some meteorite powder and premium kegs. 

Currently, Kreve League is in its third season already. For more information, check out their homepage!

Also, if you want a detailed summary from the last play-offs where JSN991 could claim his title, make sure to give Aitchkay’s recap a read!

The Interview

Sawyer1888: As the current Champion of Kreve, let’s take a step back and talk about your journey. What kept you motivated through the League phase and why did you participate in the first place?

JSN991: I joined Kreve League just for fun, since I generally find the tournament format more enjoyable than ladder. This is mostly because on ladder you can face a particular very strong deck over and over, whereas in tournaments you can just ban it, making the game more skill dependent. I also used it as a place to test out lineups for qualis and other tournaments, since it provides a different kind of practice than just prepping with teammates.

How would you describe your preparation for this event, given that you are able to change decks weekly?

The way I picked my lineup varied from week to week. Some weeks I would play decks that weren’t necessarily the absolute best but that I found fun and could still win with. Other times I would play a lineup I was considering bringing to qualis, or just bring the best lineup I could think of (especially in playoffs). 

I never really took Kreve League super seriously, so my preparation was generally limited to a couple of ladder games or a quick best-of-three against teammates. Usually with Synergygod or Hawgplex since they were also playing in the League.

Recently you managed to achieve some decent results on ladder as well and regularly take part in top 64 qualifiers. What differences are there in a League where everyone can take part compared to an event you have to qualify for?

The most noticeable difference is that you would play against some fairly bad players in the earlier weeks, but the standard in playoffs is higher than  you might expect. It won’t be as high as qualifiers, but there are still some very good players in it.

Would you be interested in something like an official league as well? What events would you like to see in the future?

Definitely, I’m a big fan of the league format since you have to adapt to small meta shifts from week to week. It takes a different mindset to the standard one-day format. 

For qualis a lot of players struggle to play the entire day or can’t play on that particular Saturday. A league format is more accessible since you can organize when you play and only have to play one series in a week. This means that I would like to see more of the league format, potentially even one run by CDPR.

I would also like to see more community tournaments, since they’re fairly rare. I think a big part of this is how unreliable the tournament client is, making it a nightmare to be an admin. If CDPR were to fix the client, I think we would see more of them, which would be great.

A feature that would be great to see as well would be a tournament mode implemented into the actual game, where you choose Bo3 or Bo5, pick a lineup, and play out a full series against an opponent with open decklists, bans, and pre-determined coin allocations. This is because ladder is quite bad when it comes to preparing for tournaments. You can’t constantly queue into the deck you plan on banning or get the wrong coin whilst playing a coin dependent deck. 

This would be great for everyone but especially players who are new to the competitive/ tournament scene and would like some practice. However, this would take a lot of time and effort for CDPR to make, so I doubt it will ever happen. But I’m pretty sure it would see more play than draft mode.

You also did quite well in our Bandit Gang internal tournaments so far.
Is there anything that feels special for you playing in a competitive environment in general?

As cool as it is to win stuff, internal tournaments aren’t a particularly good measure of who is the best since most of the team plays memes. I was however able to establish dominance over SuperSpock9000 in two finals and made $50 so that was nice. I would also say that in a tournament I’m more focused and try my best to win every game. On ladder I have more of a chilled “zak zak zak” mentality and don’t really care about efficiency. 

Obviously tournaments are special because there is a lot more at stake, but I try not to let that affect how I play. The other key part which decides how well you do in tournaments is your lineup rather than how you play in the game. We saw a prime example of this when Lifecoach beat Tailbot in Season 1 World Masters, despite Tailbot being an undeniably more experienced player.

Currently some might say the meta is in a bad state because of Sunset Wanderers and certain other things. What are your feelings about the competitive state of Gwent right now?

I’ve barely played this patch because I’m not really enjoying it. I actually really like the design of Sunset Wanderers but one card seeing this much play is never a good thing. Although that’s not whats wrong with this meta.

I saw a stat from the most recent top 16 qualifiers that the four most popular leaders made up 84% of decks in the tournament compared to just 55% in May. And as the meta settles this will only get worse for top 64. 

Having such a small amount of decks that are so much stronger than everything else isn’t good from a competitive standpoint. Because besides it just simply being repetitive and boring, it also takes a lot of skill out of the game. This is because at the top level, if players just have to memorize maybe five or six matchups, they can play them perfectly after a bit of preparation. It then just comes down to who drew their best cards.

In more diverse metas, there are much more opportunities to go for a different strategy with a lineup. Whether that’s hard targeting a meta deck or bringing something more off meta and spicy. This variety means that it is about how a player can apply their knowledge of the game to a strange new situation in a way that takes much more skill than “in x matchup do y and just draw your golds“.

Interesting, as I also read the statistics and kinda felt the same.
Reflecting on your progress so far, what are your goals and expectations for Kreve League Season 3 and on ladder in general?

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t take Kreve League too seriously but it would of course be nice to do well. I would like to make the playoffs or even defend my title, maybe whilst clapping some teammates on the way (especially a certain German article writer *wink wink*).
 [Comment by the author: That won’t happen.]

As for ladder, I want to try and make top 64 each month and after missing out by 1 mmr on top 16 in May (yes, I’m still salty about it) I want to actually make a top 16 at some point. This wouldn’t be until we were in a meta where I could happily grind games again, though, so I’m hoping for the next set of new cards to fix the meta a bit.

Understandable, but I wish you luck nonetheless!
At last, do you have any advice for “newcomers” on how to approach something like Kreve League?

My advice for anyone new to competitive Gwent would be to play in as many tournaments as possible in order to improve. 

The ultimate goal for a lot of players is making top16/64 qualis, opens, etc. Also playing in smaller events like Kreve League will make you much better equipped to do well in these bigger events. Some people, however, don’t have the time to grind ladder and make top 64, in which case they should still try to play in these kinds of events. It’ll be a new experience for you and the majority of players will find it more enjoyable than ladder.

The main thing to keep in mind when competing in events like this is just to treat it like any other game of Gwent and stay cool. This gets easier the more tournaments you play in. Something that even the best players struggle with is getting tilted when they throw a game or miss cards. It’s much easier said than done but you should try your best to not let it make you play worse.  Games are often still winnable after misplays or bad RNG, so keep that in mind.

Alright, sounds good. I am sure that many might find this advice helpful…if you want to improve, you have to play, simple.
So thanks for your time again and I wish you good fortune in the wars to come!

Sure thing, glad to be your guest. Thanks, I will try my best!