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
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!
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!