Written by Sawyer1888 and the seal of approval from Babyjosus.
The time has come, as our dear friend Hemdall would say. Although it’s the Gwent Masters of Season 2, this week from December 5th – 6th we will see the first ever played World Masters. Over a duration of 9 seasons, we’ve seen dozens of Qualifiers and 4 Opens which decided who will take part in this tournament. Now there will be a Clash of the best 8 current Gwent players:
Demarcation, wangid1, Tailbot, Pajabol, kams134, Saber97, Gravesh and kolemoen.
During this impressive journey I asked myself the question what it takes to be a professional Gwent Player and what it takes to compete constantly on such a high level? Probably it’s the same question many of you asked, no matter on which level your abilities in this game currently are. Fighting to get into Pro Rank, grinding the ladder to stay top 500, pushing through to top 200, claiming a spot in a Qualifiers event or even winning a tournament.
In order to do so I gathered thoughts and impressions from some of the best players in Gwent, including almost every team, while also getting in contact with experienced casters and people close to the development section.
(For people in a hurry I wrote a short abstract or summary of this article, which you can find at the end, above the note of thanks, but I would appreciate you to value the work I and all the guys put into this! As I am only human, maybe some of you feel left out, because I couldn’t manage to talk to everyone. For this I am sorry, but if so, make sure to contact me on Discord to be part of the next one! Also some of the people I talked to might not even be quoted, but I am deeply thankful for every insight I got and you will see yourself mentioned in the note of thanks at the end of the article! There will be a list of everyone who helped me creating this article and where you can also find the links of their Twitch and Twitter accounts, while also being able to visit every Teams homepage.)
So the goal of my survey and this article was to find out, not only what it might take to be a professional, but also what kind of mindset you need to keep your game on a high standard over such a long time. Therefore, I contacted top players, casters and people involved in the competitive scene via Discord, while giving everyone the same question to answer me, to make it comparable. The question or task I gave them was kinda vague, to give them full freedom of speech:
”Describe in one or two sentences what it takes to be a Pro Player in terms of motivation and mentality, while pointing out like 3 key aspects.”
And I was overwhelmed with the huge amount of responses I got from people who might never heard of me before. Again, a huge thank you, just another sign of what a great community the Gwent scene is.
Key Aspects For A Professional Player
Enjoy yourself and what you do
First of all you have some basic aspects you need to follow to get up your game and be competitive. These factors might count for every esports game, but also for every sport in general. One of them is to have fun at what you do and “to actually enjoy the game you are competing in.” (Kolemoen) It is important for almost everything in Life I guess, but especially if this takes a huge part and a huge amount of time in your Life, at least on a certain period. To enjoy the things you do and also have a positive attitude or good sportsmanship is key to stay calm, “if you walk into an intense situation”. (ceely) By this I don’t mean to only enjoy the game, Gwent in particular, but also yourself while playing the game. The grind can be pretty hard and often exhausting, so being able to make the best of it is very important. (beefox3) For some people the progress on the other hand is way more important than just the simple joy, so they even force themselves to play, “but that’s kinda just part of the grind.” (pajabol)
We can see, that a positive attitude towards yourself, the game and your opponent is a main factor for just getting in the mood to even think about being competitive, while fun helps you to not take everything to hard. But in some moments the urge to be successful becomes stronger and the progress, winning itself can even be a greater motivation. (Tailbot)
A supportive but also competitive environment
In addition to this, the environment is also another main aspect of being a professional Player. Not only a Team, where you have the ability to talk about stuff, scrim, get feedback or help in personal matters (Avades, Sonneillon, Kolemoen), but also a competitive scene, where you can push your limits against the best players possible. That’s why some players, like Neverhoodl, find it more interesting to play in tournaments vs. other top Players, instead of just grinding the ladder. So on the one hand you need your own Team to get support and even to be able to get closer into the game (MyaMon). On the other hand you also want to have strong opponents, which also keep you hungry in general. It’s always nice in every sport to beat a well known opponent. Creating this kind of environment also needs a large community to take part in. In this case it’s the Gwent Community, which feels like a big family for some and might even be the reason to keep in touch with the game for so long (TheaBeasty). It makes things like Streaming possible and gives people the opportunity to even play for titles. “The Gwent Community is probably one of the best communities that I’ve ever known” and I totally agree with Poisound from Team Nova, it is.
Time and dedication
We discussed two aspects so far, which can easily be valid for any other Esports. The third one will also be a more general factor: Time.
Many people underestimate the amount of time you need to put into practicing, grinding, improving and also failing. “It takes time and dedication, the player has to be somewhat passionate about the game to spend so much time” says Sikamouk from Team Bandit Gang, while also “there’s a difference between time in playing and time trying to improve.” (Avades) Everyone watching the Opens or the upcoming Masters will see a few hours of top level gameplay. Small mistakes will be noticed and smart plays will be praised. For some it will be all over after round 1, maybe even after only 3 games played. But it took them thousands of games to get to this point, just for one chance to stay on top of all other players. Even if some of them sometimes stream their games, you won’t be able to follow the whole journey these players took over the last months and how many hours were spent grinding alone, dealing with defeats while also not being able to enjoy a victory. The next game is already waiting, so no time to lose while grinding for MMR. Making this possible sometimes takes a certain routine, a schedule, to maximize your efficiency. (Demarcation) “It could be just 2 hours in a day but with total concentration.” (IgniFriend)
What It Takes To Be A Gwent Champion
So, what does it take to be competitive and professional? Apparently these 3 aspects are key: Passion for the things you do and being able to enjoy yourself. A community where it all can take part, including a supportive team and also a healthy rivalry between competitive teams. And also time, a lot of time, efficiently spent with dedication and full concentration.
But all of these aspects sound kinda universal, like fundamental basics for every sport. The question is now, what does it mean to be a professional Gwent Player? Is it only to draw your Golds? Do I just need matchups in my favor, the right coin for my deck and a bit of RNG luck? Well, lets find out.
Deckbuilding and game knowledge
Assuming that almost every reader of this article is kinda familiar with the ruleset of Gwent, I won’t explain certain terms. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comment section. As we all know, you need to have a certain understanding of the game. This includes knowledge about decks and deckbuilding itself, the current META and also the ability to read matchups. (Kwild) You need to be able to take advantage of this knowledge. These things can be acquired by grinding the ladder, watching streams, talking to your teammates and staying in touch with current meta snapshots. But that’s only a small part for what it takes to be a Champion. You also need “an understanding of lineup dynamics and the tournament format” says Redrame. The difference between open decklists in tournaments and maybe the surprise value of itchy cards on ladder is huge. You always have to be “critical of your own plays and deck choices” (Saber97_), so you can get an advantage over your opponent. A win can be decided in the deckbuilder by making the right choices, putting in the right tech-cards and reflect on matchups which can be in your favour, to maximize your odds. On ladder you can optimize your playstyle with a certain meta deck, but when you lose “don’t blame the meta, create it!” (TheaBeasty) To figure out a unique playstyle for yourself and improving your deckbuilding skills helps a lot, says magpie131, who often gave an Open a bit of spice with his creative decks.
The will to improve yourself
After hearing that someone could say alright cool, I copy the decks from the metasnapshot, adjust them a bit by putting in an Igni, Yrden or whatever and I’m good to go right? Well, not quite. The most important aspect for almost everyone I asked was the will to improve yourself and learn from your mistakes. “The measure of a pro player is not by how they win, but how they lose”. (Synergygod3773) So you kinda need to have the “ability to be impartial to yourself” (iluxa228) to actually figure out what you might could have done better and what might be out of control. “It’s important to focus on the parts of the game which you can control” (Saber97_) which means, that you can’t just blame bad luck, bad RNG, bad draws, bad matchups or the wrong coinflip. Of course, all of these things can be tough obstacles to overcome, but it takes no skill to forfeit every game you missed some Gold Cards, didn’t manage to win a certain round in a certain matchup or to just go into the game while thinking you already lost this when seeing the opponents leader. “There’s a cognitive bias towards negative outcomes, so it’s easy to say I just got unlucky without evaluating the situation and play the exact same way the next time.” (Redrame) Identify your mistakes in each game, evaluate your plays, think about possible outcomes and then just “learn from your mistakes and never repeat them”. (raduAndrada) Therefore it is a good habit “to briefly analyze your match trying to understand matchups you’ve just played”. (pawloex)
The Champions Mentality
To achieve this it takes two things: A lot of practice and “to fully immerse yourself in this Esport discipline”. (Dobermann) This means on the one hand to “constantly stay hungry for self-improvement at the expense of comfort” (Damorquis), while you also “have to play a lot of ladder games; and sometimes it will feel like a bit of chore, which you have to power through.” (Shaggyccg) On the other hand tho it’s about to have the right mindset, the Pro Player Mentality, to be capable of doing all these things. Here is what some of the people I asked said about this:
“All it takes for motivation and mentality is the confidence of being able to compete at the highest level.”
“Always be looking to improve yourself and yearn to be the best player you can be. […] Make the most out of the time given to you to look and plan ahead.”
“If you want to be the best, then your goal should be always to become better rather than simply win.”
“Perseverance, never give up, being there and try to improve to be the best.”
“I would say that the most important thing is not giving up even in tough moments.”
“The most important aspect of being a Pro Player is to have the perfect balance between believing in yourself and in your abilities, while still remain open minded to the suggestions and critics that can come from other players.”
“I believe that in order to become a successful pro player, you need to have an open mind about the game and not be swayed too much by public opinion.”
So, summarizing all of these statements you can see how important it is to have the right attitude and mindset not only in general, but also particular as a Gwent Player. Card games always have a certain RNG factor in it and also Gwent is “a card game where you can’t win without a good and timely fortune,” (Dobermann), but you can always maximize your chances by minimizing your mistakes.
Dealing with tilt
Unfortunately, this won’t work all the time. You have to “realize that the effort does not necessarily have to pay off. Since only a small percentage of pro players achieve real success.” (Gnomberserk) But realizing this can often result in feeling unlucky, feeling salty and at the end becoming tilted. “Tilt can and will ruin even the best players if it isn’t managed properly” Saber97_ says, and many people I talked to told me something about the way how you deal with tilt, how you prevent it or what to do when you know you became tilted anyway. There is no universal recipe for how to deal with Tilt, but what we can all agree with is: “you play like hot ass when you’re tilted.” (bushr)
We all have to find our own way and strategy on how we want to handle bad feelings, especially when it’s just a card game in the end. Remember the first main aspect we discussed: You have to enjoy what you do and “Gwent is always more fun when you’ve got your friends to talk about the games you played.” (raduAndrada)
The question behind this article was to get a deeper insight into a Pro Players Mind, while also hoping to get to know, what it takes to be a Professional Gwent Player and what kind of a mentality you need to have. Main factors in general are having fun, being in a supportive and also competitive environment and also having enough time to play, practice and improve. Especially in Gwent, where grinding take a lot of time, you have to stay determined and motivate enough to achieve your goals.
“I believe that every person is capable of excellence if they are determined and motivated enough to achieve it. “Where there is a will there is a way” mentality is what really gives people who truly want something the edge to achieve whatever it is that they set their mind to.” (Spyro_ZA)
Staying hungry, trying to improve, learning from mistakes and setting up their mind into a Champions Mentality are the key aspects to what it takes to become a Professional Gwent Player. All other obstacles will become redundant in the long way, because one missed card might decide a game, but not your whole season. One loss might hurt and be frustrating, but it’s up to you how you want to come back after this defeat and what you take from it. To draw your golds and win is easy, but to manage to squeeze an almost impossible win with an awkward hand distinguishes a rather Casual Player from a Champion.
I bet you all can do it and push forward, and if not, it’s only a game. But the urge to improve yourself, not letting yourself down and believing in your ability to climb out from whatever position you might be in life, that’s a valuable lesson I learned over the last month and I’m pretty sure that Gwent and its community helped me with it. So, as we now know what it takes to be a Champion and also a Top Player, let’s see who will overcome his opponents on this weekend and be crowned as the World Gwent Master!
This article is based on a small survey where professional players, casters and people involved in the competitive scene of gwent were asked about their opinion what it takes to be a Pro and to compete on such a high level for a long period of time. The main aspects that were mentioned about competing in general were:
– Enjoyment, so the ability to enjoy yourself, the game and what you do.
– A supportive Team, while also being involved in a competitive environment, including the larger community in which everything takes place.
– Time to play the game, practice and improve.
These fundamentals help the players to actually get into a competetitive mindset. For gwent in particular there where four key factors:
– Deckbuilding skills and knowledge about the game, which means being flexible between tournament and ladder setups.
– The will to improve yourself, learning from your mistakes and the ability to distinguish between bad luck and bad judgement.
– A certain mentality, I call the Champions Mentality, to stay focused, motivated and be able to push further.
– Being able to prevent or to deal with tilt, with defeats and losing streaks.
All of these aspects were important to not only be able to compete on such a high level for a longer period, but also always finding the thrive and motivation to become a champion in the end.
I really want to thank all the guys and girls talking to me and helping me to write this article, I really appreciate it! It was just a fantastic experience for me to talk to so many people from different nations, while everyone was so supportive and helpful. I really hope that this Article will do you justice and I tried my best to make room for each and everyone of you!