Skill beats Luck Ep. 8 – A relic from the past: Kolemoen, Masters Winner of Season 1

Introduction

This weekend was and will be the first big highlight for the Gwent community. With the CDPR Charity Stream on Friday, the still ongoing Team Battlecup, organized by cantarellka, and the first Bandit Gang Game Night on Sunday we have plenty of opportunities to engange with fellow Gwenters. 

But the most important thing is today is Saturday, which means another episode of Skill beats Luck. Last week we had a first glimpse behind the curtain, while talking to CDPR’s Event Manager MrRepek
This time I talked with a veteran from the past, Kolemoen. Winner of the Gwent Masters Season 1 and Finalist of Season 2, he is Team Aretuzas top player and without a doubt one of the best players of all time. Let’s see what he’s been up to since his victory and what he thinks about the current state of Gwent! 
For our fellow German readers, you will find a link to the original German interview in the Additional Information!

Meet the Player

Name: Benjamin Pfannstiel

Age: 31

Hobbies: Gaming, Biking, Logicpuzzles

Section: Pro Team (Aretuza)

Favorite Faction: Syndicate

Favorite Card: Amphibious Assault

 

Gwent Masters

While in recent interviews we talked with community tournament champions, the Official Gwent Masters is totally different. Of course, every tournament has its own charms and the potential of providing intense matches. But becoming the eventual winner of a Masters is something else.

Most of our readers might be familiar with the competitive ruleset and structure, but for everyone else, check out the official regulations on the homepage here
Anyhow, it takes a lot of time and effort to become a champion. To qualify you need to be a very consistent player on ladder. This was always the core part over the last seasons. Nevertheless, other aspects changed a bit. From winning Challengers over Qualifiers to now maybe ending up in a new “Qualifier Tournament” in Season 4, your skills are going to be tested in various ways and formats. And in the end of this journey, after thousands of games, the winner can take home a massive amount of price money in addition to the title. 
(If you are interested in what the Pro Players think about what it takes to become a champion, check out Gwent’s Elite episode 1!)

Kolemoen was able to qualify for Masters Season 1 and 2, ending up being the winner of #1 and finalist of #2 while collecting a price money of almost 140.000$ alone in these two events. Now we take a look on what happened since his title win and what his impressions of the competitive changes are.  

Additional Information - Zusätzliche Infos

For our German readers and community, we prepared the original German interview as well, which you can find here in a Google Document!
Für unsere deutschsprachigen Leser haben wir das Original Interview zusätzlich aufbereitet, welches ihr in diesem Google Document findet!

The Interview

Sawyer: Hey Kolemoen, first of all thanks for participating in the interview. I guess you are well known to most of our readers, but maybe you want to introduce yourself anyway.
What is there to know about you and how did you end up playing Gwent? Especially your journey from the first game to the first title, Team Aretuza and the win of the World Masters.

Kolemoen: Before Gwent I played Hearthstone on a semi-competitive level from where I got to know Lifecoach as a streamer. When he switched to Gwent, I also wanted to try the game and liked it more right away, as it seemed less dependent on chance. 
The first big tournament for which I could qualify was Gwent Challenger#2, which took place in the Moschen Castle in Poland and where I placed 2nd. This gave me the confidence to play Gwent as a full-time Pro.
The first tournament I won was the Red Dragon Cup in the Czech Republic, while the first official event, organized by CDPR, was Gwent Open#6. 

S: Interesting, seems like you adapted to the game pretty fast.
In the end of 2020 you were in the finale of Masters Season 2 and you won the postponed Masters 1 tournament last Summer. How have you been since then? 

K: Since the tournament win I didn’t really play Gwent, as I was a bit burned out. I continued my studies in mathematics, which I put on ice for a while because of Gwent.

S: Understandable after such a taxing time.
Some asked themselves “Where is Kolemoen?”, during Season 3.
Do you still play Gwent or keep an eye on the competitive Gwent community

K: I currently don’t play Gwent, but I still follow the patch notes and try to keep myself informed on what’s happening in the scene.

S: The game has changed tremendously since Homecoming. At the same time other CCG’s, like Legends of Runeterra or Storybook Brawl, appeared. What do you think fascinates people about such games? 

K: Legends of Runeterra obviously attracted many people because Riot created one of the biggest gaming franchises with League of Legends. And these customers hoped for them to create a good card game as well. We also have some people in Team Aretuza playing it. But it never appealed to me myself, as its core mechanics are still based on the same principles as Magic or Hearthstone. (Manasystem, Lifepoints, drawing one card per turn etc.)
Storybook Brawl is basically an optimized version of Hearthstone Battlegrounds, which again was inspired by previous auto battlers like Dota Auto Chess for example. It is a very diverting game with much RNG, but even so, a skilled player will have more success in the long run. But I have my doubts about games like these being suitable for tournaments.  
The variance is really high, so that it’s necessary for those tournaments to take part over many rounds to be meaningful. But such long tournaments are hard to market and without enough Twitch Viewers there are no reasons for the organizers to invest a lot of money. 

S: True, there are lots of similarities between these games. We will have to see in what direction Brawl might go.
We already had the chance to chat in German for previous interviews, which is a bit unusual, since most Gwent content is in English.
As a German native speaker, would you prefer more German content as well? Apart from your German team mate Kafunow, almost all German or Austrian players, like CrozyrShaggy, Damorquis or Gravesh stream mostly in English. 

K: I guess that is because you simply reach a broader audience with English content. Moreover most German speaking can speak or at least understand English as well. While on the other hand many people wouldn’t understand German if you are not from that region.

S: That makes sense. Still wondering why there are so many streams in other languages but only a few German ones.

Speaking of German streams, have you ever thought of streaming yourself? We could see you in tournaments or maybe a few podcasts, but how would a Kolemoen stream look like? 

K: I streamed a few times a few years ago but it was to tiring for me focusing on the game and answering questions from the chat the same time. But I could imagine that this could improve with a bit of practice. 

S: It would be pretty cool to see you back!
I think many would agree, when I say that you might be one of the best Gwent players of all time.
During your active seasons, what would you say was your key to success?
Surely it must be a huge motivation for the German speaking community to see that after CyberZ‘ win, two out of three Masters titles went to Germany.

K: It might sound arrogant, but I think in e-sports the most important factor for success is talent for the game. Of course, you need to also invest the required amount of time to improve, which most pro players are doing, you can be sure of that that.
Another important factor for me was my team. It is tremendously helpful for tournament preparation when you have other top players to practice with and with whom you can go through strategies.
For specific tournament wins nevertheless you can’t ignore that luck always plays a small part as well. 

S: Maybe…but in the end: Skill beats Luck.
Anyway, after the last Masters the Road Map or 2022 was announced.
What are your impressions and how would you see the future for (competitive) Gwent? Can we hope for an eventual comeback? 

K: I think the new competitive system is an improvement, because it will demand less time to grind. But I don’t think I will compete in the next season. Also I am not sure if I will ever join the competitive circuit again in the future, hard to say, but I don’t think so.
The monetary prices are sadly not as high as they used to be, so the time you need to invest to qualify for tournaments, which is still substantial, is hard to warrant.

S: Fair point. So after the holiday season and with the start of the new year, what are your goals for 2022, maybe even besides e-sports? 

K: I want to finish my studies this year and also try to do more sports in general. 

S: Decent goals, I wish you good luck with that and, as always, good fortune in the wars to come!
By any chance, you have any closing words or tips for our readers who might want to tackle Gwent Season 4?

K: Sure thing! I can’t give many tips for the current Meta though. But in general I would advise to only engage on a competitive level, if you really enjoy the game and are passionate enough to invest 40 hours a week in Gwent.
And if so, you will notice pretty soon if you are good enough and have what it takes to get to the top.

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