Tournament

Skill beats Luck Ep. 10 – A talk with Snake about the History of Claymore

Introduction

The first competitive season this year has finished, while the next one already started. This means that also the first Qualifier Tournaments of 2022 are on their way as well. 

While we talked with Ryan Godric last episode in detail about the community in general, this time we have a special guest: Snake from Team Claymore. Mostly known in the CIS community, Claymore also organises a lot of tournaments open for everyone, like the currently running Love Tournament.
But what many non-competitive players might not know is, that Snake is one of the hard workers behind the scenes for the official Qualifier Tournaments. Let’s take a closer look on his work and also find out more about the history of Claymore

Meet the Manager

Name: Erik

Age: 33

Hobbies: Games, Cinema, Music, travelling on my Motorcycle

Favorite Card: Villentretenmerth

Favorite Faction: Northern Realms/Skellige

Section: Management Claymore

Claymore and the CIS Community

Everyone within the GWENT community who followed the recent months in the competitive scene noticed the rise of CIS GWENT teams and players. When renova- and I made our interview series Through the Thorns of Top 64 Qualifiers, we talked with players like Nik_r, iluxa or Ch.ase, while I also had the chance to interview arch1 for a Skill beats Luck episode.
Phoenix and GwentDetta are the top competitive teams of the CIS community, while Claymore can be considered as the headquarters. Translation of articles, organising events, helping out in official tournaments, Claymore is for the CIS community what the Piazza was for the Romans. Supported by the TGGwent team they do a tremendous job and are one of the reasons why GWENT is so popular in the CIS regions.

The Interview

Sawyer: First, thanks for being my guest this time. It’s rather unique to talk to people being involved more in the background of things. Many of our readers might know something about the work you do, but not really much about who you are.    
So maybe give us a short introduction about yourself, who you are in the GWENT community and how you’ve become involved in everything.

Snake: Hey! Thank you for inviting me, it is always a great pleasure to chat inside the GWENT community! 
My name is Erik, I’m from Minsk (Belarus), 33 (oh, God) years old. Currently working in IT. I’ve been a gamer since childhood and am a huge Witcher Universe fan.

My way to GWENT? Well, I read about it, played it in the Witcher 3, and waited for the standalone game to be announced. I started playing GWENT in the very beginning — since KillTheServers, which was even before Closed Beta. Then I somehow got the sacramental key and started playing and streaming on Twitch. That’s how I got to the global Discord server.
CIS players used another big Discord server (which is now integrated with Claymore, btw). Someone there was talking about some closed EU tournaments with quite valuable prizes from CD PROJEKT RED. That’s when I thought, “Why don’t we do the same? Let’s make our own tournament! Open for everyone!”. And they say: “Initiative is punishable” — so I had no way back. 

Now I’m a manager of the biggest CIS GWENT community — Claymore team. Not only do we produce daily content in Russian, we also organize plenty of tournaments: official qualifiers and our own Opens and Fast Cups. 

S: Impressive stuff, I noticed you’ve been involved in a lot of things. 
The Russian or CIS community grew a lot over the recent years. In a chat with arch1 from Team Phoenix, we already talked about the variety of teams etc.
Can you tell us a bit more about the journey of Claymore and also TGGwent?

Sn: Well, as I already said, Claymore or, rather, RuGwent Tournaments were born with the idea of creating our own tournament. And we started doing this when GWENT was in beta. With sheer enthusiasm, we set the seemingly-easy goal to make our own online tournament with livestreams. The first tournament with more than 250 CIS participants took place in early 2017. We were first to make a broadcast with both players’ hands shown. CD PROJEKT RED did the same much later with the help of ESL for some local tournament. And the Spectator mode was introduced years later. 
Tournaments were extremely successful, so we started making them on a monthly basis, constantly improving and rotating casters. To promote tourneys, we created social network accounts, and we started posting news as well. At this point, the second goal appeared — to become one of the best news and content creators in CIS.
I believe we succeeded. At some point, we even recorded some interviews in English with Chinese and German pro-players. Later, those appeared on the official GWENT web page. No one in CIS had ever done anything like that. All in all, trying to do everything qualitatively is one of the main pillars of our success. People can always feel if you are not completely into what you do. And you’ll get bored by such a job quite soon as well.

We started with CIS region — online tournaments took place once or even twice a month (and we’re trying to keep up with the temp now). First LAN took place at St. Petersburg in 2017, the next one was in Minsk in 2018 with the great help of Belarusian eSports Federation. All in all, we hosted 5 LANs and are willing to do more.

Back then in 2017 we grew to the EU and World level. At first, we helped Lifecoach. Later, in the beginning of 2018 we translated our online rules into English and started to make international tournaments with international live casters — we were first at that too!

Twitch online during the Beta was up to 3000 viewers. Our tournament casts (that were usually in Polish, English and Russian) were up to 1900 with 1700 average. The greatest achievement is, of course, the close partnership with CD PROJEKT RED as we organize all the qualifiers for GWENT Opens. 

Not only that, but we also helped them to make tournaments for other official GWENT partners — any kind of recognized content makers from all over the world.  

This is a shortened summary of what Claymore (former RuGwent Tournaments) has been doing. And besides the tournaments, people always want more content. Yet, one of our main platforms — vk.com/ is not available in Ukraine due to politics and guys from Ukraine decided to fill the lack with communication by creating a chat (and the TGGwent team of content creators) in Telegram. Their news channel was created back in the middle of 2020 and appeared to be quite popular in CIS community. Obviously, there’s not much official content in GWENT, and sometimes it is a rush to do something faster and better once there is something, but it is always good to have a healthy competition, and together we deliver news in Russian maybe even faster than they are delivered to most English-Speakers 🙂 Unfortunately, we don’t collaborate much, though. 

S: Wow, what a journey. From pure passion, you really built something big, which is now definitely one important pillar of the GWENT community.    
With multiple events happening over the year, official and community hosted, you’ve seen many different parts of the competitive scene already.
What does it take, and how is it like to organize events, content and communication?

Sn: Oh, it is really exciting and inspiring, though at the same moment you feel that burden of responsibility. Making a high-quality product that all participants would be comfortable with is always the highest priority for me. And this aspiration always makes me involved in the creation process.
We formed a cool organizing team and a lot of things have been repeated so many times. At this point, communicating with casters and participants or monitoring that everyone’s good is the only thing that may bring something unexpected. Once you have solid and detailed regulations and a plan with all little things considered, it becomes way easier for you.

S: True, a structure definitely helps.     
What events or exciting situations would come to your mind when you look into your GWENT past…and where would you say you would’ve done things maybe differently? 

Sn: All LANs and OPENs along with Challenger that I visited are the first to come to mind. Every meeting gave so many positive emotions and motivated me for further work with the community, content, team and development in general. So, yes. Live tournaments and after parties are the things that are unforgettable.

As for the things that I might have changed… I’m not sure if there is one. Looking back at how it all went, I like everything that happened to me and the team in general

S: Sounds like you’ve done everything right so far, and the success proves you right!        
Many competitive players will already know, and you already said it, but you often help out with the official qualifiers for the GWENT Opens. I can only imagine the effort to get everyone prepared and ready for it.
What does a qualifier weekend look like from your perspective?       

Sn: First of all, I have to say that everything begins a long way before the weekend. The more time you spend to get ready — the less unexpected things will occur during the tourney. So, you should always imagine yourself in the participants’ position  so that the questions will arise during preparation and not during the event itself.

A week before the qualifiers we create tournaments on Challonge and Platform, add participants to the Discord server, onboard casters and induct them into the process and nuances of communication. We also communicate with CD PROJEKT RED concerning tournaments, announcements and so on. Of course, checking and screening players’ decks is also on the list.  During the tournament day you should strictly follow the timings, control the information to be delivered to participants and viewers, do troubleshooting…. So, you’ll definitely have your mind blown by the amount of work to be done.

 All in all, every day of qualifiers usually takes at least 10-12 hours. And after that you have to summarize the results with a nice infographic, clear the discord, analyze the feedback if  any. All in all, you have to be really into the process.

S: I’ve never taken part as a player in such an event, but I was involved behind the scenes in smaller ones, so I can totally relate.    
Over the last months we had some chats as well, where you helped translate some articles from Bandit Gang into Russian. It shows how international the community is, from players taking part in events to content creation.                    

What are the differences for you between organizing things mainly for the CIS community and events like qualifiers or the CIS Cup, where also people from all over the world take part?

Sn: We do translate some of your articles and reference your meta and meme snapshots, yet some other articles such as Slavic Lore or some other Skill beats Luck were translated by TGGwent fellows — translating is a thing that takes a lot of effort and sometimes there are just not enough hands, so it is cool that those are still being delivered to people who don’t speak English. Besides, we do have a lot of our own lore content and are always happy to interact on that if needed!

As for organizing different things — all our tournaments are open for anyone of any origin and skill to participate. So, basically, there’s almost no difference at all. Rules for any of our tournaments are duplicated in Russian and in English, we can answer any questions at least in these two languages, and we always announce tourneys not only in our discord, but also on other teams discords and our twitter as well, so follow the news not to miss anything 😉

S: I will make sure of it, and also am glad for your continuous support!         
Recently we could see the road map for 2022 and where GWENT is heading. What are your thoughts on it?              

Sn: As any other player, I always wait for more various content. I’m willing to see what Golden Nekker will bring to us. And as we now know it is not a new GWENT mode, maybe they have an idea for the one that will not grow into a standalone as GWENT really lacks some in game modes. I hope this pause in journeys will help the team to look back on what has been done and improve the game. This includes draft mode, Card abilities rework, and some misconceptions in descriptions of those, etc.

As for the roadmap, I personally like the idea of the month-long breaks in April and July. This will help players to be better concentrated during the competitive seasons and not to burn out because of non-stop play. Yes, that will mean that we’ll have one Open less. Yet, I believe this lack will be more than compensated with the Play-in tournament where not only the best will perform, but the tournament format itself looks promising. And moreover, the rework of the CP system will show itself good enough, imo. Oh, and the gaps will also let different teams like us make their tournaments more popular — as we do a lot, so we are quite interested in promoting those. 

And All in all, unfortunately, CD PROJEKT RED don’t have any platform to test what they do. Chess tournament rules are still sometimes being reworked (previous time it happened last April). But without experimenting, you’ll not be able to come to an optimum, and it is never late to roll the changes back next year. 

S: Interesting, I think we just have to simply wait and see how everything works out this year.
The last couple of years, we must say, have been quite influenced by Corona. I often heard that, for especially that reason, it was “easier” to compete and take part in this virtual community.

But also, many real-life events happened inter in different teams.
You’ve ever meet anyone from the GWENT community in person? How much does GWENT influence your personal life?

Sn: Meeting like-minded people in person is always a great event. Of course, I met many players in person, mostly thanks to official LANs in Warsaw and our own ones in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. During my visits to Warsaw, I got acquainted with a lot of developers as well

Thanks to GWENT LANs, I started to travel more, so yes, they did influence my life a lot. New cities and countries, people and impressions — that is really cool! Because of GWENT, I can go to almost any country in the world and meet someone who I know there. So, once the pandemic is over, I’ll pay a visit to you too — beware! 🙂

And for quite a long time now we have dreamed of a global LAN in Moscow — gathering the best players and content creators, organizing tournaments and casting, chatting during the after-party. Such activities are always fun, cozy and unforgettable, especially when polished with Mahakam Ale 🙂

S: That would be awesome! But Moscow or St. Petersburg were always on my list as well, so maybe it’s me who rings your doorbell first!
The new year started as well as the first competitive season in GWENT is already finished.
What are your goals for 2022, personal as well, and what can we expect from Claymore this year?       

Sn: There is an important goal that I won’t announce now, but I’m sure it will please Claymore team as well as the whole CIS community in general. We’ll tell you once we’re close. We’re planning to make more and more high quality content (unfortunately, mostly in Russian) — Articles, translations, interviews, tests, Glossary (Aretuza Glossary was the one to inspire us), et cetera, et cetera… We’re turning five, so this is also a great opportunity to celebrate with the community with some contest or any other event. 

Sn: As for the tournaments, we always want more and better. If only we had more time for that — official qualis are more critical for players, and therefore most forces are there. We want our FastCups (BO1, SE) to happen more often. First Fastcup already took place on January 30. And we also want to launch our new format — Claymore Special (BO3, SE), where we’re planning to introduce special rules for your decks so that it will be fresh & fun. The first tournament is taking place on February 13s. And as it is really close to St Valentine’s Day, it will be LOVE special — you’ll have to include at least one couple from the list we made. You may not be late for the registration! 

And of course classic competitive Claymore Opens for those who love it harder or for those who want to get ready for the Qualis and understand how it all works.

S: So a lot of stuff in the pipes, looking forward to it!   
Thanks for taking part in the interview, really appreciate it! As always, I wish you good fortune in the wars to come.
Any closing words from you for our readers? Maybe a tip on how to draw your golds? 😉

Sn: Thank you for inviting me, it was really great to participate! I wish everyone not to be afraid of interesting and ambitious goals and follow them whatever it takes. Only challenging things can make you delighted and proud of what you’ve done. And this is not only about GWENT — this is a great life rule in general 😉 

And may the red coin be with you, may every keg contain a premium card, and may the odds be ever in your favor. In the name of Burza and Saint Shupe, Ahoy, my hooman friends!

Community Tournament: Duel of Dogs (The Big Heist)

Introduction

Team Bandit Gang presents: The Duel of Dogs Tournament,  where skill is the only thing that matters, with much loot to be plundered.

Community Qualifiers – November 6th – 7th

Main Tournament – November 13th – 14th

  • Five (5) members from each Gwent team, as well as some notable independent players will be invited to participate in the Main Tournament.
  • Total amount of players in the Main Tournament will be 64. This will be a mix of invited players and those who earned a spot via the community qualifiers tournament.
  • If a team CAN NOT fill 5 spots, the spares will serve as additional spots to compete for within the community qualifier tournament.

Prize Pool

Prize Pool – 250$ (US Dollars)

1st Place – 175$ + Discord Title + 1200 Meteroite Powder + 15 Premium Kegs

2nd Place – 50$ + 800 Meteorite Powder + 10 Premium Kegs

3rd Place – 25$ + 400 Meteorite Powder + 5 Premium Kegs

Tournament Rules

We highly recommend for everyone to record their games for the sake of potential disputes or claims

  • All rulings made by tournament administrators are FINAL
  • All tournament participants MUST be in the Team Bandit Gang Discord
  • The tournament is open to PC and Mobile players
  • Sign up via Challonge: https://challonge.com/1dhmx85u
  • Tournament check-in will begin 2 hours prior to the start on all tournament days
  • All deck list screenshots have to be submitted via email to teambanditgang@gmail.com
  • If decks are not submitted on time,  the player will be disqualified, no exceptions.
  • All deck lists are subject to verification at any time. Decks that do not match the respective submitted deck lists will result in a match loss to the current opponent
  • Should a game result in a draw in the last 2 rounds of Swiss, the game will be replayed with the same decks and coinflip
  • The coinflip is fixed, the ban via the Team Aretuza ban tool https://teamaretuza.com/gwent/ban will let you know who will go first (and has to send the match request). When you send the match request to your opponent, you are on Blue coin. For Red coin, your opponent must send the request.
  • The first person to win 2 games wins the match in BO3 Swiss and the first person to win 3 games wins the match in BO5 Final 16.

Draws Explanation

  • Game 1 will proceed to a deciding match.
  • If it’s Game 2, it’s 2-1 for whoever was already up 1-0.
  • If it happens in Game 3, the series ends in a 1-1 result
  • Should a game end due to DISCONNECT, then the player who disconnects is given the loss. However, that player’s opponent has the option to offer a rematch using the same decks.
  • Failure to queue into your match against your opponent within 10 minutes of the match being posted will result in a 0-2 match loss. A second failure to show will result in a disqualification from the tournament.
  • You may stream your games at your own risk, and streaming with a delay is highly recommended
  • Any cheating, vulgar or unsportsmanlike behaviour will not be tolerated under any circumstances and may end up in disqualification from either tournament.
  • Cash Prizes – An active PAYPAL Account is required, or the cash prize will be voided

Tournament Format

Community Qualifiers - Swiss Rounds

  • Limited to 256 players who can enter qualifier tournament
  • While all Gwent teams can bring five (5) people from their teams straight  to the main tournament., additional team members can participate in the community qualifier for their spot in the main tournament.
  • The amount of players who can advance to the main tournament will depend solely if all of the Gwent teams invited can fill a five (5) player invite roster. For example, if 10 Gwent teams all had 5 players join the main event and 3 independent notables joined the main event then there would be 53 out of 64 spots filled. This would leave 11 spots  that community qualifier players can compete for. Qualifying spots will vary depending on the outcome
  • Start Time: Saturday November 6th @ 7am CDT – first half of the Swiss Games will be played
  • Start Time: Saturday November 7th @ 7am CST (daylight saving happens this day) – second half of the swiss games will be played
  • Best of 3 format
  • Bring three (3) decks from three (3) different factions. Final deck lists are to be uploaded as SCREENSHOTS NOT LINKS to teambanditgang@gmail.com no later than November 5th @ 7am CDT.
  • Open deck lists from one (1) hour prior to the start of the tournament
  • Ban 1 deck each, win with the remaining 2
  • Draws in the first four (4) rounds will finish with a 1-1 result
  • Draws in the last two (2) rounds will be replayed using the same leaders and same coin
  • All scores must be reported in the #duel-of-dogs-qualifier-scores channel in the Team Bandit Gang Discord

Day 1 - Swiss Rounds

  • Start Time: Saturday November 13th @ 7am CST
  • Best of 3 format
  • Bring three (3) decks from three (3) different factions (Submit 4 decks, 4th will be for Day 2, make sure to specify which deck is for Day 2). Final deck lists are to be uploaded as SCREENSHOTS NOT LINKS to teambanditgang@gmail.com no later than November 12th @ 7am CST.
  • Open deck lists from one (1) hour prior to the start of the tournament
  • Ban 1 deck each, win with the remaining 2
  • Draws in the first four (4) rounds will finish with a 1-1 result
  • Draws in the last two (2) rounds are to be replayed using the same leaders and same coin
  • All scores must be reported in the #duel-of-dogs-qualifier-scores channel in the team bandit gang discord

Day 2 - Top 16 Single elimination

  • Start Time: Sunday November 14th @ 7am CST
  • Best of 5 format
  • Bring four (4) decks from four (4) different factions
  • Ban 1 deck each, win with the remaining 3
  • All draws will be replayed using the same leaders and same coin

Tournament Client

  • The Gwent tournament client will be utilized on the FINAL day on the main tournament.
  • Top 16 players will be featured using the tournament client.
  • Team Bandit Gang will be casting the tournament on the final day of the main tournament. (the casters will be announced in due time)
  • One (1) Top 16 match as well as one (1) quarterfinal match will be cast. Additionally, all semi-finals, 3rd place match, and finals will be cast. The casting channel is still undecided and will be announced shortly.

If you have any Inquiry related to the tournament please send them to the Tournament Organizer SynergyGod

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! 

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! 

Skill beats Luck Ep. 1 – SuperSpock9000 and the TLG Invitational II

Introduction

Skill beats luck“, a quote we are all familiar with, describes the basic idea of competitive Gwent. I guess we would all agree that this might not be the case in every situation…but surely being able to play Gwent at a high level helps on ladder and in tournaments. 

In this series, we want to talk with some of Bandit Gang’s Pro and Academy Players about their experience and thoughts of recent events they took part in. For episode one, I had the chance to talk with SuperSpock9000, who not only played in the last top 64 qualifiers in June, but managed to secure himself a spot in the top 16 playoffs in the TLG Invivational II. So let’s have a look at the player, the event, and what he has to say!

Meet the Player: SuperSpock9000

Name: Nick

Age: 23

Hobbies: Gwent, Yu-Gi-Oh, Running

Section: Pro Team

Favorite Faction: Scoiat’ael

Favorite Card: Cintrian Envoy

About the Event - The TLG Invitational II

The TLG Invitational is one of the biggest community tournaments in Gwent right now. Organised by Team Leviathan Gaming, the best players and competitive teams face each other to fight for a $1,000 price pool. To take part in the event, you either have to be invited, which means being a pro of one of the known Gwent teams, or have a decent reputation in the community. The other way is to make it to the top 16 in one of the qualifier events, which SuperSpock9000 managed to achieve in qualifier #2 in March.

The first part of the tournament will be a two-day-long swiss phase, which was just played last weekend, July 10th-11th. The second part is the top 16 playoff event, which will take place on July 31st – August 1st. If you want to learn more about this event, check out their homepage.

The Interview

Sawyer: What motivated you to take part in this event?

SuperSpock9000: Nothing in particular. I think I just wanted to play in a big Gwent event and see what I can do.

How did you prepare for this event compared to, for example, the top 64 qualifiers last month?

This time, I tried a more chillexd approach to prepare, if you can say it like this. I looked at the current meta, looked at what’s good and efficient right now and just went with it. I saw what Pajabol and the other pros were playing, tried out a couple of games on ladder before and this was it. I didn’t feel the need to come up with some spicy teched stuff like I did for the top 64 qualifier.

So you would say it was a different approach and experience to prepare for a community event and not for an “official” event?

Well, the skill level of the participating players in the Invitationals is still very high, of course. But you don’t have to grind as hard for it to qualify. I think playing a huge amount of games can be pretty exhausting, which I experienced when I went for a top 64 spot. And this kind of exhaustion carried over into the next season and also my preparation for the qualifiers. I prepped almost every day, but for the future I definitely will go with a more chilled preparation again.

Playing in events like this, how do you feel? How do you keep your focus?

To be honest, there is a lot of anxiety. You feel the pressure and try to perform at your best.  For me, it was the first tournament after the top 64 qualifiers in such a competitive environment, so I was a bit nervous. I tried to listen to some music while I played, but I am not sure if this helped me to focus or not. You just have to gain confidence during your preparation, know your lineup well, and believe in your own abilities. 

Can you give us an example? Maybe a certain situation where you can sketch the differences between ladder and tournaments?

On ladder, I sometimes lack the necessary efficiency. Coinflips, matchups, card draws, everything can be against you. But in open decklist tournaments, I spent more time thinking about my plays and proper sequencing. I can reflect on the value of my resources a bit more. In a tournament setting, I try to allocate each card for a certain purpose, while also keeping in mind to be flexible in certain situations. 

How was the overall experience for you with the organisation? Do you like the tournament format or do you prefer leagues?

I don’t have much to complain about. TLG and everyone in general do the best they can to make these events work. It is always a cool opportunity to maybe be seen on stream, get into the spotlight, etc.

Sometimes, I wish the match process would go more smoothly. Because of the deck discussions,  it can often take a while before the next round starts. A long day can be exhausting. 

Personally, I prefer events on the weekends. I also don’t really like a week-by-week thing which you have to adapt your schedule to, but maybe in the future. 

You managed to secure a spot in the top 16 and went 6-1: congratulations! So what is your plan until the playoffs in a few weeks?

Thank you! I kinda want to work on my ladder efficency a bit more and increase my winrate. Also the last time the meta changed at the end of the month, so I will analyse what’s going on and keep my eyes and ears open for last minute changes and eventual meta shifts. 

Do you have any final advice for our readers who might be interested in taking part in such events themselves?

Just do them. Make the experience yourself. In Gwent, you learn by doing, so you have to overcome your competitive anxiety at some point. 
I can also recommend to record your games, to ensure you learn and take something out of it, if you want to improve. Your mistakes shine when you lose but you don’t think about them as much if you win. 

Alright, thanks for taking part in the interview. I wish you good luck and also good fortune in the wars to come!

Thanks, I will try my best. Cya!

Meme Series: KRV vs BG

On Saturday the 13th and Sunday the 14th, Team Kreve and Team Bandit Gang face off to determine which team has the superior memers. Five different Best of 5 matches will be played between the two teams with each match having a different theme, in the style of the old Gwent OCE meme tournaments. Whichever team wins the most matches will be crowned winner of the series. And to make sure you can’t miss out on this big event, we have prepared a casting team. Each duo has a different theme that they cast. So make sure to keep an eye out on our Twitter and to join our Discord for additional information!

Players & Casters:

Themes:

  1. Gold Rush – Each player’s decks can only consist of gold cards
  2. Not Even That Odd – Each player’s decks can only consist of either all even or all odd provision cards
  3. One Man’s Trash – Each player sends their decks to the opponent at the start of the game and the opponent gets to play with those decks (must use full provisions, have 25 cards and use no neutrals)
  4. Stay Neutral – Each player’s decks can have at most 8 faction cards.
  5. ABC’s Each player’s decks can only consist of either cards starting with letters A-M or cards starting with letters N-Z.
    Note: Any stratagem can be used in every theme apart from ABC’s, stratagems do not count towards the limit in Stay Neutral

Ruleset:

  • Decklists are closed so the opponent does not see the decks before the match (don’t want to spoil the memes)
  • There will be no ban phase
  • Each player prepares 3 decks, each from a different faction
  • Decks that win a game cannot be used again in the same match
  • Players alternate who has blue coin (who goes first) each game
    • This first player with blue coin will be decided by a tournament admin before the match
    • The player on blue coin invites their opponent
  • In the case of a tie, the game will be immediately replayed with the same decks and same player on blue coin

Times:

  • The meme series will be played on the 13th and 14th of February
  • With 3 games on the first day and 2 games on the second day

Bandit Gang Present: Duel Of Dogs, A Gwent Contest

The Duel of Dogs is a Gwent contest of skill that will be a fantastic community tournament with some of the best teams and names in the Gwent scene. Question is, are you ready to fight?

The Duel of Dogs will feature a 250 USD Prize Pool with a variety of prizes for the top three winners of the dog fight.

If you would like to participate you can register for the Duel of Dogs Qualifiers here and have a shot to qualify for the Main Tournament.

For more information & ruleset, please join our Discord and locate the tourney channels. We look forward to you participating in the Qualifier and watching this big event on the last weekend in October!