GwentSlam #3: Meet the Players
GwentSlam 3: Meet the Players
With the third iteration of GwentSlam taking place this weekend in Vienna, eight hopeful players are gearing up to compete for Crown Points, and a slice of the respectable $10,000 prizepool. These players are Adzikov, Shaggy, Tailbot, Petrify, eiSloth, Gameking, Dyuhaaa, and Freddybabes. Qualifying for the tournament in various ways, each player has their own unique background and history in Gwent. A love for the game and a thirst to compete ties them all together.
Three players qualified for GwentSlam via the pro ladder, Gwent’s competitive ladder only accessible by the top tier of players. Players with the highest match making rank (MMR) by the end of the day on November 15th secured themselves a spot in the tournament. With just 15 days since the ladder reset to climb, players have had a limited amount of time to race to the top. To see their full pro ladder MMR, players must complete at least 100 games for four different factions. Thus, these players needed to play at least 27 games a day, minimum to meet this requirement. Not a challenge for the faint-hearted or those with other time commitments. When the dust settled, the top three players were: (from first to third) Adzikov, Shaggy, and Tailbot.
Three things in life are certain: Death, taxes, and Andrzej “Adzikov” Bal appearing within the top 5 of the Gwent pro ladder. He placed top in the first season with a whopping 5,907 MMR and 2,219 games played (approximately 37 a day on average). Using his position on the pro ladder, this Polish powerhouse has qualified for three previous tournaments, GwentSlam 1, GwentSlam 2, and Gwent Open 2. Unfortunately for Adzikov, in each event he was knocked out in the first round, by MeleeMan in GwentSlam 1, and by Freddybabes in both GwentSlam 2 and Gwent Open 2. To the credit of Adzikov, all three matches went to a fifth game in the best of five format. So while it seems that Adzikov struggles in tournaments compared to on the ladder, he has still shown his merit and skill on the tournament stage, and is not a player you should discount.
To further emphasise this, it is worth noting that CDPR held a qualifier for two spots in their upcoming $100,000 tournament, Gwent Challenger. The top 200 players from the pro ladder competed in a Swiss, and then bracketed, format to try and claim one of two coveted spots. Despite the fact that Adzikov had already qualified for Gwent Challenger via the Crown Points he had accumulated, he still chose to take on the challenge, and emerged the victor after two gruelling days of Gwent. So, it is fair to say that while Adzikov has yet to shine at a LAN tournament, he has clearly shown his skills, and will be hopeful to break the round one curse this time around. There is nobody that he would particularly like to face during GwentSlam, but he would prefer not to face Freddybabes in the first round, which given their recent tournament history is unsurprising.
Adzikov has battled with anxiety and depression in the past. He says that tournaments and the Gwent community not only help to improve him as a player, but also help to improve him as a person.
Elias “Shaggy” Sagmeister is an Austrian player who previously competed in the first Gwent Open, and in GwentSlam 1. The first Gwent Open was held at GamesCom, Europe’s biggest gaming event. Although seven players had qualified through their position on the ladder (pro ladder didn’t exist at this time), CDPR also held a wild-card tournament during GamesCom to determine the eighth contender. Not only did Shaggy win the qualifier, he also went on to win Gwent Open, netting himself a sizeable prize and qualification to the upcoming Gwent Challenger. During GwentSlam, he beat Tides of Time in the first round, but was knocked out by Freddybabes 3-1 in a best of 5. Having shown that he can perform at live events, Shaggy has also proven his worth on the pro ladder. He holds the second place spot to qualify for GwentSlam 3, and is currently sitting fifth with 5,546 MMR (at time of writing). Shaggy has said that he would like to face Petrify during GwentSlam “because it would be an ez 3-0, basically getting a bye.” Clearly confident, Shaggy is definitely one to watch, and you’d be nuts to think he didn’t stand a chance of coming out on top.
Shaggy is currently studying Sociology and Philosophy. He enjoys running, swimming and cycling in his free time. His favorite movie is Fight Club, but we don’t talk about that.
Poland is the home of Gwent and has produced multiple competitive players. Damian “TailBot” Kaźmierczak is a prime example of this. Another regular name near the top of the pro ladder, due to this TailBot attended both Gwent Slam 2, and Gwent Open 2. Sadly, TailBot was unable to find the wins he needed during GwentSlam. He was beaten in the first round 3-1 by Metranos, who was running a very gold-weather-heavy strategy, much to the chagrin of many an attendee. In the Gwent Open however, TailBot was out for blood. He took down Irohabit in a clean 3-0 to make it into the semis, then managed to defeat OMhanachan in a reverse sweep, 3-2. Unfortunately, as was the case with our previous two contenders, Freddybabes was there to halt the win train. TailBot placed a respectable second, which also qualified him for Gwent Challenger. Known for his smack talk during Gwent Open, TailBot is clearly a player with a thirst for victory. He says that it makes no difference to him who he has to play against. After his recent 2nd place, it can be certain that TailBot is ready to take on GwentSlam, and try to find that first place finish.
When not playing Gwent, TailBot enjoys teaching himself to program, and would be interested in pursuing it as a career outside of Gwent. He can also play the guitar and harmonica.
After three pro ladder qualifications, five spots for GwentSlam remain. Two were available to open online qualifiers. This is a regular feature of GwentSlam events, allowing anyone to enter and compete across a challenging bracket with up to 512 participants. With such a long day of matches, fatigue and burnout are just a couple of things players must be able to deal with to come out on top and cinch those coveted Gwent Slam spots. After eight rounds, and several hundreds of players were knocked out, the victors were Petrify and eiSloth.
Mark “Petrify” Fittipaldi is an Australian gamer and member of Complexity Gaming as a competitor and streamer. Known for being rather vocal when it comes to the state of Gwent esports, Petrify does not shy away from critiquing the somewhat Europe-centric state of GwentSlam. With online qualifiers occurring a month prior to GwentSlam 3 however, the ability to travel this time around saw Petrify competing for his place in the event. Not only did he succeed, he knocked out another fan favourite, JJPasak in the finals with a clean 3-0 sweep. While he has yet to leave his mark on a LAN event, Petrify was a competitive player within the Australian scene for both Starcraft 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Switching AKs for cards, Petrify has become a well known member of the Gwent community. It will be interesting to see how he does at his first LAN event. In fact, Petrify has said that this is the most serious he will be taking Gwent. Having completed a masters degree in Business Information Systems, he is due to start a graduate job in February. This leaves less time to dedicate to top-level Gwent, although he will still attempt to remain competitive. At GwentSlam, he would like to face Shaggy, GameKing, or Freddybabes. With Shaggy claiming an easy 3-0 if against Petrify, it would be an exciting match up to see.
Evgeny “eiSloth” Androsik is a Gwent player from Belarus, and winner of the second online qualifier for GwentSlam. He previously qualified for the first Gwent Open at GamesCom by placing in the top 7 of the Gwent ladder. With many players vying for a spot, there was fierce competition amongst those at the top of Gwent. During the first round of Gwent Open he was knocked out by Duofanel in a closely fought 3-2. Since then, he hasn’t been seen at any other LAN events. But, he has clearly still been practicing Gwent and keeping up with the current meta, as shown by his performance in the online qualifiers. From 218 participants, eiSloth succeeded in coming out the victor, with a swift 3-0 in the final against Matiz. Although perhaps not as well known in the Gwent community as some of the other competitors, eiSloth may turn out to be a dark horse during GwentSlam 3.
With only three spots remaining for GwentSlam 3, it is only proper that one would go to the defending GwentSlam champion, GameKing.
Raffael “GameKing” Iciren is a regular face at LAN events, having attended both previous GwentSlam events, and the Gwent Open 2. In fact, if GameKing’s GwentSlam history is anything to go by, he is a very strong contender for the crown. In the first GwentSlam event the Austrian placed second, losing out in the finals 3-1 to Freddybabes. This only fueled GameKing’s competitive drive however. He qualified for GwentSlam 2 by performing well on the pro ladder and placing in the top 3 by the 15th October cut off. After proving himself online, GwentSlam 2 was GameKing’s time to shine. He defeated Metranos 3-1 in the finals to claim victory, and qualify for this weekend’s GwentSlam 3. Having amassed a large number of Crown Points through his pro ladder results and tournament success, GameKing qualified for the second Gwent Open event, held by CDPR in Warsaw. Given his track record, GameKing was a firm favourite to win at Gwent Open. Unfortunately, this was his worst LAN performance to date. He was defeated in the first round by SuperJJ in a closely fought 3-2. With the best track record at GwentSlam events, GameKing may be seen as the one to beat at Gwent Slam 3. As the defending champion, he has a lot to live up to, and will undoubtedly be feeling the pressure, especially as he has said that he feels everyone competing is really strong.
In his spare time GameKing likes to hang out with his friends. Card games are his game of choice, and he enjoys playing other card games, both on the computer, and physical games like Magic the Gathering. With a $10,000 prize pool at GwentSlam, GameKing will be hoping to do well and maybe help fund his Magic collection.
Lastly, there are two spots for invitees. Invitees are unable to earn Crown Points at LAN events, although they are still able to win prize money. Performing well may qualify them for other licensed tournaments. For GwentSlam 3, these spots went to Dyuhaaa and Freddybabes.
Not a lot is known about Dyuhaaa in comparison to the other contestants. GwentSlam 3 will be his first LAN event, and with no track record, he is a bit of a wild card. From Belarus, he previously qualified for GwentSlam 2 via the online qualifiers. Unfortunately, he was unable to attend the event due to visa issues. Due to his prior qualification, it seems only right that Dyuhaaa was invited to GwentSlam 3 in order to compete. Seen by some as the underdog due to lack of prior experience at events, Dyuhaaa may just prove to be a dark horse in this competition.
Finally, we have Frederick “Freddybabes” Bird, Britain’s only entrant in Gwent Slam 3. A very firm fan favourite, and one of Gwentlemen’s own, Freddy has multiple tournament wins under his belt, and has knocked out many of the other competitors in the past. His first appearance was at Gwent Slam 1, which he qualified for through an online open tournament. This became his first tournament victory, beating GameKing in the finals and securing his invite to Gwent Slam 2. Gwent Slam 2 was a different kettle of fish for Freddybabes. After beating Adzikov in round 1, he went up against GameKing in the semi-finals. This time however, it was GameKing who emerged the victor, knocking Freddy out of the tournament. Freddy was back with a vengeance for Gwent Open 2 however. He qualified through Crown Points only because another player could not attend, but ended up winning the event, beating TailBot with a straight 3-0 in the finals. Due to his win at Gwent Open, he received the final invite to Gwent Slam. He is known for his unusual tech card choices, bringing Lambert to Gwent Open for example. It remains to be seen what Freddy will bring to Gwent Slam 3, but he will undoubtedly bring something intriguing, and as a fan favourite, will have the support of a lot of the audience at home.
Freddy is currently studying Philosophy at university, and has been a fan of Gwent since the Witcher 3. There is no one he particularly wants to face during Gwent Slam 3, but given the fact he’s played most of them in the past at LAN, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
As you can see, the majority of competitors have prior experience at Gwent events. They do well during online qualifiers, and also consistently on the pro ladder. It is fair to say that any one of these participants stands a strong chance of winning this weekend, and it will be exciting to find out what decks players choose to bring. Will we see a return of the Radovid Lambert deck we saw during Gwent Open 2? We’ll have to wait and see. Either way, given their history, there will definitely be a few surprises up the sixteen sleeves of these eight players.