After four draining but exciting Beta Brawls the time finally arrived to gather the top 8 players of the past month for the Monthly Finals last weekend.
Starting out with the group stage on Saturday every player got to play each other twice to select the Top 4 for the upcoming Playoff-Stage the next Day.
Ultimately the group stage cuts the competition in half to prepare for the playoffs.
Dunkoro started and ended the group stage very strong, winning the first 3 rounds 2:0 making for a 6-win-series until getting a tie against GumGumFacePunch in round 4.
Dunkoro proved very early on that he was one of the top contenders there, and could be a player to watch out for winning the whole thing.
But not all favorites fared that well.
Mortan, the 2-time weekly champion for Beta Brawl #1.5 and #3, didn't have as much success going into the group stage, going 0:6 in the first 3 best of 2 series.
Even though not losing any of the remaining four series, he still could not surpass a tie in last Place, going 1-3-3 with 6 points.
The other big surprise of the group stage was Ajajaman, who despite having earned the least tournament-points from the Beta-Brawls beforehand, ended up climbing up to 4th Place and ultimately achieved 3rd place in the playoffs the day after.
Another surprise was the downfall of McBeardCH, the first weekly Beta-Brawl Champion, who could not advance to the next Stage after only needing 1 point to tie the 4th place spot, eliminating him too from the playoffs.
Group stage table:
The First Ever Gwent Shoutcast:
In retrospect, McBeardCH's elimination might have been one of the best things ever to happen to the Competitive Gwent Scene, as it meant he was able to provide a live cast of the finals, a very memorable event for everybody involved.
He asked the four remaining players to screenshare with him through the programs Skype and Zoom, under the premise that he would cast & stream the games for everybody to see.
This was the first Live-Cast for a round of Gwent ever.
Even though the skype quality could have been better, the overall quality and great casting by McBeardCH, who had to cast all 17 games by himself, has been greatly enjoyed by the viewers, whose numbers reached over 200, a very significant milestone for Gwent in its current state.
All in all it was a lot of work and incurred a lot of stress and pressure for everyone involved, but ended up being worthwhile and a fun, memorable event for everybody involved.
Dunkoro vs Ajajaman: 3-0
Starting of the day was the highest ranked Dunkoro against Ajajaman.
The series ended very quickly in a clear 3:0 sweep, however this also meant Ajajaman could hold onto his Monster-Deck and did not show all his cards, which ended up being important in the 3rd place decider.
Swim vs GumGumFacePunch: 3-2
This ended up being a really close and exciting series.
Swim banned Northern Realms, meanwhile GumGum banned Scoia´tael.
Even though Swim fell behind (1:2) after the first three games, he still managed to catch up with his Henselt deck and ultimately both players were left with Skellige for the deciding match.
There was one mayor difference between the decks, GumGum´s version was using Harald as the leader, which has cost him before in the series and was also about to cost him this game.
Round 1 was the most important round in this game and both players decided to go very deep into the Round with GumGum having a huge lead midways, but swim breaking it with great Dimeritium Bomb value.
GumGum answered back with a 20-point Geralt: Igni, which tied both players at 45.
Both players only having 3 cards left, Swim made the important decision of playing a very early restoration and taking the round. GumGum could have mirrored the restoration play but chose to concede the round instead, which ended up being a key deciding move.
In round 2 Swim chose to play all his cards out, culminating in a huge Lugos play which forced GumGum to counter with Restoration to stay in the game. With no cards left to draw, Swim was banking on the Ciri he would get back being able to beat the last draw in GumGum´s deck.
GumGum drew Tremors as the last card, losing to ciri and getting deferred to the 3rd place decider versus Ajajaman.
Ajajaman vs GumGumFacePunch: 2-1
Another close series with all 3 games being very close, the last of which ending in a clutch draw for Ajajaman and winning with 1 point ahead of GumGum.
The first matchup Ajajaman played a very removal-orientated Monsters deck with high value units against GumGum´s more classic Scoia-stall deck.
A close game ending with a few points difference, a clutch Toruviel steal (because she can not stay on the board) and a huge 20 strength Eredin staying over the round.
Overall this series led to a surprising, but very deserved 3rd place for Ajajaman, with GumGumFacePunch finishing at 4th Place.
Dunkoro vs Swim: 4:2
Not quite as close as the previous 2 series but just as exciting nonetheless. Because it was a best of 7, no bans were required.
Swim took the first match with his monsters against Dunkoro's Skellige deck. Swim held on to Caranthir until the last moment to deny his opponent's 21 strength skirmisher.
Dunkoro came back in the next 3 matches to make it 3:1 in favour of the eventual champion.
Grave-robbing proved to be an effective counter to NR buff promote strategies as Dunkoro edged out Swim with his Monsters. Though admittedly Swim got a little unlucky with his draws, drawing 2 Reaver Scouts and a Kaedweni Siege Support on the last 2 rounds with no targets to use them on.
In the Skellige mirror match, Swim's decision to not play Birna in the second round cost him the game as he lost by just 2 points in round 3.
The 4th match was between Dunkoro's promote NR vs Swim's discard Skellige. Swim conceded in the 2nd round as he had no answer to the biting frost and resilient golden units on his opponent's side.
At this point Dunkoro only needed to win with his Scoia'tael deck to be the Beta Brawl Champion. Swim fought back with his NR deck but fell short in the Scoia mirror match.
Dunkoro made a rare misplay against NR, playing Eithne on Borkh instead of Aglais which could get him Isengrim with The Last Wish. He conceded as he did not draw Isengrim on round 3.
Borkh enabled Dunkoro to easily take the 1st round in the mirror match, which in turn allowed him to force Swim into playing Isengrim in the 2nd round. Swim conceded in the final round as he had only 1 card against Dunkoro's 4, thus closing out the tournament.
Playoff-Conclusion and Shoutouts:
A few stats for the Playoff-Games before we finish out this resume with the last words.
5x Northern realms
Wins and losses:
Monster : 6 Wins 0 losses
Northern Realms: 3 Wins 2 losses
Scoia'tael: 3 Wins 3 losses
Skellige: 4 wins 6 losses
In conclusion, this tournament was a major step towards making competitive Gwent a reality, and we can only hope CD Projekt Red provides us with ranked and spectator modes soon.
That said we should applaud and give credit to the people who stood behind the tournament and the many players who participated over the four weeks leading up to this monthly Beta-Brawl tournament, and of course the players themselves, who proved themselves worthy of being in the top 8.
Shoutouts to Devizz, who started and organized the Beta-Brawl and sadly had no time to organize the monthly final, and to NubSh1t who took over for the monthly finals and organized it a few days before the weekend. Amazing jobs, both of you. It couldn't have been done without you.
Also again many thanks to McBeardCH for casting these awesome 17 games for us, you did a great job. It would not have been the same memorable experience for us all without the cast.
And last but certainly not least thanks CD Projekt Red for making this awesome game for us.