Interview: Gravesh

Come and read our interview with one of the best German players of Gwent – Gravesh!

How do you prepare for events like Gwent Open?

First off it’s about finding a suitable lineup as those have to be submitted roughly a week before the tournament. This is usually a brainstorming phase with 1-3 other players that I am preparing with. There are always a lot of considerations to take into account like the current patch, the opponents at the respective tournament and my own level of comfort with certain decks. After the lineup is submitted it’s usually just spamming scrims for expected matchups until I feel like I know all the macro considerations as well as all the little ins and outs.

What do you think about the new expansion system?

I think it’s quite cool to see more frequent card drops as opposed to having to wait half a year for 70 card expansions. There is, however, a risk attached to this kind of expansion system as the quality of the cards has to be very high for them to affect the meta in a palpable way. Looking at the first batch that dropped most of the cards are actually quite underwhelming and see little to no play at all and the ones that do see play are borderline overpowered. With some more tweaks here and there I think this is definitely a step in a good direction though.

What is your favorite and least favorite card from last drop and why?

Both NR cards are sadly pathetically bad and have no way of ever seeing competitive play even with some buffs. In general, I think it’s ok to have new gimmicky cards released because it’s an important part of what makes the game appealing to a portion of the player base but there always has to be a balance between memey and competitive cards in expansions. Also, please delete Eldain.

My favorite card from the last drop is probably Cleaver – he is overpowered af, but I also really like his multi-faceted design.

In this patch we still didn’t get any type of cards introduced in previous expansions (Strategem, Defender, Location, Dual Faction Cards). Any ideas for that type of cards?

I wholeheartedly hope to never see new Defenders added to the game, the ones we have are already more than enough trouble. Locations are very well-designed cards in my opinion but due to their nature of choosing between an array of dedicated bronzes I doubt we will see more of them in the future. New Strategems and Dual Faction cards could be a nice addition though – maybe a dagger like neutral Strategem that deals 3 damage could see some play? 😉

Season 3 started pretty nice for you because of qualifying to Open #1. Do you think you will manage to get to Open #2 even though tournament preparation takes a lot of time from you this month?

Well I sure hope I will 😀 Realistically, getting to an Open takes a lot of dedication and time but also a solid portion of luck, so I expect nothing but will still give it my best shot.

How long did you have to play Gwent before achieving the skill level required to comfortably finish every season of Gwent in Top 64?

Uff that’s hard to say honestly. I remember back when I joined the game in beta I was a wholesome noob that played a lot of Kambi decks and didn’t take the game too seriously. The first time I really tryharded was the last competitive season of beta  where I think I managed to land somewhere in the lower top 20. That said I also had a lot of prior card game experience due to playing Hearthstone at a high ladder level for a while.

Are you still surprised by really strong and innovative play or deck constructions when playing the ladder, or is it just mostly copy-paste decks with minor differences?

There is always some interesting mambo jambo to be encountered on ladder, that’s for sure. Of course there are hordes of meta decks with some tech cards sprinkled occasionally but especially at the top of the ladder the players tend to get creative and innovate more often than not.

How do you mentally deal with ladder anxiety?

It’s probably one of if not my biggest weakness in terms of ladder play, so I might not be the best person to ask. I tend to care about my win rate too much and sit on good scores for too long instead of mercilessly pushing them like some other players like kams or Redrame do. The meta is very fragile at the higher level and tends to change daily, so sometimes you have to push a score early because later on in the season you might not get the chance to do so anymore. In general, I think it’s best to remind yourself that “it’s just a game” as stupid as it sounds – in the end the stakes aren’t very high and the only thing you can really lose is some respect for yourself because you didn’t have the balls to give it your all. So, just headbutt play! 😀

What was the misplay that cost you the most?

Frontrowing the Kelly against Paja at the World Masters semis for sure. I mind-gamed myself into thinking he had an Amnesty in hand and figured playing Kelly on the front row was the safer option, but it ended up costing me the opportunity to win the very unfavored matchup and get my targeted deck through. Winning that game would have given me good chances to win the series and maybe even the whole tournament. One can dream …

How do you understand teamwork, and how does your team contribute in making you a better player?

Having a healthy community to work on and enjoy Gwent together is the best form to play the game and push yourself. TLG specifically is just a fantastic team all around that honestly has motivated me more than anything else to still keep going with competitive Gwent. It’s a very family like environment where we discuss decks, tournaments or the game in general on a near daily basis. Having some of the best players in the game at hand to optimize a deck with or discuss the ins and outs of a certain match-up is absolutely invaluable but the most important thing for me is to have like-minded individuals to hang out with that are passionate about the same thing that I am.

What’s the most broken card/combo you’ve played so far in Year 3?

And then we play Viy, and then we eat Viy, and then we play Viy, and then we eat Viy.

Which 3 cards should be reworked in your opinion?

Ciri: Dash, Viper Witcher Alchemist, Ihuarraquax

What is your opinion about Yrden?

I think Yrden in particular is not that big of a problem, but he is very symptomatic of an array of cards that thrive off of your opponent not knowing that you play them. These “surprise value” cards like for example Yrden, Igni, Scorch, Tavern Brawl or Red Haze are cards that get little value if played around but can be absolutely game deciding if not. In my opinion cards like that simply shouldn’t exist as they can turn a game around not because of an outplay but because of an opponent not respecting subpar cards that shouldn’t be played in the first place. Their swing potential is too high and while some are worse than others they all need to get looked at sooner or later.

Which was your favorite deck from Beta?

Uhh, beta had so many unique decks it’s kinda hard to pick one. I have to admit that I had a sweet spot for Solitaire decks like Consume, Handbuff NG or Vets but my all-time favorite has got to be Alchemy. The deck had so much play potential and overall power that it was an absolute blast to play into nearly every matchup.

From which Youtuber/Streamer/Professional Player did you took your first decks/advices, if so?

If I am to name anyone it would have to be the legendary Lifecoach. I was a big fan of his back in his Hearthstone days, and ultimately he was the reason for me to check out Gwent after I grew continuously more bored with HS.

Will the tournaments like Gwent Open will take place on LAN this year?

Well, I don’t have any intel on that matter, but I very much hope that at least Masters will be held as a LAN event this year even though looking at the current situation I somewhat doubt it. I personally never experienced an offline Gwent event but everyone who has been to one told me it was a blast, so I really hope to be able to take part in one in the future.

Do you believe that it is possible for someone to make a living from playing Gwent, streaming it and making any other Gwent related activities?

Depends on what kind of life you want to live 😀 There is definitely ways to make money with Gwent be it off of competitive play or dedicated streaming but in the end both require passion, hard work and dedication and will most likely not pay all that well in the end. That said I don’t want to discourage anyone from trying because I do believe that if you are passionate about the game it’s always worth to give it a shot, but please always put your job or education first.

Life is not only about Gwent, right? What are your other hobbies, and do you have enough time to play other games?

Eat. Sleep. Gwent. Repeat.

Jokes aside – between finishing my studies and Gwent there is still a healthy amount of time for other activities. Can’t say I really have dedicated hobbies at the moment besides maybe hiking and cooking, but even those are things I don’t do too religiously. As for games I definitely enjoy spending some time in other games, mostly only in the first 2-3 weeks of a competitive Gwent season though. I am currently enjoying Dark Souls 3, but I also play some Dead by Daylight with friends sporadically.

What archetype would you like to be buffed so that it is reasonably competitive?

It’s kind of a shame that Vampires are still dead in the water even after the buffs and new cards they got, so that would be my pick for an archetype that could probably see  play with some tweaks here and there. Another one would be self-wound SK – Bear Witcher Mentor is an already somewhat potent enabler card and with a little more support this could finally evolve into a playable archetype.

The new arena didn’t get much praise. Do you think the idea itself is fun or is it just an RNG fest?

The idea itself is good as proven by other games like Legends of Runeterra which is where most of the inspiration for the draft mode came from. The problem with Gwent’s draft is that the offered card buckets are overall very poorly balanced and that there is no reward or progression system at all. If these two problems were to be tackled I think draft could actually be a really fun mode.

Thank you for your time, and good luck on the ladder!

You can follow Gravesh on Twitch.

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