Hey guys, Saber97 here. I bring you an exclusive interview with none other than the glorious KingChezz93 himself.
With a grand 12-2 record, he qualified for Gwent Challenger #5. Let's hear what the king has to say to his subjects!
Saber: Hey Chezzy, congratulations again! Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into Gwent?
Chezzy: Thanks pal. Hello everyone, I’m a 25 year old King who streams by day and rules over my kingdom by night. Before I got into Gwent,
I used to be an international athlete competing for Wales on many occasions over many different distances, mainly focusing on 800/1500m. My 3 greatest achievements were breaking 2 welsh records, winning a british gold medal and captaining Wales. As for how I got into Gwent, that’s actually a funny story, as I never played any of the Witcher games before Gwent. What brought me into Gwent was an Ad on Facebook. Seeing a game called “Gwent” immediately caught my attention, because that's literally the name of the place where I was born and raised!
Saber: You started playing Gwent approximately 2 years ago. How have you developed as a player since then?
Chezzy: When I first started playing, I actually thought I was pretty good very quickly. I used to watch a lot of YT videos from people such as Merchant and Mogwai, trying to learn the game as quickly as possible. I remember searching Reddit, trying to find out what was considered
as decent MMR at the time and trying to reach it. I now realize how naive I was and that in fact, I was far away from being good at the game.
Luckily, my very first season was the season that CDPR first had qualifying for Pro ladder and they put the cut off at 4200 MMR. At that point,
I was sitting at like 4000 MMR and I had about a week or so to try and climb 200 extra MMR. On the final day with almost 12 hours remaining,
I managed to make it. To this very day, I remember the feeling of accomplishment. It wasn’t a great achievement, but it felt like it at the time.
From there, I continued to play Gwent, always trying to improve. I was getting frustrated with not being able to talk to anyone about Gwent,
as none of my friends played the game. I was looking for a community to be a part of and I eventually found a group called The Fourth Row, which consisted of only pro ladder players. I started to really improve as a player, as some of my teammates were really good. It was soon after joining TFR that I finally decided to start streaming. I think this was the biggest contributing factor to my improvement as a player. Streaming
on regular basis meant played more often. I had some great players in my chat pointing out lines of play I wouldn't have considered of myself.
About a year ago, I was approached by a friend I had made in TFR, Mr El Capitano BeardyBoy with an offer to join him in his new Gwent team. Due to my already strong relationship with Beardy and the fact that I had been itching to join a team for a while, it was a pretty easy decision.
Joining TLG is the best thing I ever did in Gwent. I have made many great friends. The team is more like a family to me now than just a team. I’ve been here since almost the very start and I’ve seen a lot of people join and some people leave - I’ve even been given the honour of being named Vice Captain of the pro team and have been involved in a lot of the decisions the team has made as we’ve grown. I was lucky enough to be a part of the prep team and the celebrations of RaduAndrada’s Gwent Open #7 success.
I already have so many great memories of my time spent at TLG and I’m hoping there will be many more to come. And if I’m being completely honest, if it wasn’t for the team, I would have stopped playing Gwent quite some time ago, but the team makes Gwent more than just a game for me and I’m super proud to call each and every one of them a friend as well as a teammate.
Saber: How did you prepare for the qualifier? Can you let us know your thoughts behind your deck choices?
Chezzy: Sure! I actually think that tournament prep and line-up selection is my strongest attribute in Gwent. I've had great success with this even when I wasn't a great player. I spent countless hours working with Radu and a few others on her line-up for successful Gwent Open #7. For this qualifier, I actually approached it differently than usual. I decided to bring decks I was very comfortable with. I tried to come up with some strategy that suited my deck choices, rather than come up with an overall strategy and then try to find decks that suited that strategy.
My most comfortable decks this season had been Bran, Slyzard and my homebrew Brouver deck. I had to think of what matchups the decks had in common. I quickly came to the conclusion that both my Brouver and Slyzard decks were very strong against Hubert. I thought Hubert would be quite popular, as I was expecting a lot of people to try and target Monsters. Unfortunately, Bran isn't great vs Hubert decks, so I was very close to bringing a Crach deck. The night before the Swiss stage, I made the decision that with perfect play and a few minor tech choices, I would at least have a good chance vs those decks and I was far more comfortable playing Bran than Crach.
After I figured out my line-up, I spent many hours scrimming with my teammates and practicing all the potential matchups. I also knew I was going to be banning SK in every series regardless of what else I saw. I didn’t waste my time scrimming against SK. Most of my time was spent playing vs NR decks to make sure I knew exactly what situations to put myself into with every deck to give myself the best chance of winning.
I also spent a lot of time scrimming vs Monsters, as I had no techs and I expected it to be my hardest matchup.
As for my prep for the Playoff stage, I started off by looking at the decks everyone who made it to Day 2 brought for Day 1. Out of the 7 players, only 2 brought Hubert on Day 1, so targeting it felt like a mistake. However, 5 of them actually brought NR. Thanks to that, it didn’t take much for me to make a couple of changes to my existing lists to make them strong against NR in general. I thought this would give me a slight edge in the majority of my matches. I got rewarded since I avoided the only 2 people who didn’t bring NR on Day 2.
The tricky part of my preparation was coming up with a 4th deck for Day 2. I wasn't particularly comfortable playing anything from NR or NG. However, a quick session in the deck builder with yourself (Saber97) produced a solid Midrange Meve list. We thought it would be favoured in most NR mirrors with the addition of a lock and a spicy Kaedweni Cavalry tech choice to punish any Hubert decks with Saesenthessis: Blaze.
Despite my prep being what I would consider my strongest attribute, it also almost cost me the qualifier, as I actually made a deck submission error on Day 1 with my Slyzard deck. I put in 2x Foglet instead of 2x Wild Hunt Hound. This sadly cost me a match when it was first discovered.
I wasn't aware of it and was playing with Hounds instead of Foglets and I had to forfeit the game. Luckily enough, it only ended up costing me that one game and even with a deck that had 2 fewer provisions than the max, I was able to proceed to Day 2.
Swiss stage results: https://cdpr.challonge.com/Challenger5_qualifier1A
Swiss stage line-ups: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/1NzvYik3ARNOrCmDo0QIs3Gmfc78sH_oO
Playoff stage results: https://cdpr.challonge.com/Challenger5_qualifier1B
Playoff stage line-ups: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1zhQxFkxtxrci3CqHG_pCgx9HVCteQ2Hk
Saber: You placed Top 6 in the Swiss stage, which secured you a spot in the Playoff stage. Your final match in Swiss was against another king: GameKingAT. How comfortable did you feel in that game?
Chezzy: I was nervous all weekend, more nervous than normally. I’m pretty sure that was because I felt like I was one of the favourites with my level of play this season and my line-up. As for how I felt going into the game itself, I just knew what had to be done and I performed very well in the Swiss, 2-0ing nearly everyone. What was really interesting about the game vs GameKing, was that we brought nearly identical line-ups. Our decks were quite similar, but I thought I did have the edge, as he was more all in on his NR targeting than me. Neither of us brought NR for the Swiss stage, so it simply came down to sequencing and luck. But as a certain famous TV show says: "There can only be one true king."
Saber: In the Playoff stage, you had an insane record of 12-2 and won the qualification for the Gwent Challenger #5. You beat TheBastinator, Molegion and your teammate Alessio twice. How did you feel playing against such players?
Chezzy: Obviously beating any of the players on either day was a big achievement. I think this was the most stacked field ever for a qualifier. My opponents in the Playoff stage were definitely some of the creme dela creme. TheBastinator has been a little MIA lately, however he has always been a top player and he showed that this weekend, putting in some amazing performances. He definitely didn’t make it easy for me.
It actually took me 3 attempts to win the NR mirror as the first two games we played were ties!
My 2nd match of the day was really interesting. It feels bad to queue into a teammate, but Alessio and I have a lot of banter in the team and even before Day 1, we were talking about our potential show down and although we wanted it to happen in the final, it came a little earlier. The main reason for the rivalry is that as I’m sure a lot of you are aware, I’m quite confident (some would even say arrogant) and Alessio just loves to point out my abysmal record vs him at every occasion. I had already told him I was going to change it this weekend and when I got
my chance in the second round, I was looking forward to it. Thankfully, my prep for Day 2 has paid off, because I managed to 3-0 his NR list.
In the winners final, I got paired with Molegion, who many considered to be favoured along with Alessio. I was very happy to see Molegion make the final, as I think his and Santtu’s line-ups were the best for my line-up. They brought two engine heavy decks and Arachas Queen.
All of my lists had a strong win con vs theirs. I was also relishing the opportunity to continue the TLG vs TA rivalry. This was my first crack at it that weekend after watching Molegion take down a few of my teammates already. Unfortunately for me, Molegion’s ST deck was too strong
for my Meve list and he actually managed to get it through and inflict my first defeat of the day. Luckily, my Meve list got through his AQ list, thanks to a well played Round 1 by me and a lucky 50/50 boost from Botchling onto my Octvist.
Once that was out of the way, I had quite a long wait to see who I would be battling for a spot at the Challenger. As it turned out, I actually did get the dream final vs Alessio after all. I was confident going into the final, having already won our match earlier. I also knew I would get a 2nd shot at it, even if I lost the first series. Having said that, I wanted to get it done the first time. Alessio changed up his ban this time and actually allowed me to play my Slyzard deck for the first time ever. It paid off for him, as he managed to get a win with his Morvran deck vs my Slyzard.
However, afterwards I managed to get my Slyzard and Brouver through his Gerni (although we tied the first time we played Brouver vs Gerni).
I finally got to within one game of that sweet Challenger spot. Alessio decided to queue up his Gerni again. I only had Meve left. After playing an intense game, it again came down to a tie, so we had to play again. Finally, on the 2nd time of asking and after already playing 5 matches,
I managed to win the qualifier. It’s very difficult to explain the feeling you get when you see that final victory screen. Something about it just made me want to let out a battle cry, which I’m certain CDPR could hear all the way in Poland!
Saber: With Challenger being after the expansion, how will you prepare? What are your thoughts on Gwent's future?
Chezzy: I’m a little sad it won’t be played on the same patch, as I’m really enjoying it and playing my best Gwent since HC arrived. I’m usually very slow to adapt to a new meta. It presents another challenge and the King loves a good challenge. I’m sure that all the peeps back at TLG won't allow me to go to the Challenger unprepared. I’m looking forward to it. As far as what prep I’m going to do, I'll probably spend the first
2-3 weeks of the expansion getting used to the new mechanics. After that, I'll start working on the line-up with my teammates. I hope we will come up with something that will dominate the field like the line-up I brought for the qualifier.
As for my thoughts on Gwents future, I think it’s looking really good for Gwent right now. There's a lot of positivity in the community. A lot of the new streamers that appeared following the mass exodus of the old streamers are getting very well established. Some of those big names that left are making a return, so the game must be doing something right! As for the game and how it plays, I think the game has improved every patch since HC launched. There are of course some things that still need to be worked on, but I think the future of Gwent is very bright!
Thank you for reading. We hope you will support Chezzy in the Challenger!