Hey guys, I figured I would drop a retrospective piece to go over my experience as a team manager, founder and owner. From inception to our first birthday, I will give you an honest synopsis of the hurdles I have crossed over this last year. Let me tell you, it’s not been a easy road by all means. From the backlash our team and all the teams that formed after Top Deck’s demise received, we are the only one that still stands today stronger than ever.
We are happy to see others starting to see similar success since Homecoming and alongside friendly rivals/Gwent vets, Team Aretuza, we hope to keep this momentum going through 2019 and into the future.
In case you all do not know about me, I am ShadowplayRed aka C.P. (as my father called me). I came into Gwent like many through playing Witcher 3 and falling in love with the universe. My roommate put me onto closed beta and since the end of it, I have been devoted to Gwent and its community until this day. It took me nearly a year to hit pro ladder and I spent several seasons there before co-founding TLG. I am 41 years old and I have one daughter who is currently in University. My trade is working as a artisan baker and pastry chef where I currently reside in New Orleans, Louisiana.
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
How did I go about starting TLG? Well, it all started with a Facebook community I created, where I became close friends with my other two co-founders, BeardyBog and SeriousAdam. There Beardy and I became fast friends, chatting most often about everyday life and especially Gwent. At a certain point, being community mods wasn’t something that the three of us wanted and we found ourselves asking… what’s next?
Creating a competitive team became a constant discussion, so when Top Deck dissolved, we decided that what the hell. After a year running the Gwent Masters Worldwide community, I passed the torch over to a great admin team there and decided to start this TLG journey with my boys, that has quickly enveloped my life. Let me tell you, starting a venture of this magnitude was something the three of us were utterly new to and we had no idea how much work was ahead of us.
We broke it down to each one of us being responsible for three crucial aspects: Management, Creative and Competitive. I took lead to run all things hands on as Team Manager, Beardy was a top pro ladder player so he was a no brainer for Competitive Lead/Team Captain and Serious was a genius with Photoshop/Design. It really seemed we all were meant to meet one another, as we all complimented each other perfectly. Besides these characteristics though, these two guys have become brothers to me and I, no doubt, will call them friends for life.
PUTTING TOGETHER A CONTENDER
All three of us had personal relationships within different communities, which helped in recruiting our first teammates. From friends like HesserGaming, the collective of The Fourth Row and Gwent Masters Worldwide we put together a solid team to start that comprised of several top players and streamers. Some are still with us, some are not. With all teams, some players fit and some do not. In saying this, one of my earliest mistakes was thinking the language barrier would be something easily overcome by having a Team Translator.
We invited several players and streamers from the Russian Community, thinking we could make our mark quick while continuing to develop the TLG brand. Even though these members were all amazing players, super friendly and overall great folks, the language divide combined with our translator’s growing IRL demands caused a clear division inside our newly formed team. At first, it wasn’t so defined but as the first three months went by, it became more and more clear. Over time, all of our Russian comrades ended up moving onto other ventures and we had to look at where to go next.
With this came Beardy's and my moment to shine, recruiting what is now our family and the very heartbeat of our team. Between the OG players/streamers that remained and the new blood that came in after the mass exodus, we knew we had ahold of something special. We didn’t know just how special until Gwent Open #7 Qualifiers opened our eyes to the success in the making.
A FIRST IN GWENT
As the team was finally taking shape, it was time for us to turn to growing both competitively and on Twitch. Our plan here was to focus heavily on both these two areas while delaying on the content side of things, as we all felt no one would be interested in the content if we hadn’t proven ourselves first. With our Faction Chat Podcast creation and our Twitch Stream Team growing both in size, as well as in popularity, we shifted focus to the competitive side of things.
Since there was only one more qualifier remaining and one last Open to play before a pro off season, we knew we had to instill the importance to our competitive pro players to give it all they could to get into final Open #7 of Beta Gwent. We had several players we felt could have won that qualifier, but one shined above the rest that weekend and her name was none other than raduAndrada.
Andrada, like most of our team, was scouted through Beardy and I playing her on the pro ladder. We knew she had the talent to grow and not only become the best female player in the game, but one of the best in the world. She proved that to us in the qualifier, expertly managing her game over 20 hours in 2 days. Dropping to Loser’s Bracket on Day 2, she managed to navigate herself through a tough road defeating elite level players such as Kolemoen and our teammate Alessio1996, ultimately culminating in her becoming the first female player ever to grace the huge Gwent Masters stage.
After her victory, we knew we had to put together a great prep team. It consisted of myself, BeardyBog, Green-Knight, KingChezz, Saber, aifbowman and Netherworld. Over the majority of a month leading up to the Open, we put together past lineups of her opponents and with Andrada designed a game plan that suited her style of play while giving her the best opportunity to win. Even through all the prep and the Open weekend first round success of her beating Kams134, Andrada had a bit of bad luck and one misplay that ultimately cost her the series in the semifinal upset of Freddybabes.
Regardless of the result from that weekend, I don't think anyone will forget her beating Freddy in a NG Soldier mirror, where Freddy teched Lambert just to win this match up. Her determination and skill is something I respect to this day. Andrada, I could not have been more proud of you and our whole team after it all ended. Then came Homecoming…
HOMECOMING AND THE RISE OF TLG
Some would say an offseason right at the start of your team’s success would kill momentum. To that I say BOLLOCKS! When the hill looks way too steep to surmount, you kick that engine into gear and climb the fucker, pardon my French. Trust me, this is much easier said than done. All three of us considered many options at the beginning of Homecoming.
We fielded offers to join another team with promises of sponsors and grandeur (this team no longer exists BTW) along with possibly offering a merger between ourselves and some other esports organizations. Ultimately, the three of us had a serious discussion... give up what we loved and grew ourselves, or take the next step. Thankfully, we chose the latter.
From the start of 2019, we dedicated ourselves to creating a new logo and brand, having a website built and beginning to form our next area of concentration... content creation for the Gwent Community. Let me tell you that it is incredibly difficult to find the right group of players that are willing to give up their free time to create content for the community.
After some months, we have just now put together what we feel is an elite level group of content creators. My plan from the start was to bring in seasoned pro ladder players to give the best and most accurate content to assist all players in the community from newer players to veterans alike. It helped though that we once again made a splash with the first Gwent Open of Homecoming, Open #8.
After a hard fought top 3 CP finish and by directly qualifying from that performance over 2 seasons, Alessio1996 became our first representative in that Open. He was followed quickly, however, by Green-Knight after his incredible performance over 12 hours in Day 2 of the qualifiers. This was the high point and with that, we felt our confidence growing. I suppose this confidence ultimately lead to my mistake in prepping both of our lads.
Whereas we had an exuberant prep team put together for Andrada in Open #7, we lacked the precision and time when prepping both Alessio and Greenboy. Several people on the prep team devoted a good bit of time for each of them, but the attention to detail and passion from the first prep team wasn't there this time. Ultimately, this resulted in first round exits for both our lads and us left wondering what went wrong.
This is a bump on the road that I would have rather avoided. I want to personally apologize for to my brothers Alessio and Greenboy now publicly. You two put your heart and soul into this game, like most of our competitive team. So, you both deserved more effort from me. I thought I did everything I could, but in hindsight, I could have done a lot more.
Luckily for us, one more of our brethren rose to the occasion for the last set of qualifiers for Season 1 of Gwent Masters for the upcoming Challenger. After a grueling and hard fought battle in Qualifier #1, KingChezz (one of the first to join TLG and our Vice Captain) defeated our teammate Alessio1996 to claim his deserved spot in the upcoming Challenger.
Our team is committed to learn from our previous mistakes and even though the competition in this Challenger is steep, we will have Chezzy ready to do the best he can. Win or lose, we are proud of how much he grew and the outstanding performance he had in that Qualifier. Regardless of what happens to wrap up Season 1 of Gwent Masters, we feel once Season 2 is announced, we will be on the forefront of all things Gwent.
1 YEAR HAS PASSED, THE FUTURE OF TLG
As we turn 1 today, I will close with some words to my TLG family and to the future of our team. First, I will say we are fully committed to growing with Gwent and the amazing community attached to it. CDPR has put together a great team within their company to grow Gwent and we are excited to have the chance to grow alongside them.
Although, the competitive future is in limbo at the moment with the details of Season 2 of Gwent Masters and the last few tourneys of Season 1 yet to be announced, we do feel that the wait will be worth the reward. With leadership like Burza, Slama, Vlad and the company, I think its safe to say we are in good hands and great things are on the horizon!
To the global Gwent Community, I want to say thank you for all the support. From all the Gwent regional communities from Poland to France to Korea and Japan, we appreciate the praise we have gotten and the criticism as well. Believe it or not, we listen to you and we want to strive to be the best we can for you. If not for you all, we would be non-existent. So to each and every one of you that has reached out to me this last year with any concerns... SINCERELY, THANK YOU.
Lastly, to my TLG Family. I never thought I could love a ragtag bunch of gamers, but it happened. To get to know each one of you has been one of this last years highlights for me and keeps me going to make TLG the best it can possibly be for you all. Serious, you leaving us left a huge hole that we are managing but finding it hard to fill. We are all happy at the direction your IRL demands are taking you in, but miss you regardless.
Wusubi, thanks for joining Beardy and I as a partner, while putting so much of your time into editing the content onto a website that quite often makes us all want to pull our hair out… remember, baby steps. Beardy, my brochacho... my true little brother from another mother and best friendo... having you hit me daily with your "Yo yo yo" is often a highlight.
Enjoying the laughs, headaches and craziness of this journey with you has been immense. Once again to all of you, my TLG family, thank you for sticking with me this last 12 months. Without the dedication and passion you all have shown for our team, we would be eternally lost.
The future is bright for Team Leviathan Gaming and I promise you all reading this, the second year will be OUR YEAR!
Peace, Love and PeepoPants to you all! -Old Man Shadow aka Bossman