By Alex Sprackling
Collectors of Gwenty-cards, lend me your ears. GWENT Challenger #3 is officially only two weeks away. That’s right, it won’t be much longer before eight of the best players battle it out in the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Now is the perfect time to look back at some memorable moments from the GWENT Masters series. We’re excluding the first Challenger as it occurred way back in Closed Beta. Still, there’s no way we’re forgetting the devastating Geralt: Igni that Noxious sent Lifecoach’s way! Prepare for some nostalgia as we look back at five iconic moments that defined competitive GWENT.
1: Shaggy the Wildcard
We can’t begin this list without mentioning one of my personal favourite players, Shaggy. This young Austrian first stormed onto the GWENT scene after qualifying through the Wild Card qualifier for GWENT Open #1. A new face to the community, Shaggy’s victory in the Wild Card tournament proved his worth as a player. The very next day, he sat down to compete in the actual tournament and managed to advance to the semi-finals. It was here that his reputation for making clutch passes was born, as every game – win or lose – saw him finding the most opportune moments to get out the round.
Shaggy went on to win GWENT Open #1, defeating J0rah in the final. If you count the Wild Card qualifier and the laddering required to qualify, this was a hat trick performance for the rising star. He would go on to qualify for various GWENT Slams as well as Challenger #2. While we haven’t seen him much this year, this player is always one to watch out for. After all, there’s no denying the tendency for qualifier winners to be some of the most consistent players – just look at Freddybabes, whose GWENT Masters journey began through winning a Slam satellite.
2: GameKing the Mill Slayer
Mill was an archetype that divided the GWENT community for a long time. Rising to fame after MegaMogwai used it to win GWENTogether, the ranked ladder experienced a surge of Mill Mania. Opinions aside, there is no denying how the archetype exploits some of the more fragile mechanics of GWENT, namely card advantage and deck efficiency. It was this that left in its wake a cloud more toxic than a Dragon’s Dream bomb.
Therefore, a hero had to rise. Enter GameKing, the man, the myth, the – okay, I’ll stop. At the first official GWENT Slam, many players were aware of how likely Mill was to make an appearance. GameKing even said, in front of fellow competitor and Miller ImpetuousPanda, that he was ready to face Mill. And ready he was. In an upside down set of games, GameKing was able to consistently defeat Panda’s Mill deck. But the highlight was surely his Spell Scoia’tael game, where he played his deck inside out to advance to the finals. GameKing, what are you doing? you might ask.
Unfortunately, his luck ran out in the finals and Freddybabes was able to efficiently mill him. But his sacrifice will be remembered.
3: Kolemoen Sends TailBot to the Burn Unit
This hot moment occurred in Challenger #2, most games of which could compile their own list. Kolemoen, after earning a place through the Pro Ladder qualifier, was a fresh face on the GWENT scene. He was looking to prove his worth and that’s exactly what he did. In a Skellige vs Nilfgaard matchup, the German player was able to line up a 30+ point Scorch. TailBot, the knowledgeable player that he is, saw this and was forced to play his Rainfarn/Joachim combo to block it. Despite his best efforts, Kolemoen would utilise his Whale Harpooner to reopen the Scorch, leaving the sharp witted Polish player incapable of any smack talk.
Kolemoen would go on to face Freddybabes in the final. Despite falling short of the title, he has been a regular face in the scene ever since. Not surprising, because his Challenger appearance more than proved his worth among the top players.
4: SuperJJ’s 4 Million IQ Play
What is it about Scorch that creates so many memorable moments? This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the man with the 4 million IQ himself, SuperJJ. The German player earned this nickname when defeating GameKing in a nail-biting set of games in GWENT Open #2. It was the final round where it happened. SuperJJ, with a Villentretenmerth on the board, was seeking out maximum value from his impending Scorch. Unfortunately for GameKing, he was left with his own dead Scorch in hand so was already at a disadvantage.
This enabled SuperJJ to set up a Scorch hotter than the Eternal Fire. He used his Keira Metz to Thunderbolt Potion GameKing’s siege row, which lined up a game winning quadruple Scorch. Not only did this bamboozle the casters and chat but we’re pretty sure even Geralt himself would have had to utilise his Witcher senses to have determine that outcome.
5: GWENT Challenger #2 – Freddybabes vs Lifecoach
Finally, was there any doubt? We all remember this moment. After a break from competitive GWENT, taken to organise his own tournament series, Lifecoach made his triumphant return to defend his Challenger title. After a 3-0 performance on day one against GameKing, the returning champion proved he wasn’t rusty and was able to win a Skellige mirror on the wrong side of the coin. He advanced to day two, where he would clash with Freddybabes.
This was when the Conjunction of the Spheres occurred, changing competitive GWENT as we know it. The young Brit appeared to have struck a deal with the Man of Glass himself. Not only was he able to defeat Lifecoach, but Freddybabes made short work of him, too. After Lifecoach chose to mulligan Rainfarn over Iris – which empowered Freddy’s Yennefer/Unicorn – Freddybabes punished this mistake with a dominant 3-0 performance. This victory against one of GWENT’s oldest and familiar faces made him the favourite, and he went on to win the tournament.
What memorable moments will Challenger #3 bring?