The online card game set in the Witcher universe saw the third edition of its Challenger series and it was glorious. Gwent shows lots of eSports potential.
Gwent eSports come in three-tier levels. Gwent Open is a series of 8 tournaments with a prize pool of $25,000. It leads directly to Gwent Challenger, a series of 4 tournaments with $100,000 on the line. It all culminates in Gwent World Masters – the series finale, offering the world champion title and $250,000 in prizes.
This weekend was the third Challenger tournament. It featured eight of the world’s top players – two of them invited by organisers CD Project Red and the others qualified for the event.
The affair was hosted by popular YouTuber and streamer Jesse Cox, and cast by Merchant, ImpetuousPanda, McBeard and MegaMogwai.
While we’re accustomed to astounding production quality when it comes to flagship eSports events, this tournament was something else.
The rather unconventional venue - Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland, was turned into a real Scoia’tael hideout, letting players and viewers plunge into the rich Witcher universe. There was also a bard singing songs between the rounds.
Though the quarterfinals were a bit one-sided, there was lots of surprises and fun to be had. Day two was when things got serious. The semi-final matchups Freddybabes-Adzikov and TailBot-Huyahanachan were a real nail-biter. Both started with a 2-0 swing but were turned around for a dramatic tiebreak. Freddybabes managed to close with a third win in the fifth game, after losing his 2-0 lead to Adzikov. Things went in reverse with TailBot who started with two losses but won the day in an impressive reverse sweep. Before we knew, there it was – the dream final between the defending champion Freddybabes, and the fan favourite TailBot.
Originality and unorthodox deck-building were key in the tournament. Freddybabes brought a unique Monster deck, relying on combos with Yennifer, Draug and Germain Piquant. It went undefeated in the bracket but got shot down badly in the Finals. TailBot came prepared with a Nekker-boosting Monster blend, but an unexpected choice of leader – Dagon. However, his secret weapon turned out to be a Henselt-lead Northern realms deck. His Balista came in handy against the endless swarms of elves, but also turned out to be the key piece in countering Freddybabes’ Monster brew, and ultimately winning him the tournament.
Apart from the $61,000 out of the $100,000 cash prize, TailBot also received a special ring to commemorate his notable victory.
Gwent events will continue throughout the year, leading up to the grand finale in January 2019. If things continue to expand with these rates, this new and exciting eSport is definitely deserving of attention.