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Gwent Challenger: A Recap of the Action

Freddybabes seems unstoppable right now.
Gwent Challenger: A Recap of the Action
This weekend saw CD Projekt Red host the second Gwent Challenger, a silver-tier tournament in their Gwent Masters series. Players such as Austria’s GameKingAT and the UK’s own Freddybabes competed alongside two qualifiers, Adzikov and Kolemoen, for a share of the $100,000 prize pool and a priceless silver ring. This would be Gwent’s most anticipated event to date as it also featured the return of the first Challenger champion Lifecoach, who’d taken a break from competitive gaming. In short: CDPR had decided to up their game.

[caption id="attachment_95147" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Moszna Castle Moszna Castle[/caption] In the past, we’d seen Gwent tournaments hosted at Gamescom and CDPR’s Warsaw studios. This time, however, the production value was hotter than the Eternal Fire itself. The entire event was held inside Moszna Castle in Poland complete with Nilfgaard soldiers keeping order and archers lighting the grand hall fire with a flaming arrow. How they cleared that with health and safety, we do not know. Not only that, but stars of Critical Role Matthew Mercer and Marisha Ray acted as hosts while community favourite Swim joined the crew as an analyst. Community manager Pawel Burza told me "We scouted the place a couple months prior to the event and knew it would fit the Nilfgaardian theme with a couple adjustments. We already have ideas for the next Challenger location and want to keep the production value we had in Moszna." The Coach is Back Day one kicked off with the Gwent Open #1 champion Shaggy going up against Tailbot, the trilingual player fluent in Polish, English and Weapons Grade Smack Talk. In an impressive 3-1 victory, Tailbot proved victorious by capitalising on his opponents bricked hand. Meanwhile, Adzikov was unable to break his curse of being eliminated on day one and fell victim to the 3-0 victory of his fellow qualifier Kolemoen. We also saw the UK’s own Freddybabes defeat JOrah, the Gwent Open #1 finalist. But this was far from the highlight. Lifecoach, former Hearthstone pro and winner of the first Gwent Challenger, was making his return to competitive gaming to defend his title. He’d taken a break to focus on organising Gwentslam, his own tournament series, and his return proved to be an explosive one. He took on the Gwentslam #2 champion GameKingAT in a matchup that the casters were calling the “Student vs the Master”. Unfortunately for GameKing, wisdom of age triumphed over the fountain of youth and Lifecoach was able to 3-0 the young Austrian in a flawless performance. The returning champion proved that, despite a break from competitive play, he wasn’t rusty and was able to win a Skellige mirror match on the wrong side of the coin, considered by many veterans to be a mathematical improbability. But, then again, when you’re Lifecoach, you’re probably already planning how to defeat your next opponent. [caption id="attachment_95145" align="aligncenter" width="600"]gwent-challenger-bracket-300x169.jpg All to play for[/caption] Freddybabes OP Plz Nerf Day two saw Kolemoen defeat Tailbot in a tense 3-2 victory. The qualifier did it in style as he proved that, while coming into the tournament as a new face, he was here to stay. His final game was a fiery 2-0 against his opponent, where he was able to line up a glorious 28 point double Scorch to leave Tailbot incapable of any trash talk. Meanwhile, Lifecoach clashed with Freddybabes, who appeared to have struck a deal with the Man of Glass Gaunter O’Dimm, for the British kid seemed to get under the returning champ’s skin. In a historic defeat, Lifecoach missed out on taking the first game by redrawing Rainfarn over Iris, giving Freddybabes a bigger board presence and empowering his Yennefer. He sent the returning champion to the dungeon to nurse a 3-0 defeat. The final could be considered one of the most unique matchups competitive Gwent has ever seen. Both finalists chose to ban each other’s Northern Realms decks rather than Spy Nilfgaard, considered to be the most powerful deck in the game. Many had anticipated a Shaggy and Lifecoach final, but instead we had the qualifier Kolemoen taking on the Gwent Open #2 champion Freddybabes. In yet another flawless performance, Freddybabes was able to win two mirror matches and go on to 3-0 Kolemoen to claim the title of Gwent Challenger #2 champion. If that wasn’t enough, in an interview with Marisha Ray after the game, he revealed he had been so ill that he’d almost forfeited day one. Freddy OP – plz nerf. GWENT 3.0 It wasn’t all about the players, however, as CDPR also treated viewers to a highly anticipated developer stream. In the past two weeks, they had promised to introduce over 100 new cards with the upcoming update which would pave the way for a new game mode. Featuring new leaders, rulesets and a polished UI, this will be the Gwent’s biggest overhaul since the launch of Open Beta, which everyone called Gwent 2.0. Enter Gwent 3.0, which will be playable this week as part of a public-test-run. Featuring new faction-locked weather like Moonlight as well as lore-friendly alchemy cards like Dragon’s Dream, Gwent will be introducing a new mechanic. Excessive row stacking will be a thing of the past as a maximum of nine units will be allowed on each row. [caption id="attachment_95146" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Gwent's New UI Gwent 3.0[/caption] This will enable many creative new ways to win games, utilising upcoming cards like Boulder, a bronze special that damages a unit by seven and moves it to the above row. If that row is full, it will destroy it, instead. This overhaul could be the refinement Gwent needs to keep its eSports scene fresh and, combined with the Thronebreaker DLC – due to release next year – 2018 is looking to be Gwenty-eighteen.