Aretuza Spotlight: Damorquis
Unlike many others on the Gwent Masters circuit, Damorquis has no competitive background before Gwent. While he played Hearthstone, enjoying classic decks such as Oil Rogue and Zoolock, he only ever played it casually and didn’t even consider playing it competitively. Instead, Damorquis is a long-time fan of single-play story campaigns and counts The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings and The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt among his all-time favourite games. When Gwent went from Witcher 3 mini-game to stand-alone product, Damorquis used it as a way to stay connected to the Witcher lore, and in doing so, finally found a competitive game he could enjoy.
After forming Team Aretuza in 2017 with Henno, Darmorquis quickly shot straight to the top of Gwent’s competitive scene, not only competing in Gwent Opens #4, #5 and #6, as well as the Red-Dragon Championship, but of course famously winning Gwent Challenger #4 in an Aretuza lock-out final against AndyWand.
Lothari: As I have the opportunity to interview a Team Aretuza chairperson, it’d be a wasted opportunity not to ask a couple of questions about building a team like ours: Firstly, how did the founding group even contemplate that you could pull something like this off?
Damorquis: Looking back, I should be forever grateful to Henno, who actually managed to spot me on Twitch the only day I have streamed. Since the start of my Gwent career, I’ve felt very welcome in the community, exchanging decks and strategies in the early days of the closed beta with players like GameKing. Being part of a team, however, meant socialising with community members on a whole new level. We were an open-invite group to start with, but Team Aretuza managed to gather a number of hard-working and passionate Gwent enthusiasts who weren’t only a source Gwent knowledge, but also led interesting lives beyond the gaming screen, with a lot of different talents.
If I had to put a finger on it, it was a competitive hunger and the potential I saw in those people that inspired me to give Aretuza a professional structure. I saw the people and their passion and, as an economist, I felt unsatisfied with that unused potential. I think a good manager is able to provide people with the tools to realise their potential. Players like Shaggy and Adzikov set boundaries for what kind of gameplay was still hidden in Gwent, below the surface. I felt like we had enough talent to match them, we just needed a good forge to form the steel. So, I set the fire and Henno and I started hammering.
And in the time since, Aretuza has become a cornerstone of the Gwent community; producing high-quality, meaningful content to everyone we can reach, great success in the competitive scene and a flourishing community of its own – did you think it would grow in the way it has, or has the team grown beyond your expectations?
We worked from goal to goal and tried not to focus too much on others. The team is at a great point; professional, a strong identity and an image we represent, with values I try to represent in real life too: style, fairness, competitiveness, determination and commitment. I think the best surprise you can experience as a manager is that the people you trust to take up a certain position outperform your fiercest expectations when they take up their work. I consider myself lucky to have such people at my side and on my team.
How have you found being in a leadership position? Is it challenging in any way that has taken you by surprise?
There are still huge challenges that we need to face and master this year. In the beginning, Henno and I did a lot of micromanagement, small tasks and committed an insane amount of time to shape everything according to our expectations, but with the team growing and us expanding into content creation, it became impossible to handle that workload. The first big challenge was to find the right people to take on additional responsibility.
After we grew past 20 members, our old team structure was not enough anymore, and while we were all like-minded, I noticed some us had different preferences. Bridging the gap between pro players and content creators was a big and fascinating challenge to me as a behavioural economist – it was difficult to satisfy everyone in a big, committed group of individual talents.
The latest challenge is to go fully professional, with sponsoring, registration, a legal set-up and contracts. That was a new world for me. With Henno stepping down to focus on real life and graduation, I was lucky to have Green Cricket on the team, who’s worked me into the corporate world of esports. Together we’ve set everything up, and I think we have what it takes to be a fully professional business in esports.
In the position you find yourself in, not only as a high-level competitor but also as a team boss, how do you balance Gwent with everything else in your life?
I took a bit of a break after winning Challenger #4, knowing Homecoming was on the way to develop the new version of Gwent step by step. At first I did not enjoy the game very much, so I used my Challenger winnings to spend some time looking after myself. I travelled with my family, fulfilled some dreams – passed an international sailing licence, travelling to the US and exploring other games like Artifact.
Nowadays, I have a strict schedule. I start at 9 in the morning with some swimming, then work on a research paper until 2PM, visit the gym for two hours and then Gwent and Aretuza work until the evening. Challenger #5 is my main focus and I am trying to prepare mentally and physically for it. I had the luxury of a guaranteed spot, not having to qualify for Challenger, which I enjoyed. Now is the time to step up preparation again.
Sometimes Gwent, team management, writing a scientific paper and sports is quite intense to handle at the same time. I wish the day could be a bit longer, so I could spend more time on learning new things too. My average day starts at 9am and ends at 1am.
You’re quite unique as a high-level competitor in that you don’t have any kind of competitive background before Gwent. What was it about Gwent that made you want to start competing?
I loved The Witcher 3. It’s my favourite game of all time and Gwent was a way to stay connected to the lore and enjoy a new game. With time, it showed that the amount of skill that decided games is considerably higher than in competitive games like Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering. The desire to reach a level where I can sneak away victories from favoured opponents on a regular basis was strong enough to keep me going and led me to a career in Gwent.
Do you play any other games competitively too, now that you have a taste for it?
Before it ultimately died, I actually managed to win some money in official Artifact tournaments as well as in community tournaments. The fact that Artifact had a good in-game tournament client was amazing. My schedule doesn’t allow me to pick other games up now though. Especially since I am someone that enjoys perfecting things, which takes a long time. Auto-battlers like Dota Underlords and Teamfight Tactics look interesting, but if I actually find more time for gaming, I’d prefer to spend it on the single-player titles I still really want to play.
This is a question from the facebook community, Gwent Masters Worldwide. How did it actually feel for you to win Gwent Challenger #4?
Winning Gwent Challenger was breathtaking. After the winning play, I stayed rather calm out of respect for my teammate and friend AndyWand. I have a very particular style of preparing for events and it felt great to become a success story with my own style. It was a great feeling to show my friends and family what you can achieve in the world of esports if you are determined and passionate. Having been born in Silesia and winning a tournament in Poland was also something special, surrounded by so many people I call friends and respect. I was ready to say goodbye to competitive Gwent back then, but I got the chance to continue with something I love.
You’ve mentioned to me in the past that your favourite strategy is to outwit your opponents in unfavoured matchups and take people by surprise, which is what I think made Challenger #4 so interesting to watch. Should people be expecting the unexpected when it comes to Challenger #5 and the World Masters?
With Syndicate now in the game, I think you can only expect the unexpected. The difference between 4 out of 5 factions and 4 out of 6 factions will change the tournament preparation and valid lineups inherently. Usually, a meta needs about three weeks to properly take shape, since everyone spends time with the new cards, then things start to balance things out. The thing is, the game is still going through some pretty significant balance changes, even with Challenger #5 so close, so I think you can expect some innovations.
What gives you the edge over your Challenger #5 opponents?
Each Challenger contestant is there for a reason. If I had to pinpoint what gives me an edge over others, I would say that I’m a tryhard when it comes to any competition in life. I can invest hours just to get the smallest margin. My tournament preparation is always extremely excessive, where I try not only the good or the viable, but have an abstract approach that allows me to surprise my opponents. Most say they wouldn’t like to face Tailbot or kolemoen in the quarterfinals, but I’ve heard people say they would prefer not to face me, as my deck-building is always hard to play against. What gives me an edge is that I believe fortune favours the prepared, and I prepare like a madman.
You call yourself an ambitious character – you already have a Challenger ring, you’re taking part in the highest level of Gwent competition, you’ve helped found a team! Where do your ambitions take you next? Are they different depending on whether you win World Masters?
My goal is to perform at Challenger #5 and World Masters; try to reach the semi-finals in one and finals or a win in the other. I would love to prove my worth in post-Homecoming Gwent and I have big ambitions for the team for the future of this game and others. Since I have two hands, I obviously need another ring. Monsters has always been one of my favourite factions and I hope to secure that ring for myself. After the Gwent Masters season is over, I will probably jump into a job in consulting, but for now I am focusing on the preparation for these events and my team management.
My thoughts on Damorquis
When Damorquis showed up at Challenger #4, I had no idea who he was. Through no fault from either of us, if not for the team jersey he wore that weekend, I would not have known he was a member of Team Aretuza, let alone the team’s manager and one of its founders.
This, in and of itself, speaks volumes for the way Damorquis conducts business. He is never brash or loud, and never feels the need to remind anyone of his position. Instead, he steadily and carefully prepares himself for each and every challenge at the highest level he can, and works to prepare his team members in equal manner. He could be called confident or headstrong, but if there is one word that describes Darmoquis best, then he has already used it himself: Ambitious.
While it remains to be seen whether his individual style of preparation and play will make him victorious once more in what remains of Gwent’s first competitive circuit, it is all but inevitable that he will try to raise the competitive bar, and he will certainly bring the rest of Team Aretuza with him.
Lothari is a long-time fan of CCGs, building up a wealth of experience in Hearthstone, MTG, TESL, Artifact and of course Gwent, which she has been playing since the end of Closed Beta. She always aspires to improve and learn more about what has come to be one of her favourite pass-times. She has also found a passion in creating content for Gwent, and will continue to do so with a passionate and analytical outlook for Team Aretuza. Lothari has a BA in Computing and German and spent four years working as a game developer.