Player Spotlight: Molegion
Molegion has a long history of gaming, and like many of us has played a wide variety of different games. Among his favourites of all time are classics such as Heroes of Might & Magic III, Spellforce and, naturally, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
His competitive journey started in 2011 when he downloaded League of Legends to try for the first time. Over time, he moved from team-based games to a one-vs-one competitive experience, playing competitive Hearthstone at LAN events and in online tournaments. When he found that Hearthstone was not rewarding enough for him, his friends recommended Gwent, and he has not looked back since.
Something with Gwent immediately clicked, and Molegion found himself on a fast track to big success. When CD Projekt Red opened Gwent’s competitive circuit in Season One, Molegion was immediately on the Pro Ladder (as it was then), getting ever better and improving again after joining Team Aretuza in March 2018. In the two seasons following his arrival at the team, Molegion finished 12th, and then 3rd on the Pro Ladder, qualifying for Gwent Open #6 in July of 2018.
It is safe to say that his first Gwent major did not go entirely according to plan.
Having fought his way to a gripping and incredibly tight 2-2 quarter-final against teammate and Team Aretuza head Damorquis, Molegion needed just one win to qualify for a Gwent Challenger, only to witness a Nilfgaard player’s worst possible nightmare at exactly the wrong moment. Ahead in their last game and looking comfortable for the win, Molegion played Jan Calveit and pulled three Ointments from the top of his deck, with nothing in his graveyard. The meager 5-point-play allowed Damorquis to get ahead and pass to go into the final round on even cards.
Even after this incredibly unlucky moment, Molegion was greatly favoured. In a long Round 3, there were very few outs for Damorquis’ Alchemy deck against the sheer value of Molegion’s Soldiers deck. Unfortunately, it was Molegion that found both of them. Triss: Telekinesis didn’t find the very likely Ointment Molegion needed to keep his advantage, and Vilgefortz pulled the only card in Molegion’s deck that couldn’t finish the game for him, Sweers.
It has been a long road from that fateful quarter-final (which of course led Damorquis to his Challenger #4 victory) to now, and of course Gwent has seen a lot of change since. Molegion, determined to make his way back to another Gwent major, has been chipping away at the competition, putting himself in position to strike when the opportunity allowed. And allow him that it did: Come 9th - 10th February 2019, and the Gwent Open #8 Qualifiers, Molegion cut his way through 52 of Gwent’s finest Pro Rank players to win and qualify for this weekend’s Gwent Open, giving him that chance he has so desperately craved, for redemption.
Interview with Molegion
Though he is dedicated to preparing himself for the tough matches to come this weekend, I had the opportunity to sit down with Molegion earlier this month and ask him for his own views on his journey so far.
Lothari: There’s quite a difference between the games you call your all-time favourites and the ones you’ve played competitively. Is there something specific that drew you to competitive play or was it just the idea of trying something new?
Molegion: I think it’s nostalgia that speaks through me when I think about my favourite games of all time. I started playing computer games when I was 4, because my father is a gamer too. I had the opportunity to get into it very early on. The games I consider my favourites remind me of my childhood a lot, and I like coming back to them. I still like the games I played competitively, but games like HoMM III have a special place in my heart. I got into competitive gaming because my friends at school were really into it too, particularly League of Legends. I enjoyed it a lot and decided never to quit since.
L: Do you see competitive gaming as something you can make something of or is it very much a hobby?
M: I would love to make a living from gaming, but sadly I think in Gwent there’s only a few people who can do that. For now, I treat it as a hobby, but if some sponsors decide to get involved with the esports world of The Witcher card game, I would definitely try to make my dream come true and commit to becoming a full-time professional. That’s something I’ve dreamed about since I watched my very first esports match.
L: What was that?
M: Meet Your Makers vs Team Alternate for League of Legends in 2013.
L: Of course, League of Legends was where you started your competitive journey; you played Hearthstone competitively too and you were good at both. With Gwent though, it seems like there was another step up in performance, even before you joined Team Aretuza. What made the difference?
M: I think my experience from the other games really helped, and I knew exactly what I needed to do to climb to the top. I was resilient to tilt, focusing on improving my own gameplay rather than blaming RNG and eventually I got to where I am now. It’s not the very top yet, but I’m proud of myself. Being part of Aretuza also helped a lot - making friends among people who are so good at the game surely helps you improve, and I’m very grateful for that opportunity.
L: What do you think are your greatest strengths and weaknesses as a Gwent player?
M: My biggest strength is that I have no weaknesses. (We both laugh.)
L: How did you come to be a member of Team Aretuza?
M: I was very active in the Team Aretuza discord; I enjoyed being there a lot. Eventually I approached Henno (founder of TA) about joining the team; he said they’d track my progress on Pro Ladder. I ended up having the best season I’ve ever had then, so a month later I joined the team.
L: I almost hate to bring it up, but I will anyway. You qualify for Gwent Open #6, you’re in the quarter-final against Damorquis, it’s 2-2 and you just need to win that one game to reach Challenger #4. You are in a really strong position when you play out Jan Calveit and you’re faced with three Ointments and nothing in your graveyard. What are you thinking at that point? How do you process that kind of bad luck when the stakes are so high?
M: I was really happy when I won my Hillock game vs Alchemy, because I knew that I’d be heavily favoured in the last remaining matchup, even going first. Damorquis would need a miracle to win; I hadn’t lost the matchup once in our scrims. The triple Ointment was really sad to see, but I dealt with it just by releasing it - hitting the table and forgetting about it for the rest of the game. It was pretty big, but not completely game-breaking for me. I was still in a really good position, so I had to stay focused.
L: Of course, then it gets worse. Triss: Telekinesis and Vilgefortz both low-roll. I know I’d be completely devastated in that situation. How does losing like that affect you?
M: The Triss low-roll was probably the more important one. It was a… 1 in 10 low-roll, right after the super unlucky Ointment moment. It should have had a really big impact on my emotions, but honestly it didn’t. I knew Damorquis’s deck, so I thought I could still win if I could prevent Vilgefortz from pulling Sweers, and that’s what I committed to. Sadly, it wasn’t enough. Even today, I can’t name a more iconic duo than Vilgefortz and Sweers. I ended up losing, barely, and I was very disappointed. The stakes were huge, the winner would go to Challenger, Damo ended up winning that Challenger and I had to go home. It was definitely the unluckiest game of my life, and I was really disappointed for a few days afterwards. In the end though, it evolved into a funny meme about Ointments, so at least there’s that. And I lost to a friend, which of course makes it less bad.
L: Everyone knows that Gwent has seen massive changes since then. How do you feel about the game now?
M: I think it’s in its best state ever. The most important issues of the game have either been fixed or at least improved. To be honest, it didn’t feel that good at launch, but every update since then has made it better and better and I think everyone who didn’t like Homecoming at first should definitely give it another try with an open mind.
L: When you knew you were taking part in the Open #8 Qualifiers, how confident were you that you could make it through?
M: I tried not to put pressure on myself. I prepared the best I could, and my plan was simply to play as well as I could. I tried not to think about going to the Open, I just cared about not making mistakes, and I think that mindset really worked out well for me. I’m very happy that I will get another chance to play on the big stage!
L: And a competition like the Open must bring nerves and anxiety. How do you handle the mental stress of it all?
M: I’m lucky not to suffer from camera anxiety. Performing in front of an audience, whether it’s live or not, has never been a problem. What pressured me the most last time was knowing I only needed that one win to get to Challenger and I really wanted that. I handle it by being really expressive - some people commented that I was too nervous on stage, but that’s just my way of dealing with the nerves: I express my emotions and they quickly go away. I find that works better for me than just accumulating all the negative emotions in my head.
L: How are you feeling about going up against these competitors at the weekend?
M: I consider myself to be a good player, and I think there’s only one player at the Open who is better than me: kolemoen. The others are either at my level, inconsistent or very good but not yet adapted to post-Homecoming Gwent. But… I’m going there to reach the finals, so I’m ready to face anyone.
L: Is there anything you want to say to your fellow competitors now?
M: Guys, CDPR buffed me. You can’t count on triple Ointment anymore!
My Thoughts on Molegion
I myself have only been at Team Aretuza for a short time, at the writing of this Spotlight, but in that time I’ve seen Molegion not only as a fierce competitor and someone very focused on achieving his own goals, but also as methodical, smart, quick-witted and very easy to get along with. In a time where Gwent has been somewhat struggling to find its feet, it is also incredibly positive to see someone still so committed, not just to the team, but also to the game and community as a whole; sticking with Gwent when many others didn’t and encouraging people to keep at it or try it again even when the going gets tough. Of course, nothing is ever certain in any kind of sport, and that includes esports, but I think it’s safe to say that there is definitely much more to come from the player also known as Jeans.
I’m incredibly excited to see the Gwent Masters circuit get back underway with Gwent Open #8 this weekend, and even more so to see what Molegion can do.
The competition will be incredibly tough, with Tailbot, proNEO and of course, kolemoen among those that Molegion may face along the way. In truth, every one of the seven other people competing at this major has earned their place and every one of them is a formidable opponent, but Molegion is not just a participant. He is, indeed, a contender, and no matter what happens, everyone at Team Aretuza will be behind him every step of the way.
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.