By Damorquis, August 14, 2019
Two weeks ago, Team Aretuza hosted our first Gwent LAN event in Warsaw, the Thanedd Cøup. We’d like to share a look back over the experiences of a couple of people who were there, so that everyone in the Gwent community can share in what was a great weekend of competitive Gwent and friendly socialising. In this article, Damorquis compiles the stories of Alessio (Ultraman1996), from Team Levianthan Gaming, and Aretuza’s own Elis, as well as a video put together by RyanGodric to share some of the weekend’s most amazing moments
Thanedd Cøup: A Look Back
Two weeks after the conclusion of the Thanedd Cøup, it is time to look back at the event and cherish some of the nice memories we had.
Alessio, Elis and RyanGodric were kind enough to share how they experienced the event for themselves and I thought it would be worth sharing their impressions – not only to encourage others to organize community events in the future, but also to motivate more people who hear about an event taking place close to them to drop by and experience the Gwent Community and the best thing it has to offer – its people.
Get ready to dive into two very different reviews of the event. Hopefully it gives you a certain feeling of hype, so you will be a part of the next event too!
To many, Alessio (or Ultraman1996) is already a known player. He has performed consistently at the top of the ladder after the release of Homecoming (including a #2 Pro Rank finish) and has competed for Team Leviathan Gaming in community and Gwent Masters events.
While the Cøup took place on the 20th and 21st, most of the foreign players arrived on the 17th of July during the day or the evening. We were located near each other, even in the same building, and thus spent the majority of our time together.
Eager to get going, we could say the event schedule started immediately. We followed the locals and Damorquis into most of the good places in town, including for food and drinks, while visiting the city center and experiencing Warsaw in a new way.
The nights that followed until the event started would resemble that first one, with various games keeping us occupied day and night.
While some people were a little late, the tourney began without any problems, and everybody started playing. CDPR officials and enthusiasts would gather around the big screen, which always showcased one of the players' games. In the end, I spent most of the tourney from Round 3 to the end showcasing my games. It felt almost like a livestream for me, as I could see the reaction of everybody and would joke a lot with them. The bar where the tournament was held was a nice place and had this geeky old-school atmosphere with nice equipment.
Different activities took place between the tourney's rounds, such as a live Q&A, a quiz, and a lottery that was not rigged at all: Damorquis got a displate of Philippa “21 for 10” Eilhart.
We had the pleasure of meeting and talking to many local Polish players, who actually had quite a nice performance overall, representing the majority of Day 2 players. For me, it was surprising to see so many local players advancing to Day 2 and that a lot of the CDPR employees joined us on Day 1 to get in touch with the players.
On Day 2, most of the players were prepared and ready for the strategies from the first day, thus leading to many fierce battles and hard counters. I finally got the upper hand, but not without much effort, as many of the last games were decided by a single point. It was some of the most fun Gwent I had played in ages, as the game really shines in tournaments lately. The tourney's whole atmosphere was nice, without sore loser or bragging winners, just good fairplay and nice Gwent, as it should always be!
At the end of the tournament, we gathered once more all together, including the Polish players of Day 2 for a “last supper” in a fancier restaurant than usual. We probably didn't fit the usual clientele, but it was amazing to find a table that would fit all of us in a random restaurant on the way.
I'm not usually able to just sit somewhere and start speaking about Gwent with my friends, as none of them sadly like Gwent or even card games in general. It was awesome to always have a reference topic to go if for any reason we were struggling to discuss or start the conversation – and we spent the whole dinner sharing old memories and newer ones, speaking about our plays and our choices. On the very next day, some of us met again in the same restaurant before leaving for the airport, but this supper was a nice finale to a nice event.
Elis, hailing from the Czech Republic, is the graphic designer for Team Aretuza. She works with the team in creating its visual presence and has brought a distinctive style to its marketing efforts since her arrival. It is thanks to her that we can produce such good-looking content!
Hi! I am Eliška, better known as Elis, and this is a summary of my experiences from the Aretuza community Gwent tournament, dubbed “Thanedd Cøup”. I decided to write my thoughts and experiences down, thinking that maybe my point of view – one of someone who is not a competitive player and has great respect for the people that are – might be interesting, or even relatable. Thanedd Cøup was an opportunity for someone such as myself to turn their dream into reality, the kind of opportunity I couldn't do anything else but take.
So. It’s really happening.
I, a simple graphic designer and objectively speaking the worst Gwent player to ever live, am sitting in a train, holding onto a ticket that has “Warsaw” under “destination”. The goal, to attend a community tournament and meet a number of the most well-known players and personalities.
If I was to actually play as well, I think to myself, I would probably pass out from the stress already.
Excitement combined with the classic “what if this or that happens” anxiety didn’t let me sleep well. But I suppose five minutes are still better than nothing.
I plug my headphones in and search for a specific tune to start off this adventure. The ticket says “9 hours 56 minutes”: the music player in my phone, on the other hand, says “How About a Round of Gwent?”
Warsaw, especially during a sunset, is truly wonderful. So much, in fact, that I even got lost in the lovely view of the undergrounds of “Warszawa Centralna” train station and ended up going one station too far. Apparently I hadn’t had enough waiting and trains for the day.
I spent my first night among a group of amazing people, from RyanGodric, who agreed to pick me up, through our roommates Green Cricket and gvuardya, to the party (quite literally, if playing games in a dark room can be considered that) I met later on in their hotel apartment. Everyone hugs me, shakes my hand. I talk and laugh with them – the best of the best Gwent players I previously only knew thanks to watching official tournaments – and despite my initial nervousness from the fact I just met people that are somewhat idols to me, I feel comfortable. This one thing, this game I came to love so much, hangs over us and ties us together, no matter the other interests, no matter the differing personalities.
Until that point, I think I have never been more happy to be a part of a community as I was on this Thursday night, standing on a balcony and listening to Damorquis and TailBot talking about their past tournament lineups.
The community football match is scheduled to take place this afternoon. In a very loose translation, that means no one is getting up before 10am.
I would never guess I will ever get at least remotely interested in football.
And yet I walked around the pitch, taking pictures, recording clips, laughing at the jokes my teammates were yelling at each other, and genuinely enjoying myself.
Despite claiming they are very much exhausted after two hours of football, the cardboys were definitely not done for the day. Searching for a place to eat dinner at turned into a small Liming (=dock-free electric scooters available for rent through a mobile app) tour around the city, with even more scooter riding, laughs, and activities involving safe substance consumption following afterwards and long into the night.
I got to meet a few people more closely, people that I admire, and again, despite being, at least in my mind, not one of them, I have experienced acceptance. For that I am extremely grateful.
Finally, we are getting to the core event of this adventure. Fashionably late, as is my habit.
I entered the venue in the middle of the very first match set. The first thing I realize is how a surprisingly large number of CDPR employees are present. The place is full and buzzing, around me are people wearing different amounts of Witcher/Gwent merchandise, except for the lads from Aretuza - they are all rocking their brand new jerseys of my design. It feels surreal.
Playing Mario Kart (for the first time in my life) with ImpetuousPanda and the boys, I am suddenly approached by someone I have never seen before. The place is loud and I miss the name, but eventually put the pieces together – Meeting my fellow Twitch mod Khain was a pleasant experience and a great source of entertainment outside, or rather within, the tournament itself.
So was seeing Jason Slama and Pawel Burza, along with other well-known people from CDPR like Alicja, Repek, Vlad and Ostry. Always generous, they sat down for a small Q&A. Most of the questions (and answers) were in Polish, but I managed to gather the sentiment. The majority of issues brought to them by the community there were resolved in the most recent Patch 3.1.
Apart from answering our questions, CDPR also organized a giveaway of Gwent-related goods. I ended up carrying away a displate of Cleaver’s Muscle because Khain dislikes Scoia’tael and apparently shares CDPR’s generosity.
Other interactions I was directly involved in were mostly people asking why am I not competing myself, being surprised by my nationality, or complementing the jersey design. That in particular I am incredibly happy about. To hear such positive feedback from people that I myself admire is something of very high value to me.
To no surprise from my side, the last game of the day was between Ryan and Cricket. Ryan ended up winning one point up (never change, Milva), with half the people being already on their way out, and the other half standing patiently behind his back.
The day ended and we returned back to our usual evening program – riding Limes in search for a restaurant to have dinner at, ending up eating junk food, then splitting into two parties – one staying outside and heading to the riverside with the prospect of further (again completely safe) consumption of substances, the other half going back to their hotel room to play autobattlers. I managed to experience both.
Today is the most important day of the event, and this adventure. Before the games started, we gathered for lunch, getting ready for an afternoon at the venue.
The tournament is now a little bit more calm and laid-back, with fewer people filling the bar and more space for the top 8 players to fully focus on their matches. With the sounds of The Witcher soundtracks now audible through much less noise, we dive right into the semifinals and finals.
Alessio, plugged to a projection screen the venue offers, showed a professional, clean performance, and definitely deserved the ultimate win. I get to talk to him later on after he is freed from all the people taking pictures with him or of him. He, alongside the goods provided by CDPR, brings several full shot glasses, only says “yolo”, and downs them to the last drop.
After a late evening dinner, most of us gather in one of the hotel rooms for a bit more private of a finale to this event. We celebrate by playing Gwent charades. Was it obscure? Yes, very. Was it fun? Abso-damn-lutely.
I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to say goodbye to these people and close the door to that hotel room behind me, I didn’t want to wake up the next morning knowing I will have to catch a train and ride back home. But I had to, and I did, telling myself this is not the last time I will be seeing them.
Being there and meeting, talking to, laughing with all these wonderful people has been a dream to me, one that I would have never guessed to come true. Yet it did.
Thank you to all the people I met for your kindness. See you in September :).
A Look Back by RyanGodric
Damorquis qualified for three consecutive Gwent Opens and holds the title of Gwent Challenger #4 champion and Challenger #5 runner up. His passion for The Witcher universe and his real-life knowledge of behavioral economics helped him develop Team Aretuza, the strongest Gwent esports team in the world. Currently he focuses a career in management consulting and will compete in Gwent's biggest tournament so far Gwent Masters in 2021. His extensive tournament preparation often results in ambitious, innovative decks that catch even the best opponents by surprise, and his highly disciplined approach to gaming, always looking for mistakes and areas to improve, provides his unique edge against the competition.