This week, we saw the curtain fall on Gwent’s first pro ladder season. Over the past two months, thousands of players have competed on a unique ladder system, designed to ensure deck diversity. To prevent the same deck from swarming the ladder, players had to each play 100 games with each faction to earn MMR, which will average out to create an overall ranking.
Many new faces have proved that they, too, can joust with the household names. The top 200 will be able to compete in a qualifier for the upcoming Gwent Open, the second in the Gwent Masters series, on top of earning crown points to buy into future events. But just how did we end up here? Let’s take a look back at some of the most defining moments of the ranked season.
Initially, everybody knew it would be Gwent’s most influential patch. Thanks to the infamous “Gold Immunity” change, all players were forced to relearn the game as many archetypes were reworked from the ground up. This led to many gold cards with a large base strength become neglected – such as Hjalmar, Bloody Baron, and Tibor – for the risk involved with including them was too high, particularly now that serious money was on the line.
Therefore, some of Gwent’s brightest minds got creative, and new archetypes were born, while previously unfinished ones were given a second look. Thanks to its new utility cards, it wasn’t long before Northern Realms galloped to the top of the food chain. Supported by a revamped armour build and a new combo – Shani into Prince Stennis for up to 30 points – many pro ladder players were able to max out their faction MMR pretty easily.
A Showdown of Pros
Meanwhile, Lifecoach, perhaps the game’s most famous player, organised an official Gwent Masters sponsored tournament at his mansion in Vienna. Gwentslam was open to the highest players on the pro ladder leader board as well as two open entries, which regular players could compete for via Strivewire-sponsored satellites. Freddiebabes and Panda, no strangers to the game, came out on top of their individual qualifiers.
Thanks to his anti-Northern Realms line up – including his notorious Mill Nilfgaard that has divided the community and caused civil war on Reddit – Freddiebabes was able to claim victory, becoming one of the first British players to win a major Gwent tournament. It wasn’t, however, plain sailing for the 18 year old Brit.
GameKing, another Gwentslam contestant, had become a self-appointed “Killer of Mill” and was slapping other Mill players to one side as easy as a witcher casting Aard. In a memorable game against Panda, the 19 year old Austrian showcased his ability to adapt to his environment like a chameleon, where he played his Spell Scoia’tael deck inside out to advance to the finals. Unfortunately, his luck ran out against Freddiebabes, who was able to mill him efficiently and take the title. It was GameKing’s second consecutive runner up position at a Lifecoach hosted tournament. If that was me, I would have given up Gwent for life. Then again, I’m a mere-mortal.
A New Meta
As the season went on, CDPR released a hotfix and, not ones to tread lightly on over tuned cards, nerfed Northern Realms faster than King Henselt could say, “Men of Kaedwen, attack!” Restore, a silver Skellige special, was also changed to convert the resurrected unit to 10 base strength. Initially, they considered this a nerf to prevent an exploit where players were able to create 25 strength Pirate Captains. However, its unmatched power was soon revealed and, combined with Dorregaray to spam the board with carryover, the meta drowned in the choppy waters of Skellige.
On top of nerfing problematic cards, CDPR also released the Mahakam Ale Festival, its first holiday event, to coincide with Oktoberfest. Featuring a series of inventive, challenging puzzles, players were able to earn unique seasonal rewards alongside a new fully voiced avatar. The holiday event was well received by all. It showcased how dynamic Gwent is capable of being, despite hitting too close to home for many of us: Gwent’s only additional game mode was a timed event. FeelsBadMan. Fortunately, another one is upon us with the latest patch – Holiday of the Dead, featuring everyone’s favourite vampire, Regis.
GameKing’s Last Stand
Gwentslam #2 closed off the season and proved to be its most diverse yet, with both qualifiers awarding seats to its top two competitors. Players like RandyOfCintra and AndyWand were able to earn their place and showcase their skills, while Freddiebabes returned to defend his title. This time, the returning champion ditched his Mill deck for Nilfgaard Spies, one of the few archetypes capable of dancing with Restore Skellige.
Securing third place on the pro ladder leader board ensured that GameKing could also qualify for another shot at lifting his runner-up curse. To nobody’s surprise, he was able to make the final to face off against Metranos, a German player who’d specifically targeted Monsters, which GameKing had brought. Fortunately for him, Metranos was unable to draw into his gold weather, leading to the young Austrian pushing his opponent so hard in round two that he forced them to forfeit.
This meant that, after competing in his home country three times, GameKing was finally able to bag a win. The event coincided with Gwent’s one year anniversary and Lifecoach’s birthday, so we can only imagine the afterparty!
The developers had promised to include 21 new cards in the latest patch, and let’s not forget the Halloween event. Not only that, but with the second Gwent Open only a month away, this new season is not one the community will be dry passing on.