By Alex Sprackling
After winning a GWENT Slam, Open and then Challenger #2 in December, Freddybabes has become a household name within the GWENT community. A close friend of many of the original Gwentlemen – now known as Topdeck – the young Brit has gone on to partner with CompLexity and now streams full time. It’s been a few months since his last tournament appearance, but as he’ll be returning to defend his Challenger title later this month, I sat down with him to get his thoughts on the competition and game as a whole.
Alex: Let’s kick things off with the big questions. What was the first thing you bought using your Challenger prize money?
Freddybabes: I actually have an answer for that now! For a couple of months I didn’t buy anything. But I bought a new computer and chair and it’s made Gwenting a bit more survivable.
A: Congratulations on your recent partnership with CompLexity. Was it winning Challenger what brought this about or had you been in talks prior to the event?
F: I reached out to them after winning. I kind of wanted to make a move anyway. I was close to everyone at Topdeck but wanted something more permanent. My parents also wanted to see me make something happen and have an income. Winning Challenger was definitely a push.
A: It must be hard to balance streaming with your everyday life. What’s a typical day for you?
F: I’m no longer studying. I was thinking about staying at university but the work wasn’t really for me. The social side was great but it made preparing for tournaments while trying to study too demanding. Now there are no restrictions preventing me from streaming a certain amount of time and I can pursue Youtube and other projects.
A: There’s no denying that your victory at Challenger #2 had a huge impact, but it was winning a GWENT Slam satellite qualifier that began this recent domino effect of success. In fact, I’m sure you won’t mind me saying that you owe a lot to qualifying for GWENT Slam through a satellite. For this reason, do you think CDPR should introduce more satellite qualifiers to help give busy people a chance to qualify for the pro leagues?
F: Yeah, that’s probably the biggest thing the pro scene needs right now, giving those who don’t have time to play all day an opportunity to qualify. In fairness, the qualifiers for Challenger are really good but at the same time they’re the bigger events. The smaller events don’t have qualifiers like that. It would be really cool to have one or two qualifier spots for Open tournaments or even another crown point tournament. It feels like we’re in a quiet patch for tournaments. We only have one official event every month or so but we used to have the Strivewire events and other things going on so everyone could get involved.
A: You recently titled your GWENT streams “Trying to get my mojo back”. Has an absence in competing left you rusty at all?
F: Kind of. Tournaments and ladder are really different. Honestly, when I was competing before, I didn’t practice as much as most because of my studies. I was perhaps doing a couple hours of coaching and maybe a few deck tests here and there. But with tournament prep, as long as you’re very focused with it and know your matchups, you should be fine. While the Pro Ladder and regular ladder are great, it’s a very different setting for tournaments. It will help you understand the deck and matchups but it can’t help you practice the regulated coinflip stuff.
A: I’ve noticed you uploading your fair share of Youtube content as of late, and it’s safe to say you’ve become quite the meta shaper, particularly with the Baron/Henselt deck you shared a couple months back. Ultimately, whom is your Youtube content aimed at?
F: I don’t want to make videos everyday but I enjoy making stuff when it’s relevant like meta reports and the occasional deck guide. I have quite a sizable US audience who don’t get to see my streams, so my Youtube content is also for their benefit. I enjoy talking about the players frame of mind as well as the decision making process.
A: Last Challenger you clashed with Lifecoach in what was the most impressive 3-0 I’ve seen in GWENT. Is there anybody you’re scared to face this time around?
F: All the players are great. Most of the time they will play very well if not perfectly. I know I’ll always have the chance to lose. Nobody in particular has got me quaking in my boots, but Huyahanachan maybe because he’s so consistent and makes few mistakes. There are other great players like SuperJJ but all of them are strong. As long as you don’t bring anything too targetable, you should be ok!
A: I’ve noticed you’ve been playing a lot of Prismata recently, arguably one of the hardest strategy games to learn in recent years. I’ve tried it myself and it feels like trying to solve the Da Vinci Code! But what do you play to chill out?
F: I haven’t played too much Prismata as of late, I’ve kind of hit my cap on league mode. But I’ve been playing a lot of Sea of Thieves with friends.
A: Finally, what advice would you give to somebody playing in a tournament for the first time?
F: Oh, I don’t know if I can give out my secrets!
Seriously, just plan out some wider strategy, like building decks around the coinflip or targeting. It’s all about your game plan; bringing the strongest decks is the most important thing. That being said, if you’re a really good player, you can get by with “meta” decks. There is merit to be said for bringing the ladder decks but you’ve got to take the tournament environment into account. On the ladder you want to win every game, but in a tournament you can potentially lose one and that’s fine. Being able to see your opponent’s decklists is invaluable because you can play around the right threats.
YOU ARE THE WILD CARDPLAY FREE
Available on PC and Xbox One.
This game offers in-game purchases