If you somehow ended up here without reading the first part of the interview, I recommend correcting the mistake right away. Without the first part, the interview lacks a lot of steam. 🙂
This part contains SPOILERs for the WePlay! Artifact tournament results.
Let's talk about casting experience. How was it to cast the first major tournament for Artifact?
It was definitely a rollercoaster, for sure! Very exciting games. Also, It was a new experience for me. Compared to Gwent, it is a different game to cast. You have to keep track of so many things. It is hard to find pauses. At the same time, sometimes you focus too much on one lane and you lose sight of what's happening on others. A lot of times, it is just hard to keep track of everything. So I feel that delivering a perfect cast is, at least for me, going take a while until I feel I really did a good cast this time around.
It was great. I love casting, and Artifact is the most intense and dynamic card game I've been a part of. So, that definitely helps my niche too cause I get hyped with the matches and stuff. With Artifact, it is very easy to do so.
It was a fun experience. Obviously, huge thanks for being able to cast the first big tournament. For us casters, it is a big thing. Even though it is not a Valve-organized tournament, people will still remember it as a first big Artifact tournament. It was a pleasure to cast with Miguel as well. We couldn't cast together in Gwent because he had a partnership with McBeard, and then I came in later with Merchant and Jaggerous. So it was fun doing that on a professional level. Also, SUNSfan and Swim; I've never casted with them before. So, it was interesting as well.
Casting Artifact is almost a game in itself. It is so complex. You can even see it as a competitive thing. Understanding everything challenges you as well. There's not a big difference between normal caster and paid caster in mechanical games. Mostly, the skill players have in those games is mechanical. Game state knowledge, metagames, and that kind of info are widely known. The skill in CS:GO or LOL is mechanical. Whereas in card games, most of it is analyzing the board, lines of play, and stuff. And as a caster, you're almost expected to have the same knowledge as players, so it gets super interesting.
Basically, it is how Miguel said. Delivering the perfect cast is not only entertaining, and having good commentary, and speaking well, and making good jokes and stuff, it is also playing on almost the same level as players. It is challenging. It has been very hard to continue casting Artifact, but it is going to be really fun as well.
I'm glad you had a lot of fun:) Were there any plays, decks, moments, that have surprised you the most?
Plays that surprised me. Obviously, Hyped and Hoej. Those have very strong plays that I didn't see at first. For example, Hyped setting up a key scenario by Blinking his Ogre Magi to a third lane after he went for Thundergod's Wrath instead of phishing for the combo. I think that sequence he opted to go for put his opponent, which I believe was Stan, in a position where he had to give up the initiative in order to prevent lethal on the second lane. This gave Hyped the initiative to go for the second Thundergod's Wrath on the third lane to clear the board.
Him thinking that far up ahead instead of getting tempted to try and fish for the Solomane Incarnation combo was a big turning point for me. I realized just how good Hyped is as a player, how he deserves making this far to the tournament.
And for Hoej, the same. Hoej's ability to read opponent's deployment and act accordingly is something that he has been able to capitalize on this entire tournament. And there are so many instances, sequencing, decisions that he made. I was just blown away by these two players. I think we had amazing finals because of that. And both of them deserved to be there, which is very nice to see. It is great to see the most skilled players make it to the finals. It is one of the reasons why I'm so into Artifact. It really does reward your skill set.
I think it is hard for me to remember a single moment that's surprising. With Artifact, it is kind of a slow realization. You slowly start to see the game come together. There are some moments, like hero deployments and certain surprize things happening, but it is not a game where you top deck a card and win, and it is super exciting.
In Artifact, the game slowly comes together. There are a lot of subtle moments even for us. We play on a pretty high level, not like pro-pro tier level, but we have an idea of what's going to happen and expect most plays. So there weren't many surprises, but there were very subtle things, like stalling at certain moments or giving up the initiative. You realize it, and it surprises you a bit, which is a great moment to have as a caster.
The top deck with Time of Triumph in one of the games. It was cute. The Smash the Defenses draw, and also the double Thundergod's Wrath top deck for, I think it was Hyped. Also, that StrifeCro game vs JJ. That was amazing. The one hp one.
Aye, Panda definitely plays on the same level I do 🙂 It is important for us casters to be at that level and understand the line of play. But even then, as we both said throughout this interview, it is tough to call everything. It is hard to even call half of the plays. A lot of times you just don't see them.
Compared to other card games, Artifact turns out to be harder to play and cast.
Yes, without a doubt.
Moving to events like The International, there's not going to be many casters that come from Dota and just say "Oh, I want to show up on this event and cast" because they're not going to be able to. It is a hard game to cast. You have to have a card game background or, like SUNSfan, play the Beta for X months and put in a lot of time to understand all the intricacies of the game.
SUNSfan comes from Dota, but his knowledge of Artifact is very deep. He's at the same level. He is able to call a lot of key plays, and you can tell he's very well versed and knowledgeable of the game.
As a someone who comes from a different background like Dota and has no experience with Artifact, there's no chance to deliver as a caster. So, it is going to be important for casters for upcoming to events to be knowledgeable of the game. Even then, it is challenging to cast Artifact.
Now that you've casted the major tournament, how big of esports you predict Artifact to be based on your previous experience with Gwent and current experience with Artifact?
It is hard to predict. It depends on public reception. A lot of times throughout my career as a caster, content creator, and competitor I've been on the same wavelength as a general public. Other times, I've been really into something, and it turns out the majority of people haven't.
In regards to Artifact, I do believe it has a bit of a slow start. But I think it has all the makings to be, in my opinion, the best card game for an esports due to how skill intensive it is.
Despite people claiming there's a whole bunch of RNG involved in the game, it ultimately does not decide the outcome of the match. This tournament and future tournaments to come will consistently prove that again and again. Whether it is received well or blow up, the time will tell. Quality and gameplay wise, it has everything going on for it in my eyes.
Yea, the game has huge potential. It is hard to say because even if a game is good or popular it doesn't always translate to good numbers in viewership. Hearthstone has a huge player base, but it is very casual and not interested in esports. I think it was a mismanagement as well from Blizzard. The game is not that big compared to LOL or CS:GO even though it has a ton of players. As for Gwent, it had a rough start initially, but esports scene is what everyone loved. No one ever had any complaints. CDPR managed it very well in terms of viewership numbers, production, and series of the events. So, It is hard to say.
Artifact has a backing of Valve. The prize pools, the money. It is going to attract viewers just because of the aforementioned. For example, The International. People never watched Dota, but they hear about a prize pool in millions of USD and watch it for the entertainment factor.
If Valve makes the same production and investments in Artifact, it is going to, sooner or later, become a huge thing. Expansions, bigger card pool, different game modes, investments from 3rd party organizations, like WePlay!. I heard TakeTV tournament is in the making as well as a lot of Chinese tournaments. It is going to be really cool.
Alright! Sounds great! Could we talk about the decks, heroes, archetypes you like or looking to play?
My favorite archetype was not represented in the tournament. I guess I'm a hipster wannabe 😀 I would really enjoy the Blue/Black control style. I like Blue/Black Payday with "…And one for me", which focuses heavily on items and casts Big Money as a win condition.
I enjoy Blue/Black. I enjoy decks that set up improvements to deal AOE damage. That's the playstyle I enjoy the most. Wasn't really represented in the tournament as well. We saw a prevalence of 3 archetypes, being Red/Green ramp; Red/Black agro, or mid-range, or even control-ish; and, of course, the winner of the tournament the Blue/Green Selemene combo.
Hopefully, as time passes, we will see more Blue/Black represented in a form of control. And I do know Panda is a favorite of the agro variant actually.
Yeah, also Blue/Black for me. I haven't played that much constructed. I played with a pool of cards that are limited not as much as I initially thought. In the Beta, I played Draft mode mostly since it is more fun for me.
What I did play was Blue/Black agro. I didn't optimize the list much but managed to beat strong players with strong lists, like GameKing with a Red/Black list. Maybe it was a cheesy victory, but it seemed it could have a potential. It seemed very fun. The games were super fast. Super quick kills. And the synergy of cards seemed very interesting to me.
What were your expectations for the top 3?
I was asked this earlier today several times. I predicted Hoej to win. He was the player that had impressed me the most throughout the entire tournament, both the group stage and the top 16. This prediction was confirmed within me as he kept advancing the tournament stages. So I definitely expected him to make it to the finals.
When it came to his opponent in the finals, for me it was between StanCifka, Hyped, and LifeCoach. I thought one of those 3 would make it. And it turned out to be Hyped. Hyped has definitely surprised me. I didn't expect him to defeat Hoej. He was impressive throughout the entire second part of the tournament.
Hoej and Xixo are very strong players with very strong decks, so they were maybe not my clear favorites but definitely up there in the tournament. Red/Green had a chance with LifeCoach and SuperJJ, but they relied a bit on high-rolling, ramp, and finding the perfect situation. The power efficiency of that deck isn't as high as of the Selemene/Storm and the very fast agro variant.
I didn't like Dog's list, and I made it apparent during casting. The Payday is high-rolly as well. Also, StanCifka didn't impress me as much.
I thought that one of the Selemene decks will make it to the finals. If you pair a good player with it, it performs better than I thought it would. Plus, Hyped has made it very consistent. The deck has such a high power ceiling. When you get to a certain point and draw the right cards, you just win instantly. It is very hard to beat the deck if the draws are good. There's a lot of skill involved also. But once you combine the draws and the skill, you can just turn the tables and win. Hyped showed this and won the tournament.
I want to thank you for casting the tournament and making this interview possible. It has been a pleasure talking with you. You guys are very energetic. I really regret that I got the opportunity to talk with you only in the last few days of the tournament. My dream would be to see you again at the next tournament.
Oh, that's nice, man. Thank you! I appreciate that.
So, the final word is yours.
Thanks for the interview and yourself taking the time. I hope Artifact gets the exposure and the success it truly deserves. Cheers to the future of Artifact esports scene.
So cheesy 😀
Thank you for the interview. It was a great experience. The tournament, in general, has been much better than I expected it to be. Also, it was a huge honor to cast the first Artifact tournament. Having a chance to be with people like Swim is nice. So, It was a great experience for me. I think for Mogwai as well. I hope this translates to a lot more casting opportunities in the future within Artifact.
For the future of Artifact!
This is the end of the interview. In the second part of the interview, I highlighted WePlay! Artifact Mighty Triad: Strenght through the eyes of Mogwai and ImpetuousPanda. Using the text it is hard to show how fun and energetic Miguel and David are. I'm really looking forward to interviewing them again. I hope the next time we meet I'll be able to do the video interview with the guys.
Be sure to check KeenGamer this/next week for more interviews from the event. I've also interviewed CHARM3R, Swim, and SUNSfan as well as key people behind WePlay!. Check out my interview with the co-founder of WePlay!.