Hi everyone, this tournament report is going to be a little different since I’ve been away from the scene for a while. I’ll start off by telling you about how I qualified and my subsequent journey towards the world championship. For the World Championship itself I will not go into details regarding the specific matches, instead I’ll focus on some highlights and my general tournament experience.
Of Dinosaurs and Men
My journey to the World Championships was probably the least exciting out of all players present. The first Invitational arrived little more than a week after Eternal went into open beta, which was accompanied by the dreaded wipe. Combined with a whole host of balance changes and cards literally disappearing, this made the already notoriously unpredictable ETS meta even more so. I personally felt like I had little hope of winning the tournament so I decided to make a splash in another way, by playing a fun new deck that had the possibility to just be straight up unfair. FTP Shimmerpack was terrible on ladder but even though I was stuck in gold 2, I observed that I was winning very consistently against all the slower decks. Working under the assumption that as usual the ETS meta would be far slower than ladder, I built my deck to beat pretty much any other deck in a long game while still having the explosiveness of turn seven Shimmerpack on a full board. My prediction turned out to be correct, at least for my bracket. Spurred on by having received zero fan favorite votes, I unleashed my horde of illusory dinosaurs and Shimmerpack trampled a bloody path through the winners bracket. Only halted temporarily by KampfKrote’s (now signature) Stonescar aggro in the grand finals, before he too got overwhelmed by dinosaurs in match two. So that’s it, my road to Worlds. Not some epic journey fighting my way through all the seasons to get enough series points, nor winning an invitational after I got so close before. No, I qualified by playing a meme-y deck which just happened to go all the way.
I didn’t feel like I had quite earned my spot at worlds so I kept trying to prove myself. After posting good finishes at the Season 2 Invitational and the Midseason Major, I felt like I had. After that my motivation started to slacken, I had already qualified for Worlds, proved that I wasn’t a one hit wonder and, to be honest, I lost a lot of my interest for the game after Set 2 wasn’t what I was hoping for. I decided to focus on my studies and let Eternal slip further and further. By the time the Season 4 Invitational came by, I was barely playing and after going 0-2, I decided to take a break from Eternal completely until I completed my Masters thesis. A couple of months later, I got dragged back by a discord message from RNG asking me to confirm my participation in the Team League. Unbeknownst to me, my team, the newly merged Owls and Dragons (OND), had decided my return date for me and signed me up. Team League was a great way to get back into the game, discussing matches and playing together with some of the best players in the game really helped me get back on my feet fast. I was still busy with my thesis up until shortly before worlds, but thanks to my teammates I was back in time and had a fair grasp of the meta.
Praxis, I choose you!
As I’ve mentioned previously, the ETS meta is rather unpredictable. For example, neither of the decks that won the previous two tournaments (Xenan Midrange and Chalice control) had any showing in worlds at all. Rather than bringing meta decks, the competitive Eternal community has a tendency to bring counter decks and pet decks instead. Personally, I tend to fall on the pet deck end of the spectrum so the first thing I tried after coming back from my break was polishing up my old pet decks. Neither Icaria Gold (yes, I’m going to call it that until my dying days) nor Shimmerpack were in good shape and they were going to take a lot more work than I had time for. Even days before worlds, nobody in OND had locked into the deck they were going to run and despite having our meta predictions, none of us were very confident in them. In the end, we all went into wildly different directions. I went for the meta deck I was most experienced with and also the deck I expected to have the most positive match ups. I wasn’t very sure about my exact list but I was confident the deck had no glaring weaknesses among the meta decks and enough favourable match ups.
Finally, on the tournament!
Round Robin: Round 1
As usual, most of our predictions were thrown out the window the moment decklists were revealed. We weren’t expecting as much Shimmerless Combrei (hereafter addressed as TJP Midrange, definitely not as Combrei Party) and the lack of both Chalice and Xenan midrange shocked us. Nevertheless, TJP midrange was a good matchup for me so I still had confidence in my deck choice…
…which was shattered almost immediately after the tournament started, after a disastrous streak of three losses against a couple of aggro decks and the rather Mysterious Xenan Control deck. I expected the losses against aggro but the loss to LightsOutAce’s Mysterious Xenan deck rattled me. This was a match up that I expected to be favored in and yet while playing it, it felt rather hopeless as his removal was just too much.
This first series of losses activated my survival instincts for the rest of the day and I ended up clawing my way back. My deck did exactly what it was made to do: tempo out slower aggro and midrange decks. I came out of day one with a 4-4 record. Not great, but I knew I was heading into all four of my TJP midrange matchups the next day. Despite my horrendous start, I was once again confident I wouldn’t fall down to the dreaded bottom four.
As it turns out, my second day didn’t go quite as planned either. Once again, I lost to the Mysterious Xenan deck, this time piloted by SirRhino, cementing my belief that the matchup was in fact terrible for me. I went on to win only two of the four favourable TJP Midrange matches, meaning I was once again in the danger zone (and not the good one).
Luckily for me, I managed to squeak out a win against my teammate IlyaK on rally queen in the last round to go 7-6, stopping me from getting sucked into the tiebreaker quagmire for the last bottom 4 spot.
In hindsight, despite struggling to avoid the dreaded elimination bracket for the entire weekend, a single extra win would’ve put me in prime position to take top 4. This is testimonial to exactly how fierce the competition was in this round robin filled with the best of the best.
Round Robin: Round 2 (Pod A)
The second round robin went a lot smoother. Luck finally started to go my way and despite losing my match against Mouche on TJP Midrange in a nail-biter (I’m pretty sure his comeback story was scripted), I won some unfavourable matchups as well. This included stealing a win against the Mysterious Xenan deck, a match up which I was beginning to dread. All in all, there was not much more to say about day two; other than in the final round, due to problems with discord, Unearthly and I were streamed playing what was probably the least consequential tournament match ever shown on a tournament stream. We were both already locked for top 8 and seeding would be randomized so there was no real reason to even play the match. The Eternal Gods seemed to agree as Unearthly promptly got screwed out of both games in record time. Thankfully the match was inconsequential and we were able to laugh about it, ending the second round robin on a high note.
Double the elimination, double the fun.
Right out of the bat, I was matched up against probably my worst matchup in the top 8, so I wasn’t feeling all too confident. That said, I had previously defeated camat0, my likely next opponent if I won round one, 2-0 in what seemed like a favourable matchup. Thus, if I managed to beat Sunyveil’s Stonescar aggro, I’d have a good shot at making it to the winner’s finals. Well, as expected by now, things didn’t quite go as planned. I did beat Sunyveil using my sideboard Slows to punish his greedy powerbase. However, I promptly lost in an unexpected 0-3 landslide to camat0, the entire match just felt completely different. I never really hit my stride in any of the games and it felt like he always had the exact answers he needed. In any case, despite criticizing it before, I was happy this top 8 was double elimination. Having an another shot at taking revenge against Mouche and eliminating TJP Midrange from the tournament completely was just a cherry on top of the cake. This time around, his comeback storyline was not enough and I managed win 3-2 in another nail-biting series. Unfortunately, that win put me square in the sights of SirRhino, piloting the Mysterious Xenan deck that I had been learning to dread all tournament long. Luckily, my end came swiftly and while I managed to take one game to save face, my aristocratic horned nemesis took the series convincingly, ending my worlds run just off the podium at 4th place.
Ending thoughts and prayers
All in all, I’m very happy with my result. I had fun playing in Worlds, although honesty requires me to say that I think it was too long and drawn out in its entirety. That said; usually my first few post-tournament days are filled with what-if flashbacks but I don’t think this tournament could have ended any differently for me and that’s in part because the tournament format was so comprehensive.
With regards to my deck choice, I would definitely have brought Praxis again. The Purifies weren’t great, since I was literally the only Dawnwalker deck in the field, but they were still good against enough of the field that I don’t regret main-decking them. For my sideboard, I don’t think I have any regrets as I used them all frequently and I didn’t face a single matchup that I felt my sideboard couldn’t deal with. In particular, Slow impressed me greatly. I had primarily included Slow to sniff out Harsh Rules, but it proved to be extremely valuable against the hyper-aggressive decks as well. In fact, I wish I would’ve brought Slow in more, especially against the Mysterious Xenan deck.
Last but not least, I want to congratulate camat0. His was a well deserved win as even before worlds, I think most of us would’ve agreed he was one of the absolute best players Eternal has to offer. I also want to thank my teammates in Owls and Dragons for helping me get back into the game after my break and for the great discussion, testing and cheering on.
Editor Note: “I’d also like to thank RNGEternal for hosting the tournament.” – quote attributed to Toth201