2018 Season Three Invitational: Viewer’s Guide

The Invitational Tournament is the capstone tournament of each ETS Season, each one of only five premiere tournaments per year. Unlikely weekly tournaments, you must be invited to attend, and such invitations are hotly contested throughout the season. Additionally, they feature major prize pools for the players to fight for – $500 for this Invitational, as well as custom mousepads courtesy of Inked Gaming for the top 8 and a custom hoodie for the winner! Each Invitational features thirty two of the best tournament players from the current season and two days of high stakes Eternal Card Game action! We’ve got a totally unexplored format for the Invitational, so expect lots of innovation and exciting decks to come out of the woodwork.

More general information on Invitational Tournaments

ETS 2018 – Season Three Invitational

The Season Three Invitational will be held over two days, beginning at 11am EDT on Saturday, September 1st, and continuing at 11am EDT on Sunday, September 2nd.

Watch Live

Tournament Format

Invitational Tournaments are two day events that feature two tournament formats. On the first day, a modified Swiss tournament takes place with 32 players. On the second day, a single elimination tournament takes place with 16 players to determine the winner. Additionally, the ruleset is modified in the following ways from base ruleset.

Ruleset

Deck Submission: Players submit three decks for this tournament. Usual rules apply – minumum size is 75 cards, with an optional 5 card unique market. However, the decks must additionally be non-power Unified. No more than four copies of a non power card can be present across all three decks. Both Seek Power and Petition are considered power cards and exempt from the Unified rules.

Matches: Matches are played in the “Invitational Conquest” format. The first player to win 3 games will win the match (so its best of five). First, each player chooses one of their three decks blind, then they play the first game. The player that wins that first game has their deck eliminated, and then both players choose their next deck, once again blind. The winning player always switches, since winning decks are eliminated for the match, but the losing player may keep their previous deck or switch.

Force Play/Draw: From the Invitational, the player who lost the previous game in a match will start first in the next game. Not may start first, will start first – the player does not get a choice of play/draw. In order to facilitate this, it will sometimes be necessary to concede and rechallenge until the correct configuration is reached. This should occur before redrawing, but after informing your opponent what deck you’re playing. As this is the first time implementing this rule, please be patient with both your opponent and the Tournament Organizers.

Structure

Day One: Day One will be a five round “Invitational Swiss”. Players who win 3 matches will advance to Day 2, while players who lose 3 matches will be eliminated.

Day Two: Day Two will be a sixteen person single elimination tournament. No ruleset changes will occur between day one and day two.

Day 1 – Modified Swiss

Day 1 is a 32 person, five round Swiss tournament with a modified rulest. In a regular Swiss tournament, players will play all five rounds. However, in this format, players are removed from the Swiss event once they reach either 3 wins or 3 losses (ties are not possible). If a player reaches 3 wins first, they qualify for Day 2. If a player reaches 3 losses first, they are eliminated from the tournament.

Day 2 – Top 16 Single Elimination

On the second day, its down to the wire – players play in a single elimination tournament to determine the winner. Seeding is randomized and has no basis in Day 1 results. Once a player loses, they are eliminated. Only one match in the round of 16 and round of 8 will be broadcast due to time constraints, but all matches from Top 4 and beyond will be played live on stream.

Prizing – $500 Prize Pool plus special prizes provided by Inked Gaming

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Invitational Mousepad Mockup

What are Series Points?

1st Place: The winner will receive the title of Invitational Champion (which includes a direct invite to the ETS World Championships),  a custom 2018 Invitational Winner hoodie, 12 Series Points, a cash prize of $200 USD, and an Invitational Mousepad.

2nd Place: The runner up receives 10 Series Points, a cash prize of $100 USD, and an Invitational Mousepad.

3rd/4th Place: Receive 8 Series Points, a cash prize of $50 USD, and an Invitational Mousepad.

5th through 8th Place: Receive 6 Series Points, a cash prize of $25 USD, and an Invitational Mousepad.

9th through 16th Place: Receive 4 Series Points.

Conquest Vs Last Deck Standing

Laying aside all of the unified considerations, let’s spend a moment to look a bit deeper into the format. Both formats are similar – you bring a couple decks (a ban is usually involved) and play until a player has won 3 games. However, there is a major difference between the two modes – in Last Deck Standing the losing deck is eliminated, while in Conquest the winning deck gets the boot.

What does this mean? The goal in both is identical- you want to win three games. However, the major difference between LDS and Conquest is that in LDS, the winning player limits the losing players tool by eliminating a deck and keeping their own, while in Conquest the winning player’s job gets harder because they limit their own options. This makes the strategies of each mode vastly different from the other.

Let’s focus on Last Deck Standing first, something we (the ETS) have run before in the form of various Team Leagues. There are two major strategies and one fringe strategy that are commonly employed in Last Deck Standing. First, there’s the balanced attack approach. There are many different angles to attack from, and its difficult to prepare for all of them, especially if your opponent is also on an offensive gameplan. Since you keep a winning deck, you build your decks in a way to hope to find a seam in the opponent’s lineup and exploit it for a quick 3-0. Even if you can’t get the sweep, two wins puts you far ahead and your final two decks can usually finish the job. These strategies either employ a variety of aggressive and midrange decks or decks that attack from vastly different angles, like a fast aggro deck paired with a hard control deck. Whatever the opponent is least ready for is what gets the job done.

The second and most common strategy makes use of the fact that a losing deck no longer needs to be considered. The strategy goes by many different names, but at its most basic it is a primary deck plus two supporting decks. Essentially, you’ve got one deck that’s supposed to win all three of your games. However, because its only got a single strategy to win that game, there’s going to be counters and decks that it cannot deal with. That’s where your other two decks comes in – they’re there to bait out and eliminate the counters, or otherwise clear the way for your primary deck to win unopposed. Rather than looking to 3-0 with these decks, you want to get the crucial win, then switch to your primary deck to finish the job. This can also take the opposite form, where you start with your primary deck and have your secondary decks to clean up the rest if it stumbles or is defeated. This was a very common strategy during Agenport Midrange’s heyday – there were only a few generally played counters to Argenport, and it muscled through most of the rest of the decks, so counter-counter lineups were quite popular.

The final and least popular strategy was the counter strategy. It was basically the opposite of the balanced attack approach – it had focused decks that countered a number of different strategies, and so could win based on counterpicks. It doesn’t matter if you win 3 in a row, only that you win. This was more commonly played as two counters and a backup carry deck rather than three full counters, but the theory was the same – outguess your opponent’s lineup, find the favorable matchup, and knock them out.

In contrast, Conquest forces you to win with all three decks, which completely changes the dynamic. For one thing, supporting decks are no longer possible –  at least, not build the same way. In LDS, if a deck was poorly suited for a match it was possible to “hide” it and win with your other decks instead – indeed, this was a primary plan for the “primary plus support” strategy. Not so in Conquest – every deck must be capable of winning a game. This eliminates that ever popular “primary plus support” strategy and focuses deckbuilding more on establishing your wins than on handing your opponent losses. In LDS, if you picked into a bad matchup, that was it – you were down a deck and its going to be tough climbing. And god help you if your counter deck lost! It was usually an easy 3-0 from that point. In Conquest, no matter how bad the matchup or unprepared you are for a deck, its never going to be worse for you than a single win. You don’t even lose any of your decks! This also means that “ducking” a matchup is now a viable strategy – if you can’t beat a deck, simply ignore it, hand them a win, and focus on getting 3 wins agaisnt the remaining 2 decks.

Balanced attacking strategies are the simplest to build and execute in Conquest, and in consequence are likely to be the most popular. You can still execute a counterpick lineup, however it has its own differences from the LDS style of building a counterpick lineup, as you’re going to give up a lot more games to get those counterpicks. However, you’re no longer dead in the water if your counter deck loses, as long as it has a backup strategy to eke out a win somewhere.

I’ll leave it there for now and not dive too deep into Conquest strategy, leaving it up to the Invitational players to strut their stuff with creative lineups… or not, as the case may be. This is the first time anyone has ever run this format, and players are just taking their first stabs at it – will the go deep or stay safe?

Who’s Playing?

Last time I did one of these, I introduced each player in order of IP, then SP, and included cool nicknames for each player. These were not always accurate or flattering, and received mixed reactions at best, but they were fun and I’m going to do them again. The changes from last time are that the weekly winners will be noted as such, and the nicknames will be cooler.

BruisedByGod “the Bridesmaid” (24 IP, 32 SP, Winner)

After limping into the last Invitational (where he nonetheless took second place) BruisedByGod returns to form and tops the charts this season. He has once again returned to his trademark midrange decks and they’re serving him well – the Invitational format just means he can play even more of them! SPG has had an incredible season, backed by BBG’s big finishes, but he’s had to play second fiddle so far – second at the Invitational to a teammate, second in SP to a teammate… This time, BBG is playing for first!

Mouche “the Underrated” (23 IP, 28 SP, Winnerx2)

Sometimes you just dump your hand on the table. After a career best characterized by sneaking into big tournaments, Mouche won back to back tournaments and silenced all the doubters. For the first time, he’s entering as a favorite rather than a longshot. Will he be able to keep his newfound momentum going, or will he slip back into the shadows?

childroland “the Leader” (22 IP, 34 SP, Winner)

Who’s the beatdown? childroland is the beatdown. The best known aggro player on the list and an Invitational Champion, childroland continues to go aggro no matter how hostile the metagame becomes. In a time when even Unearthly himself was forced to lay down his Plates, roland stuck to his Torches and Ronins. (It worked out pretty well for Unearthly in the end, but that’s not the point here) Our overall SP leader looks to close in on camat0’s lifetime records and see if he can become the first ever player to win TWO Invitational tournaments.

The above paragraph was written for the previous Invitational, and to my surprise it still holds true. childroland has been our points leader since before the Season Two Invitational, and he continues to hold that title now. He’s not looking to let go of it anytime soon, so I expect another high finish. How will he adjust his style to the Conquest format?

ThePlatypusKing “the Clutch” (20 IP, 19 SP, Winner)

In a weird turn of events, this nickname isn’t about TPK’s results at all (although they are notable). Instead, this refers to Team Series. His team was in grave danger of falling behind due to a player who didn’t participate much – a common problem among low point teams. However, in the final week, Captain TPK managed to convince the long-absent NotoriousGHP to come out and play. GHP put up 6 points and secured team Platypus Island a postseason berth with a two to three point gap over the opposition. A clear tactical genius who will use all options at his disposal, I’m expecting big things from TPK at the Invitational.

camat0 “the Champion” (19 IP, 21 SP, Winner)

This name kind of stands on its own. In case it doesn’t, camat0 is currently the defending World Champion, career Series Point leader, second in career tournament wins, third in current year Series Points, and the 2018 All Star for good measure. He has won the vast majority of what its possible to win, and he is looking to add Invitational Champion to his list of titles.

Tobboo “the Teammate” (18 IP, 15 SP, Winner)

Tobboo didn’t enter the Season Two Invitational with many points, but a Top 4 finish followed by a weekly win means he’s now got a solid number. While not currently in the running for Worlds, another solid result will get him there and he’s one of the players best able to use Eternal Titans’ deck tuning. Expect a solid lineup and a deep finish.

Erik9099 “the New Kid” (17 IP, 6 SP, Winner)

Ladder hotshot turned tournament menace, Erik earned his 17 points in just three weeks of play. Known for frequent Top 10 ladder performances, Erik was able to turn his bo1 dominance into bo3 success. Will he be able to continue his run in the wild west of a Conquest format?

Grimfan “the Titan” (20 IP, 6 SP)

While perhaps not as well known as some of the writers, Grimfan is a longtime Eternal player and a member of team Eternal Titans. His average finish is high, but he lacks a big win. He’s motivated, so look for him to make his team proud and aim for a big finish at the Invitational!

SooNo “the Finalist” (19 IP, 16 SP)

He tasted victory last season, but a heartbreaking loss to camat0 kept SooNo out of the winner’s circle this season. He has also yet to make a splash at the Invitational, and is in fact the player with the most Series Points who has yet to day 2 an Invitational. He’ll be looking to rectify that ASAP, and snag a win as well if he can get away with it.

Krizalio “the русский” (18 IP, 14 SP)

While not well known going into the Season Two Invitational, a Top 8 boosted Krizalio into the spotlight and a second place weekly finish kept him there. No longer flying under the radar, Krizalio is a serious contender for a repeat performance. He’s also one of the players who has the longest digital journey, joining us all the way from Russia!

aromanova “the Great (Parliament)” (17 IP, 10 SP)

This was a quiet season for aromanova, with “only” a Top 4 after last season’s breakout win. Last time, I spoke a lot about Manu hyping him up and his MTG background, but this time around he’s repping The Great Parliament. How will his newfound team have changed his play?

Jez2718 “the Heart (of the Cards)” (17 IP, 9 SP)

Our friendly neighborhood Yugioh fan, Jez plays a whole bunch of card games and he plays them well. He also has a far more analytical approach to the game than most, best seen in his numerous articles that are very heavy on the math. However, he has yet to Day 2 an Invitational. Will his different perspective on the game be just what he needs to break this brand new format?

IllserbIll “the Consistent” (17 IP, 6 SP)

Another run of the mill season for serb – he’s able to punch out 4-2s week after week, but he’s rarely able to convert and make Top 8. He’s rejoining us with the exact same number of IP as least season, and only a single Series Point more. He’ll need to shatter that consistency with at least a Day Two if he wants to step forward and contest the World Championship.

Pupicitus “the Closer” (17 IP, 15 SP)

So close, and yet so far! Pupicitus was shut out twice in the finals this season, falling just short of that Winner’s berth. His team was a few points short of a playoff berth in Team Series, too. It’s been an “almost but not quite” kinda season for Pupi – let’s see if he can go the full distance at the Invitational.

SecondBlue “the Rookie” (17 IP, 25 SP)

Starting his ETS career at the beginning of 2018, SecondBlue had a very strong start and multiple high finishes to back it up, mostly thanks to his beloved Grenadins. With Kennadins now a thing (despite the authors personal protests) will SecondBlue be able to find the lineup to make them work and add another big finish to his record?

Drolicheck “the Captain of the Only SPG Team With A Chance of Winning a Playoff Match” (16 IP, 6 SP)

The other SPG Captain is TonyGeeeee.

Drolicheck usually takes the backseat on SPG, preferring to play behind the scenes, but this time he’s taking centre stage himself. He collected two Top 4’s this season, so he’s got a bit of momentum behind him, and this new format may be exactly what he needs to break out into the big time.

I_Am_Monstrum “the Star” (16 IP, 2 SP)

One of the few Invitational rookies, he started his ETS career this very season with some reasonable results. He was immediately snapped up by Team Rankstar and has been putfeelsteamlessmanting in lots of work with that team. He’s carrying a major portion of their Invitational hopes – will their support and his effort get them to the top?

Kangbreath “the Unrelated” (16 IP, 19 SP)

I’m told that Kang has only actually played Rakano once and is not in any way a successor to Unearthly, therefore my previous narrative was a load of bunk. I am told he’s known for playing Praxis day in and day out, but he will need to branch out and find some other decks for this Conquest Invitational. Might I suggest Rakano?

trumpets “the Fanfare” (16 IP, 14 SP)

Okay, maybe I totally gave up on making my nicknames make sense. Trumpets had a disappointing Season Two Invitational and a single top 8 in Season Three. He’ll need to buckle down for the Invitational if he’s going to want to earn some points.

lv13david “the Bug Catcher” (15 IP, 7 SP)

David is one of the “classic” members of team Eternal Titans, which means he doesn’t play very much but does pretty well when he does play. He’s also a longtime Eternal player with a tragic history of pioneering Elysian Midrange. If he can select some of his other past decks instead, he is poised to do well.

thedamn “the Recruit” (15 IP, 2 SP)

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Teams, take note, we have a candidate! Another rookie making his Invitational debut, thedamn is rumored to be struggling with the Unified Conquest format… but no more than anybody else. If he can manage a good result here, there will be no doubt that a team will snap him up. Wish him luck!

theovermaster “the Surprise” (15 IP, 1 SP)

True story, when overmaster Top 8’d this season for the first time I looked back through my entire data set because I was sure that I had dropped an SP somewhere. Nope, that was really just his first Top 8. Congratulations are in order, as he’s moved on to his first Invitational, but we’re not sure who’s more surprised – us or him. Join us in wishing the overmemer luck and being unsurprising when he doesn’t read documentation.

DrPringles “the Doctor (is in)” (14 IP, 8 SP)

Rumors of DrPringles being a doctor in real life are unconfirmed, because I made them up and haven’t asked him, but we’re expecting more of his trademark surgical precision for this event. He tried to sneak in on tiebreakers last time and was lambasted to get a direct invite – well, here he is! Will this be his thesis or merely his residency?

flash2351 “the Angriest Player On OND (except for all the other ones)” (14 IP, 11 SP)

In public, flash keeps his cool. In private, however… he still keeps his cool, because Flash is a good guy. This section is not written to bring him down. With that piece of reverse psychology on the table, his defeat is assured. Like many OND members, flame makes him stronger while support and confidence only breeds nerves and hubris.

komodo “the Lookalike” (14 IP, 0 SP)

I would have called him “the Pointless” but I had a different joke in mind. komodo has spent the last year and a half slowly changing his nickname to look more like camat0s, to bask in their shared success. Personal success has been light to the ground for komodo, unfortunately, and he hasn’t played much either. Will he be able to imitate the real deal sufficiently to earn some points at the Invitational?

TonyGeeeee “the Frenchmen” (14 IP, 17 SP)

This section has been intentionally left blank.

Kroge “the Analyst” (13 IP, 7 SP)

Kroge did the numbers later and was actually mathematically locked for the Invitational despite not receiving a first wave invite, but hey, he won the LCQ as well. Points wise, he’s been pretty quiet since Season One, but now that he’s made the Invitational look for him to make some moves.

HiThar “the Returned” (0 IP, 0 SP)

A 2017 Worlds player, the Season Three LCQ was HiThar’s first event of 2018, and it is rumored to be his first games of Eternal of 2018 as well. He was known for Combrei, Combrei splash removal spells, and bad deck names. I don’t know if he’ll bring either of the first two but I’m certain we’ll see the third at the Invitational.

Kubi “the First Timer” (0 IP, 0 SP)

Another rookie, Kubi played in his second ever tournament on Sunday, winning and invite at the LCQ. The game has changed completely for the Invitational – will a player who just got his feet wet in one format be able to change gears to another?

There are also four players in tiebreakers for this event: BassoonBuffon, Gozuuu, manbearpig, and Nishava. However, due to me not writing tiebreaker writeups last time, they didn’t get writeups. Earn a direct invite next time!

Predictions

The real draw of this document – two RNGEternal members randomly guessing which players they think will make day two and Top 8. We’ve never had much success with this, but as always, these predictions are just for fun! There are 32 players at the Invitational, and 16 make day two, but we’ve chosen to pick Top 8 players rather than Top 16 to make it less of a coin flip. Players are listed in alphabetical order.

aReNGee’s Top 8 Predictions

  1. BruisedByGod – He won came third in a Conquest tournament last weekend, and he’s one of the best at piloting midrange through an unknown metagame. I expect big units.
  2. childroland – Still waiting for that two time Invitational Champion… the current leader in the Player of the Year race seems like my safest bet.
  3. Erik9099 – I’ve been impressed with his deckbuilding, piloting and tuning just from ladder play and his tournament outings looked good. He’s my pick for hotshot rookie of the season.
  4. Jez2718 – Aggro Control will rise again! Note: every deck is aggro control under this madman’s deck archetype naming scheme.
  5. Mouche – I’m just trying to correctly rate him.
  6. Pupicitus – Even if he gets stuck at second place yet again, that’s a pretty damn good finish.
  7. thedamn – You don’t get on a team by NOT making Top 8!
  8. theovermaster – The longest con comes to fruition and I’m certain we’ll have several more juicy quotes to add to Quotebot. It’s finally Watchwing Conscript’s time to shine!

Bradykin’s Respectful Top 8 Predictions

  1. BruisedByGod – BBG is a strong player, and I know he’s putting a lot of thought into his decks for the invitational (or I mean, I think he is, based on reading his discord posts). With his work and skill, I think he’s likely to make it far.
  2. childroland – Roland might be the player I respect most in Eternal. Outstanding person and player, good at thinking about the meta, and critically analyzing play. I don’t know what he’s going to play this weekend, but I’m sure it will be meta, boring, and very effective.
  3. Krizalio – I don’t know Krizalio very well, with my content being limited to facing him in various ETS’s. I was always impressed with him when across the table – it never felt like he would tilt or throw games when things aren’t going his way, and he seems like a strong player.
  4. Mouche – Mouche is a great deckbuilder, when someone else builds his powerbases. With this meta being right after a wave of nerfs, I expect some fun things from Mouche, that may prove very effective.
  5. Pupicitus – Same comments as Krizalio, with one additional note. I want to take this chance to publicly shame his username. It sounds like a terminal disease that only targets puppies, which is one of the saddest things possible, and he needs to change it.
  6. TonyGeeeee – I respect Tony a lot, and I think he’s had enough time to come to terms with armory not being what he pilots that he can tackle this meta. This one has nothing to do with him threatening (or bribing) me and was signed while not under duress. With respect, Bradykin
  7. lv13david – To be honest, I haven’t been following this season very closely, and I kind of ran out of reasons to choose people, other then my connection to them through SPG, and I was worried about accusations of favoritism. So I chose a name I’ve liked in the past, and would be happy to see do well again.
  8. Erik9099 – Well, since I’m just making it up at this point, let’s round out the list with a name I literally don’t recognize. Go Erik!