This is a guest article by DarkestHour, submitted to Team Rankstar.

Greetings, fellow Scions, and welcome to the first of my bi-weekly column where I harass notable Eternal Community members and make them answer my questions. My name is DarkestHour, and without further ado, let’s jump right into a conversation I’ve had with one of, if not the, best players in the game right now, Erik9099. Hailing from Vancouver, Canada, Erik speaks 4 languages! (English, Portuguese, Spanish and French), and is currently in Brazil on vacation. Despite him being on holiday, he participated in and made it to the Top 8 of ECQ: Promises by Firelight, piloting Spells Skycrag.

His other achievements include:
2019 Eternal World Championship Top 8
ECQ Showdown: Ranked Masters Challenge 2019 1st Place
Eternal Tournament Series Community Championship 1st Place
Eternal Tournament Series Community Worlds 2nd Place
3-Time Eternal Championship Qualifier Top 64s (T8, T16, T32)
Multiple End of Chapter Ranked 1 Finishes

Erik9099 discovered Eternal through a stream by one of the game’s designers, Luis Scott-Vargas, or LSV. He used to play Magic: the Gathering from Theros to Oath of the Gatewatch, and was particularly entranced by the game’s Draft Format, eventually signing up for Eternal to draft more often. Eventually, he started playing and found himself enjoying the Ranked format, and the rest was history.

DarkestHour: How did you go from being new to the game to competing at its highest levels of play?

Erik9099: I remember watching Sir_Rhino’s stream a lot and I spiked a Top 64 finish with Kenna-Grenadins in an ECQ that really got me going.

DH: What is one piece of advice you would give to someone looking to get into Competitive Eternal?

E: Always be trying to improve your play. In every game, analyse your decisions and see if there was something you could have done better, and there usually is. I think I lost about 5% of my games to my own misplays.

DH: Is there anything specific you do in preparation for a tournament? How much practice do you usually get in a week and what are your playing habits like?

E: I prepare for tournaments like everyone else; extensive tweaking, tinkering, testing and tuning. I hang out in a lot of Eternal Discord servers, so I get a lot of information about what other players and teams are playing with. Of course, my teammates are incredibly helpful as well – The Barbarian Camp (TBC) works super well together from theory-crafting, gathering information, testing to just giving generic helpful advice. The emotional support that a team gives you is extremely valuable; it’s so important to have people around to cheer you up after an unfortunate loss. I don’t really keep track of exactly how much I play per week, but I can tell you that it’s not a small amount of hours. I also spend a lot of time chatting on Discord, as well as building and tuning decks in my head. I usually only do formalized testing a week or two before a tournament – I’ll test maybe 2 times per week at that point. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but you really do get a lot of information from testing on ladder – I find formalized testing is mostly only useful for learning matchups and tuning. A deck needs to be consistently successful on ladder for me to consider it.

DH: You talk about your team in your previous reply, as the new kids on the block; can you tell us more about your team?

E: So, my team is The Barbarian Camp. We’re a newly founded team, founded by DarkestHour (who is actually not part of the team). I think we’re one of the best Eternal teams out there, with several Worlds Competitors and Top-Tier players. We also work extremely well together, sharing and discussing ideas and just having generally a good time. Shout-outs to Nrausch1, Team Leader, who is a super cool dude, great streamer and a very good player, CrankyPanda, an incredible Control-archetype Deck Builder, who I work extremely well with. Cranky builds the deck, I help him tune it and we have an instant Tier 1 Control deck. Also GT100, one of the nicest persons in the community, he is always happy to theory-craft and test, and also gathers lots of information from hanging out in streams. He’s a great player in his own right – likely one of the Top 3 Scrappy-Hour players out there. Lastly, MGallop is our resident Draft Expert and one of the Top 3 Draft players; don’t let that distract you though, he’s also an incredibly strong Constructed player, one of the Top 3 Reanimator players. In conclusion, all of our players are very talented and successful.

DH: On the topic of Worlds, bulk of The Barbarian Camp participated in Worlds last year; what are your personal goals with relations to Organized Play this year?

E: Well, I’m obviously aiming to qualify for this year’s Worlds too. Unfortunately, the qualifying system is still very luck-dependent; consistent performance is not rewarded very much and you need to spike a tournament to make it into Worlds. Hence, I’m not actually too hung up on qualifying, I’ll try my best and hope to get there.

DH: What decks would you bring if there’s a tournament tomorrow in both Expedition and Throne?

E: I would bring Argenport Control for Expedition, and am undecided between Fire-Time-Justice and Spells-Skycrag for Throne. I think that FTJ is overall more consistent and has better matchups against the other top decks. However, I would need to do some testing to ensure that the Reanimator, Fire-Justice-Shadow, and Rakano Valkyries matchups are as favoured as I think they are. Assuming these 3 matchups truly are favoured, then I’d be happy taking FTJ; if one of them is not, then I’d default to Skycrag. Spells Skycrag doesn’t like playing against Icaria, the Liberator, or Reanimator, but the raw power level of the deck is just through the roof. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun to play. As for Expedition, I really haven’t done much preparation there. I think Shadow Control decks are the best decks, and I think that Argenport is the best Shadow Control deck.

DH: How involved are you in the Eternal Community? Are there any people players should pay attention to and keep an eye out for strategy and content?

E: I’m very involved in the community on Discord, I hang out a lot in the Dire Wolf Gaming channel and I’m a moderator of the Friends of Eternal Discord server. I think that the Friends of Eternal Discord is an incredible resource for new and veteran players alike – there are always players theory-crafting and chatting, and many of the lists posted there are really quite strong. You can also discuss keeps and mulligans, gameplay and general tournament strategy, among other things. Best of all, the server is full of friendly and helpful people. They are a really nice bunch of people, and are fairly successful in tournament play too. As for specific people to get strategy advice from, I recommend checking out y0ttabyte and Nrausch1, both TBC streamers. Watching streams is a great way to improve your game.

D: What do you think about the road to Worlds 2020?

E: I like some things about the road to Worlds 2020; unlike some people, I’m a big fan of the Expedition Melee and Throne Duels events, and I also like that Ladder Rankings actually matter now. I also appreciate that Dire Wolf Digital seems to be listening to the community more. One good example of this is them releasing a schedule of their tournaments well in advance – this is something they failed to do in the past, people complained and it seems like they listened. Of course, there are some issues as well; I think that with Ladder Rankings mattering now, DWD really needs to provide some more information on how MMR is calculated. As is, nobody really knows how the ranking system works, and there’s a strong incentive to camp your rank instead of playing. Incentivizing players to not play on the ladder is a fairly large problem in my opinion, and one that I hope DWD fixes in the near future. Additionally, as I’ve alluded above, I dislike how luck-based the Worlds qualification can be. I would like to see some more rewards for consistent performance, as well as some changes to the tournament structure (Best-Of 5, instead of Best-Of 3) to make it more skill-intensive. All-in-all, I am actually fairly satisfied with 2020 Worlds. It’s not perfect, but it seems that DWD has learned some lessons from 2019, and hopefully they will continue to improve and fix the remaining flaws in their system.

D: Alright, thanks Erik9099 for the small interview, and I wish you all the best in your endeavors in 2020, in Eternal and otherwise. Is there anything else you would like to add, or people that you would like to give a shout-out to? Where can people follow you and your team on Social Media?

E: I’d like to shout-out DarkestHour, both for founding TBC and this interview. He’s just a cool guy in general. You can find y0ttabyte and Nrausch1 on Twitch, as well as on Twitter, and the TBC Twitter is @TBC_ECG. The best place to contact me is on the Dire Wolf Gaming Discord! 😀

Interview done by DarkestHour, with Erik9099 on 18 December 2019 UTC+8

@DarkestHourr on Twitter, DorkestOwl on Twitch

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