I had fully intended to pause Trail Stories and pick it back up by interviewing the winner of the Eternal World Championships. I told myself I would only spur it back up early if I was presented with something magical. Then, like Mana from Heaven and after 5 months of originally asking, johnkkez reached out to me to get an actual profile up before the big day. How could I turn this down? Well, spoilers, I couldn’t… so here we are!

AGE – 26
– Ripley, OH
No team currently, not opposed to joining I am just busy with work.
– 2nd in the winter crown, but before that I would have to say being in the top 25(16th if I recall correctly) in ranked with big elysian back when you had the option to play big Combrei or elysian to stand a chance.
– I’ve been playing since a few months after the release of the game and I haven’t dropped it since.
– I am strictly a pilot with the exception of some fine tuning of maybe 1 card in the deck or market.
– Originally I was almost strictly a Stonescar or mono Fire player for the longest time to spite everyone playing Icaria, until I began hitting Icaria combos and now my favorite plays are a mid/late game FJS or FJP type Icaria deck
– Icaria, the Liberator
– Whether or not it has been played in the meta recently, I have always disliked Crystalline Chalice with a passion.
– A game mode where the cards have their strongest forms present before major buffs weakened them and just let people hit crazy combos and sees whose is better.
– “Catch as catch can.” by whatever means or in any way possible win in this context
– I really enjoy MMA and grappling, so I would like a card something like this:

MantidMan – Out of the blue, five months later, but you could not have gotten back to me at a better time! Johnkkez, runner up in the Winter Crown back almost 5 months ago and one of the first to Qualify for a slot in the official Eternal World Championship! Man, I cannot tell you how happy I was to hear from you leading into this weekend. Before we talk about all things Eternal, we all want to know a bit about you. Can you break it down for us? Who is Johnkkez away from the Eternal community, how did you get into card games? And, of course, what brought you to Eternal?

Johnkkez – Away from the eternal community I am a 15N avionics repairman in the US Army for the Kentucky national guard. When I’m not working for the guard, I am an avid gamer and a student of MMA. Typically, I’m playing games with friends or hitting friends in the gym. Another way to pass the time during the grind is to throw on some anime. All of those things keep me in the right state of mind. My first experience with card games was with Yugioh when the show debuted in America. Long after I lost interest in that my coach introduced me into magic and I was hooked playing with competitive matches with my friends. The same person who introduced me to MTG also had caught wind of Eternal and told me to give it a shot. Seeing as in game gold allows you to earn cards in forge and draft it’s a much cheaper alternative to MTG and I was hooked on the grind of getting new cards and climbing the ranks to masters.

MantidMan – Not only have you climbed into Masters (I am assuming multiple times by now), but you have ascended the ranks in the competitive scene as well, you are one of the few people who has actually turned a profit from the game. Did you ever watch or play in any of the community tournaments? What has been the biggest contributor to your success, so far, in the Eternal tournament scene?

Johnkkez – I have only missed Masters one time since I started playing and it was my first month into the game. I think that goes to show how quickly you can become competitive in the game. I have bought the first campaign and event entries, but other than that I am a free to play player earning season Gold in the Gauntlet.

Prior to the tournament scene working together with DWD I had competed in one open entry and a sealed tournament where I didn’t do the best, but it was fun and it was a learning experience that shows there are a bunch of top notch players. The biggest contributor to my success has definitely been the ability to play with multiple decks allowing me to recognize  how they work and what they are strong and weak against and to utilize that to my advantage when playing against them.

MantidMan – A lot of people think you have to be a builder, a tuner, and an excellent pilot to make it as far as you have, but you have said that you are only one of those things: a pilot. Do you have any favorite deck builders that you like to look to? And what would you say to people who think that they cannot be competitive if they cannot come up with these ideas themselves, as it has not held you back in the slightest?

Johnkkez – Usually I keep an eye on the hot list of Eternal Warcry and also the results of weekly tournaments to get a feel for where the META is at and go from there. Off the top of my head, two names that usually stick out when I see decks, I might like would be LightsOutAce and IlyaK1986. To the people worried about being original to win, I say that if you’re playing a deck that is out there and known you have pros/cons. For one it is tested, and you already have an idea of how it works, but on the opposite end so does your opponent. Knowing the plays of the game is definitely key to winning, you have to think ahead and think what can happen when you play something. That’s very cliché, but it’s exactly what I did during my qualifier run. I saw the weeks leading up to the tournament flooded with Hooru type decks with the release of new cards and I played a hard counter to that style of deck knowing I would have more suitable opponents than I would disadvantages. I was right and I am now competing in Worlds. Know the META and you can be successful with or without using it.

MantidMan – This is a great opportunity to talk about how all of that above has changed in the last 5 months. When you competed in the Winter Crown event, the game was in a very different state. There was no Icaria, there was no Praxis Pledge, hell, it was a different landscape all together. How has the quick evolution between then and now affected how you play? How has it affected your ability to stay in tune with the competitive scene and prepare for Worlds?

Johnkkez – I couldn’t describe it better myself, the game in that time added more crazy meme decks, more infinite combos, turn 3 Sword of the Sky King, and the list goes on. At the end of the day I just played multiple decks until I would streak with one then ride that to the next rank switching 3-4 times sometimes by the time I would get to masters. As far as preparing for Worlds, I am expecting to see meta decks and new decks so instead of picking a hard counter to one style I did what I think others may have done and I am taking a more conservative approach this time and playing a deck that can compete with multiple styles. In doing so there will be situations where there won’t be a clear-cut winner until the very end of the match, but if I can have a 50/50 chance of winning in a game of top decking then let’s flip. When you play with the best people in the world it’s okay to get lucky.

Also, on an earlier note anime is a huge part of the grinding regiment, put some binge worthy shows on and play/watch all day

MantidMan – So, I’m not calling you the best in the world… yet. But you have a claim to that Throne. Regardless of what happens next, what is the next step for you? What do you hope to see from the game in the coming months leading to 2020 and beyond?

Johnkkez – The next step for me would be to continue competing in the game. If you’re not competing you don’t know what’s out there.  When I am back stateside, I would love to start streaming and making tutorial videos to spread awareness of the game and stay relevant.  I always enjoy seeing new cards and tribes work together. That being said, I would love to see a new race of cards brought in that played off of each other.

MantidMan – A new video series from one of the best in the world?! Color me interested! And, I love the idea of getting more tribes, I have a feeling the next set will refine some tribal mechanics myself.

While we are on the subject of things we would want I want to look into a crystal ball for a moment. If you manage to take down the World Championship, there is a good chance that you will get to shake hands with some big names at DWD. When you have them so close and their full attention, what do you think you might want to talk about? If you could talk to the development team about a few things, what would they be?

Johnkkez – The amount of content put out with the new sets and campaigns has definitely been the main reason the game has stayed fresh and kept me interested. If I were to win and have conversations with them, I’d like to pick their brains about plot development as well as card development. I know everything is a lot of trial and error with decks, but maybe talking with them about balancing cards could help me become more than a pilot and better overall player. Hearing about personal experiences also interests me, they are successful in an industry that I love. Being able to have a career in something you enjoy is the dream, any tips along the way from people already there would be great!

MantidMan – We share a lot of the same interests, it seems. But there is something beyond interest that is even more important to me, and that is passion. This last question seems to trip some people up, yet others thrive and spill themselves on a page. What is your passion in life? Something you could talk endlessly about and never get bored? I would love to know, and I know plenty of our readers would as well.

Johnkkez – Career wise I haven’t found a passionate job yet other than to support hobbies and other living expenses. I am passionate about fighting and gaming, I intend to give it a shot to make it to where I can call one of those things my career. I won’t know unless I try, but the one thing that ties both fighting and gaming together is the spirit of competition. I am very competitive and that drives my passions.

MantidMan – Johnkkez, you have been a great guest and I wish you a ton of luck this weekend (unless you go up against my teammate Popotito). If there is anything you want to say in closing, now is the time. I look forward to cheering for you in most, if not all of your matches, over the course of the weekend!

Johnkkez – Thank you for having me, of course you have to root for the squad. Best case scenario we rematch for the Throne!

In closing I’d like to thank DWD for developing the game and I hope it continues to grow and gain awareness. I’ll continue to do my part to put the game out there!

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