Netrunner: The Online Tournament Experience
So yesterday, starting at 17:00 Athens time (+2:00 GMT) I started playing in the Stimhack Store Champions Invitational which is a tournament that took place online, through Jinteki.net, and had players that were Store Champions in this season. You got free entry as long as you had won one Store Champion title, so with two on my back, I was invited too. This awesome tournament was organized by the ANRPC fellas with the top prize being 500$ that would take the winner to Worlds. The rest of the prizes for the people on the top 8 cut were also pretty awesome, so you can imagine, the stakes were high.
With store champions from all over the world, this was surely going to be one heck of a hard tournament. 7 rounds of swiss in order to get a chance at making the top 8 cut was just something extreme. This my good friends, was the first time I was taking part in an online card game tournament.
I have huge amounts of experience in competitive play in all kinds of video games with thousands of people watching me play WoW, Battlefield, Command & Conquer and Awesomenauts, but nope, this was freakin’ Netrunner. Shit was real. National Champions, amazing players from the US and other elite players were all gathered for that one tournament.
I honestly did not like the fact that we were playing with the old rules since the new FAQ/MWL has been announced but I understand that the tournament was organized before that was announced. I just don’t like living in the past and I like seeing how fast some people can adapt to change. I find that to be a very important skill so it’s a pity we didn’t get to see it much. The new cards also didn’t really help since it was kind of a mess with the old rules working with new cards. But oh well.
I am going to go through the tournament explaining the pros and cons that I felt it had, but first I want to say a huge thank you to the organizers and the players for making the tournament an amazing experience. The people I played against were:
(I don’t remember what they all played so just going to mention a few things)
Round 1 – Koichinakano
I was late to the game and I was finding trouble setting up that “slack” thingy so with this and that, I got a game loss for one of the games and then we played his NEH game. I got destroyed real fast, turned super salty and became a bit toxic early. I later realized this was just idiotic so I messaged him and apologized for my behaviour. He accepted my apology and from there on decided to take everything in a nicer and more relaxed way. Thanks for allowing me to play the 2nd game anyway Koichinakano!
Round 2 – Xdfubar
Round 3 – DojiTre
Round 4 – Lukifer
Round 5 – StephenBall
Round 6 – W0bbs
Round 7 – wiley
Everyone else was awesome! I honestly can’t remember specifically one by one, since it was a long day, but that’s the good part of it, not remembering which one game you had the most fun with means they were all fun.
So let’s get down to the analysis of the tournament itself as an experience.
- The tournament allowed for everyone to have a very competitive experience playing their favourite game. Don’t take me wrong on this, but there are tournaments where you might fall on some players that are just not as good or just don’t have that much knowledge of the game. They might still be really good players but not as good as the top people. So you realize that when you have the top players of various places around the world, you cannot have any games that you are not going to have work hard in order to score prestige points. If you lose games and drop to the bottom places, it is still very hard to win games, since everyone is a freakin champion there. Everyone has his/her playstyle and might surprise you with all sorts of things you won’t expect. I made tons of mistakes that did not go unpunished and actually cost me entire games (about 3-4 games like that). I loved that, I honestly did. I finished 49th place (out of 98) but as sure as hell learnt a lot. I also learnt that my decks can handle the “big boys” so that’s yet another good thing since they are entirely homebrew.
I may have drunk about 5 litres of cold ICE TEA today :|..
- The international experience is unlike any other. You get to play against people from literally anywhere around the world. I may have ended up playing against mostly US players, but it was still awesome, because I did not know any of them and they all had their own way of playing the game. It’s always awesome connecting with other people that love the game you love.
- Real big stakes. The prizes were not just a pretty mat and a bunch of acrylic tokens. It was real money, that was used for the worlds trip, so don’t take it the wrong way, let’s not start that conversation again. Even the extra stuff that the top 8 got, are all prestigious in their own way.
- Playing a tournament from your home is awesome because you can get any drink or food you want inbetween rounds. You can relax and check out your facebook while playing a match if you feel like it or listen to your own cool music without feeling unsociable. I think I listened through at least 4 different playlists, starting with some upbeat funk and then fading into slow-jazz and ambient post-rock. I gotta say that music really helps with the whole thematic Netrunner experience.
- As awesome as having an online tournament may sound, Android: Netrunner for me is a tabletop experience and I really felt the difference with this tournament. I made so many stupid mistakes that I just know, that even tired, I wouldn’t make if we were playing tabletop. Not just that though, it was just not the same experience. I like seeing my opponent. I like laughing with him, getting pissed at him for being cocky IRL or generally making banter. It is a game for me and I just did not feel it that way through the computer. Also, PSI games are 10 times harder for me through the computer. I lose at least 50-60% more PSI games than I usually lose. Not saying I am an expert at them, but generally, the ones where I had to assess the situation, it was too hard to tell. I wasn’t able to see my opponent and try to understand him/her.
- People behind computers are jerks. I felt like a huge scumbag when I became salty in the 1st round of the tournament but thankfully I realized it fast and cut out that attitude fast. That does not go for others though too. People find it very easy to say things when there is a screen in front of them and they really “shine” in online social happenings like streamed tournaments. I do understand that the humour is different from country to another, but slacking some other guy for doing bad and saying his decks are shit or bad is straight up unsportsmanlike for me. I treat this as any other tournament and I am honestly sad that he was not DQ’ed for saying those things. I don’t like saying names so I won’t say any names, but that one guy was in the top 8 and he is by far one of the worst people I’ve met in online Netrunner. People came out to say that “he is an awesome guy IRL” and that you have to meet him in order to understand him. I honestly could not give a fuck, since when I personally go to tournaments, I expect people to respect me and the others and not go out on a public chat and start trash-talking someone. I may have played or done shit, but coming out and showing off how well you are doing and talking shit about my decks is the worst thing you could do. No respect for you sir, not online or offline. I don’t care how well you know him, but this was straight up wrong and bad.
- This gives birth to another problem. Just because you all “know each other” doesn’t mean in any case that you can say whatever you want just because your mates will back you up saying you are a nice guy. I am very dissapointed by this. Laughter and banter is not how it should be dealt with. I came to have fun and chat on the stream when not playing but it felt really shit at times. I hate NBN but at least I was talking about NBN, not other people. I may have said something extra, but that was after that guy pissed me off.
I was more excited than I’ve ever been in my life when I magically beat two NEHs with Andy! :O
- It’s a computer. It is will tire you, it will exhaust you and it will give you a headache. You are not holding cards and you are generally not really interacting with the game. For that reason, I am not very sure if I will join another online tournament since despite all the awesome pros, I don’t think I have the stamine to go through something like this again. As I said, despite my competitive experience, this felt 10 times more tiring than a normal all-day Nationals.
- I don’t want to say “people don’t see it as a game anymore,” so I am just going to say that it is just the way I felt it at times. It didn’t feel like the good ole Netrunner, but a very serious super-try-hard online game that a bunch of try-hards were playing. We got a bunch of awesome players that are very interesting characters and even though I get to see that in every damn premier tournament I play or organize, I did not feel that the least bit during this online tournament because, well, I just see the cards on my screen and a name doing stuff.
- Timing was great from the organizers, kudos to them for that, but the tournament did last very long. Much longer than it would if it was IRL. I think it just felt like that because of the tiring screen-staring. So if you are not into staring at a screen for 8-9 hours, then don’t do it.
As you can see there are a lot of amazing pros and a bunch of terrible cons, but I think it is up to you in the end of the day to decide if it is for you. I suggest you do try it out, since you cannot really know unless you try it out yourself. If you are a competitive player, you cannot not have tried jinteki.net and joining a tournament is yet another awesome step you should take.
I personally do not think I will be trying it again as it is not my cup of tea. I love fast games on jinteki.net in order to see various comboes and what-not but playing a tournament was a bit too much. I’m more of a rogue player myself so I feel there’s no point in doing it that much unless it is for practice against certain deck archetypes. Generally though, practice makes perfect, and playing against amazing players from around the world, helps a ton.
Thank you once again to both organizers and players since I had an amazing time despite all the bad shenanigans! Awesome chat too at times with all the funky people I don’t get to talk with that often. Shoutout to Lander for making 9th place and ma boy Fabregus for pulling that amazing win against that new NBN shizzle.
Hey, 49th place, right in the middle! About time I got knocked off my high pole right? See you all at Nationals!
-Constantine “Kelfecil” Christakis