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Power Rankings: GiantSlayerLoR's Top 32 Players for Beyond the Bandlewood

Hello everyone and welcome back to the most wonderful time of the Season.! That’s right, we’re here with the Beyond the Bandlewood Seasonal tournament power rankings. I am Blevins and I’ll be walking you through the qualified players for the Americas region. This list is somewhat subjective, and there are many new faces here that we as a competitive community are getting to see on the big stage for the first time.  As always, if I missed something or don’t like the order, fight me on Twitter.  With that, lets dive on in!

32. underl1ght 

The list has to start somewhere, but I don’t look at number 32 as a negative. Rather, it’s generally someone who hasn’t played in a ton of tournaments and therefore isn’t on my radar as much. Underlight is one such person. The next thing I’ll look for is what type of competitive experience the person has coming into the event. Underlight said that they don’t really have any. What is quite interesting is that both he and his friend in EU told each other that they would go 8-1. That in and of itself isn’t that interesting, but what is interesting is that they both did! You have to love when friends encourage each other and it ends up working out. I just wonder if they told each other that they were going to win the entire tournament!

31. Hobs

Hobs comes in as another player who claims to have no competitive experience. I’m a little bit doubtful of that or at least he might just be modest.  Hobs comes from the world of not just Hearthstone, but Hearthstone arenas. Arena in Hearthstone is something quite close to what Expeditions are in LoR. He has hit #1 on the Arena ranking a few times, and as someone who has played a good amount of Arena in the past, that is quite the feat. Many who know me know that I am a lover of limited formats (formats like Draft or Sealed in MtG or Expeditions in LoR) and I personally believe that those formats are some of the most skill testing in any game. Being able to join an event with limited information about what cards you’ll have access to and building a deck on the fly really just flexes all of the muscles of a card game. Despite what Hobs says about himself not being competitive, I would certainly keep an eye on him this Saturday.

30. Ociti

We continue on the list with another play who doesn’t have a ton of competitive experience. He did mention that he won a Reddit tournament for Plans Vs. Zombies Heroes, but it wasn’t that competitive of a tournament. Regardless, I will say that the game is actually quite skillful. I played the game a decent amount when it originally released a few years ago, and enjoyed it enough, it just had too many elements of monetization that turned me away. Outside of that, the game itself is quite good, and I would imagine someone who won any kind of tournament for that game, even if it wasn’t the most competitive, is relatively competent at card games. Not to mention that that he’s made it to the Top 32 already which is a feat in and of itself. He also mentions that he doesn’t have a ton of time to play LoR, so he picked decks that he was comfortable with on ladder. That certainly speaks to his native play skill, but we’ll have to wait until Saturday to see how far that can take him.

29. Chunkzer

The next player on the list here is Chunkzer from Mexico. One common theme that I like to highlight in these articles is the different games that players come from before having competed in LoR. We’ve seen a variety of games represented from Chess masters, to EVO Fighting Game champions and multiple MTG Pro Tour Hall of Famers. Chunkzer’s competitive pedigree is in the fighting game Marvel vs. Capcom 3. This specific game is interesting to me because in a way it’ a lot like competitive LoR. You build your lineup of 3 characters to fight with and not only do you have to be skilled with each character, you also have to understand how each covers the other and how you can benefit from the synergies between them.  Oftentimes you can’t just choose ‘the best 3’ in either game and have much success. In both games, players are rewarded for putting effort into their lineup building, and I’m personally very curious if that MVC3 experience painted his decision making in LoR.

28. Pasquale 

Every once in a while we get a player survey like the one from Pasquale. I don’t know how to make heads or tails of it to be completely honest. We send out the same questions to all of the players every Seasonal, and the players are free to answer those questions however they see fit. What I’m referring to here is Pasquale’s responses being what I believe to be a bit tongue in cheek. As much credit as I give “Recess Football” for competitive experience, I don’t know exactly how much I should be reading into that. I will definitely be reading deeper into his professed love of Pitbull the artist… ok maybe not. I do truly love getting these player responses in every once in a while (I realize the ripple effect that posting this might have). Are the players trying to be funny? Do they just want to keep their strategies close to the chest? Is it something else entirely? I honestly have no idea, but I am excited to see this Saturday.

27. Syxton

Syxton is the first of a few players in our Top 32 to come from a background of chess. He mentions that he really only played it when he was young and didn’t mention any specific level of competition. Regardless, chess is a great game to build a base off of because there is such an element of strategy involved in chess. I believe this to be particularly relevant for Syxton because of his declared preferred strategy being combo. Combo decks in general really need to plan out multiple turns in advance as well as having the macro strategy in mind from the beginning. Chess is a game that naturally teaches you those fundamentals, and I imagine that helps a ton when playing combo. What doesn’t help is that he describes himself and an overly aggressive player, but sometimes in a small sample size like a Seasonal tournament, having that bit of aggression can work out.

26. B1tter

 Bitter is one of the only players who made it to the Top 32 who brought Thralls to the Swiss rounds.  We did see a handful of players bring the Thralls deck, most of whom were in the school of CameronHanzo and paired it with the Thresh Viego deck. The deck is definitely strong, but you’d really be stretching to call that deck a meta call.  Bitter even admits that the deck was chosen because he’s comfortable with it rather than it being a strong meta call.  The same goes for Lee Sin, though that deck really performed well in the Swiss rounds. He did make the concession that Draven Sion was a top deck and therefore brought it, but the majority of his lineup were comfort picks.  We’ve definitely seen both ends of the spectrum perform well, and in this case at least one of the comfort picks is a top meta deck.  I can’t wait to see if Bitter decides to run back the Thralls deck this Saturday.

25. Nanaki

I generally don’t focus too much on age when doing the power rankings. I bring it up here only to point out the range of players at the top of card games in general. Nanaki is 10 years older than the next oldest player in the field of 32, and is 22 years older than the youngest competitor. Unlike traditional sports or even more dexterity-based esports, card games really have no age bound in terms of who can do well. Nanaki comes from the world MTG which we know has a proven record of success in LoR. I will also note that players that come from a certain era of MTG (like myself) came up learning differently than people who learn MTG or even other card games digitally. There’s a lot more of an element of mind games that’s inherently present when you’re used to playing in person, and while you can’t see your opponent sitting across from you, the mind game plays can still happen.  I’m very excited to see how much difference multiple decades can make to a players play patterns and tendencies.

24. Paradigmz

Paradigmz is another player who doesn’t have a ton of competitive experience.  In fact, he doesn’t have a ton of experience in LoR at all compared to many top players.  He mentioned that he played a good amount during the beta, but left the game until the Beyond the Bandlewood expansion. It’s actually this very fact that has me intrigued.  I’ve talked about natural skill vs. preparation earlier, but in Paradigmz's case, it’s almost entirely raw skill that is on display here.  I’ve known a few players of various games that are just naturally good at games, and it’s always a treat to see those types of players compete at high levels. The game is in such a different spot from when it was in beta, so it really is just an inherent understanding of the game at a level that we rarely get to see. Sometimes these players burn out and never make it anywhere in these types of events, but we’re here in the Top 32 already, so all bets are off for Paradigmz.

23. Pixer

Pixer has a great story in LoR.  He has been playing the game since the beta and specifically has wanted to represent LATAM at the highest level in the Seasonal. Unfortunately for him, he’s missed the boat by one game for the past two Seasonals.  The Swiss rounds are a slog for any player, but being one win away twice in a row can be downright devastating if you’re not really focusing on your mental.  Pixer, however, has taken the losses in stride and instead of crumbling under pressure is now “more ready than ever” to compete in the Seasonal.  Pixer knows better than most that a shot in the Top 32 may not happen again, so I have no doubt in my mind that he will be making the most of this opportunity.

22. MJKass

MJKass is a man after my own heart. He comes from a high-level YuGiOh background which we’ve seen many top players come from.  He mentions that he qualifies for WCQs consistently and has been moving more into LoR and Flesh and Blood.  Many who know me know I’ve been playing FaB quite a bit lately, and it’s a game that definitely has a lot of similarities to other card games like LoR while also having many unique mechanics.  In having played it over the past few months, I’ve felt myself actually understanding LoR more and coming at the strategy from a different perspective. My bias is certainly showing, but even outside of that, playing different but somewhat similar games at the same time at a high level definitely has a positive impact on many players that we’ve seen in the Seasonals prior.

21. Rickdigas

Rickdigas definitely kept his responses to the player survey close to the chest.  There really wasn’t much to work with, but honestly, that’s OK.  The players have no real obligation to fill them out fully or even at all besides some basic registration information to actually get into the event.  One thing that sticks out to me is the response that he gave regarding the deck choices.  He, like some others in the Top 32, brought decks that he’s comfortable with.  He even went a step further in saying that he’s avoiding meta decks altogether.  This is of course a bold choice as many of the top decks have really proven themselves already, but you also likely have at least somewhat of an advantage in a small field.  You know what your opponents are likely to bring, but if you go off-meta, your opponents won’t have that same luxury for you.  I would definitely keep an eye out for what Rickdigas brings to the Top 32.

20-17. Team FNX: Dudu de Nunu, FNX Paimera, FNX m14, and Wasrusso 

Every Seasonal I bring up two things without fail.  The first is that Brazil is one of if not the strongest LoR regions in the world. The second is that players who have teams backing them have a big advantage when it comes to high-level LoR.  Having the ability to not only test games at a high level, but test entire lineups and strategies is just invaluable.  There’s really only so much you can do on the ladder even if you’re playing against top players all the time.  This Seasonal we have an unprecedented 4 players from team FNX making the Seasonal top cut.  All of these players are amazing in their own right, which only adds to the power of this team. If players want to push to the next level like many have already, I would wager that super teams like FNX will continue to pop up and consolidate, especially if these teams are putting 4 players into the Top 32.

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16. Prodigy

After reading Prodigy’s player responses, I think that his name is a bit on the nose.  He has had top finishes at National Chess championships, played collegiate Hearthstone and has even managed to win against top players in that scene.  I feel like I can barely begin to comprehend what it takes to be at that level in Chess, but what I do know is that it is certainly a massive feat. I am a bit more personally aware of what it takes to do well in a Hearthstone tournament, but the management side to me is really the gem in this bag of impressive accomplishments.  It’s one thing to be at the top of a game yourself, but it really requires something truly special to be able to work with and manage someone else to a top level. Having been at the top levels himself in multiple games, and having gotten others to that level as well really gives me high hopes for what Prodigy can do in the Top 32.

15. SPARTANENZO

Many players like to play a little risky or even reckless.  It’s a playstyle choice that tends not to work when in a larger field, but can definitely pop off when you have a smaller field like the Seasonal.  In Spartanenzo’s case, they are definitely not one of those players.  He wants to play as consistent of a game as possible with decks that he’s comfortable with.  He knows with the long rounds he wants to keep his head clear, so he’s bringing decks that he’s very comfortable with so there’s not much extra mental stress added each round.  He also focuses solely on LoR, so there are even fewer distractions mentally than some of the other players in the Top 32 who play multiple games.  When you’re confident in your gameplan and ability to execute it, you want to control as many factors as you can, and Spartanenzo seems like he’s done just that.

14. 1kurone

1kurone is another player on the list that has played other games at the highest level. He has competed in Pokemon Worlds multiple times, so he’s definitely not new to playing on the big stage.  He notes that one of his favorite things about Pokemon tournaments was the fact that he got to travel to the US (he’s from Argentina).  I will say that traveling for events is another level of fun and excitement that we don’t quite have in LoR yet. Despite having a lot of competitive experience, he mentions that a lot of times he will get tournament anxiety because he generally plays aggro decks and the time between the rounds does not help him focus.  Tournament management itself is a very important factor to events like this, and even though 1kurone claims to be worn down by these types of tournaments, he definitely does have a lot of experience in the scene.  We’ll have to see how he fares in the Top 32 despite the potential tournament anxiety.

13. Storm 

Storm is a player that we’ve seen a decent amount of in the LoR competitive scene for a while now.  That’s not a particularly interesting note inherently, but what makes it interesting to me is the fact that Storm is in Australia.  For whatever reason, OCE players are lumped into the Americas Seasonal which makes the start and/or end times for the event very weird.  If I recall correctly, Storm’s Swiss rounds started somewhere around 3 am which is either very late or very early depending on when he got his sleep in.  Either way, it’s impressive not only that he made it this far, but rather that he wants to.  There are very few events that I’m getting up at 3 am for, so that dedication really speaks to the type of competitor that Storm is.  If you’re going to get up that early for an event, you might as well win it!

12. Flock

Flock is another player that we’ve seen many times before in the competitive scene.  He has firmly planted his flag in the ground as a disciple of Moe.  While perhaps he’s not fully embracing Moe and everything about him, Flock is making one thing clear: he’s playing aggro decks.  This is a strategy that we’ve seen time and time again in the Seasonals as well as other card games.  You never really want to be at the mercy of the clock, so what better way to make sure that doesn’t happen than by ending the game relatively quickly.  We saw it work wonders for Moe last season, and he really showed himself to be dominant in that field.  The meta is certainly different now than it was last season.  We really didn’t see too many triple aggro lineups make it to the Top 32, and even the aggro master himself, Moe, didn’t make it into the Top 32 this time. I am very interested to see what Flock decides to take because there definitely are aggro decks to be played in the meta.  It’s more of a question of how he puts the full lineup together and how that lines up against the rest of the meta.

11. TippyTipz 

I’m beginning to sound like a broken record (and will continue to for the rest of these players), but TippyTipz is a player that followers of the competitive scene should be very familiar with.  Not only did Tippy qualify for the last Seasonal, but he also qualified for Worlds that was a few weeks ago. He’s been high rank on ladder, and to be completely honest, has done many of the impressive feats in LoR.  One feat he has not accomplished is becoming a Seasonal Champion.  Tippy talks about wanting to be well rounded and a Jack of all trades, but the playoffs this time around will really be the test of whether or not that strategy will really pay off.

10. Seku

We are now entering the Top 10 for the power rankings and who better to kick off the Top 10 than a certified ringer in the competitive scene, Seku.  Seku has almost always been in the mix at the top tables of events as well as doing quite well on the ladder traditionally.  You also have to love his little cartoon avatar that’s sipping on what to me looks like a Tim Horton’s Iced Tea (I’m biased).  What bodes particularly well for Seku in this event is that his preferred deck type is Aggressive combo/ midrange.  I might actually consider calling this meta exactly that with the amount of midrange Bandle City decks or Draven Sion and the aggressive combo of Zoe Nami and even something like Lee Sin Zed.  A player like Seku can really shine in any meta, but when the decks that are the most powerful are already in his wheelhouse, he will be a force to be reckoned with in this event.

9.  Kochua 

I’m breaking my broken record habit here as Kochua was actually not someone I was particularly aware of in my travels across the competitive LoR scene.  Luckily, I have friends in the right places and my fellow caster and community member Boulevard gave me the low down on Kochua and personally vouched for him in the Top 10.  When Boulevard is giving someone else praise, you best listen.  First off, Kochua is friends with well-known top-level LoR player Sergi2Vamos and is also part of Team Aretuza.  This is because Kochua comes from Gwent, another game that has produced some of the best LoR players. Kochua basically started playing LoR in June, goes X-0 in a big Brazil tournament in July but ends up having to drop because he can’t play the second day.  The next big event he plays he gets 2nd in right after Beyond the Bandlewood drops. This Season is basically the first one that he has really played competitively, and he’s been floating in the top 20 on ladder consistently.  There really aren’t many other examples of a player coming in and showing such dominance with such little time on the game.  I can only imagine what he’s going to look like with more hours in LoR.

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8. Drisoth

When I saw that Drisoth qualified I immediately was very excited.  Not only because I’ve had him on my top players to watch for multiple Seasonals, but also because this really has been a long time coming.  At the same time, I was a bit sad because Drisoth traditionally writes the beat articles covering the open rounds and playoffs which he can no longer do when he’s actually playing in them!  No worries on that front though, as we now get to experience Mr. Big Brain himself on the big stage in LoR.  Drisoth is one of the most skilled technical players in all of LoR and also is a master of optimizing top strategies.  Most famously on both of these accounts, Drisoth piloted TF Fizz to great success many Seasons ago both while it was a top deck but even before its dominance. I’ve been following Drisoth’s path on the ladder this Season, and there have been quite a few different decks on the menu.  We saw 3 of them do well during the Swiss, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was something else brewed up for the Playoffs.

7. Glop

Many long time competitive LoR fans and GiantSlayer Fight Night watchers will certainly recognize Glop as one of the most dominant tournament players for quite some time.  Many folks who don’t come from that time will know Glop as that guy that comes out of nowhere and makes the Top 32 of almost every Seasonal.  For a time, Glop was not only competing in tons of tournaments but also streaming regularly.  Lately, he’s been focusing on school which lures me into a false sense of thinking that Glop isn’t an active player anymore.  This of course is always wrong, and in fact, it was so wrong that Glop actually went 8-0 in the Swiss.  Glop is just a monster when it comes to playing well, as when asked what his lineup came from for the Seasonal, he simply posted a screenshot of Swim’s tier list. I have no idea  how much additional testing or effort Glop has put in this past week, but I will say that it almost doesn’t matter.  Regardless of the circumstances, Glop is always a favorite to do well in an LoR tournament.

6. LuserBeam 

Luserbeam was another one of my Top Players to watch for the Swiss.  I listed him as a sleeper pick, though I openly admit that it was really a cop-out to list him as such.  Luser has been killing it in events recently and of course, the Swiss rounds are no exception.  Given his preferred type of deck, Combo, it really makes sense as to why he’s doing so well.  He also says that Lee Sin has been the top-performing card for him in the Swiss, and Lee honestly showed up in force in this Top 32.  Luser also had a very interesting tech lineup that included both Zoe Nami and Lee Sin.  This is achieved by running Zed in the Lee Sin decks so that the Zoe can go to Nami.  This is a slightly different variation that we saw multiple seasons ago as the accepted Lee Sin build before Zoe stole the show.  At the end of the day, the builds are similar enough that you’re really not losing a lot by running the Zed, and the power gained from running both Nami and Lee in the lineup has really paid off.  I wouldn’t be surprised if other players copy this lineup in the Top 32 as it’s one of the more innovative that we saw all event.

5. TheBlackBoss 

TheBlackBoss is a name that really should just be permanently on the mind of LoR players.  I’ve talked about him multiple times in these power rankings because he consistently makes the Top 32 and performs well in other events.  There really isn’t much more to be said about TheBlackBoss that hasn’t already been said, but I will reiterate one thing that really rings true to me.  In a region that is arguably the strongest LoR region in the world, Brazil, TheBlackBoss has been heralded as one of if not the best player in the entire region.  When you’re called the best of the best and you consistently reinforce that with tournament top cuts, what more can be said?

4. Nalkpas 

In a way, Nalkpas is kind of like a combination of my writeup of Glop and TheBlackBoss.  Nalkpas has consistently made Top 32s for quite some time and if I recall correctly he’s made 4 or 5 Top 32s which I believe is tied for the most in the Americas region.  He also has one of the most established competitive pedigrees that we see in LoR as he’s a massively successful MTG player and former dev.  What Nalkpas is also known for is not really competing in anything else LoR related.  He plays a good amount of ladder as I see him creeping from Top 50 into the higher ranks from time to time, but in terms of other tournaments, he really doesn’t play them.  If I don’t keep a close eye on the Ladder, I might think that Nalkpas isn’t going to play in the Seasonal for a Season.  At this point, I basically just pencil in his spot and continue on as there have been far more Seasonals with him included than not.

3. TomasZamo2000

TomasZamo is the 3rd of 5 players on my Top Players to watch list (a personal best for me!). I made the mistake of rating TomasZamo criminally low a few Seasonals ago, but I have learned from my mistakes.  He’s made the next two Seasonals after that mishap on my end, and I consider it now as a turning point for his competitive career. Me putting him so low on my list a few Seasonals was just the fire he needed put under him to start to really perform… Ok, I can’t really say that at all as he was already having a lot of tournament success including playing in Worlds and was consistently a top ladder player.  He has really achieved most of the accomplishments possible in LoR, but he hasn’t quite won a Seasonal title yet.  Perhaps for TomasZamo, the third time in a row is the charm.

2. jtamonda

This is a back-to-back Top 32 performance for Jtamonda.  He’s been at the top of the game for quite some time now, but recently he’s really been making a statement.  Back-to-back Top 32 placements as well as a recent GiantSlayer Fight Night win on top of being in the top 2-5 on ladder most of the season.  His accomplishments really speak for themselves, but what’s truly impressive is watching him play. Jtamonda is a master of playing to his outs and playing to win.  Jtamonda’s games are almost always worth a second watch through because you’ll be able to really marvel at the seemingly innocuous mid-game plays.  There was a game in a recent Fight Night where Jtamonda top decks lethal in a game where it really looked like he had no business winning.  If you go back and watch the match you will notice that every play for multiple turns is in the service of possibly topdecking a Get Excited.  The untrained eye says that he got lucky, but in reality, it was masterfully playing to the outs in a game that seemed like it was lost.  That is the type of play that leads to Seasonal Champions.

1. XxWhatAmIxX

To cap it all off we have our final spot on the list, WhatamI.  It should come as no surprise to anyone to see him on the list, as he has been one of the most consistent players in the world.  This is literally proven by the fact that he made it through World Qualifiers and to the final rounds of Worlds. If I recall correctly this is his 5th Top 32 appearance which at the very least puts him in rarified air in that regard.  The only thing that’s missing from the Trophy mantle of WhatAmI is that actual first-place Seasonal title.  People say that nobody remembers second place, or fourth or 6th or 27th, but I do.  When someone constantly makes the Top 32 over and over again, that almost means more to me than spiking a first place.  That being said, I know that WhatAmI is thirsty for that Seasonal Championship because with a first-place title there will be no question in my mind who the best is at this moment in time.

That’s it for the Top 32 Power Rankings for the Beyond the Bandlewood Seasonal tournament!  Be sure to watch the broadcast on Saturday to see just how right or wrong I was.

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