FFTCG Season 2023 is almost over and everyone is eagerly awaiting the World Championship in Japan! But even before that, there have been a lot of exciting tournaments after the long Covid break. The players were motivated and ready to go! Also we as a team FFTCG.org participated in numerous events and our newest member Tetrismelodie even won the German Materia Cup in Bochum and took part in the European Championship. Madredrs interviewed him extensively about his experiences and let Tetris spin a tale about his final impressions.
Madredrs: Hello Tetris, please introduce yourself a little to our readers.
Tetrismelodie: Ahoy, my name is Florian, though most will probably know me more as Tetris(melodie). I've been playing the game since Opus IV and somehow I managed to become part of both FFTCG.org and Limit Break Berlin. I also like dumplings.
M: How did you get into FFTCG and what were your first experiences with TCGs in general?
T: Through my girlfriend. Just before I started, I used to see the cards at Gamestop. I was always tempted to get them, but never really got around to it because I didn't know if I was really going to stick with it. In the end, my girlfriend gave me the FFXIII Opus I starter deck for Christmas back in 2017. In retrospect, quite funny, because it has the same elements as my Materia Cup deck. But I knew I couldn't play it on my own, so I went out and bought the FFVII Opus I Starter Deck as soon as the stores were open again after Christmas, being an absolute Cloud fanboy. And at home I played my first match with my girlfriend. Classic unsleeved, without a mat on the floor in her room. I don't really remember the match itself, but I remember that I was really excited. However, I do remember my first win in a local tournament: it was against Kaspar, the German champion at the time, and my opening move was [2-076R] Vanille into [1-109R] Serafie. That was a nice moment for me. And to come back to the question about other TCG experiences: Aside from the typical Yu-Gi-Oh! hype in my childhood, I didn't have much experience. And I was ahead of my peers in understanding the rules of the Pokemon TCG thanks to playing Gameboy. But that was all.
M: Onto the Materia Cup, how did you approach it, how did you prepare?
T: I was actually quite relaxed. I didn't really think I had much of a chance, since I didn't have the time to practice that I would have liked. I played rounds with my friends again and again, changed a card here and there and practiced again. Especially with Markomelon, we sat there at our locals and played round after round with him. He always complained a bit playfully why I always wanted to take a break after 3 rounds or so. Was always quite funny, but getting beat 3 rounds in a row is difficult to stay motivated without a break.
M: What decks did you test before and why did you choose Ice/Lightning?
T: Due to my limited time for testing, it was clear to me that it had to be a deck that I either knew or felt directly comfortable with. With Mono Water I had competed in the Berlin Store Championship in June and made it to tops there. In Hanau, the Multicolor/WoL deck didn't make it to the tops, but I felt pretty good with that deck as well. But since I didn't really expect to reach the tops during the preparation, I wanted to run something new and fresh for me. And so I ended up putting together my Ice/Lightning deck. In locals I just had mega fun and that was my original goal for the Cup. Just have fun and go out with more wins than losses.
M: Tell us how you felt during the Swiss rounds?
T: As I said, due to my relaxed attitude towards my goal, I had hardly any pressure and could start the tournament calmly. It was quite amusing that I had a mirror match directly in the first round, in which a [10-098L] Feolthanos really annoyed me. But I could start the tournament with a 1:0. Always a good feeling. And with my good mood, I kind of went through the tournament feeling positive. Things that definitely gave me a boost as well were a win against FFVI Fire/Ice, usually an Auto Loss for Ice/Lightning, and a win against a very tough Dragoon deck. The Dragoon matchup was also the first time I realized that most of us were also fighting the heat (on the way to the location some of us were already sweating through), which somehow wasn't a problem for me. So he had forgotten that my [11-127L] Cloud had a powerboost and thus ran into his defeat. My FFVI opponent simply had poor draw in both games that I somehow managed to win it. And when you go 5-0 in 7 rounds of Swiss, you feel pretty good. By the way, I also found it wonderful that I only met non-Germans during the Swiss Round. My first German opponent was Felix "Terminatoast" Bergemann in the Top 16 and later FabianCFK in the Top 4 match. Both from the BoulderBrothersFFtcg by the way, check them out! :P
M: How did the grand final against Damiën "Yellowman" feel?
T: It's a little difficult to describe, but I'll try anyway. I was very nervous at the beginning. Damiën is a player who is well known
internationally and who has proven himself regularly. I, on the other hand, saw myself more in the underdog role. Throughout the first match I thought to myself "No, there's still something to
come! That's not all he can do!". So don't get me wrong, I don't think he played badly, but the first round had me a little surprised that I was able to keep up so well and win it for me. I
started the second game much more confident. By winning Game 1 I had also reached the final in terms of mindset, now I wanted to win and knew I could do it. Other than that, I can only remember
two things like that: my [20-028R] Cissnei, which was constantly open to counter a [14-102L] Leviathan, Lord of the Whorl with [18-116L] Sephiroth, and my
wonderful misplay to dull my own [20-088L] Estinien with my [14-122L] Al-Cid, even though the former had Courage and could have attacked twice. But as it happens
when you're nervous, I figured he could only attack once anyway, so I dull him through Al-Cid's mandatory Dull effect. Shame on me!
When he called the Judge at the end, I was very confused at first, because nothing seemed unclear to me. But then the redeeming words "We have a winner here. Congratulations!" And suddenly I was Materia Cup Champion.
You can watch some Topcut games including the finale on Youtube at TalesOfEnd.
M: When did you feel like you made the jump from casual to competitive?
T: In the tournament itself, it was the victory after the fourth round. I knew that I could make it into the tops on my own. So I wanted to do
it. After I was 5:0, I had already started to think whether a 5:2 would also be enough to top. But that was too uncertain for me, I wanted to play it safe and get at least one last win. This was
finally achieved in round 7 against Multicolor/WoL. Before that I had lost against my nemesis FFVI Fire/Ice. From 5th place I went into the Tops and at first it was just a "everything that comes
now, I take as a bonus", so a similar attitude as at the beginning of the Swiss Round. In the Top8 match there was already the thought "Hey, with the guys (Marko and Sascha
Stark) together to London would be cool!". And at last in the Top4 match against Fabi the will was there to win the whole thing. Why be satisfied with "only" Top4? It worked out
The foundation for competitive play in general was laid, I think, shortly before Corona. Some players from Berlin wanted to test for big tournaments and I built decks they wanted to train against. The experience of winning more regularly was nice. And really it started during the Corona time. I got my hands on a display with three [12-012L] Tenzens and started from there, playing in the weekly online tournaments on the German FFTCG Discord. Just with the classic Samurai build. And from there I continued my journey in competitive play.
M: What advice would you give to people who are making that leap right now?
T: I think one of the most important things you have to be able to do is deal with frustration. Especially when you have a losing streak, don't just give up and keep going. Also, sharing with others is incredibly important, whether it's to train with many different decks or just to talk about cards. And to listen to the opinions of others from time to time. Additionally, don't hide. If you are good, then stand up for it and don't talk yourself down. I still have to get used to that myself.
M: The short time from the Materia Cup to the Euros. Did you feel pressured? How did you decide on your two decks?
T: The time to the Euros was a strange time, even with the Day 2 entry. I quickly realized that if I really screwed up, I'd be spending money just to play a total of 3 rounds in the actual EM tournament. Would it be worth it? It helped that I was in London from Thursday to Tuesday and could spend some TCG-free time with my friends and my girlfriend. A little vacation, so to speak, plus some FFTCG playing. In other words, I spent the money for a good time as well, besides the tournament. The thought that I could also celebrate my birthday on Friday in London was extra nice.
But back to the European Championship preparation: I decided very early on to compete with my Ice/Lightning deck. In the run-up I had also thought a lot about adjusting a few cards here and there. But one day before the deck registration, after talking to Marko and Sascha Stark, I decided to swap only one [16-030L] Shantotto for a second [17-091L] Exdeath. Funnily enough, if I hadn't traded the second Exdeath during the tournament, I probably would have played it that way at the Materia Cup. The choice for the second deck was even harder. Originally I wanted to start with Mono Fire, but during the preparation in the Locals, Boot Camps and the MainDeck Online League I couldn't get the deck to work at all. It was just frustrating. So I reverted to old habits and threw Mono Water and Multicolor/WoL together again. While the WoL list was pretty solid from the start, I also struggled with mono water and single cards. Then there were the NA Mono Water lists on top of that. Especially Matthew Okimoto's list had me pretty excited when I saw it in play testing with Sascha. The deciding factor for me to take Mono Water was a sentence from Sascha. You have to be able to take a hit with the WoL list first and endure this frustration before it gets going. That is not my style of play, I would rather play actively than reactively. And what can I say, he was right.
M: You won your first match in the Euros. Do you remember how that went?
T: Phew, my memories are a bit blurry. There's not that much that sticks in my mind. I only remember that I knew the matchup well. Marko played the exact same combination of decks, FFVI Fire/Ice and Ice/Earth. Before the match, I was still thinking about which deck I wanted to play first and chose Ice/Lightning. My idea behind this was that I knew that against FFVI it was simply a hard to almost impossible matchup and wanted to take his deck right out with it, in other words, get the wins with my two decks only against his Ice/Earth deck. As I suspected from the beginning, I lost in the first round with my Ice/Lightning deck against FFVI and so I could concentrate on my original plan. From the testing with Marko I knew that maybe a race for Discard could help me and I tried this strategy. Disclaimer: I am not sure about the following scenario. More like 70% sure. The fact that he opened the discard game faster with an early [18-028C] Nero and [18-019R] Weiss really put me under pressure at first. I put him down with the exact same duo on my turn, and was very happy when the first damage was a [13-072R] Odin. A damage that made it so much easier for me to get into the game and then turn it around.
I don't know much about the Mono Water Game anymore. Only that I pushed it to Game 3, thinking that the Ice/Lightning deck has the worse matchup against his deck. And if I don't win outright with
the matchup that's harder for me, I might as well save myself the time and exhaustion of possibly losing.
In retrospect, I'm also a bit proud of having sent the third-place finisher of the European Championship and thus World Championship participant into the loser bracket. I am happy for Jordi aka Kilmeny that he made it this far. He was a great opponent, both in terms of play and character.
M: What do you think led to the elimination from the tournament in the end? And were you relieved or disappointed afterwards?
T: Well, bluntly, I would say it was the [9-063L] Gabranth ExBurst at damage 5 that made it impossible for me to break through
the enemy field after that. Al-Cid being stolen from you with [16-129L] Chaos does hurt. But well, the people in the Top16 were there for a reason and they showed their skills
regularly. In the end, it's a lot of factors, skill, deck choice, character, and a tiny bit of luck that come together to make a difference.
After the final elimination I was definitely disappointed. Such a great opportunity, which I could not fully exploit. But I also lost a lot of tension, because now I don't have to train hard for the Worlds and I can have more relaxed, non-meta matches with the whole crew and have more fun again. In the end I'm pretty proud of my performance during this year's season and I'm looking positively to the future. Besides, now I have time again to dedicate myself to my studies.
M: Any other final thoughts you'd like to share?
T: I just had a huge amount of fun during that time, both at the Store Championships and the Materia Cup and European Championships. You got to meet so many people, finally faces to all the Discord and ffdecks names and had a great time together. It was mega exciting to play at such a level and just to have been there. I hope to make it again next year and meet all the wonderful people once again !
And until then: Viel Glück! Viel Spaß! Viel Spiel! ( Good Luck!, Have Fun!, Much Game!)
We thank Tetris for this great interview and the insights into his experiences of the last months and wish him the same success and fun at FFTCG for the next season!
Interview: Madredrs, Tetrismelodie