Interview with Frenzy1
This past weekend, Frenzy1 won the second 2019 Master Series Qualifier tournament in what was among the strongest and tightest top 8 bracket ever seen in any Legends tournament. Frenzy started playing in June 2017, regularly earning his spot among the top 100 players in ranked play. Overall, he has earned five top 10 finishes and 8 top 20 finishes.
It will be exciting to see Frenzy join some of the other top Legends player in the 2019 Master Series Finals at QuakeCon (July 25-28). We are very grateful for him giving us this interview and sharing more details about his views and experiences with Legends, as well as his preparation and lineup.
Hello Frenzy. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today. Huge congratulations on winning the second 2019 Master Series Qualifier tournament. Before we go into the details of the Master Series, let‘s talk a little bit about yourself and how you came to card games and TESL in particular.
So what does Frenzy do in real life? What’s keeping you busy when you are not on TESL?
I have a part time job. I also own a duplex and rent out one side which requires me to stay on top of any maintenance and repairs that need to happen.
Tell us a little bit about how you started playing The Elder Scrolls Legends.
I played Hearthstone and enjoyed it but never had enough cards to really get into constructed play. When I saw TESL get announced at E3 I immediately signed up for beta so I could get in before there were too many cards released to catch up. Unfortunately I was busy fixing up my house when I got an invite into the beta, but I downloaded the game as soon as I was finished.
I never expected to take the game very seriously, but I was able to quickly afford a pretty bad Prophecy Battlemage for ladder and gauntlets, and did pretty well despite the deck being awful. I was also watching the TESL champion series which held a tournament for the top 32 ladder finishers each month. I’m a very competitive person and wanted to see if I could qualify for that. The rest is history: I was hooked, and kept trying to improve my play and decks as much as possible.
Can you look back on any previous card game experience?
Nothing competitive. Hearthstone arena mostly as a way to wind down at the end of the day.
Aggro – Midrange – Combo – Control: What’s your favorite style of play and why?
If I had to choose a favorite style it would be decks that fight for the board via tricks or buffs; Mid-Battlemage and Tokens for example.
I feel like I’ve always been a really flexible player though: I don’t usually lean on one style or another. I play whatever feels the best in the current meta and find most of my enjoyment in the game through improving across all archetypes.
I’ll add that my least favorite style of deck are uninteractive combo decks like Abomination. I brought one in my lineup because it felt strong, but I’ll rarely choose to play these kinds of decks unless I’m practicing for a tournament.
I don’t mind other combo decks that come later and have to run more interactive tools such as post-nerf Nix-ox and the Flesh Atronach combo finishers that we see a lot of current control decks running.
What’s currently your favorite deck?
In early Alliance War I was really enjoying a more aggro style mid-range daggerfall that I built by merging ideas from lists I saw Thuldir and Flow playing.
I put that on the back burner when master series got announced and focused more on my tournament lineup as a whole, so currently it would have to be Slay Ebonheart.
…and what’s your all-time favorite?
I’ve always loved various forms of Control Archer, Rage Archer being my all time favorite. I think that stems from the fact that I enjoy fighting for field lane. Rage archer is a deck that performs much better when your opponent is forced into shadow and can’t directly interact with rage set ups.
Frenzy and the 2019 Master Series Qualifiers
Let’s talk about the Master Series Qualifiers 2019. Those were some very intense and fun to watch matches. What was your favorite match in that tournament?
There were so many good games but if I had to pick one I would pick game 5 versus Eyenie in the Ebonheart mirror. I was under an incredible amount of pressure off the back of a turn 6 Defiler into Blood Magic Lord summon. It was one of the most difficult games I’ve ever had to pilot. I think I drew zero Gambits, Crossbows or Squish until after I managed to swing the game with my Defiler Rage, which made defending myself incredibly costly, forcing me to shuffle Snake Tooth Necklaces with Galyn and use rages and necromancers defensively, but I knew that if I could survive long enough either Cicero or Defiler would eventually come online and get me back into the game.
Have you ever considered conceding?
Traitor-Joe wrote the book on concede efficiency and has tried to teach me many times over the years. He gave up, and so should you.
How did you prepare for the tournament? Did you put in long hours of refining your decks? Did you practice with friends or team mates?
For big tournaments like these, private testing with friends or team mates is absolutely the way to go. A couple days after masters series got announced, plzdonhakme asked me if I wanted to be in a control prep group with him. I considered it for a bit and decided that because most of my other practice partners had joined official teams, teaming up with hakme would be a good way to get a lot of practice without stepping on any toes.
The week before the first qualifier we spent around 40-50 hours in a discord call working on our lineup, after we had our lineup nailed down we asked as many other players as possible to run sets vs us to test it against a larger field.
Let‘s discuss your deck lineup a little bit. Which decks did you bring to the tournament and why?
I brought Telvanni, Ebonheart, and Tribunal control and Empire Abomination. When I teamed up with hakme I knew I would be bringing a control lineup to at least the first qualifier. I was a bit worried about running into multiple market combo decks and having a very low chance of victory against them.
When I’m building a tournament lineup I hate the idea of having multiple decks in a format that feel heavily favored versus my entire lineup. However, in testing it felt like market assassin was much stronger than any other market variant in the meta and I could ban it and still have a chance to win.
Hakme’s Telvanni already felt pretty good and there wasn’t much that needed to be done to it to make it ready for tournament play. It felt solid against both aggro and control and I thought it was the strongest deck of my lineup.
We spent a full day refining Ebonheart for the first qualifier and ended up tightening it up further against aggro for the second qualifier, ultimately cutting our combo down from two Flesh Atronach’s and two Improvised Weapon’s to one of each. I wasn’t very confident about the version we played at the second qualifier, but I’m glad I brought it because it performed very well for me.
Tribunal was on the chopping block for a while and it took us nearly 3 days to find a build that we both liked. The more proactive approach felt like it improved the control match-up without hurting the aggro match-up.
Empire Abomination was originally given to me by Ianbits, another person in our prep group. When I first decided to try it I thought it would be terrible. My first two games against hakme in practice I killed him on turn 5. We reversed roles and he did the same to me. These were highrolls for the deck and made it feel a lot stronger than it performed for either of us. We nearly cut it from our lineup for the second qualifier, but decided to keep it on as a good versus control deck and spend time making Ebonheart better versus aggro instead.
Can you tell us about your game plan for your Slay Ebonheart build?
This build sacrifices some of the top-end that other Slay Ebonheart decks run for more defense and more cycle. Having the additional defense gives me a better edge against aggressive decks; something that me and hakme agreed that we needed to have, if we continued to run Empire Abomination. The additional cycle allows me to more often chain-draw across multiple turns while I search for my Flesh Atronach combo pieces against control.
Control Tribunal has been dominating the meta for the past year. How did this deck work for you in this tournament?
I’m a huge fan of the build I ran in this qualifier and it performed very well for me, even better than in practice.
Tribunal is in an even worse spot against control than it was previously with the release of Ebonheart and Empire. Cutting out the grindy gameplan of Odirniran Necromancers and Merchant’s Camels for more proactive threats that can be used aggressively against control actually improves both the aggressive and control match ups for Tribunal in my opinion.
Your third deck was Telvanni Conscription which has been in the meta for a very long time now. What was special about this build?
There isn’t anything revolutionary in this build. The addition of Ulfric’s Uprising can get you insane value and straight out win the game in some cases. Overall, Telvanni is a tried and tested deck that should be a staple of any control lineup.
Both your Ebonheart and Telvanni used Flesh Atronach combos as their win condition. Why did you include this combo in particular and how did this strategy work out for you in the tournament?
Ianbits was the one who pointed me in the direction of Flesh Atronach finishers back when ramp warrior was meta. I’ve always liked control decks with combo finishers as long as those combo finishers don’t damage the deck too much. It performed very well and I expect it will only get more popular as time goes on.
Empire Abomination is a relatively new deck, but has its roots in Scout Abomination. What is the deck’s win condition and why is it better than Scout Abomination?
I did some Scout Abomination testing before discovering Empire. It felt quite weak and I wasn’t ever planning on bringing it to the qualifiers. Empire Abomination having access to Transitus Shrine on the other hand improves the power-level by a lot. The ability to reduce the cost of your previously drawn cards is very important for Abomination decks. On top of that, supports are much harder to deal with.
The win condition for the deck is to get Transitus Shrines and Thieves Guild Fences in play to reduce most of your cards to zero cost and cycle through your deck with Disciple of Namira until finally using Swindler’s Markets to kill your opponent.
If Empire Abomination starts to combo off, it’s nearly impossible for it to lose. Bandari Opportunist means you’ll nearly never run out of cards in your deck and you can cycle endlessly with Markets until you win.
What was your favorite deck in this tournament, and, retrospectively, which one was the weakest?
Ebonheart really pulled through in the end when it mattered, so I feel like it has to be my favorite, even though I expected Telvanni to perform better than it did.
Empire Abomination performed the worst by far and it didn’t come as much of a surprise to me. I was close to cutting it for this event and it barely made it into my lineup. I think if I played in a third qualifier it wouldn’t make the cut.
How will you prepare for the Master Series Finals tournament?
I think I heard that there will be an expansion between the Qualifiers and QuakeCon. If that’s true, then I’ll have to spend a ton of time trying to get a feel for what the meta will be like during the event.
In any case, it’ll probably be much of the same as I did to prepare for the qualifiers: find a couple people that I can train with and give input on deck list refinement.
Frenzy: About Alliance War
Outside of Empire Abomination, your other three decks only used Abnur Tharn, Channeled Storm , Varen Aquilarios and Jorunn from the Alliance War expansion. How do you feel about the new expansion and its impact on the meta?
Well, I do think these cards are absolutely top tier, nearly auto-include cards with the exception of Jorunn, who is only above average. But I would consider cutting him if I could still play Ebonheart without him.
I think the major impact of Alliance War was the inclusion of the other tricolor classes more than the actual cards printed. That being said, Spoils Of War has created entirely new archetypes that were not nearly as playable before Alliance War. Whether or not you like the deck, Market Assassin is tier 2 at worst, probably tier 1, and did not exist before Alliance War.
I’m not a fan of the high-rolly nature of tricolor decks, so I wasn’t very excited about them adding the rest of them. However, after the expansion released and I played a fair bit of them, I did find myself enjoying the expansion quite a bit. Although it may have not had many heavily impactful cards, there are a lot of fun, less-competitive decks that got added to the game.
Which advice would you give players that struggle with Empire Abomination or Ebonheart Slay on ladder?
Empire Abomination usually beats itself more than you beating it. However, a few tools that work well against it are silences, breakthrough creatures or items, and Withered Hand Cultists. Hand tracking can also help. If you see that they kept a card in mulligan and it hasn’t been played by turn 3, its nearly always a Disciple of Namira and you should be as aggressive as possible to kill before they find cost reduction. On the flip side of that, if it seems like they don’t have many combo pieces, you can card-starve them and set up a kill from 21 or 16 health.
Ebonheart Slay is a lot harder on ladder because the way you play is dictated by what is in their list. There are currently safer builds like mine and heavily greedy lists that have a hard time dealing with pressure. Silences are also very important against Ebonheart so you can deal with early slay and lethal creatures that get placed down in shadow. Keeping field lane control is important because it is a lot easier for them to find a huge Unstoppable Rage if you are stuck with everything in the shadow lane.
Views on the State of TESL
Now onto some more general TESL topics, if you don‘t mind. What is your view on the current state of TESL?
The fact that we are finally getting a consistent release schedule is great for the game and has been sorely needed for a long time.
There has been some work done to animations but I think a lot more is needed to speed them up so I hope they continue focusing on them.
As far as the meta goes, it feels pretty highrolly right now which I’m not a fan of. I think some unique legendaries and tricolor cards are just too impactful and having them on curve can bump your win rate by a large amount.
What is your opinion on how Bethesda is evolving the game and the TESL community?
Like I said in the previous question it’s nice to see we are getting a constant release schedule now. Also, the return of twitch drops gave some new life to the TESL twitch section which is great for the community.
I can’t help think about the void that’s going to come when the masters series is over though. All of the weekly community-run and Bethesda-run tournaments have been cancelled and as someone who really enjoys competitive play, it’s something I’ll sorely miss.
If you had one wish for the game, what feature, card or card mechanic would you like to see implemented?
I’d love to see an in-game leaderboard showing the current top 100 players on the ladder. It’s something the community has asked for quite a few times in the past and it’s fun to see where everyone is placed on the last few days of the season.
Obviously as someone who loves tournaments, the in-game tournament mode that they teased when Sparkypants was taking over would be great as well.
Thank you very much Frenzy, for your time and this interview. We wish you all the best of luck for the Master Series Finals and hope to see many more of your victories.
If you would like to participate in the 2019 Master Series Qualifiers, please head over to Bethesda’s page with further details. As a viewer, you can improve your Legends game-play by watching these top players compete in these events over at twitch.tv/TESlegends. Good luck to all combatants!