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Seasonal Champions Interviews: Painas, TheBlackBoss & AG Realer

CastMin sits down for an in-depth chat with the latest LoR Seasonal Champions: Painas, TheBlackBoss & AG Realer.

They fought valiantly and won their games as well as our hearts, but do you think you know everything about your Seasonal Champions? No? It’s fine. Me neither, That is why I decided to bother them, pick their brains and get you all the information you need to learn their story and maybe follow in their footsteps.

No more prologues, no more introductions. LET’S GET INTO IT!

Everything you need to know about Painas

CastMin: Could you tell us a bit about who you are in real life?

Painas: Sure. I am a 42 years-old happy man that works as an Electronics Engineer in different R&D projects related to the automotive sector. I am currently working on autonomous vehicles right now, but that is just between us, haha.
I have a wife but no kids yet, which allows me to be the big kid and have some more time for my hobbies like LoR. I have also been playing sports during my whole life, like basketball and volleyball; now I just go wandering in the mountains whenever I can, maybe finding Taric along the way.

CastMin: What is your background in terms of strategy games, before Legends Of Runeterra?

Painas: Well, it goes back to before digital games were a thing. I played chess at a competitive level (Spanish championships and one Olympics sub16) until I was 18-20 years old. It was then that MTG caught my eye and I started playing it with some of my chess teammates. Long story short, I got to know a lot of people with whom I am still keeping in touch thanks to Magic.

CastMin: Did you participate in any MTG tournaments?

Painas: Even though I played it for more than 12 years, it was more of a hobby. However, I did manage to participate in several ProTours (these were invitational tournaments). I used to be part of a Spanish team called “Humiyaos” and we were training a lot every week. The best part about that phase of my life was the trips with my teammates through European cities to play in the Grand Prix (Open tournaments with more than 1000 people).

CastMin: And what did you manage to achieve in those?

Painas: I think my greatest achievement was to qualify for the first Magic Online World Championship 9 years ago. It was a very stacked Top 16 that took place in Boston and I managed to finish in the 5th-6th place.

CastMin: How did you pick up Legends Of Runeterra? Was there any particular reason?

Painas: I used to be playing League of Legends with my friends and when Riot released Legends of Runeterra I just told myself: “Sure. Let’s give it a try and see if it is at least as good as MTG”. And right now I can honestly say its mechanics are far better than any other CCG. Perhaps the only thing that I miss is a rule book.

CastMin: Which was the first deck you have ever built and played in Runeterra?

Painas: That’s easy – Spiders. When starting the game it seemed like an easy and enjoyable deck to pilot.

CastMin: Which Season was your favorite from the ones you have been playing in so far?

Painas: Even though I have enjoyed them all, I have to give it to Call of the Mountains. Aphelios’s design made an impression upon me.

CastMin: Which used to be your biggest achievement in Runeterra before winning this Seasonal?

Painas: I honestly didn’t do that much. Just two times Top32 in the Seasonals tournaments. However, I managed to qualify for the Worlds Qualifier through ladder points (I have always been in the Top 20-30 by the end of the Seasons). Unfortunately, I wasn’t as lucky as this Seasonal to qualify for Worlds…maybe next year.

CastMin: Who is your favorite Runeterra streamer, if you have one?

Painas: I didn’t know anything about Twitch when I started playing LoR and it was after some months (you can call me Boomer now xD) when I realized that there were a lot of great players streaming there. One of the first-ever that I followed was FreshLobster. I think watching him helped me improve a lot; the other ones that I like a lot are BBG and Alan.

Painas’s run to victory

CastMin: How was the Open Rounds experience for you? What decks did you bring there?

Painas: For the Open Rounds I always chose three “meta” decks that I have played a lot and that can fight against almost any other deck. I prefer to play a lot of 50-50% match-ups rather than 30-70% and 70-30% matchups. As Poppy was so good, I decided to  bring a “Ban Poppy” line-up and try to battle against everything else. So we went for Thralls, Zoe Lee Sin and the OP deck itself, Poppy Zed.

// //

CastMin: Have you switched your decks since then? Why?

Painas: I decided to switch decks for Top 32 because Lee and Thralls are decks that can be countered hard. As you know, there is also the fact of knowing your first-round opponent before starting the tournament. Therefore it is usually better to change your decks to avoid your opponent trying to counter any deck from your Open Rounds line-up.

However, Poppy Zed was still a safe bring because it is the only deck that can win his theoretical counters around 40% of the time. I wanted to go for a triple Rally (Zed Poppy, Sivir Akshan, Miss Fortune Quinn) lineup but I didn’t want to play underpowered decks like Scouts without Poppy. So I ended up playing a version of Pirates with fifteen one-drops and three Island Navigator instead of Scouts.

CastMin: Were there other decks that you considered including in the line-up?

Painas: The days before Top 32 took place I was thinking and switching between many different options. That was wild. I went from repeating the line-up from the Open Rounds to things like playing a 9-Decimate/Fervor line-up.

CastMin: Why did you decide not to bring those?

Painas: The meta was so wide this time around, with great Aggro decks (Poppy-X) and great Control decks (Lee, Feel The Minah), that I decided to bring two of the best meta decks (Akshan Sivir and Poppy Zed) and just innovate with the third one with that faster version of Pirates. I was completely sure that this Pirate deck would have at least two “ok” match-ups against the typical line-ups.

CastMin: Was there any opponent that you thought would give you trouble?

Painas: In this kind of Top 32 it is getting as hard as it can be to predict who will win. That’s because all of the participants are great players that have their chance to win. The outcome is uncertain until the very last game.

CastMin: Was the tournament meta the one you expected to encounter?

Painas: I mean… even a kid would figure out what the typical line-up would be. The meta was as predicted by everybody with 31 Poppy decks and their different variants: Elusives Rally, Scouts Rally, Poppy Bandle Tree, Lux Poppy bla-bla-bla, and a lot of variety in the other two decks.

CastMin: Did anything surprise you?

Painas: The thing that surprised me the most was even though we had 31 Poppy line-ups, only two players brought the same line-up.

CastMin: Why did you bring the three specific decks that you have told me about?

Painas: Well, Poppy Zed was an obvious bring as it was the best deck of the meta with no hard counters. I played twice in the Top 32 against one of the biggest counters, Teemo Swain, and won both of those games.

The version of Akshan Sivir I brought had three Rallies and only two 5-drops. I was essentially trying to punish the same decks as Poppy Zed.

The last one, Fast Pirates, followed the same idea of trying to punish slow decks by trying to have three one-drops by turn two.

CastMin: If you had to look back at the Top 32, would you have brought a different line-up?

Painas: After reviewing the decks in Top 32 I think my lineup was in an “ok” spot, a matchup with not too many unfavorable lineups across the field.

CastMin: Which was the highlight of the entire event for you in terms of games played?

Painas: I will always remember the last game of the final when I drew Poppy and Rally exactly when I needed, in the last turns, to finish the game for good.

CastMin: Did anything upset you?

Painas: Yes. One thing that should be improved is the behavior of the timer used during the games. Specifically, the part from the bug in the 5 minutes extra time that appeared in my game against FreshLobster. It is not normal that the animations time spend your opponent’s timebank and that the timebank of the three games is not being accumulated. This is something that Riot should look into to improve the competitive scene.

CastMin: Would you change anything to the format?

Painas: I think Riot Lock is a great format in all honesty. But I think Collection Lock would force players to play a wider variety of decks and manage decks with different styles of play – basically, no more 9 Decimate, neither 9 Rally nor 9 Avalanche.

CastMin: What is your favorite format you have played in so far?

Painas: Uff, that’s a hard one. It’s not easy to decide which format I like more, but I think that the audience of the streamers likes more deck variety therefore the format should move from Riot Lock to Region Lock or Collection lock. But this is something that Riot should analyze.

CastMin: Sooo, it’s time for the big question: What are you planning to do with the money?

Painas: When Covid ends I plan to go to Disney World with my wife; meanwhile maybe we are going to go to Disneyland 😊

CastMin: If you could tell only one thing to the audience that is now reading, which one would that be?

Painas: There are a lot of tournaments on the EMEA and Americas almost every week that can be played for free. I would like to encourage all of you, regardless of your level, to play in those. Maybe one day you can win one of these tournaments just like I did. Don’t forget that luck exists in card games and someday can be your lucky day.

Everything you need to know about TheBlackBoss

CastMin: Could you tell us a bit about who you are in real life?

TBB: I'm a 23 years old guy from the city of Blumenau, Brazil. I am currently working in a big company called Marisa in the logistics area.

CastMin: What is your background in terms of card games, before Legends Of Runeterra?

TBB: Oh. I played quite a few. I played Hearthstone from the Goblins vs Gnomes expansion until the launch of the open beta for LOR, at the end of January of last year. I also played a little bit of Gwent in its open beta, a lot of YuGiOh and MTG in my local game stores but I had to stop because of the pandemic. I tried YuGiOh Duel Links, as well.

CastMin: Did you participate in any tournaments in those?

TBB: In those games I played a lot of ranked in the digital ones, reaching the highest rank in each consistently. I only played a few tournaments in the tabletop ones.

CastMin: How did you pick up Legends Of Runeterra? Was there any particular reason?

TBB: When I heard Riot was developing a card game based on League Of Legends I got very hyped because I always saw Riot as a very competent game company. When I started playing LoR it became my favorite card game instantly because it unites most of the strengths of the other card games I already liked while getting rid of most problems.

CastMin: Which was the first deck you have ever built and played in Runeterra?

TBB: Well, I don’t remember exactly. But the first meta deck I played was the beta version of Elise Hecarim Fearsome, with splashes in Demacia, PnZ, and Ionia.

CastMin: Which Season was your favorite from the ones you have been playing in so far?

TBB: I think it was the one where Bilgewater was released. I loved to play Demacia and Riptide Rex.

CastMin: Which used to be your biggest achievement in Runeterra before winning this Seasonal?

TBB: It was probably the Runecup Brazil where I managed to beat Zinc Elemental in the finals.

CastMin: Who is your favorite Runeterra streamer, if you have one?

TBB: I don’t have a favorite one, but I like the work that Viktorkav, JDoza/Boulevard, and the GiantSlayer people (Tetadourso, TotalMaster, Casanova, Blevins, etc.) do; I always watch their cast when possible.

TheBlackBoss’s run to victory

CastMin: How was the Open Rounds experience for you?

TBB: It was very hard for me. I passed with a 7-2  score backed by a Top 11 ranked finish.

CastMin: What decks did you bring there?

TBB: I played Draven Sion, Poppy Zed and Gangplank Sejuani. Poppy Zed was surprisingly the deck that performed worse, losing twice in the two series that I did not win.

// //

CastMin: Have you switched your decks since then? Why?

TBB: Yes, I did. I switched Poppy Zed for Poppy Miss Fortune. I think it is more consistent overall, even though it has a lower ceiling; I was also more familiar with that deck.

CastMin: Were there other decks that you considered including in the line-up?

TBB: I considered playing Poppy Ziggs and Miss Fortune Gangplank.

CastMin: Well, why did you decide not to bring those?

TBB: They simply performed too poorly in scrims, so I gave up on them.

CastMin: Was there any opponent that you thought would give you trouble?

TBB: All of them gave me trouble. Since Santatcg was in Top 32 until Kochua in the finals each one of them was so tough. I think I won all my series with a 2-1 and that should speak for itself.

CastMin: Was the tournament meta the one you expected to encounter?

TBB: In short, yes.

CastMin: Did anything surprise you?

TBB: To be fair, both Kochua and I were playing Scouts in the finals. It was kind of a surprise, considering only 4 other players were bringing it.

CastMin: Why did you bring the three specific decks that you have told me about?

TBB: First of all, I brought Draven Sion because it was one of the two decks that I have played the most in the past two months. When the Bandlewood season started I was the first player to reach Masters globally playing it.

Second, Gangplank Sejuani was in the equation for the same reason as Sion: it is a comfort pick from the last season that I played a lot with. It also has a very similar match-up to Draven Sion.

Last but not least, I brought Scouts because... it was again a comfort pick with a decent match-up table. The thing about Scouts is it is also a deck that most people would not target or be too prepared to play against.

CastMin: If you had to look back at the Top 32, would you have brought a different line-up?

TBB: No.

CastMin: Why?

TBB: Because they were the three decks I was the most familiar with in an expected field that was favorable for them. Plain and simple.

CastMin: Which was the highlight of the entire event for you in terms of games played?

TBB: It has to be the 1-of Vi in Draven Sion carrying game three against Cephalopod.

CastMin: Would you change anything to the format?

TBB: Yes. I think I would opt-in for Card Lock, where you cannot repeat cards between decks, but you can repeat regions.

CastMin: What is your favorite format you have played in so far?

TBB: Card Lock.

CastMin: Sooo, it’s time for the big question: What are you planning to do with the money?

TBB: I will invest most of it in long-term applications and buy things like a game chair and a second monitor. You know… streaming stuff.

CastMin: If you could tell only one thing to the audience that is now reading, which one would that be?

TBB: If you want something just go for it. Do not create excuses to not do what you want and let absolutely no one tell you what you should or should not do.

Everything you need to know about Realer

CastMin: Could you tell us a bit about who you are in real life?

Realer: My full name is Duy Khanh Nguyen. I am a 12th-grade high school student in a farming family. I am planning to enter the information technology industry or follow the path of a semi-professional gamer, moreover, become a professional gamer.

CastMin: What is your background in terms of card games, before Legends Of Runeterra?

Realer: Before joining LoR I used to play YuGiOh but it was only for entertainment, so I have never participated in any tournaments.

CastMin: How did you pick up Legends Of Runeterra? Was there any particular reason?

Realer: It is also a blessing that I came to LoR. When I saw my friends playing it, I downloaded it and gave it a try. The thing that made me decide to stick with LoR is that it helps gamers access the big tournaments very easily.

CastMin: Which was the first deck you have ever built and played in Runeterra?

Realer: The first deck that I built was Vladimir Swain, then Vladimir with a few other champions. The reason I built this deck is that Vladimir is my favorite champion in League of Legends. Hurray, Vladimir!

CastMin: Which Season was your favorite from the ones you have been playing in so far?

Realer: The season that I liked most is probably season five because that one debuted with Akshan whose playstyle is quite suitable for me.

CastMin: Which used to be your biggest achievement in Runeterra before winning this Seasonal?

Realer: Apart from this being this Season’s champion, my biggest achievement was reaching the Top 32 in season six.

CastMin: Who is your favorite Runeterra streamer, if you have one?

Realer: My favorite streamer is Kyzen LoR because I accidentally saw his stream when I first started playing and he is also talented and funny.

Realer’s run to victory

CastMin: How was the Open Rounds experience for you?

Realer: When I passed the Open Rounds I was very happy because I was able to compete with so many talented players and beat them.

CastMin: What decks did you bring there?

Realer: In the Open rounds I brought in Teemo Swain, Plunder and Ziggs Taliyah.

// //

CastMin: Have you switched your decks since then? Why?

Realer: I haven't changed my decks since the Open Rounds because I think they are pretty comprehensive and optimal.

CastMin: Were there other decks that you considered including in the line-up?

Realer: I don't have any other decks because Teemo Swain and Plunder are the two decks I've been aiming for since I started building my lineup. After that, I found the Ziggs Taliyah deck that is quite suitable so I brought it with me.

CastMin: Was there any opponent that you thought would give you trouble?

Realer: I expected all the opponents to be top players, so anyone could have given me trouble.

The opponent that was the hardest to pass by was HammerHead because he had a very annoying Burn lineup.

**CastMin slowly sheds a tear hearing someone call Burn annoying**

CastMin: Was the tournament meta the one you expected to encounter?

Realer: Yes. It was the kind of meta that I was looking forward to playing into because it was very favorable for my lineup.

CastMin: Did anything surprise you?

Realer: Nothing at all.

CastMin: Why did you bring the three specific decks that you have told me about?

Realer: I chose these three decks that I brought because I am quite proficient with them so there is no particular reason for each deck. 

CastMin: If you had to look back at the Top 32, would you have brought a different line-up?

Realer: Even if I would have known in advance the lineup of the Top 32 players I still wouldn’t have changed my decision.

CastMin: Which was the highlight of the entire event for you in terms of games played?

Realer: The tournament organization surprised me because of how professional it was. It gives you the impression that anyone can participate if they are talented.

CastMin: Would you change anything to the format?

Realer: No, because Riot Lock is already good enough. It has no issues as far as I am concerned.

CastMin: What is your favorite format you have played in so far?

Realer: My favorite mode is URF [Note: a Labs mode that was rotated out when Path of Champions was released.]

CastMin: Sooo, it’s time for the big question: What are you planning to do with the money?

Realer: Since this amount is quite big for me I am planning to save it. I don't have any definite plans yet. Maybe I will use it for college next year.

CastMin: If you could tell only one thing to the audience that is now reading, which one would that be?

Realer: Being a champion for a Season is a pretty new experience for me so I don't have anything to share with the readers yet. I consider everything that happened to me so far a blessing. I think if you work hard you can also win this title one day - when luck is obviously on your side.

Closing Words

And there you have it. We had interesting plays, some familiar faces finally being crowned champions as well as new talent that is just emerging in the Runeterra scene.

Whatever the future may hold, I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful.
Don’t forget to check out my Twitter as I will keep you up to date there about my future articles and future interviews with top competitors like the ones featured in this article.