original text here.
upon asking him for permission to translate, he was a bit hesitant due to the nature of the material in the second half — but i think the extra insight behind the btag change (previously mentioned in lorinda’s interview) brings out more character from our apac gm in this final season of grandmasters. if reading this incites any emotion within you, do reach out to him and let him know.
“The story of when I started and stopped playing MtG, and when I started playing HS.”
Hello. I’m “Ombre”.
Today I won’t be talking about games, but about myself.
I started playing Hearthstone on May 8, 2016. It was a Sunday, and the final day of the Golden Week holiday period. I had heard that a friend of mine that played with me and went on various events held far away back in my MtG days was doing well in a game called Hearthstone was why I started. Back then, I was living with my girlfriend, and I saw the word “Ombre” on the eyeshadow container that was peeking out from her makeup bag, and used that as my battletag. The word means “shadow”. I’m sure there were a lot of other words written on there because it was eyeshadow, but that was the one word that caught my attention; and besides, I really liked it.
I had already been watching streams so I knew the rules and some of the decks, so I immediately paid for card packs and moved up to Rank 8 that very same day. I didn’t know that Tunnel Trogg was a card you gain from an Adventure, and I opened 60,000 yen ($550~600) worth or card packs in search of it. I used my commute time to play, and became Rank 3 by that Wednesday. I hit Legend on Saturday morning after staying out all night from a drinking party.
Anyone who had MtG experience beforehand would already have the basic thought process of card games in their head, so everyone around me had been hitting Legend at about the same pace. All of my predecessors who were MtG players were all great people who I admire very much; and that was all because I could never produce the results I wanted playing MtG.
1. the story from when I started MtG to when I left it
I started playing MtG back when I was in 5th grade. Back then, Yu-Gi-Oh! was a huge fad and I had been initially playing YGO as well. I only remember it vaguely at this point, but there is one thing I still remember to this day: I had a friend with a sizable card library, and when he summoned a demon and equipped it with a demon axe, I couldn’t defeat it no matter which card I used from my library — and I had felt it was very unfair.
And then, there was a sudden boom for MtG thanks to a manga magazine targeting boys featuring MtG. I had especially liked role-playing video games, and because I kept getting trounced in YGO, I had no interest whatsoever at first.
But during a holiday party of the tennis club that I was a member of, my friends brought their MtG decks and played against each other while all the adults were eating crabs and having a good time. I don’t remember exactly what decks they were, but each person had picked a color that they thought was strong, and all giddy playing each other. I got bored of simply watching them play, so I borrowed the cards that weren’t in a friend’s deck, had them teach me the rules, and started playing.
I had no white cards but I had plains. A very motley stack of about 90 cards. With that stack of cards that had no rare cards whatsoever, I won 9 games in a row.
The fun I had destroying hands through strategy that could match any powerful card had me raving for this game. I would protect my Razortooth Rats and shave 20 life points from my opponents to win one game after another.
And in none of those games was the unfairness I felt being checkmated by a demon and its axe.
Starting the next day, my mind was simply filled with MtG. I would ask all of my friends in my class, “Do you know Gathering?” to find friends to play with, and once I found them we would play almost endlessly after school. Before I went to sleep, I would stare at every single card I owned to come up with decks. I was so engrossed that I would think about decks even in my dreams.
When I was in middle school, I had my local card shop issue me a DCI number card. I entered so many tournaments that I still have my DCI number memorized all these years after I stopped playing. The adult players got to know my name and my face. I didn’t have much money for a good card library, so I surely must have been seen as a middle school kid that entered tournaments with decks that looked really weak no matter what. But the tournament regulars were all kind, and even when I win by catching them by surprise with weird cards, they would all laugh and compliment me.
With high school entrance exams looming, I had went to my local card shop to enter a tournament like I always did. It was a prerelease tournament for Darksteel, but that was when I heard that it was the final tournament before the shop closed its business.
I lived in quite a rural area where there were no other card shops, so you’d think that I would just quit MtG at that point — but even then, I didn’t quit.
I wanted to play MtG even as a high school student, so I started writing a blog. The people I got to know through my blog was running a chatroom where you play matches through the chat, and I started playing games on my thick mobile phone, slamming it every so often and always being worried about the data costs on my phone plan.
When I think about it now, the rules were quite questionable with no cameras, so everyone could cheat as much as they wanted. But I personally would faithfully lay out my cards, and played people every night, often getting my face beet red down to my ears for one reason or another.
There was a GP Yamagata In December before college entrance exams, and I transferred from one local train line after another for about four hours to participate in the tournament. I was a bit nervous about my first tournament away from home. I had arrived way before the venue opened, so I was waiting there for the doors to open. That was when one of the top players reached out to me and asked me if I wanted to trade. I was able to walk around the tournament together with a godly player that I had only read about in magazines. I still remember how touched I was when I realized that if you have a common hobby, you can have such a fun time together even if you just met.
After moving on to college, I started frequenting a card shop near the college campus. The regulars I met there would often drive me to tournaments, so I entered a whole bunch of qualifiers for Japanese national tournaments, Finals, and Limits.
I had been telling everyone around me, “I will make it to the national tournament before I turn 20. If I can’t, I’ll quit.” The Finals qualifier which was my final chance as a 19-year-old was one where I had advanced pretty solidly with a strange deck (now that I think about it) I created on my own, but being denied an intentional draw, I lost my sink-or-swim “bubble match” and missed out on qualifying.
I was morbidly depressed on the car ride back home, and I had mentioned that I had thought about retiring. But the person that was really nice to me (often driving for me and lending me cards) had said, “Let’s drink together once you’re 20, so you should drop by again.” And so, once again, I didn’t quit MtG.
I qualified for the LImits main tournament in the next year. All things said and done, I believe I had been slowly getting better. The national tournament was in Chiba, where Finals and Limits were being held simultaneously at the same venue. My result was a 3-3 drop, but after dropping out I got front row seats to watch the final matches of world-class top players with the gravy train on the line. It was so tense that the audience would forget to breathe. I found out that’s what a World Championships is about. I had started to feel that I want to be a part of the Pro Tour someday as well.
The year after that, I had entered the working world, and moved to Tokyo for my job. Ever since moving in April, I had been entering tournaments in the greater Kanto area basically every week. But that was all but fleeting as the company decided where they would place me in May, and was sent outside of Tokyo. So many people were good to me in that short while, and I had felt that I really wanted to keep playing games in that location.
I’m bad at giving up on anything, so I was traveling from the countryside to the Kanto area every week. Since I was there every week, a lot of people thought I was a local and asked me, “Where do you live?” And each time I was asked that, I would reply, “I’m from Nagano! I’m going to go home on the bullet train today, too!” And with that signature phrase I would get a laugh out of people, and that was how they remembered my name and face.
I had participated in every national GP since then, and also entered every PTQ that didn’t affect my work schedule. I had entered so many tournaments that I was in the top 10 for national PWP.
Even then, I could not make it to the Pro Tour.
I had a chance to become the Japanese representative if I won one more match at one point, but I missed out on that opportunity as well. That experience led to my later tenacity for the Hearthstone Global Games.
I changed jobs after all that to move back into the Kanto area to take MtG even more seriously. That was when I met my girlfriend. She was understanding and cheered for my gaming, but as I was simply making do with my work at my new job while devoting myself to MtG like crazy, she sternly scolded me and said, “If you’re gonna be half-assed about everything, you’re going to trouble other people. So I want you to quit something.” As a result, I quit my job and concentrated on MtG for three months.
I was preparing for the last GP Kobe thinking that if I can’t make it through this tournament I will really quit. A team that had a lot of powerful players in the Kanto region reached out to me, and I was allowed to share my opinions with them. I was playing Modern, but I was fully prepared. I was satisfied with both my deck and my performance.
Even then, I couldn’t get past the first day. I just wasn’t skilled enough.
That was when I decided to quit MtG. It was a decision I made with many considerations, including marrying my girlfriend who had put up with so much of my selfishness.
2. the story of when I started playing Hearthstone
I looked for a job immediately after that decision, and quickly found a new job.
I decided to look for a hobby that would allow me to stay at home, so I started playing fighting games with my friends. However, the friend that introduced me to the community got bored and quit. I didn’t have enough motivation to keep playing by myself, so I ended up quitting as well.
I had gone back to playing MtG just a little bit. I would go to a tournament venue so that I could go to a drinking party with my friends, and had entered tournaments with cards I borrowed from them. If I didn’t have anything to play in particular, I would be playing MtG Online as well.
But I started getting tired of going far away. I had been searching for a hobby I can play while at home, and that was when I learned about Hearthstone, leading up to what I wrote in the introduction.
I hit Legend in one week, and in the next month I was able to hit top 10 Legend. Even then, I couldn’t get any decent results at the end of each month. I spent 2016 and 2017 without tickets to official tournaments despite getting really close. I went into the 2017 off-season wondering what I should do in 2018. I had also been playing Dragon Quest Rivals at that point. My girlfriend loved Angelo, so I only played him as the hero.
That was when my girlfriend departed from this world.
It was all too sudden.
I still have absolutely no memory of the several days immediately after her passing.
The only things I know is that I still kept going to work, that I didn’t tell anyone at work what had happened, and my social media has a strange absence of posts during that time.
I had started up Hearthstone on a whim, and when I saw the word “Ombre” it was very gut-wrenching. That was when I decided to change my battletag. Since “Ombre” was French, I decided my new battletag would be “trahison”, the French word for betrayal. I decided on that because I felt that I was betrayed by my girlfriend who had left me all alone in this world. I deleted everyone from my friends list, and because Hearthstone became a time where I could forget about everything and be by myself, I quietly kept playing on ladder during my commute to and from work. Ironically enough, ever since renaming myself to “trahison”, I started doing better, and kept securing top 5 Legend spots at the end of each month.
I felt no motivation whatsoever for anything else, so I simply devoted everything to Hearthstone.
And that was when I remembered her words back in my MtG days: “If you’re gonna be half-assed about everything, you’re going to trouble other people. So I want you to quit something.“
My main project at work had settled down, and with the restructuring of business operations, what I did for work had changed from when I first joined the company. Because that had been lowering my motivation to keep working, I decided to quit my job.
Since I had some time, I decided to write the post “What is tempo?” because I wanted to put an abstract concept into words.
Thanks to that post, many people have gotten to know me. I was even invited to be part of an official Hearthstone program that had been streaming every week back then.
The APAC tournament after that was when I started my activity as a competitive Hearthstone player. That very first tournament was a bitter pill to swallow with a 0-4 result, but I was chosen to be on the Japanese team for that year’s Hearthstone Global Games. Though it was slightly different than what I had originally envisioned, I was able to make my dreams come true one by one.
As of now, I no longer have any negative emotions that I had been betrayed.
I am grateful for all of the experiences I’ve had and to everyone I have met. Though Hearthstone is a different game, it has put me on the dream stage that I had aspired to stand upon during all those days in the past. I am really happy to be standing here as one of the Grandmasters. Thank you so much.