18-year-old Fred “Freddybabes” Bird has established himself as a leading talent in Collectible Card Game (CCG) Gwent, having won the Open, Slam and Challenger tournaments throughout 2017.
In this interview, we ask Fred about his background, practicing schedule and thoughts on Gwent as an esport.
Please tell us about your background. What are you like, where did you grow up, how would you describe yourself?
I grew up in Cheltenham which is a small-ish town in South West England, I’ve always been a pretty quiet guy and academic – but into games from a young age.
When and how did you get into playing competitively?
I’ve always been really competitive in games, playing League of Legends and Hearthstone at a high level for a while. I started playing Gwent around eight months ago and competitively after a month or so.
Congrats on winning Gwent Challenger! Talk us through your win, and can you reflect back on the tournament, what you learnt from it and how you felt it went overall?
Thanks! I went into the tournament with high hopes, winning would mean entry into two more of the biggest tournaments in the future (Challenger #3 and World Masters) as well as the big prize pool.
I was actually really sick for the first day of games but managed to get through anyway 3-1, which was a relief. I was then able to win the tournament without losing any more games.
The tournament experience was amazing, [developer] CD Projekt Red spared no costs for the players and production quality of the event. I feel a lot more confident in myself as a player as, despite having already won several tournaments, I was considered the underdog – but still won.
Why play Gwent, over other games like Hearthstone etc? What makes the game special to you?
The thing that really sticks out to me about Gwent is the huge amount of possible decisions that can be made in any game, whereas in other CCGs like Hearthstone, often the games are dictated by what you draw/how much mana you have on a given turn etc.
Being able to play any card in your hand at any stage creates a huge number of possible decisions, which makes the game super skill intensive.
What are your thoughts on Gwent’s future as an esport? The game has certainly grown fast compared to other well-established titles.
CD Projekt Red have been backing Gwent with some serious money – I hope it works out and Gwent becomes as big as some of the biggest esports games.
I think Gwent definitely has a chance with the amazing production quality of the tournaments so far, as it’s interesting to watch for the viewers, but also highly competitive for the players attending the tournaments.
How often do you practice and what is your strategy? What do you do that has enabled to give you that winning mentality/x factor so to speak?
I tend to play around six hours of Gwent a day, mostly just playing ladder, with more focused preparation before tournaments.
I think the most important factor for winning tournaments is in the deck building – I like to play wacky decks which will hopefully surprise my opponents, and also in the moment, being able to stay calm, handle the pressure and make as few mistakes as possible is important.
“I think the most important factor for winning tournaments is in the deck building – I like to play wacky decks which will hopefully surprise my opponents”
What three pieces of advice would you give to aspiring pro players?
To aspiring pro players I’d say:
1. Don’t burn out from the game you love – i.e. don’t overplay it in order to practice/get better.
2. Take every opportunity you get, whether it be being able to qualify for a tournament, play in one or simply rank up in whatever game you play.
3. If you’re serious about gaming as a career, you have to put the time in to get the results.
What would you say to parents and teachers of aspiring pro gamers/esports talent, and to those who perhaps aren’t convinced that pro gaming can offer a real career path?
Gaming of course still isn’t the most set in stone career path you can take, and it comes with its risks, but there’s definitely a huge market and audience for gaming talent which can lead to very successful careers under the right circumstances.
Scepticism is warranted, but not always the correct attitude toward esports.
What are your long-term aims and ambitions?
Long term I’m hoping to make a career from Gwent and streaming, as well as from other games potentially in the future, although the future is never certain so we’ll see what happens. Thanks a lot for having the time to do this interview 🙂