Interview w/ Ieva Kniežaitė

Today we have a Cardfighter Spotlight! I’ll be having the opportunity to interview the Champion Murakumo player that accomplished 1st place overall in the Bushiroad Spring Fest Online (BSFO) 2021 EU! Her name is Ieva Kniežaitė (aka SunakoTCG) and is from Lithuania! Let’s get right into the interview!

Interview

Jaime: First off, congratulations to Ieva Kniežaitė (aka SunakoTCG) for getting 1st place overall in the Bushiroad Spring Fest Online (BSFO) 2021 EU! Today I wanted to do an interview with you about your overall experience and even get to know you a little bit for the readers. Sounds good amiga?

Ieva: Hello Jaime and thank you!

Jaime: Of course! It’s a pleasure to have you on the blog! Definitely go check out Ieva’s channel for her awesome content! Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Are you from any specific Vanguard teams/communities? Any other events that you and/or team have done well? Etc.

Ieva: I’m from a small country named Lithuania even thought it is modern country it still has medieval times aura around it (buildings ect.). In the past I was part of Team Madness (Yu-Gi-Oh team) there was 8 guys and me and we were best in Lithuania everyone were afraid of us, we would go to other cities disturbing peace in their locals. In Baltic countries I was well known, as I had won the Crush Card Virus prize card in the past and I did a trip to Poland Gdinia and Germany Berlin and just took 1st places everywhere I went. I was a 14-17 year old teen back then, but now I become known as a club organizer of CardFightVanguard.

Jaime: That’s an impressive track record! It’s amazing how your success has transferred into Vanguard. How did you start playing Cardfight Vanguard?

Ieva: I had some issues with the Yu-Gi-Oh Community (I was organizer of my city back then too), but with years, the Yu-Gi-Oh community became more and more toxic. For example, players would not listen to me and start playing out of money or every time I bring I new player they would get every penny out of the player. It was pretty normal to do so in Golden Yu-Gi-Oh times, but when the game started dying, I tried to change those toxic players. But they didn’t change and we started a war. One day I just decided to not put my energy to it anymore and it was around that time when I first saw CFV 1st anime episode. Then I found more people who also wanted to try out the game and we started locals that didn’t have official Bushiroad support for like 5 years.

Jaime: Oh wow, that’s unfortunate to hear your local Yu-Gi-Oh community became more toxic! I’m glad you were able to get out of that environment and started Vanguard on a positive note. During your preparation, what are some things that you mainly focused on? Certain matchups, deck builds, strategies, etc.

Ieva: To tell you the truth I’m not a competitive player, I do not play competitive as it sometimes makes me look ugly. I was super competitive in the past and would make head judges cry all the time, but then I realized that I’m having more fun by playing not competitive and being a good community member, if that makes sense.

As I’m playing TCGs for a long time I do not need a lot of preparation for the tournament, I only need good meta choices, but if I’m being serious then I would need at least 2 hours of playtime in a day if not more, plus theoretical preparation like learning card effects, knowing all the rules and watching other people play, everything you need to be able to play mind games.

Jaime: Definitely understand that there’s a balance to have. One being too competitive with a negative attitude does make people look ugly ha. I can see with your experience over the years, you don’t need as much time to prepare. Which is good, it means you’ve learned and have gotten smarter at deck building. What made you decide on Murakumo to play with? Why HYU-GA Nue Daio?

Ieva: I had a quite long break from Premium because of the lockdown, but I did had general idea what is the meta. When I was choosing the deck, my mind was clear as a water, I knew that this deck is easy to play, I will not get tired, it is hard to counter (especially with my risky play style), and it beats up loop decks with Heat Elemental, Howam. It was an obvious choice for me and I made it in little less than 2 minutes.

Jaime: Yes, even if you hadn’t played recently, you can come back real quickly since you were still keeping up with the metagame. Awesome, let’s dive into your deck list. I see that you’re playing 3 copies of Shibarakku Viktor, 2 copies of Yasuie Genma, and 2 of Nue Daio. What made you choose these ratios? How did it work out for you?

Ieva: Well, the current meta is super fast if I wanted I could just play 4 cards in my G zone (2x Shibarakku Viktor, 2x Nue Daio). The games are short, usually you only get to stride twice per game. I did needed 3th Nue Daio against a Granblue player because he got 6th dmg OverTrigger (Solemn Vanguard). I always like to flip up Shibarakku Viktor just to have the possibility to make 8th attacks on one turn and I was sure that everyone on WebCam will forget its existence in the G zone and that can make me win the game, but I only used it in the finals as everyone else would be pretty dead from seven attacks already. As for Genma, I used it once in a mirror match to grab perfect guard from my deck and survive his next Nue Daio turn. Like I said, I like to play risky, I do not damage deny my opponent unless he plays Genesis.

Jaime: Wow, key observation about flipping Shibarakku Viktor! I didn’t think about people potentially forgetting about it. I also see that you’ve included cards to copy the name such as 4 copies of Metamorfox and search for another copy with 4 copies of Ariou. Also, I see you’re only playing 1 copy of Meomaru? How did these cards/ratios help you? In the tournament, can you give an example?

Ieva: Metamorfox somehow clicks with me. Like Yu-Yu and his Trickstar. Each time I see Metamorfox it gives me a moral boost for some reason. Maybe because if I would misplay, somehow he can always clear the misplay for me as he can copy the name and I always wanted to try collecting 5 same name units on the field and summon Nue Daio without using Counter Blast in case my opponent would damage deny me the whole game. That would had been so cool is it not?

Metamorfox also works with Oboro Keeper to search HYU-GA. As for Ariou I like the pressure he gives when he gets +10k out of nowhere, he is able to make a big attack with Meomaru and then I’m able to use booster to boost Shibarakku Viktor instead. As for Meomaru I would use 2 copies just in case he would go to damage zone, but this time I sold one to my friend before the tournament, HYU-GA can search him out so there is no need to use more than 2.

Jaime: Very good point on saving the booster for Shibarakku Viktor! I see you’re playing 4 copies of Midoro Pyro, 4 copies of Ataka, and 4 copies of Oboro Keepr. How much did these cards help you with getting your G3s like HYU-GU/Hyakki? Also, how did the 4 copies of Howam helped out in the tournament? Any other card choices you’d like to point out?

Ieva: Midoro Pyro and Ataka were main cards to search out HYU-GA/Hyakki. Oboro Keeper I resolved only one time, but I definitely won that game because of it. Howam was the main card to play against Genesis loop or Gastille, otherwise I would not have won without it.

Jaime: Awesome thanks for explaining those card choices. With this build, what was your winning image for most of your games? Like did you have a setup, game state, or strategy that you focused on?

Ieva: Roll a die to go first, search HYU-GA if needed, call Howam, and then just push my opponent. I never considered damage denying my opponents, if they wanted to then they can damage deny me unless I have Howam. I would only damage deny Genesis.

Jaime: I really appreciate decks that can have a very simple Winning Image regardless of most matchups. It helps with mental stamina. During your games, which decks/clans did you face?

Ieva: I faced Aqua Force, Riverie, Blade Master, Granblue, Dragonic Overlord, Nue Daio, Genesis Loop, Link Joker Messiah, Genesis loop/Control.

Jaime: Wow, you definitely got a wide variety of strong decks! Was there a game you would like to highlight? Like your toughest matchup, best game, break or deal moments, etc.

Ieva: Against Granblue with Solemn Vanguard. I always wanted to play against him and our cardfight was fun, he made me make a choice. If I was going to return back Honoly to deck (with HYU-GA 2nd skill), I would also return his heals and Over Triger back to his deck as well since he revived them to field too. So, on 6th damage, he got the Over Trigger and survived my 2nd Nue Daio that game.

Jaime: Wow, very smart play from Solemn Vanguard! That’s intense with the game with him. During your games, what is something that you appreciated about your deck from the preparation you’ve done? The strategy of it, consistency, power, plays, etc.

Ieva: I appreciated the fact that deck is easy to pilot and doesn’t use a lot of mental stamina. I also liked the fact that everyone has forgotten about Shibarakku’s existence. As Shirayuki is no longer effective against current meta I used Jakotsu Girl for Soul Charge.

Jaime: Mental stamina is very important for a full day of competing. How many rounds were in the tournament? How was your record throughout? Was there a Top 8?

Ieva: 7 Rounds, I was 5-2 before Top 8. Lost against Granblue and Genesis Loop.

Jaime: Wow great record and just barely enough to get into Top 8 as well. How were your finals games?

Ieva: Simple. I went first and I had Howam, so I got damage that I needed to do Nue Daio turn. Furthermore, because of Shibarakku I did 8 attacks while my opponent was still on Grade 2. He could have guarded, but then he would not have a hand to play with.

Jaime: Wow, very quick game and it’s really the Winning Image for this deck too. Glad it worked out in the finals for you like this too. After the tournament, did you take some time to reflect? Anything that you learned from your experience?

Ieva: I got a lot of valuable experience in this Championship and overall I believe that playtesting and having experience in various TCG moments are equally important if you want to build consistency in tops.

Jaime: Awesome, it’s great that you got both new experience and affirming of old ones from other TCGs. Would you like to do any shout outs to people that you know and/or have helped you along your journey?

Ieva: Lithuania Locals, Head Judges of the tournament and my best friend SwieT that nobody knows about it.

Jaime: That’s great stuff! I’m sure your amigos are happy and excited for your accomplishment! Just one more question and we’ll be done amiga. While preparing with Murakumo, did you use/see any social media to help you solidify your build? Such as blogs, YouTube videos/channels, Facebook, Reddit, etc.

Ieva: I do make research about Japanese Meta Decks at 2critical.blog.fc2.com

Jaime: Thanks for sharing! I’m happy to hear it was helpful for your accomplishment amiga! Thanks again for joining me in this interview!

Ieva: Thank you for the interview invitation. It was a pleasure to do this!

Jaime: I wish you the best and hope to see more from you in the metagame! Till next time amigos!

Takeaways

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this interview! I just wanted to highlight some takeaways that can help players out!

Recognize Toxicity And Stay Away

Ieva mentioned, “..with years, the Yu-Gi-Oh community became more and more toxic… I tried to change those toxic players. But they didn’t change and we started a war. One day I just decided to not put my energy to it anymore…”

I’m glad Ieva mentioned this about her experience on how she ended up starting to play Vanguard. Regardless of TCG, toxicity is NEVER okay. It creates for hostile environments and pushes players out of the community.

Unfortunately, it’s what happened to Ieva but she was able to make into a positive with forming a new positive community with Vanguard. It’s really important for all of us to play a part in creating a positive community. New players and veterans should be able to get along and have a great experience, both casually and competitively.

Ieva even tried to help her community that was becoming toxic to take a positive turn, but if toxic people aren’t willing to change, it’s not worth the energy. It takes one bad apple to rot the rest too, so be cautious. Sometimes you may have to leave a group of people for your health and experience.

Mental Stamina And The Importance Of It

Ieva also mentioned, “I appreciated the fact that deck is easy to pilot and doesn’t use a lot of mental stamina.

It’s very important to know what to expect in a current format. Furthermore, how many rounds you’ll be playing if you plan on topping. Ieva recognized and appreciated that her deck was easy to pilot and didn’t take too much mental stamina.

Why is mental stamina important? Glad you asked! During a tournament, your performance is vital on helping you to actually top. Furthermore, you still have to perform, usually at a higher/more demanding level in Top 8.

Literally, many players have made simple avoidable mistakes just simply because they were mentally exhausted. Now, it’s not saying that easy to pilot decks are always the answer. The key factor is to know your deck, its plays, and matchups as MUSCLE MEMORY. Then your critical thinking is geared to reacting to your opponent’s plays.

So when going into a big event, make sure you’re mentally prepared for the deck you’re going to pilot with.

Being Too Competitive Can Be Ugly And Toxic

Ieva mentioned, “To tell you the truth I’m not a competitive player, I do not play competitive as it sometimes makes me look ugly. I was super competitive in the past and would make head judges cry all the time, but then I realized that I’m having more fun by playing not competitive and being a good community member, if that makes sense.

I’m really impressed with Ieva’s humbleness and honesty with this statement she made. Most people aren’t willing to admit faults or issues about them or past times.

It’s not strictly just competitive players that can cause a toxic environment, even the more casual players too. Too much of anything can be an ugly thing.

What really boils down is how you treat others all the time. Belittlement is NEVER okay. How many times we’ve seen people say something along the lines, “Oh I’m not being mean, it’s just the truth that they’re not a good player or it’s not a good deck.” Or even, “Why are you being a try-hard? You’re a scrub just like us.”

There’s a balance of playing both casual and competitive. But also always be a good person overall.

Final Thoughts

Thanks again for reading this Cardfighter Spotlight article! It’s great to see an awesome Cardfighter and Content Creator like Ieva winning 1st place overall! Thanks again to Ieva for joining us today as well! Till next time amigos!

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