For the Brigade of the Sky season of SVO, Himari has been on a tear – earning first place wins in the first two qualifiers. After stumbling in his third qualifier, we chatted with him about what he’s doing to ensure a top finish for this weekend’s Unlimited Qualifier.

SVO: What can you tell us about yourself?

Himari: I’m 22 years old (23 in a month), I’m from Vienna, Austria. I study biotech and Japanese studies. I like literature, film and listen to tons of different music though mainly underground Japanese stuff even though I lack any musical talent. I also DJ a bit. Stuff I like to do are board games, rock climbing, biking and table tennis, in addition to playing Shadowverse obviously.

SVO: Tell us about your history in competitive Shadowverse.

Himari: As to my “competitive” history in SV; funny story is that I knew Onionsheep from University and during a trip, he suddenly said he had to take off to play in a tournament. When the steam release of SV was launched I tried it myself and got hooked. I played pretty casually until approx. the middle of TotG despite numerous attempts by sheep to get me to play in tournaments since he was very involved with the competitive scene through ExG. He even invited me to the admin discord server for ExG but I refused to participate for the longest time until I happened to strike up a conversation with some of the members. I became friends with a now inactive player called MakiNishikinoroll. Back then there were only really 3 teams. Crimson Fencers (where Maki was), Excelsior Gaming (where Sheep was) and Manasurge. No offense intended but I decided that if even Maki could make it on a team, then I should be able to as well. I decided to apply to CF, as Maki was there as well as a few names I recognized, like Ritoko, potwasher, DV8 and Azure124 as I kept stealing their decklists from tournaments. That was shortly before CF disbanded and many members got together to reform as the Team Disastra we know today, which was when I finally joined. Not too long after, ExG also disbanded and I did my best to make sure Sheep and his teammates (Balaen, Essia, Gomms, Omega) would join us.

SVO: Starforged Legends was when I got more serious thanks to the help of my friends on the team. While I didn’t have any success myself, practicing with my teammates helped me improve a lot. For the most part I just had fun with my friends, like watching WGP finals together on a voice call. Then in Chronogenesis I had my first big success with a first-place finish in week 2. That was the first time I seriously thought I might have what it takes to compete with the best. I was pretty surprised and a bit shocked since suddenly while playing that week I got a message from the admins letting me know I was in the top 8 and whether I wanted to be on cam. I was pretty relaxed knowing the grand finals were vs a friend. Then I ended up making the playoffs for CG and winning those although I was pretty disappointed with the mistakes I made.

SVO: Dawnbreak, Nightedge wasn’t great for me since I was busy with Uni, but I did my best to help out my friends to prepare with those who made the playoffs. This season I had a pretty strong start which might carry me to contender’s cup but I’m gonna give the credit for my victories to my team again, as they really motivate me to try harder.

In summary, I really have to say that my friends; my team really brought me to where I am now, my success has been thanks to them. I’m quite forgetful and typically struggle to get things done on time but I know I can rely on them and they will push me to perform better. A special thanks to everyone on the team who manage to keep each other sane.

SVO: What was your mindset going into week 3? Most people expected you to achieve or come close to a 3rd qualifier victory, but we didn’t get to see you on the broadcast.

Himari: About mindset for this week, I had a very busy few days leading up to the third qualifier so I didn’t have as much time to practice as I would have liked but I was quite confident in my deck choices since both Forest and any kind of spellboost Rune are comfort picks for me. Obviously, with the huge point lead, I had for the BotS season I could feel somewhat relaxed as I am locked for top 8 this season. Still, I always play to win, especially when things are so close for qualifying for Contender’s Cup via yearly total points. Every single win matters a lot.

I am humbled to hear that there are people who think more highly of my abilities than I do myself. But I’m aware that even when I win, my play is far from perfect. I definitely still have some plays to improve.

SVO: What are you changing up going into the Unlimited qualifier this weekend to ensure that you make it back on top?

Himari:  For the Unlimited week, there will be some serious Bootcamping to ensure that the team ends up with the first three spots like we did last season. I definitely want to lock up my flight to LA this week. Obviously, I also want to secure my MVP flair for this season.

SVO: Do you have any tips for players who want to enter the competitive scene?

Himari: I have two tips for anyone who wants to get into the competitive scene. The first is: Be efficient. Be efficient with your time and your vials, because you will need both. About collection management; Shadowverse is a game that lets you craft a lot of decks with little monetary investment, but you have to know how to be smart with your resources. I might actually write an article about this soon.

On the topic of time; many of the best players have got full-time jobs and/or are studying and have to fit in all the practice they need in the limited time they have available. To do that you have to spend your time in a smart way. I know many people who spam ladder games endlessly, but that is very poor practice; most ladder players are, frankly speaking pretty terrible and playing into possible random jank will not prepare you for a tournament with open decklists. Playing slowly and not assuming that any given play is obvious will help you improve and hopefully notice your own mistakes. Watch replays from tournaments and consider the available options each turn. Rewatch your replays. 1 hour of serious practice is worth more than 15 hours of mindless grinding.

Second tip; be hard on yourself for mistakes. Stop blaming luck. Everyone knows that card games involve a certain degree of luck, but that does not excuse bad play. Everyone has the exact same odds of getting lucky. You can not influence the luck of the draw, all you can do is ensure you play as close to perfect as possible, so review your losses and make sure there wasn’t a single turn where you could have given yourself a chance to win, even against an opponent with destiny draw.