Interview with Emikaela, Elite Circuit Grand Champion!

The first TESL Champion Series Elite Circuit season has concluded! The Grand Final saw Dust, Emikaela, and Traitor-Joe (our three Championship winners) face off against each other and Petamax, who was the top point earner for the season.

In the end, only one player could walk away with the title and the $2,500 grand prize…and that player was Emikaela! She was able to continue her dominance of the circuit after her Championship #2 victory with a flawless run in the Grand Final.

After a performance like that, we had to get her back for another interview to get her reaction to winning the most prestigious Legends tournament so far.

First off, a huge congratulations for winning the Grand Final with an undefeated match score! As you mentioned in our previous interview, the qualifier that got you to Championship #2 (which you then won) was your first Legends tournament. The other competitors in the Grand Final all had a lot more Legends tournaments under their belt. Did you feel like you had a lot to prove going into the Grand Final? Any nerves?

Thank you! I actually think it worked somewhat to my advantage that I was the least known player. I had some rough idea of what to expect from all the others, while my playstyle and preferences were probably harder for them to predict.

I never felt like the underdog of the tournament and didn't mind if others casted me as such. Not too bad with the nerves. Sure, I would have been disappointed if I just got clearly outclassed but I was happy with my preparations and tried to play to the best of my ability and in the end, that's all we can do.

TESL Emikaela Championship ShoutScout

You said before that Chanter of Akatosh was one of your “pet cards” that you had trouble getting to work... well, it seemed to work for you pretty well in the Grand Final. How did you come up with that Chanter Tribunal deck?

My teammates jele77 and ReiReiBarker were brainstorming different Tribunal ideas, one of which had a token + Betray theme going, and I had this crazy idea to try Chanter in it. So I basically took what I liked from each of their decks and added Chanter. And Camels, obviously.

At first I think I expected to play it for a few games, losing most of them, before going back to testing serious decks again after I got it out of my system. Well, that's not how it happened, as it turned out way stronger than it looked and after a day or two of testing and tuning it was a solid lock-in for the lineup. I hope this story can serve as inspiration to all of you to not let your memes be dreams.

What kind of decks were you expecting from the other players? Did you wind up predicting correctly?

We were more or less on the mark. I was surprised that my Telvanni deck (which was not exactly typical for the house) was the only one in the tournament, and I didn't get around to testing with or against midrange Monk or red Crusader but neither was a big surprise. The complete absence of Hlaalu was noteworthy.

TESL Emikaela Championship Telvanni

How did you decide on your lineup of decks for the event?

Scout was a lock fairly early, as it's both a deck I know well and a current top tier choice. It's good against most of the field and especially strong against other control decks, so from there I looked for something more defensive to counter aggressive decks (which was the Tribunal deck) and something aggressive of my own to be able to race combo and greedy control (Telvanni ended up being my pick for that). I think this particular tournament format encourages a polarized lineup (as you want some sort of counter to everything) so I made certain card choices to amplify that.

If you could construct your lineup over again, would you do anything differently despite your success?

Nothing drastic. Even though the midrange Telvanni deck never really got to shine I still feel like it was a good pick for what I needed, but that would be the most flexible slot if you forced me to swap something. It's also the deck I spent the least amount of time on of the three and I believe the archetype still has a lot of room for exploration.

What was your toughest match of the day?

Game 1 against Petamax is what immediately comes to mind, with me on Chanter Tribunal vs the Abomination. I knew I was unfavored but less so than most people would think, and my plan (barring a lucky Cast into Time, which I assumed he'd play around) was to stall as long as I could to get to my powerful late game.

One highlight was when I realized I should be spending my turn 5 to play a 5 cost removal spell on a 1/1 vanilla creature for tempo, certainly not an intuitive play and not one I recommend you try at home, but it was right for the situation.

TESL Emikaela Championship Shouts

Any shout-outs you’d like to make? I noticed a lot of people cheering for you in Twitch chat and social media - any message for them?

To my fantastic team, The Listeners: couldn't have done it without you.

It was great to see so many people cheering, some of whom being my fans from the start and others getting convinced during the course of the tournament. Thank you!

Some people may have been surprised to hear my voice for the first time in the post-game interview, as I don't think the topic of me being transgender has come up before in the community. It is what it is and I love you all.

I've had quite a few people ask if I stream or if I plan to start doing so. Yes, any day now. :)

Congratulations once again! Hopefully we see much more of you in the Legends tournaments to come!

Thank you! I'm not sure when this is going live but at the time of writing I'll be playing in the Go4TESL Monthly Final this Thursday, so that would be one place to look.