Original Interview in Japanese http://forum.shuffleit.nl/index.php?topic=5058.msg21027#msg21027 with translation by SSLY. Mercury444f plays JNails on Sunday, October 31st at 1600 UTC. For info on the other quarterfinalists see https://dominionstrategy.com/2021/10/28/dominion-online-2021-championship-final-8/
SSLY: Hi everyone! Here is a text interview with Mercury444F, one of the quarterfinalists of Dominion Online Championship 2021. Congrats, Mercury! Besides 2017 and 2019, this is the third time you made the way to the top 8. So well, could you tell us about yourself? How old are you, what did you major in in the university, what do you do for living, and anything else?
Mercury444F: Born in 1995, I’m 26 now. I haven’t been as highly educated as other Japanese players graduating from well-known universities that they are willing to reveal, unlike me. I’m barely surviving shachiku — an exploited lower employee — life. The job is one in the strong Dominion cards.
SSLY: How has your life changed since the last time you were interviewed? In particular, how did the pandemic hit you?
Mercury444F: Honestly, I feel not much has changed in my everyday life. The pandemic actually caused irl Dominion circles I used to attend, including To-Domi, to stop their activities, and deprived me of opportunities when I could interact with other players. It terribly made me less enthusiastic about Dominion, as proved by the result of the last championship. 2020 was to me a year of stagnation, though the defeat in turn fired me up.
In the meanwhile my friends introduced to me the Pokemon TCG in late 2020. It reminded me of the fun of card games, and so I got to more Dominion this year. It had a very positive effect on me.
SSLY: Looking at your Tweets, you seem to have been busy with work lately and also very absorbed in a lot of games. What game do you play other than Dominion, and what do you like about it?
Mercury444F: I’ve played a wide range of games, though not played each deep. I don’t play player-versus-player games these days. Pokemon TCG and Dominion are the only exceptions.
Now I enjoy Genshin Impact on PC, and Arknights on smartphone. All parts of Genshin Impact such as the world, character modelling, and motions are IMO of the highest quality. Highly recommended if you can play with a good computer. Arknights is a sort of tower defense game. It achieves both joy and complexity of the genre, and offers a really enthralling story and world. It has a useful autoplay feature that can do almost all tasks you otherwise might have to spend time completing. Even if you are shachiku like me, you can enjoy all the entertaining sides of the game.
My main focus is on the two competitive card games, but those stories and characters bring great pleasures to me.
SSLY: Do you have a favorite board game other than Dominion?
Mercury444F: Generally I’m bad at games, bad at fighting for wins. I’m a perfectionist too, who can’t bear any mistakes at the early stages of games. Maybe my nature is not ideal for a kind of board game. Anyway I can say I like it, especially the one that gives an uncompetitive “win” to a player with the greatest excitement. Some of the games I’ve enjoyed before are Seasons, Village, Concept, etc.
SSLY: Your R6 match with another Japanese player kazumaru0828, continued for loooooong hours with just a break and you finally won the great battle. Can you review it? What do you think is a decisive game/choice?
Mercury444F: All the games, except G3 of a Governor board, were intensive engine-building boards, so I had to super concentrate throughout the match. I was beaten thoroughly in the games I lost, while when I got I had to take an adventurous risk. I was lucky as a whole. In G7 I fortunately got the first player, and even after my opening for Recruiter was different from his, I confidently accomplished my plan.
SSLY: Do you have any logical/superstitious moves you always do when you have an important match?
Mercury444F: I don’t play before the match on that day. Listening to music, and caring for my conditions to be ready.
SSLY: Among the top 8 players, who do you pay much attention to, and why? If you were not, who would be the champion?
Mercury444F: One is sillypotter. He is now really one of the best players in Japan. I played with him in 2019 and barely won, but I guess he has improved so much in these 2 years that he can reach the final. If I have a match with him, I’ll do my best to win again.
Of course all the others are famous strong players too. I’ll have to have a severe struggle with them. All of them are worthy of the belt, but nasmith99 is the most eye-catching. I want to be a dark-horse contender.
SSLY: You answered in 2019 that you started Dominion after Guilds was released. Can you tell me more details on your career? What drove you to Dominion, with whom/how have you played?
Mercury444F: One of my friends I played with Yu-Gi-Oh introduced Dominion to me, and I found it very inspiring. I played a lot in the group. Looking for hints for improvement, I watched the videos sangatsu uploaded at the time. Quite shocked by his higher level of playing than mine, I started Goko he played, with a genuine desire to be much much stronger.
SSLY: And I think you joined To-Domi at some point. How did you find it?
Mercury444F: While playing online, I luckily got acquainted with a lot of players. When an offline event took place for them, I was invited and got to talk with the main members of To-Domi. They kindly asked me to join. So far I’ve played there.
SSLY: Which do you like between the 4-player format (note: popular in Japan) and the 2p?
Mercury444F: Having a background of playing TCG, I think I’m better at and prefer 2p than 4p, which involves a bunch of interactions between players. 4p for sure has amusing aspects the other doesn’t have, but I admit that I play hard in 4p partly for domestic reputation, whose prerequisite is being good at the format.
I’m sure that multiplayer games are more interesting if you have a lot of people getting together in excitement. I like both of the two after all, but from the perspective of pure competition I’m for 2p.
SSLY: 2 years ago your least favorite card was Sea hag. Is it still the case after Menagerie came out?
Mercury444F: The card I hate the most now is Black Cat. It deals out a lot of Curse at once ignoring any kind of defences, and thus stops us from buying Victory cards. Its stalemate where we first have to collect a bunch of cats reminds me of that of Possession.
SSLY: Your most favorite card was Remodel. Is it?
Mercury444F: Yes, Remodel. So far, and definitely for the future.
SSLY: Have you deep played Menagerie? What is the most favorite card in the set?
Mercury444F: I feel getting to a certain level of skills the set demands, but still having little experience with the set and more cards to research, especially compared to the performance other top rankers show. My favorite is Falconer, but I like it so much that I’m often deluded into picking in situations when it doesn’t fit. I should appropriately value it on each board.
SSLY: Of all the cards, which do you think is the most difficult/challenging that you are the best at all over the world?
Mercury444F: Renaissance and Menagerie added a lot of somewhat powerful cards that deserve to be mentioned here. I came up with Innovation. Above all, I’m always careful of decisions about Remodel even despite its non-complex appearance.
SSLY: Any rampant speculations about the next expansion, Allies?
Mercury444F: In the last expansion, Ways made a lot of changes to Dominion. Since Adventures I’ve seen various elements added by Landscapes. I hope that Allies have cards with simpler abilities that will be able to develop astonishing chemistry with Landscapes, and that will open up a frontier in the card pool, as coming complicated gimmicks no doubt will do.
SSLY: If you take a sightseeing trip, or a grand tour abroad for ultimate mastery of Dominion, where do you want to go?
Mercury444F: I often say my ambition is to win the Japan Championship and use up the prize of travel money to the World Masters in Indianapolis, for a pilgrimage to Manhattan instead, one of the places of my favorite novel GOSICK. Anyway I know so many strong players in the U.S. and Germany that I would visit them to play irl.
SSLY: Do you have any words for your fans?
Mercury444F: “Fans” sound like a one-way relationship. I don’t think I have, but I’m glad if they watch anime so much, because now I have few to talk with about it in Dominion communities.
SSLY: Whose fan are you?
Mercury444F: I’ve loved for a long time Kazuki Sakuraba, the author of GOSICK. Of course I‘ve read many of her works. All the stories she writes are very fascinating, intricate, and compelling to me.
I’m also dedicated to Rimi Nishimoto, a voice/stage actress. Her activities and performances give me a lot of energy. She is very strict with herself and always does her best to the full extent. She provides me with a model in any field.
SSLY: What advice do you have for those looking to improve? In addition, a few aspiring to the top of the leaderboard ask you for something helpful.
Mercury444F: Though my answer was always “Read GOSICK” in previous interviews, repeating once more will be boring, and I know increasing Japanese players as well as ones overseas will read this interview, so I have real advice here. The most important thing, I believe, is to play as many games as possible, without being worried about your level or rank so much. Though aiming at a certain rating or rank might be good, slipping it into your purpose would be a kind of sheer waste. We have a lot of competitions, for example the Dominion League and its counterpart in Japan. Those are the best chances to show your skills. Practice every day so that you can win the tournaments, and your rating will go up after all.
Well, as for the 1st rank, it would depend not only on your skills but largely on luck and condition of other top players. If you are really ready and see them suffer, you could eagerly go for it.
SSLY: Finally, how do you want to dive in the concluding phase of the tournament?
Mercury444F: I admit I don’t have as good real skill as the other quarterfinalists. I can’t afford mistakes in games. I’ll do everything I can until the matches, so that I can show more performance than you would expect from my skill.
SSLY: Thank you very much for answering the interview!
To-Domi: To-Domi (The Tokyo Dominion Circle) started as The Dominion Circle of The University of Tokyo a long ago, and was one of the groups in which many top Japanese players in Tokyo gathered every weekend.
Genshin Impact: https://genshin.mihoyo.com/en/home
Kazuki Sakuraba: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazuki_Sakuraba
Rimi Nishimoto: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rimi_Nishimoto