Welcome back Mysidians! This week I had the pleasure of talking to Mohammad Zaiem Ahmad, a fellow member of Card of Ivalice's FFTCG team. Mohammad has had a very successful year, coming second at the Lightning CC and again almost qualifying for Worlds at Gencon. Mohammad is known for playing a mean Mono Water, but don't peg him for a one trick pony or you'll be sorry. Read on for the full interview with Mohammad!
Q: Mohammad, anything you'd like to say before we begin?
A: First, I would like to give a few shoutouts. I want to thank my beloved Spiritual Guide and Teacher Shaykh Hisham Kabbani (q), who has inspired me and changed my entire life and guided me to improve as an individual.
Thank you to my parents, my wife, my sisters and rest of my family and friends for all the love and support.
I want to thank my entire team at Cards of Ivalice. They are an amazing group of people who help and care for each other. Thank you, James Lockwood and Sam Prime, for believing in me and inviting me to join your team.
Thank you to Josh Ge who helped me improve and learn a lot, and for all the testing and deck ideas.
Q: Thanks for taking this interview Mohammad, you have had quite a busy year in the world of FFTCG, competing a Crystal Cups and Local Qualifiers alike. What would you say has been your high point so far?
A: Some major highlights would be going undefeated into Top 4 of Reunion and being invited to join Cards of Ivalice. And then going undefeated in swiss of Lighting CC and making it to finals vs Oki with only one loss in Top 4. Oh, and almost making Worlds at Gencon also. This year has been amazingly unbelievable.
Q: With us both being Cards of Ivalice members, I notice that you are constantly practicing on OCTGN and in real life. How would you describe your weekly FFTCG routine? Do you have specific plans when you are preparing for a larger tournament like a Crystal Cup?
A: Due to limited opportunities for me to play offline, majority of my experiences comes from playing on OCTGN, talking to players, and learning from teammates and friends. If I am playing in person, it usually means its an LQ or CC.
Q: Looking more closely at your practice, do you have specific tips for aspiring competitive players? Any attention to detail or habit building that you find particularly relevant?
A: Conserve and understand how your CP works and utilize it optimally. The core of FFTCG as a game is CP efficiency. Find ways to play so that you can make the best play while wasting as little CP as possible. Also, its okay to take early damage, don’t be scared of every incoming attack. Finally, losing games is good for you in practice. You can learn more from one loss then multiple wins. Reach out to stronger players and play them and learn from them. Most players in this game are very approachable and love to help.
Q: As far as I am concerned you have been pretty successful this year. You were very close to worlds at the Lightning Crystal Cup in Richmond but also at Gen Con. In my eyes, you are a favourite at Nationals. Do you see it that way? What goals do you have going into Nationals?
A: I have a lot to learn and I am looking forward to the opportunity to do my best at Nationals. Nationals will have strong players from all over and each win will be hard earned for every player. Everyone starts at 0 wins and so everyone is an equal. My hope is for a very strong NA team. I hope to be able to join them as well in order to continue my growth as a player. That is my goal for Nats.
Q: I am going to ask one of those really dumb sports reporter questions now. How did it feel knocking on the World’s door multiple times this year? Does it increase your drive to get there? How do you work past the frustration of being so close?
A: It is not easy being that close that often, but I also know that its not impossible. I have and will continue to work hard and plan to bring my A game for Nationals. Having the support of my family/team/friends is what motivates and pushes me forward.
Q: Anyone that knows you, know that you enjoy Mono Water. However, after Opus IX released you stepped away from Mono Water. How come? What did you end up playing?
A: Wind/Water because Wind/Water does Wind/Water stuff and it seemed like the right choice. I did make top cut with it at Gencon which I didn’t feel Water would have.
Q: What are your thoughts on the Rikku ban? I know you received a lot of messages asking about Mono Water. But you don’t necessarily think that it affects the match up too adversely. What do you think Mono Water’s weakness is?
A: The second it was banned, everyone flooded me with the same question...Mono water? Time will tell.
Q: When push comes to shove, do you think you will return to Mono Water for Nationals? Of course, there are a lot of variables, your testing, a new set and starter. Besides that, do you feel like Mono Water will make a comeback?
A: Whatever decks I feel will give me best chance at winning my invite is the decks I’ll run. So, if its not Mono Water no prob. One needs to be able to adapt to the meta and plan/adjust accordingly.
Q: Lets switch to a more casual topic. How did you get into FFTCG?
A: I randomly found out about it online and I knew I had to try it. Opus 1 was out in UK and USA just got starters. I bought all my singles online from a UK store and few starters from eBay. No one knew it existed and there was no scene. I taught a few friends to play and finally spoke to a store owner to help me get it started. And now here we are.
Q: What is your favourite memory from playing the game so far?
A: My team, my friends, and all the time I have enjoyed spending with them thanks to FFTCG.
Q: Any message for the community that you would like to share?
A: Support each other, be there for one another. Remember, at the end of the day, this is a game, a passion we all love and share. Its a common bond, so use it to meet new people and make more friends. That is the real win.
Q: Anything else you would like to get off your chest?
A: OMG THAT NEW ASHE coming out soon... (Hopefully I’m not on a hype high)
What is your favourite card in the game?
Cagnazzo or 3 cost Zidane.
Which card has the best art in the game?
Mira or Full Art Foil Chocobo.
Who is the toughest player you have ever competed against?
Sam [Prime] or Josh [Ge] because they rip me to pieces if I make mistakes or misplays (obviously to help me improve).
Foil or non-foil?
I prefer non foils but these full arts though.
Will Fire ever be good?
Describe the Discard mechanic in one word.
Best Final Fantasy?
Tifa: Monk or Martial Artist?
This question is ‘Miles’ above my head.
End of interview.
I just want to thank Mohammad for taking the time to do this interview. He is a busy guy, and I am psyched that we were able to share this interview and Mohammad's knowledge with you all. I want to wish Mohammad good luck at Nationals, and Worlds once he qualifies (which he will). I might as well wish everyone Mohammad is going to play at Nats good luck as well, because you're going to need it.
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Alex is a FFTCG player from Vancouver, Canada. His favourite Final Fantasy is IV and his favourite Elements are Earth and Ice, although he has a soft spot for fire.