Interview: Eugene Phua on International Play

22nd May 2021 Nicola Price

A Flesh and Blood player for a little under six months, Eugene Phua played his first event at the beginning of January, and since then has carved his name into the competitive scene through our Skirmish event series. Hailing from Singapore, Eugene’s Ira deck was a regular appearance in Top 8 decklists for the first season of Skirmish, participating in tournaments from Singapore to Sweden.

Eugene has been playing trading card games since he was ten years old, and while he dabbled in the competitive scene, he mainly enjoyed playing games with friends.

“I got introduced [to Flesh and Blood] by a friend Sam… he made me a Dorinthea deck basically just made out of commons and rares, to teach me how to play the game… In Singapore, at the time, we didn’t [have access to] the Ira starter deck… so he used his own cards to teach me how to play.

I think I might be one of the earlier people who started playing Flesh and Blood in Singapore… probably around Chinese New Year, in February, it started to pick up… At the moment, shops open up spots for registration [at draft events] and they fill within thirty seconds.”

After playing his first Skirmish event with The Collective, Eugene decided to aim for the 1k XP milestone.

“That was when I settled down and I was like- I should do this, I should grind these events… The only bad side was that I stayed up a lot, you know, because Singapore’s on the other side of the world, and a lot of these events are in Europe and the U.S., so they’re like six to ten hours behind… and whenever I’m playing them I start at like 1 a.m. my time? And by the time six or seven rounds of swiss is over it’s like seven a.m. And if I get into the Top 8 I’ll play until like eight or nine a.m. my time… and then I’ll go for breakfast [laughs]

It’s not too bad, because I know some of us are already used to staying up until like maybe two or three a.m., but like, when you’re playing a card game…”

We previously discussed the struggle of mental fatigue in our interview with Jacob Pearson, and how the structure of decks often take fatigue into account. A deck may be a viable choice for shorter rounds of play, for tournaments and events which can take anywhere from six to twelve hours, decks and heroes are often chosen with mental fatigue in mind. What you play well in hour one will be significantly harder to maintain in the eighth hour of play - and this is only magnified when you’re a player such as Eugene, pulling all-nighters in order to participate in international events.

When we move the discussion to his deck build, and playing Ira across the Skirmish events, Eugene begins to talk about how he enjoys playing Kano, and how the timing of events played into his decision to run his Ira deck.

“I actually built my first [Blitz deck] as Kano, and I played a lot of Kano in Armory… But I realised- for a long game, with like, maybe eight rounds or nine rounds of swiss, I don’t think I want to play Kano, because like, Kano basically has to make more decisions than most decks, and I decided that if I want to have an overall higher win percentage, I want to play Ira. Like, if it’s six rounds of swiss and starts at 1 p.m. my time, that’s different, but starting at 1 a.m.?”


Kano is unique in his ability to be able to play cards on either person’s turn, which makes for a very dynamic game, but is incredibly difficult to continue playing into the sixth hour of an all-nighter. By comparison, Eugene’s Ira deck is more consistent, and allows him to build upon his existing strategies.

But now that Monarch has been released, does Eugene have any intention of picking up a new hero?

“Probably not - in Blitz I just don’t think that they’re aggressive enough to counter the current meta. Somebody can prove me wrong, but… Chane for example, I would say he goes wide… but that leaves him open to defense reactions… the current meta is just very punishing.”

And is he planning to aim for the World Championship?

“Yeah, of course, for sure! ...I’m definitely looking forward to being able to qualify for Worlds. I would definitely travel to play in a World Championship.

When I asked him what he was looking forward to the most for the future World Championship, Eugene specifically talked about the opportunity to battle top opponents from around the world.

“I really enjoy being able to play card games face-to-face - playing online, you know, you can’t read body language. It’s a different atmosphere because like, you can see the person’s face. You can see him laugh, or snicker when he draws his hand… but you know, we chat or banter, and that’s what makes it fun, too.”