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Pro Tour Aether Revolt Player to Watch: Andreas Ganz

Andreas Ganz

Age: 31GP Charlotte 2016 Finals
Residence: Zurich, Switzerland
Team: Lingering Souls
Qualified via Pro Club Silver Level, Grand Prix Warsaw Top Finisher
Pro Points: 158 lifetime (16 in 2016–17)
Pro Tour Debut: Pro Tour London 2005
Pro Tours Played: 16
Best Pro Tour Finish: 37th (PT Paris 2011)
Median: 225
Top 8: 2 Grand Prix (1 win)
Record on the last 8 PTs: Limited 16-18-1 (46.7%), Constructed 26-31-2 (45.2%), Total 42-49-3 (45.7%)
Andreas’s PT results: http://www.mtgptresults.com/player/andreas-ganz
Planeswalker Level: 49 (Archmage)
Other accomplishments: 4 times Swiss National Champion; has played in all World Magic Cups as part of Team Switzerland

Q: In the late 1990s, Alex Shvartsman and others established a lifestyle now affectionately called “The Grind.” Top American players flew around the world and played Grand Prix on all continents. In the 2000s, most Americans retired from this lifestyle. Instead, Japanese Pro Players like Saito, Tsumura, and Nakamura are now spotted at GPs around the globe. With one exception, Euros never really picked up the Grind. You are that exception, having played Grand Prix on all continents and in more than 20 countries. What led you to pursue that lifestyle, and what kept you motivated? Why do you think the Magic jet set has almost completely died out?

A: When you have a game as great as Magic and you simply enjoy playing it, for me motivation has never been much of a problem. It also was not a conscious choice to play GPs on most continents, but rather just the way things developed back then when there was no points cap and you could still grind Pro Points. This way I could try to maintain level 4 or 5 in the old Pro Players Club system. I assume that this is also one of the main reasons for the Magic jet set to die out. For most players there is just no need to travel to too many GPs.

I assume that in the early days of Magic, the best players had a much bigger edge over a GP field. With information about new decks not being that easily and quickly available online, it must have been much easier to justify flying to a far away event of a rather small size compared to today’s GPs.

GP Vienna 2013Q: For a short period last year you were the player with the most Pro Points that had never made the Top 8 of a Pro Tour or Grand Prix. The 120+ Pro Points you collected in that period were certainly a testament to your skill, but on the other hand, one cannot help but wonder why that was the case. How did you manage to finish well so consistently, yet not even once break through to a Top 8? At some point you surely must have started to wonder how likely it was that none of your win-and-in opponents ever rolled over and died to mana screw. How did you experience this? Last year you finally shattered the barrier with a win in Charlotte. That must have been a big relief. Looking back, did this change anything in you, or your approach to the game?

A: Having the dubious honor of being the player with the most Pro Points but no GP Top 8 did feel miserable, especially since people kept bringing it up constantly, and all I wanted to do was to get rid of that title.

Besides not playing well enough, I wish there was some other simple explanation as to why I kept coming up just short of a Top 8 finish on multiple occasions. In the beginning, it was easy to ignore the fact and try to play better and make fewer mistakes, but over time it eventually made things more difficult when I was in that spot, and I think it did affect my game and might have made me play worse in those situations—sometimes playing not to lose, rather than to win, or thinking about failing again instead of being 100% focused on the game at hand.

Another reason is that early on, I never had a fixed team I tested with for PTs, and to say my preparation was lacking would be an understatement.

Finally, winning a GP didn’t really change my approach to the game, but I feel like it did provide a confidence boost. Before, I might have been questioning too many things and plays, ultimately leading me to make sub-par strategic decisions, whereas now I feel less pressure in these games.

Q: At Pro Tour Aether Revolt, Wizards launches the Team Series. North Americans with their 20 Platinum Pros should be able to form teams with relative ease. On the other hand, it seems difficult for South Americans and APAC competitors to form teams from their region. What is your initial impression of the Team Series? Was it difficult for you to build a team in Europe? How much did it matter that you were not part of one of the previously established teams?Winner at GP Charlotte 2016

A: I expect the Team Series to greatly increase the attractiveness of the PT coverage for the audience at home, creating many interesting story lines of teams competing and the whole thing ending with a close race similar to what we have seen with the top GP player race last season. Viewers can now root for their favorite team and this might add some of the suspense and excitement that we often get to witness at the World Magic Cup.

Finding a team for the Team Series proved sort of difficult, but part of it has to be attributed to me just waiting too long to start looking for a team. With my former teammates no longer playing on the Pro Tour, not being part of a previously established team didn’t help with the process, and once you remove all the super teams from the player pool, there aren’t that many players left who are qualified for at least the next 2 Pro Tours with a shot at qualifying for the 3rd Pro Tour as well. Because of these limitations, there will be a few teams that are made up of “mercenaries” who do not really test together, but rather just pool their points as sort of a community of purpose.

Q: You are known as a player who will always opt for combo decks if there is something available in at least tier 2. This suggests that you don’t really like to interact with your opponent. But on the other hand, you are a complete Limited aficionado, playing Constructed mostly by necessity. Limited doesn’t give you the freedom to ignore your opponents, though. How do these traits go together? What keeps you intrigued about Magic?

A: While I can’t deny that I have an affinity for combo decks, I always try to make a non-biased deck choice and go with what I think is the best deck for a given event. Over the years I have played all sorts of different deck types in different formats. But one factor contributing to my preference for combo decks might be that creature combat is one of my weaknesses and that I don’t particularly enjoy playing grindy midrange decks.

Overall, Constructed just doesn’t resonate with me that much, as there are often repetitive play patterns. Playing the same matchup over and over again starts to get boring quite quickly. As a consequence, designing new decks to attack a format isn’t one of my strengths and something I need to put more time into. It also doesn’t help that I almost exclusively play Limited on Magic Online as it is the format I enjoy the most, since every Draft or Sealed deck forces you to make lots of decisions about the composition of your deck in a short time frame and every card pool presents you with a new and unique challenge.

I believe that in Magic there are Constructed nations and Limited nations. In certain countries, Constructed is much more popular than Limited, and I like to think of Switzerland as more of a Limited country. Back in the days, during the summer holidays, we would always draft multiple times a day and, having always played much more Limited than Constructed, this is where my preference for 40-card decks comes from.

The most important factor when it comes to keeping me intrigued about Magic is the game’s constant evolution, forcing you to learn new formats and to evaluate new cards with every set that is released, which presents new challenges and “puzzles” to be solved. Unlike many other games, Magic doesn’t get too stale or boring over time.

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