This article is part of a four-part series. Interviews with Petr Sochůrek, Simon Nielsen, and Bart van Etten are coming later in the week, so check back for those on each day leading up to Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch.
For this Pro Tour special, I’m doing something a little different. Usually, I try to talk to the big names in the game. But since I play a lot of Magic, I occasionally get to play somebody who isn’t considered a big name, but who impresses the hell out of me. Thus, for some time now, I’ve wanted to do a Pro Tour Special interviewing these players—the ones who aren’t household names yet, but are nonetheless excellent Magic players. While there are more talented Euros out there for Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch, the players that I consider most promising and that have not Top 8’d a Pro Tour yet are all qualified. Naturally, this was the time to interview them.
Maybe these players’ names are not familiar to you yet, but I would be shocked if none of them had Top 8’d a Pro Tour by the end of the year. All four players come with the dedication, the skill, and the love for the game that make a true champion.
Qualified via Pro Club – Silver
Pro Points: 46 lifetime, 9 in 2015-16
Pro Tour Debut: Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011
Pro Tours Played: 7
Best Pro Tour Finish: 18th
Top 8: GP Boston-Worcester 2014 (8th)
Planeswalker Level: 46 (Archmage)
Q: You have been known as a formidable Eternal player in Germany for a long time and have only switched to the competitively supported formats rather recently. What do you like about Vintage and Legacy? What made you switch to Standard/Modern/Limited? How does your experience with these formats now that you have gotten a chance to play them match up with what you thought about them before?
Marc: My main focus has always been on Eternal formats, yes. I mostly like the high density of relevant decisions and low fail rate that Legacy and Vintage decks typically have. By this I mean the relatively low number of games decided by a deck not working due to screw or flood without the opponent being responsible for it (with Wasteland, for example). Eternal decks typically have a high velocity and low converted mana cost, letting both players have a wealth of options throughout the game, so most games are decided by in-game decisions and small deck adjustments. I like all of these things.
My foray into the more competitive formats came about as something of a fortunate accident. I never really cared much for Standard or Limited, but when the last Nationals was announced, I decided to play it just for fun (ELO rating was still in use, so qualification wasn’t an issue). At the time, Standard had a lot of the properties I described just now with a lot of library manipulation via Jace and cantrips.
I didn’t really have a clue what was going on, though, so I asked around if there was a Standard tournament where I could try out my deck. One thing led to another, and I somehow qualified for a Pro Tour by winning my testing tournament, which turned out to be a PTQ. Nationals was a blast and the subsequent Pro Tour was a great experience as well, even though I had no clue what I was doing (I prepared for Extended and it got changed to Modern).
I still played mostly Eternal tournaments, but as time went on, I started going to PTQs here and there, and slowly started going to GPs. At some point, I was hooked. I started going to most of the nearby GPs as well as PTQs because, in the end, regardless of the format, Magic is a great game, and since I’m a competitive player at heart, the natural thing was to seek out better and better competition.
Long story short, while I still prefer Vintage to the other formats and put a priority on playing all the bigger European Vintage tournaments that I can, I have come to terms with the other more supported formats, and enjoy the game and competition regardless of the format.
Q: What are your goals in competitive Magic for this season and/or in the long run?
Marc: In the last two years, I really started to set my eye on the Pro Tour, as the experience there is just great and hard to find anywhere else. I will try my best to stay on the train and do as well as I can on the Pro circuit. To that end, I am aiming to hit Gold status by the end of the season.
Q: You have played in seven Pro Tours, but so far you haven’t had a breakthrough finish. You have also never tested with a real team. Do you think these two things are connected? Why haven’t you joined a team so far?
Marc: Sadly, all too true. I think my lone wolf approach to Constructed has been pretty good so far, as I have been happy with my decks. Limited, however, is a different beast and my preparation in that regard has been lacking and has resulted in very average Limited results. Not having had an accomplished testing team so far is my own fault. Not because I’m against the idea, but because I have a hard time putting myself out there. Maybe I will try to make more of an effort regarding this in the future. For Atlanta, however, lone wolf will have to do.
Q: Traditionally, the German Magic community has been highly competitive on the Pro Tour level, but in the last five years, that has not been the case at all. No German has ever qualified for the World Championship, only Dickmann has ever unlocked Platinum, and the German teams have not fared well in any World Magic Cup. Why do you think the competitive Magic scene in Germany is in such a sorry state?
Marc: I wasn’t following the competitive scene when Germany was part of it. Right now, I have to admit that Germany hasn’t been performing as well as I would hope. Currently, we have no Gold or Platinum players and only 4 Silver Pros. If you compare that to other European nations like Italy, France, or even Denmark (with much smaller populations), that is quite sad. A possible reason might be that our community is not as tightly knit (or knit at all). The best way to get better in general is to play with other good (or better) players on a regular basis, as well as just talking about Magic with other like-minded individuals. If the German community can’t get better organized and connected, I don’t see the state of affairs changing any time soon. As for myself, the same problem arises concerning teams and my limited amount of extroversion. But I have been trying to put myself out there more and would be happy to work as part of a German team in the future.