Ruel Ultimatum – Nelson vs Matignon, a Playoff Preview

Hi everyone!

Pro Tour Paris will be the scene of one of the most exciting Magic matches ever: the POY playoff between Guillaume Matignon from France and Brad Nelson from the USA. Limiting this match to a battle between USA and the rest of the world would be simplistic; 2 of the game’s best will play for a spot in Magic history, and in a few years, the winner is almost guaranteed of reaching the Hall of fame.

It is a bit sad that the winner’s prize will only be a bigger room for the 3 PTs and Worlds in the upcoming year (not mentioning that one of the 3 PT will already have been held when the winner is crowned). I believe that the POY should get the right to create a card of his own. This way, the Magic Invitational’s winner prize, that cost nothing to Wotc and satisfies everyone, would be back.

Ever since Olle Rade won the first Player Of the Year title back in 1996, this is the first time that 2 players end up tied in the race, so whoever the winner will be, he will already have enriched Magic History with a new nice story. I really wish that Wotc will find new and exciting formats, if possible skill-intensive, so that everyone enjoys the show and both players have fun no matter what happens in the end.

As I am looking forward to this match with excitement, I figured that it would be nice to have an introduction featuring both players interviews in order to know them a little better.

Hi Brad, thanks for answering this interview!

Please introduce yourself as a normal human being:

-Well I live in Fargo North Dakota. It gets very cold in the winter here so I spend most of my free time at my house during this time. I will go out and about during the summer. This is probably why I started playing Magic so long ago.

Please introduce yourself as a Magic player (results, team, goals, how much time it took you to reach the PT/the gravy train):

-Now days I am a Level 8 Pro, but this was not the story a year ago. I started playing Magic in high school but started competitive play after Skullclamp was banned. It took about 4 years of seriously playing the game to finally get my chance at Pro Tour Honolulu. Since then I have spent a ton of time testing with the core of Team Channelfireball and such greats like Gerry Thompson, Brian Kibler, and Patrick Chapin.

My goals are to just play the best Magic I can possibly play. I think this is the only thing you can control in this game and there for the more important.

-What does the POY title mean for you?

-The title became important to me as soon I was in a place to take it. POY is one of the most honorable titles you can have in this game and I know it is something I really want.

-You had a huge lead before Worlds, what happened there? What were your feelings during the semies then during the finals?

-I wasn’t able to get anything going during the tournament. I don’t think I was playing bad Magic, but that is what happens sometimes. I just wasn’t on top of my game like I was earlier in the season. It is hard to always play the best possible Magic I can and was not able to get into the right gear.

I was a train wreck during the PV/Guillaume match. It was very intense since I had no control over it.

-What would you like to look like for the playoff match, something fun such as Invitational formats or something more professional such as Standard/Extended/Legacy?

-I would really like it to be three best of three matches. The formats would be the three formats we played in the Pro Tours last year. This would not only be the formats that got us to this playoff, but also a very intense metagaming experience.

-If you had to play the playoff in standard, Matignon would probably play one of Wafo’s stupid control deck. Would you play a deck with 4 Duress/4 Negate main deck? Or knowing that he knows that you might do it, Matignon might just opt for a very aggressive deck … how would you react to this 2 man metagame?

-That will just have to be a secret. 🙂

-What is the format you master the most? What is your favorite one?

-Zendikar Block is by far the format that I would consider myself a master at. I spent a lot of time working on it and knew almost every card interaction and what was the correct decision.

-I have been campaigning for the POY to earn the right of designing his own card as there is no more invitational, what would yours look like?

-I made up a card while hanging out with Zac Hill while in the Community Cup last year. This was also right after I won a Grand Prix and Top 8ed a Pro Tour so I was feeling pretty unstoppable.

Creatures with power less than or equal to (creature) cannot attack you.

-If the POY had to pick an already existing card, and make it a promo foil one with his face on it, which card would you pick?

Iwamori of the Open Fist

What kind of relationship do you have with Guillaume? (rivalry, did not notice he existed before he won Worlds, friendship … ?)

-Pure friendship. I learned of Guillaume durring Pro Tour San Juan and ever since then he has been a big part of each Pro Tour. We currently are 1-1-1 in competitive play but the draw was more of a win on his part. I played Guillaume in round 14 of that event and he just needed a draw to make Top 8. With lethal on the stack he offered me a draw in this match and gave me a great chance to make Top 8. Ever since then he has been someone I hang out with briefly at each event and is one of the nicest guys on the tour. He just loves to play Magic and his smile is probably the most contagious on the Pro Tour. We need more people like Guillaume on the Pro Tour. His attitude is just so great.

-According to you, who is the best player in the world?

-Probably Paulo. He just plays at such a high level and is always making correct decisions. His stats are also pushing those of the best in the game. I do think before he retires that he will have the most Pro Tour Top 8’s in the games history. This is kind of why I liked making fun of him during the POY race. It will probably be my only chance to be ahead of him in it.

-Surprisingly and for the first time in years, the POY will not be a road warrior who played every single GP across the globe. What does it take to perform such good results as yours? How important is the mental aspect?

-Mental preparation is very important. To do well in an event you have to be playing great Magic and also get a bit lucky. Sometimes this luck does not need to happen and you can push through a string of bad luck and still finish high. The ups and downs can really hurt a persons results when they are not staying close to the ground and working hard.

I might not have traveled to every event but I was always playing the game. People have asked me how to get to my level and all I tell them is to play as much Magic as I do for an entire year and ask me then. I play around 30-70 hours a week every week. I love the game and work very hard on being as good as I can.

-What is the best deck you have played in a tournament, what is the worst?

-I honestly like every deck I have ever played in an event. My favorite is probably Doran in Extended. The swiss rounds were somewhat of a joke since the deck beat almost every other deck in the format.

-What is your favourite combo/card association with synergy ever?

Lotus Cobra

-What is your best tournament memory?

-Defeating Kai Budde in the Top 8 of Pro Tour Amsterdam.

Even though I am pro player, I still am first a fan of the game. I have always watched these great players win events and dreamed of doing it myself on day. The last few years have been great but I was always curious what it would be like to play one of the best players in the World. I am also probably the only person that would want to play against Nassif in a control mirror but when I got called for my feature match against him at Grand Prix D.C., I jumped in excitement.

Playing against the best players in the world is what drives me to competitive level events and the chance to beat the best ever is something I will never forget. It also let me get a glimpse of how great of a guy he is.

-Are you planning on playing GP Paris if the prize pool stays the same with 3000 players than it would be with 100, or would you rather take some good time in Paris?

I am the champion of the biggest Magic event in the history of US Magic. Now I want to be in the World. 🙂

-What do you do when you are bored because of a MTGO downtime?


-You are about to become one of the game’s legend, who was the best ? Finkel or Budde?

I don’t have any way of answering that question.

-You have just won the POY, you are starving, what will be your lunch: Baguette/camembert/red wine or Big Mac/French Fries/Coca-cola?

-I don’t eat fast food anymore so I would assume the first even though I have no clue what it is.

-Guillaume will very likely read those lines, do you have a message for him ?

-I may not be smiling as much as you durring our match, but just know I am smiling more on the inside.

Thanks a lot for answering this interview, good luck for the Battle, and might 2011 be as good as 2010 was for you!

Brad, is more than just a great Magic player, he also is a supernice guy that I will be glad to know better in the future. He answered the interview really quick and put his heart into it.

I remember asking him what his goal was in Magic day 1 in Amsterdam. He answered that he would try to collect over 100 Pt points in his 2 first years on the train. With such a tough goal to reach, and already 66 points in the basket, Brad is doing his best to become one of the best players of all time.

Also known as FFfreak, Brad is usually considered as the best Magic Online player. He is a very good living advertisement for the virtual Magic program, showing how tough work there can show insanely good results on the professional scene.

I was watching the World’s semies and finals matches with Brad, I can tell you from there how much he wants to become POY. Even though Matignon is one of my best friends, I will also cheer up for Brad as both players really deserve the title, good luck buddies, may your match be legendary!

Next week I will ask the same questions of Guillaume Matignon.

Thanks everyone for reading, have a sweet year 2011!



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