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Hall of Fame 2013 Candidates – Martin Juza

This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with potential Magic Hall of Fame candidates in the 2013 class.
Previous interviews:

Justin Gary
William Huey Jensen
Ben Stark
Willy Edel
Paul Rietzl
Guillaume Wafo-Tapa
Tomoharu Saito

318 lifetime Pro Points
28 PTs played
2 PT Top 8s (7.1%)
0 PT wins
2 PT Top 16 (7.1%)
3 PT Top 32 (10.7%)
5 PT Top 64 (17.9%)
12 PTs at Top 64 or better (42.9%)
15 GP Top 8s
4 GP wins – Bochum 2012, Bochum 2010, Portland 2010, Hiroshima 2011.
Median finish: 87
3-year median: 26.5
Years in PoY top 10: 5
Lifetime winnings: $171,385 (18th)

What is your current relationship with Magic? How would that change if you were inducted in the HoF?

Magic is all I do right now, I play a little bit of poker but not too much. Getting into the HoF wouldn’t change that, I’d still travel the world and play tournaments. Maybe fewer GPs, but I still enjoy it, and I’d still want to hit Platinum every year.

You’re known as a big Limited specialist—what do you think sets you apart in this regard?

I’m not sure, I think I’m just better and faster at understanding the format than other people.
I also like drafting way more than jamming Constructed games, so that helps.

Despite having 15 GP Top 8s, consistently doing well at PTs, and being in the top 10 in the PoY race five times (which is the most out of any candidate in this year’s ballot), you’ve only managed to Top 8 a Pro Tour twice. Do you think there is a specific reason why you excel so much at GPs but not as much in PTs?

Yeah, my PT stats compared to GPs aren’t great. I can’t really think of a specific reason why, hopefully it’s just variance. For whatever it’s worth, I did miss one PT Top 8 on tiebreakers, at X-3 even, and I have a lot of finishes like 10th, 11th, two 18s, two 34s—so pretty much right behind the t16/32/etc. line. The first year I played two consecutive Pro Tours was 2007, so I haven’t even been on the train for that long.

There are people who will just not vote for someone who has less than three PT Top 8s, regardless of other accomplishments. Do you think too much weight is placed on Top 8s in particular?

Yes. Obviously it’s very important, but there are other things. A lot of people are making the argument that you should vote for Huey because Jon/Kai/Dirk/Luis and whoever said he is/was an exceptional player. He obviously also has very good stats to back it up, but you know who else is an exceptional player?

Shouta Yasooka. Ask pretty much anyone who has ever watched him play, and they will tell you that he’s almost like a robot—he plays so fast that when we play for fun, he tells his opponents what to do before they are able to figure it out themselves, he never makes a mistake, creates all his decks himself and alone, and at every tournament everyone is always asking what Shouta is playing. He doesn’t have those 3, 4 or 5 PT top8s but hes always a win or two away and that’s usually just a flip of a coin. So regardless of the number of Top 8s, he’s someone who most people view as one of the very best at what he does, and he’s got my vote.

How much of your time, approximately, do you spend away from home because of Magic?

A lot. I’ve done this ‘play the game, see the world’ thing for a good three or four years. Lately I missed a lot of GPs because there are just too many tournaments, and it was getting a little too tiring. I like to be home and see my family and friends sometimes. I also have a girlfriend now, so that changes things a bit, otherwise I would have probably stayed in the US for Miami and Kansas City after the last three Limited GPs. All things considered nowadays, I probably spend about a quarter to a third of a year away from home.

You’ve traveled about the whole world playing Magic. Right now, is traveling still an exciting experience for you, or is it just part of the job? Do you enjoy the places you get to go to? What was your favorite destination?

Yes and no. While there are still places I’m very excited to go, like Hong Kong later this year, or pretty much any part of Asia or South America, I don’t particularly enjoy European of North American cities. There are exceptions like New York or San Diego, but going to Paris or Houston excites me probably as much as going to Prague. What I like to do is go to a cool sightseeing place between two tournaments close to each other. Before GP Santiago we went to Machu Picchu, between Manila and Yokohama we went to Cambodia for a couple days, and after GP Sydney, Cifka and I got to check out Fiji and Vanuatu which was one of the most awesome trips I’ve ever been on.

What other accomplishments do you have that are not listed on the stats page?

I have won Nationals twice (or three times if you count last year as well), was on the National team for 3 years straight, I won a Constructed GP in Japan, and from time to time people talk about me as being one of the few best drafters in the world.

What is your best memory from Magic?

Probably my first PT Top 8 in Berlin, it felt so amazing and special. Lately it’s been making the Top 4 of the Team GP with Ben and Shuhei—I wanted to win that tournament sooo much.

Have you ever written Magic articles? Can you give us the link to the one/ones you like the most?

I used to write for Blackborder.com (I liked this article the most) and now I write for ChannelFireball, but even though I have a lot of good ideas to write about and I’d like to produce a lot more, I’m a super lazy person and can’t usually convince myself to write something.

What do you think your greatest strength is as a player, something you do better than most people?

As I said before, probably figuring out draft formats better and faster than most people. I enjoy it, and it just seems to all come together in my head so easily.

Do you have a preferred archetype?

Not really, I like to play what I think is the best deck for the metagame.

What are your favorite deck and card of all time?

My favorite deck is probably a tie between Elves and Nassif’s Belcher-Severance deck from my first PT (New Orleans), and my favorite card is [card]Counterspell[/card].

What’s your favorite format?

Drafto.

What Ravnica guild are you?

Simic.

Imagine every person that gets into the HoF gets to make a card to represent them, like the Invitational. What card would you make?

Probably something that would let you take a free mulligan. 🙂

What is your Hall of Fame ballot this year?

LSV, Ben Stark, Huey Jensen, Shouta Yasooka, and I’m not sure about the fifth person yet.

Favorite movie?

The Intouchables.

Favorite book?

The Game.

Favorite food?

Steak and grilled vegetables (or Gyudon when I’m in Japan).

Is there anything you’d like to say?

Getting inducted into the HoF would mean a lot to me. After all, I dedicated a part of my life to playing this game. I don’t want this to sound like I’m campaigning for myself, because there are definitely more deserving candidates on the ballot, but I want to talk about one thing.

In the recent HoF discussions I’m sometimes referred to as a “GP grinder” or the “goes to everything guy”, even though lately most of the U.S. pros probably play more GPs a year than I do. I used to fly all over the world for a couple years, but I feel like I’m being punished for having to go places because I like playing tournaments—simply because our continent doesn’t have half the GPs on it. A lot of the other eligible people or people already in the hall did this kind of traveling at some point. I’m also used to playing in GPs with ~1500 players, not 300, so while Top 8’ing 16 of them might have been easy 10 years ago, it certainly isn’t that easy now.

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