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Hall of Fame 2013 Candidates – Willy Edel

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

Lifetme Pro Points: 198
PTs played: 24
PT Top 8s: 4 (16.6%)
PT Top 16s: 0
PT Top 32s: 2 (8.3%)
PT Top 64: 1 (4.1%)
PTs at Top 64 or better: 7 (29.1%)
GP Top 8s: 5
GP wins: 1 (Toronto, 2012)
Median finish: 99
3-year median: 91
Years in PoY top 10: 2
Lifetime Winnings: $96,225 (63rd)

Would you say you started professional Magic at a disadvantage compared to most other players on the ballot, since you live so far from most major tournaments? Does that affect your chances to make the Hall of Fame?

Totally. Living in Latin America (and therefore having very expensive plane tickets) is one of the reasons I had to skip a couple of PTs and didn’t play in many GPs until 2010. Playing less events obviously makes my numbers (4 PT Top 8, 5 on GPs, and 206 Pro Points) less impressive. But when you consider I probably played less PTs/GPs than most people, maybe my numbers aren’t bad at all.

Another (big) disadvantage is that Latin America has only 6 voters (pretty much the same as APAC), Japan has 30ish and North America/Europe have over 90 each. I don’t know the distribution of the Selection Committee, but I’d say it probably follow this pattern. Most people naturally vote for someone they know (for either seeing them play in big tournaments or just by knowing them personally), so considering I’m Brazilian and don’t know many people from NA/Europe, I’d say I’m a huge underdog to get into the HoF unless I have overwhelming stats.

You’re widely acclaimed as one of the driving forces behind Brazilian Magic nowadays. How exactly would you say you impact the community?

I always wanted to live the Pro Player dream, and when I was on the train for the first time (circa 2006) I started supporting everyone in Brazil that wanted it too. That means arranging travel together, lending money for plane tickets, covering hotel expenses, playtesting with PTQ winners, etc. (I still do this actually). I even became a TO during the two years that my hometown didn’t have a single store, and during that time I organized some PTQs, Regionals, and prereleases.

Recently when I was trying to come back to the tour (around 2010), I started running a series of independent tournaments that gave plane tickets for foreign GPs. I stopped doing them after I started to travel a lot, but I’m really proud of this initiative because it ignited the fire for some local players to become a Pro, and shortly after almost all big stores started to run something similar.

I always wrote tournament reports for most PTs I’ve played and some seasonal articles in Portuguese on my blog, and considering the feedback I got, they inspired a lot of people to keep pursuing the pro player dream.

When you first started playing professionally, you were the target of some serious cheating accusations, though things have long since calmed down. Do you have anything to say about that?

The accusations were really unfair. I was new to the PT and I was thrilled we (it was a team event) were having an amazing run so far. I made a mistake (I had [card]Loxodon Hierarch[/card] and [card]Rumbling Slum[/card] in my hand with RRWWG mana available and played the Slum. My opponent called the judge, I got a warning and played the Loxodon instead) when it didn’t really matter, the game was already won and my opponent conceded a turn later. I hadn’t come across a situation where I had a Rumbling Slum and five mana but only one green, so I just played the bigger guy and said go—and I didn’t even need to play anything to win on the following turn.

I obviously agreed with the warning, but the only reason a simple episode generated so much fuss was the fact it was a match between a rising American star versus a completely unknown that couldn’t speak English from a country with one PT Top 8. If a famous platinum player suddenly accuses an unknown from a small country (Magic-wise) of cheating, everyone will be on the pro’s side and won’t listen to the “random player” side.

Since this happened (in 2006), I’ve had 3 more PT Top 8s, 5 GP Top 8s, and 2 Nationals Top 8s. I would be surprised if I have more than 15 lifetime warnings, and I haven’t even gotten a game loss or a match loss for any reason.

You’ve recently gotten famous for being a good deckbuilder, particularly for innovating Modern Jund for every tournament. What is your thought process when tweaking a deck like that?

Modern is a format (possibly like Legacy) so open that you can just always play the deck you like more/feel more comfortable with—with some exceptions of course. To be honest, I’ve never been good at building decks from nothing, my strength is in building the best version of a specific deck for a specific field. I’m not afraid to include new cards in old decks, for example, some people thought I was trolling when I started playing [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] in Modern, and it is now a format staple.

My deckbuilding process is to build the best 75 total cards, which leads to some odd choices—pre-sided cards or a lot of 1- and 2-ofs. It probably deserves an article in the future since it’s not trivial to explain, but the idea is to have the best set of 60 cards vs. each deck of the field out of the 75 you listed. Sometimes you have to make some odd choices like playing [card]Blood Baron[/card] or [card]Lotus Cobra[/card] in Modern, not playing Confidant in Jund, or playing a singleton [card]Keening Apparition[/card] in your Block deck. Sometimes they work, sometimes not, but it always has some reasoning behind it.

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

Nowadays my life is completely intertwined with Magic. As a Platinum player, I could plan my whole year scheduling all the GPs I wanted to play. It’s safe to say I live at least 5 months/year outside of Brazil—I even recently got an apartment in Florida to make my time abroad easier. 95% of my time playing games is spent on Magic Online playing for fun and occasionally grinding QPs. I also have an online Magic store, which is my main source of income. Recently I started writing in English for ChannelFireball. I promise I will write more, but last month was a pretty crazy one for me.

If I am voted into the Hall of Fame, nothing would change in the short term. I’m 34 right now and its safe to say I won’t be able to travel as much as I traveling right now for much time. My wife and I were planning to have a baby next year, and there’s no way I will spend 40% of his or her childhood away. So, I only have this season and maybe another one to post good results to improve my chances of being voted in. Being inducted to the Hall of Fame is something I really want, but I’m not obsessed with it since it doesn’t depend 100% on me. If the voters think I deserve it and have the results, I will make it in. Also, as a HoFer, I would have lifetime PT invites which would be something I would truly value.

What is your best memory from Magic?

My best memory as a player was Top 8’ing PT Return to Ravnica after being out of the competitive scene for almost 5 years, and having another Brazilian and personal friend Top 8 with me. The only time I actually cried with something Magic-related was when BDM called Paulo’s name in his HoF ceremony. In a blink, I remembered the little boy that nobody knew at Worlds 2003 and all the history we’ve had together since. In that moment, he was much more than PV the HoFer, he was representing our whole country, and I was glad I could see every step he made from a privileged position.

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

I have 5 National Top 8s, and I’ve been Platinum (or equivalent in the past) twice without being part of a famous team. Recently, I had 10 consecutive individual GP money finishes, and I’m going to represent Brazil again this year at the World Magic Cup.

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

Yes, one on ChannelFireball and another on BroadCaster Mage in English. My favorite one was the GP Kansas 2011 report I wrote a while ago when I managed to qualify for a PT after an 18-month hiatus. Unfortunately, my personal blog was hacked and I sold my old laptop, so I don’t have access to it anymore.

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

I figure out new Limited formats very quickly without needing to play much.

Do you have a preferred archetype?

Aggro for sure.

What are your favorite deck and card of all time?

Jund and [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card].

What’s your favorite format?

Team Constructed, but if it doesn’t count, Modern Masters draft.

What Ravnica guild are you?

Boros.

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

A red Snapcaster!

Favorite movie?

Shawshank Redemption

Favorite book?

I don’t have a favorite book, I actually don’t think I’ve ever re-read one. Recently I started reading some WoW books, and Arthas is sweet. I’m also currently reading some (awful) book series Paulo recommended to me, but I won’t recommend it to anyone. Don’t ever read any books and don’t ever see any TV show or any movies PV recommends. I’m serious. ( 🙁 – PV)

Favorite food?

Any meat with black beans/white rice. I guess that makes Chipotle the best fast food in the world.

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