Javier Dominguez

Twitter: @Thalaiet
Age: 31
Residence: Palau, Catalunya, Spain
Team: Hareruya Sword
Qualified via Pro Club Platinum Level, GP Barcelona Top Finisher, GP Copenhagen Top Finisher, 2017–18 Team Series Top Teams
Pro Points: 302 lifetime (#63 Worldwide, #1 in Spain)
Pro Tour Debut: Pro Tour New Orleans 2003 (Extended)
Pro Tours Played: 31
Best Pro Tour Finish: 5th (PT Rivals of Ixalan 2017)
Career Median: 168
Top 8: 2 World Championships (1 win), 1 Pro Tour, 10 Grand Prix (2 wins)

Q: You have been around for ages, playing your first Pro Tour in 2003. Although you’ve played many Pro Tours and your results were decent back then, you never made any waves. After 2006, you seemed to have quit competitive Magic for some time. Eight years later, at the beginning of 2014, you made your first Grand Prix Top 8 and suddenly your career went into overdrive: 9th at Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar in 2015, great results throughout the 2016–17 season that lead to Platinum and a qualification for Worlds, and eventually your first Pro Tour Top 8 and the World Champion title this year. How did you go from a good player in the mid-2000s to one of the greatest in the game ten years later?

I think the change happened slowly—it just doesn’t happen in one day. The more you get used to playing in those high-level tournaments, the better you get at it. Also, having more experience just helps in general.

Q: You have had Grand Prix Top 8s in Legacy, Modern, Standard, Limited, and Teams—basically, you’ve demonstrated your ability to succeed across the board. But are there any formats that you prefer to others? And what kind of player are you? Do you prefer certain kinds of decks, or do you just play whatever it takes?

I like formats with Eternal cards, like Legacy or Commander, but mostly I just enjoy Magic. I don’t see a huge difference between formats. It’s just Magic to me.

I do like decks that have a long-term plan like Martyr Control, and I like decks that are prepared to change gears. But overall, I just play what I think is best since I actually enjoy all kinds of decks.

Q: You are known not only as a successful player on the Pro Tour, but also as an MTGO grinder. There has always been a lot of complaining about the quality of the MTGO experience, but in the last few years this seems to have receded somewhat despite no overwhelming changes to the client. How do you see the state of MTGO at the moment? And what do you think about Arena? Will we see actual competitive play happening there or is it “only” for the more casual players?

MTGO has always had a lot of issues, but I’ve been OK with it. I found it just good enough, since it lets me play competitive Magic from anywhere at any time. I love Magic Arena. I didn’t expect to even like it, but I love the whole experience it provides. I’m not even sure it would work for competitive play, but I think it’s a very good program as-is.

Q: Spain is known for its large and enthusiastic Magic scene, yet Spanish players don’t seem to make the leap to competitive play easily. You are actually the first Spanish player with sustained success on the Pro Tour level. Previously, the most successful players had been Joel Calafell, who made Top 8 of PT Berlin in 2008, and after that Antonio Del Moral León, who won Pro Tour Fate Reforged in 2015. Both players were not able to or did not want to continue competing at the highest level, though. Looking at Spanish Pros right now, there is no one but you. The country has one Platinum—you—no Gold, and only three Silver-level players. Why do Spanish players fail to make the leap and how did you break the pattern?

I think the state of Magic in Spain is better now than before. Having four Silver+ level players is unusual for Spanish Magic. I think that having a group and a community to test with is very important for PT success. The fact that we didn’t have a critical mass of people consistently qualifying to PTs made the creation of a dedicated group much harder, but things are getting better.

As for myself, I was helped by the Latin/Brazilian team when I didn’t have many people to test with, and later I joined the Hareruya testing team, so I had a lot of extra help there. Having a group of great players to test with just changed the whole experience.