This article is part of a 4-part series intended to get you a little better acquainted with some of the lesser-known players that will be competing at Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch. You can also find my interviews with Marc Tobiasch, Simon Nielsen, and Bart van Etten.
Nationality: Czech Republic
Team: Cabin Crew
Qualified via: PT Battle for Zendikar Top Finisher, Pro Club – Silver
Pro Points: 66 lifetime, 23 in 2015-16
Pro Tour Debut: Pro Tour Born of the Gods
Pro Tours Played: 6
Best Pro Tour Finish: 16th
Top 8: Grand Prix Lille 2015 (6th)
Planeswalker Level: 46 (Archmage)
This interview is in part a follow-up to an interview that Frank Karsten did at Grand Prix Brussels. Frank did a great job of introducing Petr, and I urge you to check this one out first. I tried to the best of my abilities to make this interview work as a standalone without being repetitive.
Q: If people know something about you it is probably that you are the real Master of the Pearl Trident. How did you fall in love with the Merfolk deck in the first place, and what caused its fall from grace? In a format as open as Modern, a weakness against Affinity surely cannot be the sole reason to abandon a deck that you know so well.
Is Merfolk typical of the decks that you like to play, or what would you be most likely to choose in an open format?
Petr: The main reason why I started to play with Merfolk was that when I was a kid, the only deck available that I could borrow for a tournament was a Merfolk deck. Incidentally, I started improving with it. A couple years after that—I was around 18 at that point—I started to take Magic seriously, but I didn’t have too much money and the only competitive Modern deck on Magic Online that I could afford was Merfolk so I just went with that. I have spent countless hours perfecting it and I have to say that the deck is much harder to play perfectly than you might think. That being said, the reward for good play isn’t that big and I think that I have improved my own skills to the point where it’s a bad choice for me.
Let’s assume that I play something like a Jund. To illustrate with some made up numbers, maybe my win percentage with Jund against a random opponent is around 60%, but with Merfolk, despite playing that deck perfectly, I would only have 58% because there is really not that much to gain by playing it perfectly.
As for the second part of the question, yes, I lean toward blue aggro control or tempo decks because I grew up on those and this is my favorite strategy in Magic, but if I thought that there was a deck that was significantly stronger than these, I would just go with that. But I am still a little hesitant toward the pure combo decks, as it requires a completely different skill set than the ones I have learned, but I want to change that as well.
Q: As long as you have played Magic competitively, you have had a (friendly) rivalry with Ondrej Strasky. So far, you have trumped each other’s achievements back and forth. Since Ondrej was the last to raise the bar with his two Pro Tour Top 8s, it’s your turn again. So when can we expect you to hoist a trophy? Does a GP win count, or do you need to win the Pro Tour for real to claim the higher ground again?
Petr: I don’t think that winning a GP would come even close to two PT Top 8s (not just money wise) and trumping what Ondrej achieved last year will be very difficult. I am not giving up, but I would be satisfied if I had more Pro Points than he does at the end of the season. Right now, he has 24 to my 23, but he has extra points from both Worlds, so we will see…
Q: This season you have unlocked Silver already, so Gold would be the next logical step. Do you have any other goals for this season? Have you set any career goals for yourself?
Petr: Considering the automatic Pro Points you get from attending the Pro Tours, I am fairly confident that I am going to hit Gold and even though that was my original goal for this year, I will obviously try my hardest to hit Platinum, which is very hard. As for career goals, I would like to live a full-time pro player life, but I don’t know if I am good enough for that. On the other hand, while I just love the game, playing a random draft in a local store doesn’t exactly satisfy me, which means that if I want to face high-level opponents, I have to prove that I am worthy of it.
Q: When somebody says they study mathematics, people tend to think he is really good at calculating. When I tell somebody I studied Computer Science, most people think I learned programming. So when you tell somebody that you are studying Japanology, do they ask you to say something in Japanese? What do you actually do when you don’t play Magic? And what do you plan to do with it when you have finished your studies?
Petr: Yeah…”Can you say something in Japanese?” is a very common question and I hate it. The school itself tries to teach you as much as you can about everything related to Japan with the main focus on writing and speaking so that you can actually interact. The problem is that the language is so complicated and requires an insane amount of time in order to reach the required level, and my priority right now is Magic. I am afraid that I will have to choose between the two at some point—and I know which one it is going to be.