Recently, I got the chance to sit down with one of the players who just fell really short of an invitation to the MPL, and one of the most well-known names in Pro Magic: Jérémy Dezani.
Andreas: First of all, tell us some basic information about you and your proudest accomplishments in Magic.
Jérémy: I’m Jérémy Dezani, 28 years old and living in Paris right now. I have top8’d 2 Pro Tours, won PT Theros, got to the top8 of 14 Grand Prix, won three of them and became player of the year in 2014.
I always enjoy hearing about the origins of the player I’m interviewing. How did you get into Magic and what do you remember about your breakthrough?
I started to play MTG when I was 15 years old. I was playing other games before and some of my friends in my hometown who play these card games also played Magic at the same time – even on the Pro Tour. I learned the game the hard way with Wagic (no basic land multiplayer), and I jumped on the PTQ level only about a few months after I learned the rules. Having professional players as teachers is pretty great. I made top 8 at Grand Prix Paris 2009 but didn’t attend the Pro Tour I qualified for this way, since the price of the travel tickets was more expensive than the money I won. I was a student, so I was really happy with the money I got from the GP win. Then I won a Pro Tour Qualifier in 2010 in the Extended format back then and started to play at the Pro Tour in San Juan. I made day two without a money finish, but I designed the deck the finalist played at this Pro Tour – not too bad for a first time.
Then I got some good results at the Grand Prix level and won Grand Prix Lyon in Modern with Jund. This result kind of unlocked “the train” for me for a while and I joined almost every event possible after that. MTG Madness gave me a sponsoring offer, and it helped me a lot. Then I won Pro Tour Theros and decided to stop my biology study to focus on MTG.
Your career peaked in 2014 when you won Player of the Year, but after that you had a less successful period before returning to top form. From a mental approach, how did you manage to deal with the downswing and come back even stronger?
Yes, I had a hard time after that. A lot of stuff decreased my focus on MTG. I lost two members of my family and was missing school a lot, too. I had doubts about my life choices. I fell to silver level that year. Maybe I was in a lucky streak the year before and I was not that good at this game.
One year later, I played two Pro Tours in a row as “my last invite” but managed to top 8 the two Grand Prix just before each Pro Tour. This gave me enough pro points to become a Gold pro and I never fell off again after that. I realized that I understood the game very well at that point and I felt like I was even better than before.
The game doesn’t let you go away so easily …
For sure! I got the sense that Magic led you to Japan a lot. For us Europeans and the American readers, how would you describe the differences from playing a tournament in Europe or North America compared to one in Asia?
I will talk about Japan mainly since I don’t know other Asian countries enough. Japanese people are super passionate about Magic. They can invest a crazy portion of their money on buying cards. In Japan, Magic is only the number 3 card game but renown MTG personalities consistently do their best to push our game to the top. For example, Hareruya offered free entrance to Grand Prix for every student. Player attitude during games is of course different because of the differing culture and it’s also different when you are trying to read a player’s body language during games. Japanese players are fans of pro players and ask for pictures. The dedicate a lot and it’s cool. Otherwise, an MTG player is an MTG player. We are all part of the same community.
We all have a hero, maybe a mentor or even an idol. Who is yours as a Magic player and why?
I used to be a tennis player in high school, and I used to play at a decent level. I’m a big fan of Rafael Nadal. He is a role model of hard work and a great human being. He is a superstar but acts like he is just a simple man doing his job and he never forgets where he is coming from. Recently, his home Island Mallorca, had a big flood problem. He went right into the middle of the population to help fix stuff. He is just amazing.
The Magic Pro League invited the top 32 players at the time, and you were only a single pro point short of an invitation. Does being this close discourage you or motivate you even more?
To be motivated, you need goals. The problem is right now we know nothing about what we can reach and how we can do it. It’s impossible to be motivated in this environment.
My problem with the MPL selection is that the criteria are arbitrary. They didn’t pick the top 32 but the top 31 and one gold pro. Then they jumped to replacing some members with other criteria. They picked one Mythic Championship winner, but not the next MC winner. They picked someone who never played a Grand Prix or Mythic Championship before. It looks like Wizards is super happy about the drama surrounding Gerry, Yuuya and Owen to have three free slots they can put in anybody they want.
About Yuuya, I think Wizard didn’t share enough with us to explain his suspension. They say that he cheated in previous events and didn’t say which. That makes me feel very bad because if they caught him before, I would have been among the 32 initial MPL players.
The MPL is not about the best players anymore and players who are already inside should realize that the system will reject them very fast if Wizards estimate they aren’t worth enough to them.
You recently started streaming on Twitch. What are your ambitions with streaming and how do you like it so far?
I enjoyed it a lot. I started for two reasons. First, this is how Wizards values its players now. Second, I wanted to give the opportunity to Japanese players to watch an English stream. I have many Japanese fans and I really care about them. 75% of people watching my stream are Japanese right now. I created a social media account one year ago in Japan for my work and most of my followers are from there. Sometimes, I’m doing a two-person stream with a Japanese guy to have an English/Japanese stream. I really would like to see the Japanese community not to be scared and watch any English streamer. I didn’t stream recently because I just got a little doggy that doesn’t allow me to be free for +4 hours, but I am planning to restart the stream soon.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview. If you want to direct our readers to where they can find your content online, now is the time!