The 2018 Magic the Gathering World Championship was an exciting tournament for many reasons, one of which was the success of lesser known European Pros over established greats from the United States – to the surprise of many viewers. Two of those players made it to the finals and today our very own Andreas “ecobaronen” Petersen had the chance to talk to one of them who was battling under the Snapcardster banner not too long ago: Grzegorz Kowalski.
Welcome Grzegorz and thank you for stopping by! Before we start talking about Worlds, let’s start from the beginning. When did you realize that you had potential to evolve to a great player?
Hi Andreas, it’s my pleasure! I don’t think there was any specific moment. I always loved to be good at what I’m doing, whatever it was. Shortly after I started playing Magic with friends at school I started to play at FNM and other local tournaments and right after that I moved on to the GP and PTQ circuits. I always wanted to be better and better, worked hard to improve my skills, and at some point I qualified for PT Nagoya 2011. This experience was great. It was my first flight and also first trip outside of Europe in my entire life. I just loved it and felt like I wanted to do it again, so I worked even harder to give myself another shot. At some point it paid off, and now I’m here.
You have posted impressive results in all major constructed formats but most people see you as a Standard expert. Talk about your relationship with Legacy, Modern and Limited.
Legacy is a great format but it’s not really competitive. I had like one or two events in Legacy per year that I played, so I can’t really „waste” time to play Legacy. I’m trying to play professionally, so I have to focus on what matters, and there is always something more important to practice other than Legacy. I usually pick up a deck around 2 weeks before a Legacy GP, play as much as possible during that time, and then don’t touch this format again until the next GP. On the other hand, I really hate Modern even though my best Grand Prix finish was … in Modern. For some people this format is great because of how many different decks you can play and I respect it obviously, but for me it’s the biggest issue of Modern. It’s really hard to prepare for events like this, because something like expected metagame doesn’t really exist. You have some tiers, but there are so many decks that you can’t be ready for everything with only 15 cards in sideboard, so you have to just hope to dodge your bad matchups and if you get paired against them there is not much that you can do. Speaking about Limited, it really depends on the format. I love Ravnica, I loved Dominaria, but for example Ixalan or M19 were terrible, and I didn’t enjoy it at all. I also prefer Draft over Sealed Deck, but I guess this is true for almost everyone playing competitively.
Just before the Magic World Championship started, your fellow competitor Gerry Thompson announced on Reddit that he would protest the tournament because of the lackluster state of professional Magic. How do you feel about Gerry’s points?
I respect his decision and I’m grateful that he sacrificed a lot to make the game we all love better. It was a controversial move but he got what he wanted: people are talking about it, and Wizards heard his points. I hope it will get better, maybe thanks to his move.
Preparing for an event like this with only 24 total players must be challenging. With who did you prepare and how did it differ from normal tournament preparation?
I prepared with Martin Juza. The format was really old and solved so there was not a big preparation. We tried to figure out what other competitors will play and just tuned our decks to beat what we considered to be the expected metagame. Other than that we just played some drafts on Magic Online in Las Vegas, to remind ourself of the Dominaria format after playing three months of M19.
You were one of the first to lock up the top 4 spot in the tournament. What did you play in Standard, and how did your drafts go?
In Standard I played RB Aggro, which is pretty boring but effective. I made some changes to be good in the mirror match, like Magma Sprays main, only 3 Bomat Couriers in the main deck etc. My first Draft was really good, I was probably the only white drafter on my pod (or at least on my side). I drafted almost mono white (played only 3 black cards as a small splash) and went 3-0 in this Draft. The second Draft was a little worse and more complicated since I opened a pretty bad pack one and din’t get any clear signals like in Draft one but I think my drafting process was somehow interesting. If anyone wants to watch it, its available on Twitch.
You ended up losing a close final to a worthy champion in Javier Dominguez. After you returned home and had some time to put things into perspective, how would you describe your feelings about the weekend?
I’m very happy and proud about what happened. Everything exceeded my expectations by a lot. I also had a great welcome party with my friends in my home town, which helped me realize how big of a success it was for me and for Polish Magic in general. I’ll do my best to qualify next year and try to get the trophy!
Wizards of the Coast chose to continue with the Team Series for next season. Who are the five players who are blessed with your company for the next 12 months?
I’m honored to play next to Javier Dominguez, Jeremy Dezani, Lee Shi Tian, Kelvin Chew, and Andrea Mengucci representing Hareruya Sword. It’s a great team, and I’m sure we can fight for the best!
Thank you so much for participating. Now you can give shoutouts to friends, family and/or sponsors.
It was my pleasure! I would love to thank all my friends cheering for me in Poland and especially those who came to the Friday party to say hello and celebrate with me! Also big thanks to all my fans outside of Poland, honestly I didn’t expect to get so many cheering messages! It means a lot to me and I really appreciate it! In the end, a big shoutout to Hareruya, for everything they do for the Magic competitive scene, and for me in particular. Hareruya is a great sponsor and I’m proud to be able to play in the Hareruya Pro uniform!
This article was written by Andreas Petersen in a media collaboration with mtgmintcard.com