2018 Champions Lead the Way for Magic Pro League

Posted in Competitive Gaming on December 13, 2018

By Corbin Hosler

We're excited to announce the 32 players in the inaugural season of the Magic Pro League! You can view the full roster on our competitive gaming page or at the bottom of this article. Additionally, we'll be rolling out profiles of the 32 players over the coming weeks. Because pretty soon, the world will know their names.

Below, you can meet two of these players: 2018 World Champion Javier Dominguez and Player of the Year Luis Salvatto.

Reigning Magic World Champion Javier Dominguez says he doesn't think too much about winning the 2018 title. Every few days he'll remember it and smile, but it hasn't changed his daily life in any major way.

But Dominguez's life is about to change in a big way. He's one of the leading faces as we kick off the Magic Pro League in 2019. Dominguez is one of the 32 players who will headline the League's weekly competitions. It's a transformative step for Magic as well as the pros involved, who are going to showcase what it means to be a professional Magic player in the new world we're entering.

"I'm really excited; things are going to change and they really look awesome so far," Dominguez enthused. "I just want to enjoy the journey and try my best. I feel very lucky that I was able to win the [World Championship] tournament, but especially to win it this year."

Of course, Dominguez is no stranger to success at high-level Magic—he was the runner-up at the 2017 World Championship before winning it this year—but now he'll be competing in a brand-new world of mixed tabletop and MTG Arena. Players will compete in weekly League matches as well as a mixed series of tabletop and digital Mythic Championships, setting a new standard for professional Magic.

Javier Dominguez
Javier Dominguez

The 31-year-old Spaniard began his career by winning Nationals in 2006, but it was seven years later that he fully pursued professional Magic, and his results have been consistently improving since. In 2014, he won one Grand Prix and placed second at another, and added a second GP title two years later before making his first Pro Tour Top 8 at Bilbao earlier this year. But Dominguez's most impressive achievement is his runner-up and then winner finish at the World Championship, and he'll enter the MPL as one of its most decorated players.

He'll share that distinction with the other headliner of 2018: Luis Salvatto. Dominguez won the World Championship, while Salvatto earned Player of the Year honors by accruing the most Pro Points over the year—which included a win at Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan—and then defeating Seth Manfield in a rare tiebreaker playoff.

Salvatto may just enter the MPL as its most awestruck pro.

"A few months ago, I was always working in a business in the time I wasn't traveling, so my life now is like a dream," he wondered. "When you enjoy your work it isn't work anymore, and I don't work anymore. I was grateful with my life and chances before all of this, so just imagine how happy and grateful I am for life now."

Salvatto's rapid rise through the ranks has been an inspiring run. He began playing just six years ago but burst onto the scene with a Top 8 at Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad in 2016 and a win at Grand Prix Rotterdam later that year. He was just getting warmed up; this year, he won the Modern Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan with Lantern Control, won GP Santiago a month later, and then defeated Hall of Famer Seth Manfield in just the second-ever Player of the Year playoff. And by the way, he competed in the finals of the 2017–18 Pro Tour Team Series with his team Hareruya Latin.

"It's all still happening and it's changing so fast and I feel like I'm behind," he explained. "I'm full of pride but to be honest, I'm still processing the fact I won a Pro Tour the week after a GP with two of my friends. My life is different and I'm not the same person; I've learned a lot."

Salvatto has his characteristically modest expectations for the League, but no matter where he finishes in the standings, he's scored a win by representing his beloved home of Argentina.

"It means a lot, not just at a personal level but from a national level as well," he confessed. "Being from this part of the world, it is really hard to compete with the bests, so being able to play in the League against the best in the world, that's truly an honor."

Luis Salvatto
Luis Salvatto

Of course, Salvatto is himself a threat to run the tables—both physical and digital. His dominance over the past year has been nothing short of historic, and included one of—if not the—best finishes in Player of the Year history, capped by a 25,000-mile trek in six weeks to catch yearlong leader Seth Manfield for the Player of the Year title at the last possible tournament to force the playoff he went on to win.

His journey now continues. The Magic Pro League is redefining the Multiverse we've come to love over the past 25 years, and Salvatto's underdog story will lead the way.

"I think this is the right moment in the history of Magic, to reach more people and show why people around the world play the game," he said. "I'm really happy to be part of that."

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