David Williams Interview

Posted in Event Coverage

By Pete Norris

David Williams

When I sat down to watch David Williams's first round match against Tom Swan, I thought I had him all figured out. Brilliant, arrogant and competitive, I expected the interview following the match to be one of the toughest I'd ever have to write. I was wrong.

Having read of Dave's outburst in round one of PTLA against Jakub Slemr, I was intrigued to see how he reacted in this matchup, especially since Tom had been sitting on his right, effectively controlling Dave's draft.

I was looking for fireworks when Tom managed to Undermine Dave's Canopy Surge to win game 1 (literally the only spell he could have had) and was genuinely, and pleasantly, surprised by Dave's wry smile, and good natured mutters of "that was ridiculous"

The rest of the match went according to plan, with good-natured comments from Dave as he took the next two games, although there were mutters of "you're making me look bad, Tom" as Swan Senior proceeded to play answers to Dave's spells in four different colors, making Dave's choices appear like poor judgment, although, truthfully, Dave's plays were accurate.

Having relaxed from my earlier preconceptions Dave and I had a chat after the match. Clearly in a better mood because he won, Dave was open, witty and friendly as we talked about Slemr, Tokyo, the Masters and Worlds.

I had no real way to segue into the Slemr incident, so I decided it was a good place to start, especially since the display I had just seen was nothing like the Dave Williams I had read about on the internet. Dave looked a little sheepish about the incident, admitting "I was a jerk," before proceeding to explain his actions.

"I had never played, or even watched, Slemr before that draft. I knew he had a reputation for being very good, but almost every pick he made affected me in some way, it was as if he didn't know what was going on. It was very frustrating, and to then go 0-1 against his deck... still what I did was unacceptable."

"That's only the second time I've done something like that" he continued, gesturing towards Mike Long who was sat on my right, "the last time was against Mike in the Chicago Masters, but I think he's forgiven me."

Mike offered a placating smile, before continuing his game against European Champion, Noah Boeken.

Of course both of these incidents happened before Williams's Top 8 performance at Tokyo. Dave was widely regarded as the last top player without a Top 8, and Dave himself admitted that his success in Tokyo had relieved a lot of the angst that was present in both LA and Chicago.

"I was pretty tense up until I made that Top 8, it helped remove a lot of the expectation and pressure I was under."

"Tokyo was the first time I had really playtested hard for a Pro Tour, and I realized that it really pays off."

Having worked with James Stroud and Ryan Carpenter, both friends of his outside of Magic, Dave told me the secret of his recent Magic success.

"James and Ryan are both good players, in fact they're both here in Barcelona. The only reason my results have been better is because I play more than them, they both have full time jobs, but for me right now it's Magic, Magic Magic!"

His success in Tokyo has kept Dave Williams on the Masters Series, Barcelona would have been his last if he had not finished Top 16 in Japan. Going into the tournament Dave had a good idea what everyone else was playing, and wanted to play something that would give him a good shot against Domain and Go-Mar, and since he expected very little Black-Red (which loses to the control decks) he picked a Red-Green aggressive deck. Indeed he was successful in round one, before losing to Tuomo Niemenen in the second round.

"I lost in round 2 to a bad mana draw, but I made some money and I had a lot of fun"

This, from a man, who, before Tokyo, was more famous for his larger-than-life outbursts than his play skill, was very refreshing. I steered Dave to look forward, to the Top 8 of Barcelona, and to Worlds where he could again make a very strong showing.

"I felt really confident coming into this weekend, I felt I could win both tournaments. I've already lost one, but I wasn't too bothered because I knew I had this one left, I don't want to jinx myself but... if I had to pick someone else to win it, I'd pick Chris Benafel; his draft style is different, and I really respect that."

"Worlds is going to be really good. There are so many rounds, and as I understand it that favors the players who work hardest. I've already started working on decks, hopefully it'll pay off."

Dave Williams managed to turn my opinion of him around in this short 20 minute period, charismatic and talented, Dave will be a feature of professional Magic for some time to come.

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