In spite of being the runner-up from last year's German Nationals, Jan Brinkmann was rather surprised to find himself on top of the standings at an impressive 6-0 record after the first day of this year's nationals. "Actually, I didn't expect too much. I haven't played much lately," he admits.
Last year, the 28-year-old computer scientist from Mainz lost in the finals to Andre Konstanczer. Since then, both Andre and Jan have chosen to retire from professional Magic and play more for fun. Andre didn't even show up at the German Nationals. Jan, on the other hand, chose to use his qualification in spite of being slightly out of practice. "After Nationals last year I played at Euros, Worlds, in Chicago and then I played one Friday Night Magic and perhaps one pre-release," he smiles.
A Sealed and two drafts were all the preparation he got before drafting Invasion and Planeshift. Jan didn't know the cards that well at all. "I was thinking of Hull Breach as an instant and tried to trick my opponent into doing something. It didn't work, but what's the saying - better lucky than good?" he laughs.
Then again, draft is Jan's favourite tournament format. "You don't have to practice and prepare, you can just go to the shop and draft," he explains. Jan's definite favourite is Highlander, though. "Usually, when you play Magic, it can be boring. The decks are so stable, and the games are always the same with lots of similar creatures. In Highlander, you get more of a game. It is less competitive but a lot more fun," he smiles.
The fun part has always been important to Jan. He started playing back during Fallen Empires. Jan was on vacation in the United States when he saw a Magic book and some Fallen Empires boosters. "I read the book and bought some Fallen Empires boosters, but then I forgot about it again - there were no lands in the boosters, and so I couldn't play. Three or four months later, I went to a shop with some friends, and we bought a random, cheap game. The people at the store said that if we liked it, we would probably like Magic. In the start, we were a group of three and we always played multiplayer. That was how I started playing Magic," he recalls.
Now, Jan has come quite a bit further than that. In addition to his second place finish in the German Nationals last year, he finished 34th at Worlds. And with a 6-0 record after the first day, a 3-2-1 record during the Standard portion should be enough to put Brinkmann in the playoff once again, at least qualifying him for the European Championship.
"It won't make a whole lot of difference whether I win or not," he remarks. Jan has a tradition of doing best when he plays without expectations. Last year, he went 3-3 in the draft before taking his Flores Black deck to a 6-0 record. The fact that he doesn't need a good Standard result might be a good thing, though. After the first day, Jan had no idea of which constructed deck to choose. "There are a couple of decks I can play, like Fires. But I played Fires in Chicago, and that was not the right deck for me. I don't know. I'll test tonight and find a deck," he says.
In spite of him not playing that seriously anymore, Jan wouldn't mind qualifying for Euros and Worlds. "I've made a lot of friends through Magic, and it's always nice to go to events and see them all. I never see them when I not playing Magic, but when I meet them, it's always fun," he smiles. So regardless of what happens in the Standard portion, he will continue playing just for fun. "But I will probably prepare a little bit more the next time. I don't mind losing, but it's always nicer to win."