With a 28th place finish from 2000 Pro Tour Chicago and a Top 8 finish from 2001 Pro Tour Los Angeles, Lawrence Holton Creech has had an amazing start of his Pro Tour career. Currently he's leading the Pro Tour Rookie of the Year race, and he also seems likely to finish in the money of 2001 Pro Tour Tokyo. "I'm more than satisfied. I wasn't really expecting to do well here. The first two Pro Tours surpassed what anyone thought I'd do, so I'm happy just to be in contention still," Lawrence smiles.
The High School senior from Chester, Virginia has been playing Magic for about five years. He didn't get serious about qualifying for the Pro Tour until two years ago. "I started competing during the Urza Block season through Mercadian Masques, then I got a string of pretty good finishes. I got close to qualifying, never breaking the barrier," he explains. Finally, he qualified for 2000 Pro Tour Chicago, and in Chicago he finished 28th, an impressive record for a first-timer. Then, he broke into the Top 8 of 2001 Pro Tour Los Angeles.
"I've found the Pro Tour much easier than qualifying. I've done amazingly well," he smiles. Then again, doing well is satisfying, and Lawrence admits to being very competitive. "I like the competitive aspect of the game. I usually get pretty good grades in school, and I like to be better than other people, to put it bluntly," he reveals. "A friend once told me not to do anything if you're not trying to be the best at it, and I pretty much took that to heart."
Watching Lawrence play can almost be frightening. He is fully concentrated on the game, and if he's losing, then he puts up a pretty scary face, staring intently at his opponent like a predator ready to attack. When he's not playing though, he looks a lot friendlier; he's even smiling a lot. "I tend to get frustrated sometimes, and sometimes I can be very emotional. That can be good, but it can also affect your game," he says.
Lawrence reckons that one of the reasons why he is good at the game is that he plays with really good players. Kyle Rose is one of his regular playtest partners, and the deck he is playing in Tokyo was made by Brian Kibler, William Jensen and Matt Linde. "Playing with people like that really helps your game," he thinks. He also admits that he has been kind of lucky. "I don't think you can do well and not concede a little bit of the success to luck," he says.
Lawrence is comfortable when he is in total control of the game. In every format, he goes looking for the combo decks or the control decks. "In my first tournament, someone beat me with Stasis, and I went 'I gotta build that!' I love Stasis," he grins. He also enjoys randomly winning games that he isn't supposed to win. "That's a blast. To win when you're not supposed to can be really demoralizing to your opponent." And that's where Lawrence wants to end up. "I'd like to be at a position that if someone beats me they go 'whoa, I beat someone good.' I like to be recognized."
With his affinity for math, numbers and problem-solving, all of which come easy to Lawrence, he is definitely one of the up-and-coming players of today. He also enjoys playing a lot, he enjoys meeting people and going places, and he doesn't even mind the sometimes tense environment of a top-level tournament. "Compared to school and working 40 hours a week, I'd much rather be here," he smiles. Still, Lawrence is heading towards both school and work, and his goals in Magic reflect that - he hopes to make some money that will help pay for college. "I plan on playing as long as I stay on the Pro Tour and as long as I feel I have a good chance of making money. Besides, having a few friends on the Pro Tour makes it more enjoyable."