Olle Råde is one of the huge names of Magic's past. When merely 16 years old, he won Pro Tour Columbus back in 1996, and that was the start of an amazing career. Olle won the first Magic Invitational. He was also the first player to make five Pro Tour Top 8 performances. Then he grew tired of the game. Now he is back. "If you play all the time, then you take away all the fun. It becomes routine," he explains, having re-discovered the fun of playing major Magic tournaments.
Olle, now 22, hasn't seemed to lose much from being away from the game for almost two years (with the exception of his long, blond hair - now his hair is about one centimeter long). After 1998 Pro Tour Rome, where he made the Top 8, he didn't play at all except that he went to 1999 Pro Tour Chicago. There, he was ejected for misrecording his deck. Now, he has picked up the game again - with amazing results. Olle played in two qualifiers for Tokyo, finishing second and then first. He finished 20th in Grand Prix Florence, and in Grand Prix Amsterdam he finished 11th, barely missing out of the Top 8 but still qualifying for 2001 Pro Tour Barcelona. And in Tokyo, he's continuing his good streak, being at 8-2 and definitely in contention for Top 8 after ten rounds of play.
So how can he manage to just come back and still be one of the best? "It's because I'm so smart, I've got such a good feeling for the game," he laughs. Then he gets more serious. "It's all about thinking analytically, strategy, and a feeling for the game - intuition. That helps a lot." Obviously it does. Olle's playtesting before Tokyo consisted of playing five games with the deck. Up-and-coming fellow Swede, Jens Thorén, created the blue and black control deck, and Olle borrowed the whole thing from another Swede, Morgan Karlsson. "I don't own any cards, except from that I bought three Slays for the sideboard," he explains.
Olle admits that he didn't expect to do well after his comeback. "I couldn't expect it, especially since I never tested. But it's a pleasant surprise," he smiles. Still, he doesn't feel that the environment has changed a lot from back then. "Maybe there is a little less power gaming now because of the rules," he says, explaining how for instance calling people on not actually saying 'with kicker' will be considered unsportsmanlike conduct.
Having a relaxed view on Magic, the Swede doesn't really take Magic that seriously anymore. His goal for Tokyo is to win money to get back at least some of the costs of going to the event, that's it. "Of course money is in the back of your head. It's much more fun to win money, or else you've spent 10 000 Kronor [the Swedish currency] just to go and play," he admits. Olle also reveals that he will go to Barcelona, but other than that, he doesn't know if he has the time to play on the Pro Tour. Taking classes at an upper secondary school for adults, he chooses to focus on school. Going away to compete means missing classes, and Olle wants to graduate so that he go to the United States to study in California.
"I play for fun, but of course it would be nice to win. It's an honor," Olle smiles. He doesn't care though that others have outdone him, in his absence. At 22, he knows that he still has the potential to be a very good player if he wants to give it a go. And although newer players won't necessarily know his name or his face, that will definitely change. Because Olle has finally submitted his own Invitational card, the one he won the right to do when he won the very first Invitational. "I was apathetic to Magic, so I didn't bother to do it back then," he says. "Now I've seen how cool it is to get your picture printed."
He then revealed the card he has submitted:
Sacrifice a land: Target creature cannot be the target of spells and abilities until end of turn.
"It's a green card at least, green creatures are nice!" he grins. "I won the Pro Tour with a green deck, and that's why. We were brainstorming on the plane, and I thought the card should have an alternative casting cost or activation cost. It counters all creature kill. I think the card is good. And I don't want to make a bad card."