You were the first Hall of Famer from Germany. How does it feel to be part of the Magic history in such a way?
It is obviously cool, and the invites are nice. But the Hall of Fame is not as glorious as it could be. There are too many people eligible. Magic produces maybe one super-player every two, three years. It may just happen that the Hall runs out of steam.
You stopped playing Magic for a while. What made you come back?
During Ravnica block I played almost no Magic at all. The main reason I picked it up again is that there are a lot of people in Hamburg playing Magic again, more than just the occasional casual group – people who go to nearly all the PTQs. A group that you can talk to about Magic is a big motivation to keep caring about the game. Also, the game itself remains a very good game. Wizards is doing a good job with their set releases.
Wizards announced yesterday that Pro Tour Philadelphia will be using the new Modern format instead of Extended. Is that an incentive to go and participate, or a deterrent?
No, I will not be going to Philadelphia, but that's mostly because of my job. The weekends are usually the days I have to work most, and I can't just take a day or two off. If the Pro Tour falls on a free weekend, I can maybe go, but this year it didn't come together. Maybe I'll play Worlds. The World Championship is more fun than the Pro Tour anyway.
Also, I had tested a lot of Extended for PT Amsterdam. And if I spend the time and money to fly to the USA for a Pro Tour, I want to have a solid chance. I am not going to a Pro Tour for an 0-3 drop result. For the Germans, the Modern change is not that bad, because they had Nationals to test for and only now start working on Extended. For the Americans, this change is harder. They had their Nationals and did nothing else but test Extended. I saw LSV and Nassif testing Extended constantly on Magic Online. For them the switch to testing Modern now is tough.
Speaking of Nationals, why did you decide to play Birthing Pod?
Caw-Blade was alright, but I don't like to play the mirror match. The deck has so many different angles that the mirror match is tough to plan for. I tested a lot for Nationals, and in the end I ended up with Ascension with Splinter Twin or the Pod deck. Patrick Chapin and Mike Jacob went a combined 10-2 with the deck at US Nationals and really liked it, and I found that it was slightly better than Ascension.
In the end, though, it was not a good choice because a lot more players played Mono-Red than I thought they would. The deck itself is very good, though. It rewards thorough testing, especially if you know all the other decks well enough to pick your Pod targets wisely. And I played enough Standard to know them all well enough.
Is there a goal in Magic that you would still like to attain?
Winning the World Championships would be nice. Overall though, I think that what I did in my day will never be repeated. It was not necessarily easier to win back in the day, but the players were simply worse, myself included, of course. But: You could be so much better than the average player that the luck factor was nearly eliminated. The average player today has become a better player, thanks to MTGO. Also, back then you could have the best deck for a given tournament. Today, that doesn't work anymore. There are so many matches played on Magic Online that it is almost impossible to miss something. When you look at al the published decklists, nothing remains a secret.
For Extended in Amsterdam it wasn't as bad, and we could play Nassifs White Weenie deck that few people had. But in Standard it was absolutely clear that Caw-Blade and Valakut would be played the most, and what else could be viable. I don't think so much information is necessarily bad. But Standard has just been beaten to death since Pro Tour Paris.